WASHINGTON

More than 300,000 people have died from the novel coronavirus in the US as the nation struggles to cope with spiking numbers of infections, according to data released by Johns Hopkins University Monday. 

In all, the university recorded 300,267 deaths and more than 16.3 million infections since the US outbreak began in early 2020.

But it is the country’s record-setting levels of infections that has health experts on edge. The US recorded over 231,000 infections on Friday, an all-time high, and while confirmed cases have gradually declined to more than 190,000 on Sunday, the rate of daily infections is far higher than at any time in the US outbreak.

Deaths also hit a record high on Friday when over 3,300 people were killed by COVID-19, but as deaths tend to lag behind infections the US is bracing for a somber increase in fatalities.

The spikes are largely related to people choosing to gather indoors as temperatures dip across much of the nation, and as people come together for the winter holidays.

Amid the somber upticks, the US began rolling out over the weekend the first of two expected coronavirus vaccines. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine received emergency use authorization for those 16 and older on Friday and began destribution on Sunday.

A second mRNA vaccine from Moderna is expected to also be considered for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration in the coming weeks.

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