The same day the nation celebrated the arrival of the long-awaited coronavirus vaccine, with the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 jab distributed on Monday morning, the nation faced a grim reality: the novel virus continues to kill, with the U.S. surpassing 300,000 deaths.
Estimates from Johns Hopkins University show that the U.S. has recorded 300,267 coronavirus deaths as of Monday afternoon. The country continues to lead the world in the highest amount of such fatalities, ahead of Brazil, India and Mexico.
The saddening milestone comes less than a month after the nation surpassed 250,000 deaths in November.
While the coronavirus vaccine has been touted as an extraordinary achievement by health officials, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar warned Americans to not let their guard down against the deadly disease.
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“We need you to be vigilant, we need you to do that because we want everybody who is here now to be here next year for the holiday season,” Azar said. “Now is not the time to let our guard down. This is not the end of our battle against COVID but today marks a critical milestone in the ultimate defeat of COVID-19.”
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This is a developing story, please check back for updates.