Johns Hopkins University reported that the number of U.S. COVID-19 cases rose to 25.1 million with over 491,000 deaths as of Sunday evening.
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During his first week in office, President Joe Biden issued a detailed new anti-pandemic strategy, pledged to boost testing, vaccinations, supplies, and treatments, and mandated masks on federal lands, and in inter-state travel.
The soaring infections have further increased the urgency for a speedier and more effective vaccination push in the country. Biden's national vaccination campaign aims to administer 100 million doses of two-stage coronavirus vaccines in his first 100 days.
Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, said Sunday that Biden's target of 100 million doses in 100 days is not a final number.
"It is really a floor and not a ceiling," Fauci told CBS. "It is going to be a challenge. I think it was a reasonable goal that was set. We always want to do better than the goal that you've set."
However, a new model by scientists at Columbia University shows that vaccines alone are not enough.
"The coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. has raged almost uncontrollably for so long that even if millions of people are vaccinated, millions more will still be infected and become ill unless people continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing measures until midsummer or later," said the report titled "Why Vaccines Alone Will Not End the Pandemic" published by the New York Times.
A model developed by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington shows that the United States is projected to see more than 566,000 COVID-19-related deaths by May 1.
Taking into account multiple scenarios based on masking mandates, vaccine distribution, and other behavioral changes, the model predicts that deaths in the country will not start leveling off until early March.