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US hits 20 million mark in coronavirus cases

The increase comes as officials race to vaccinate millions of Americans but have come off to a slower and messier start.

BALTIMORE — The number of confirmed U.S. coronavirus cases has surpassed 20 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

That’s nearly twice as many as the No. 2 country, India, and nearly one-quarter of the more than 83 million cases globally. 

The U.S. continued to surpass other countries in COVID-19 cases as it reached 20 million at the start of the new year, according to data kept by Johns Hopkins University.

COVID-19 deaths have also increased in the country, now totaling more than 346,000. 

India and Brazil trail behind the U.S. in coronavirus cases at over 10 million and 7 million, respectively.

The increase comes as officials race to vaccinate millions of Americans but have come off to a slower and messier start.

President-elect Joe Biden criticized the Trump administration Tuesday for the pace of distributing COVID-19 vaccines and vowed to ramp up the current speed of vaccinations. However, Biden acknowledged that it “will still take months to have the majority of Americans vaccinated.”

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Globally, more than 83 million cases have been confirmed.

California is experiencing a surge, surpassing 25,000 coronavirus deaths since the start of the pandemic. Officials disclosed Thursday that three more cases involving a mutant variant of the virus have been confirmed in San Diego County.

The grim developments came as an ongoing surge swamps hospitals and pushes nurses and doctors to the breaking point as they brace for another likely increase after the holidays.

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“We’re exhausted and it’s the calm before the storm,” said Jahmaal Willis, a nurse and emergency room leader at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley. “It’s like we’re fighting a war, a never-ending war, and we’re running out of ammo. We have to get it together before the next fight.”

Public health officials continued to plead with residents just hours before the start of 2021 not to gather for New Year's Eve celebrations.