By David Hall
Newly reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. remained below 60,000 for the second day in a row and hospitalizations continued to fall, as the nation’s death toll from Covid-19 surpassed half a million.
More than 500,300 people in the U.S. have died from the disease, with more than 1,350 new fatalities added on Monday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Monday’s death toll was down from the previous day’s total of 1,821.
The U.S. reported more than 54,000 new coronavirus cases for Monday, according to Johns Hopkins data published early Tuesday Eastern time. The data may update later. Monday’s tally of new cases was similar to Sunday’s total, but down significantly from levels reached in January, at the peak of the most recent wave of infections.
The total number of Covid-19 patients requiring hospitalization fell to 55,403, the fourth day in a row the figure has been under 60,000, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Intensive care units also saw a decline in the number of Covid-19 patients, with 11,536 people in ICUs, the lowest level since Nov. 8.
President Biden marked the loss of life from Covid-19 with a moment of silence and a candlelit memorial Monday.
“People we lost were extraordinary. They spanned generations, born in America, emigrated to America. Just like that, so many of them took their final breath alone in America,” Mr. Biden said.
Mr. Biden was then joined by first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, for a remembrance ceremony outside the White House. They stood in silence as the sun set and a military band played “Amazing Grace.” Five hundred candles lined the steps of the White House’s South Portico.
After winter storms caused delays to Covid-19 vaccines in some parts of the country, cities and states were working to catch up. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said delayed vaccine deliveries from last week should arrive this week. Several county health departments reported Monday that vaccine shipments had arrived and that they were resuming first and second-dose appointments.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said city-run vaccination sites will resume operations on Tuesday, providing mostly second doses of shots and a limited number of first doses. And in North Carolina, health officials have said that vaccines that were set to arrive on Feb. 16 and 17 are now set to arrive this week, along with normal allocations.
Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration said it will quickly analyze any vaccine booster shots against Covid-19 variants such as those from South Africa and the U.K., and won’t require further large clinical trials of the new shots’ effectiveness.
Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s center for biological products, which evaluates vaccines, said Monday that the analysis of whether vaccines prevent the new strains of Covid-19 will involve a few hundred research subjects over a couple of months. That would be faster than vaccine trials, which so far have involved thousands of research subjects over several months, followed by an FDA analysis.