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CNB News – The U.S. surpassed 20 million total confirmed COVID-19 cases on New Year’s Day, starting 2021 off with a grim milestone, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S.’s coronavirus case count reached 20 million cases about midday on Friday, with the last 1 million cases coming in just five days and the last 3 million cases in slightly more than two weeks.

The 20 million case mark comes as the U.S. nears 350,000 COVID-19-related fatalities, about 19 percent of the world’s more than 1.8 million deaths.

The news also comes a day after Florida became the third state to confirm a case of the new COVID-19 strain, which is believed to be more contagious and was first reported in the U.K. The other states that found cases, Colorado and California, first identified their cases earlier this week.

Vaccination efforts launched across the country last month after the Food and Drug Administration issued emergency authorization approvals for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Health care workers, elderly people and other essential workers have been prioritized during the first weeks of vaccine distribution.

The U.S. is also just weeks away from inaugurating President-elect Joe Biden, who has slammed the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and more recently the pace of the vaccination efforts, saying his administration plans to speed up the process.

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