A funeral bell tolled at the Washington National Cathedral 400 times Tuesday, once for every thousand Americans who have died of the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States.
As the numbers climb, health experts and officials have turned their attention to mitigating the impacts of the new variant that has sparked alarm, and they are calling for ramped up vaccinations and preventative measures.
But some officials say they aren't seeing as many doses as the federal government reports distributing and many states say the demand for the vaccine is outpacing the supply.
The count of people in the US who have died from the virus rose rapidly over the course of the last year to reach Tuesday's grim 400,000 marker. And while the rate of new cases has dipped recently, experts warn that a variant of the virus could send cases surging once again.
"I worry desperately in the next six to 12 weeks we're going to see a situation with this pandemic unlike anything we've seen yet to date," said Michael Osterholm, a coronavirus adviser to President-elect Joe Biden and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. "This will happen, we are going to see a major increase in cases, the challenge is how many," he told CNN on Tuesday.
When Biden's administration takes office, Osterholm said it will do everything it can to bolster distribution. But, he said, "we can't make the vaccine go much faster than it is right now," adding that officials will need to plan for dramatic action to keep the variant under control.
"The difference is going to be, 'Are we going to react now or later?'" Osterholm said. "Do we put the brakes on after the car's wrapped around the tree, or we try to put the brakes on before we leave the intersection?"
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