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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Record U.S. deaths prompt pleas for mask-wearing

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Record U.S. deaths prompt pleas for mask-wearing
Record U.S. deaths prompt pleas for mask-wearing

U.S. leaders urgently called on Americans to wear masks as deaths from the coronavirus set a single-day record with 2,861 deaths reported on Thursday, according to a Reuters tally of official data.

This report produced by Chris Dignam.

Deaths from the coronavirus set a single-day record in the United States, with two people dying every minute, prompting urgent calls for Americans to wear masks and threatened even more drastic stay-at-home orders.

On Thursday, nearly 214,000 new cases and more than 2,800 deaths were reported, according to a Reuters tally of official data, with several experts projecting the death toll will soon surpass 3,000 per day.

President-elect Joe Biden promised a new national strategy that will impose mask mandates where he has the authority to do so.

He also urged people to wear masks voluntarily, a stronger approach than Trump's timid endorsement of mask-wearing.

Meanwhile, two promising vaccine candidates could soon receive emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

STEPHEN HAHN: "I can tell you that when it's appropriate, I will be first in line and I will encourage my family to take this vaccine." In an exclusive Friday morning interview with Reuters, FDA chief Stephen Hahn said it was realistic that 20 million Americans could be vaccinated by the end of the year.

HAHN: "Even if a vaccine is authorized this month and we vaccinate 20 million people this month, this virus is still with us... It is critically important that we take this seriously in the winter months." With more than 100,000 Americans hospitalized as of Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom said he would impose strict new stay-at-home orders to be triggered on a region-by-region basis when less than 15 percent of hospital ICU capacity is available.

Washington University's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation now projects more than half a million COVID-19 deaths by April 1 in the United States, even with the life-saving effects of vaccines.

But the institute said that 66,000 people could be saved if the share of Americans wearing masks in public rose to 95% in the next week.

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