More than 450,000 lives have been lost to the novel coronavirus in the U.S., estimates show.
The country reached the grim milestone on Thursday evening, with data from Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirvus Resource Center showing that some 456,461 lives have been lost as of Friday morning. Daily deaths remain high at more than 3,000 a day, estimates show.
The U.S. leads the world in both deaths and cases, with the country recording nearly 27 million cases to date, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The biggest driver to the U.S. death toll over the past month has been California, which has averaged more than 500 deaths per day in recent weeks.
Alabama is another hot spot, with the seven-day rolling average of deaths rising over the past two weeks, from 74 to 147 deaths per day. Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee have also seen recent surges in deaths.
Infectious disease specialists expect deaths to start dropping soon after new cases hit a peak right around the beginning of the year. New COVID-19 deaths could ebb as early as next week, said the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who told the Associated Press that she’s concerned about what effect Super Bowl gatherings this coming Sunday could have.
Public health experts are watching Florida closely this week as the Super Bowl will be played in Tampa. City leaders and the NFL are trying to ensure social distancing by capping attendance at a third of the stadium’s capacity — 22,000 people. Still, there will be parties, events at bars and clubs, and other activities that draw people together.
Earlier this week, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, pleaded with NFL fans watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs face off to only do so with “your family or with people that are in your household.”
He noted that every time the nation celebrates a holiday or occasion, a spike in coronavirus cases follows.
“As much fun as it is to get together in a big Super Bowl party now is not the time to do that,” Fauci said Wednesday while appearing on TODAY. “Watch the game and enjoy it but do it with your family or with people in your household.”
Fox News’ Alexandria Hein and the Associated Press contributed to this report.