Jan. 8 (UPI) -- More than 4,000 Americans died in a single day for the first time since the start of the pandemic and nearly 275,000 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed on Thursday, new data showed.
Some 4,085 COVID-19 patients died, marking a third consecutive day of record-high death tolls, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The latest figures pushed the total U.S. death toll since March to 365,448 and boosted its seven-day average to nearly 2,800 per day. Nearly 20,000 people have died so far in 2021.
Thursday's new caseload of 274,700 was the second-highest daily total so far during the pandemic, topped only by the 297,000 recorded last Friday. There have now been 21.6 million total COVID-19 cases in the United States, the Johns Hopkins figures showed.
The U.S. seven-day average of about 228,500 new daily cases is up 22% from the previous week.
Hospitalizations dropped slightly to around 132,300 on Thursday after five straight days of new record highs, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
About 21.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been distributed nationwide and almost 6 million doses gave been administered as of early Friday, according to the CDC.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, said he expects the worsening trends to continue before they get better.
"As we get into the next couple of weeks in January, that likely will be a reflection of the holiday season travel and the congregate settings that usually take place socially during that period of time," he told National Public Radio this week.
"We've seen following most events that require travel and ... have people, you know, understandably getting together in a social setting. So we believe things will get worse as we get into January," he said.
In other COVID-19 news Friday:
- The U.S. economy shed 140,000 jobs during December in its first monthly loss since the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic began last spring. The numbers underscored the continuing weakness of the labor market amid soaring COVID-19 caseloads.
- A new study conducted by University of Texas researchers showed that the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech may be just as effective against new variants of the coronavirus that have emerged in Britain and South Africa as it is against the original virus.
- Another study found that symptoms such as fatigue and shortness of breath can persist for more than 10 weeks after a COVID-19 diagnosis. Researchers found that that fatigue, ill-health and breathlessness were all common following infection.