Jan. 19 (UPI) -- The United States surpassed another somber milestone on Tuesday -- a total of more than 400,000 COVID-19 deaths over the past year since the start of the pandemic.
According to updated data from Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. death toll topped the 400,000 mark early Tuesday afternoon.
Earlier, the data showed an additional 1,400 coronavirus deaths nationwide on Monday -- a significantly lower figure for the month and the lowest daily toll since Jan. 3.
The figure was the second day in a row in which there were fewer than 2,000 deaths in the United States, after several days with that figure between 3,300 and 4,000.
However, health reporting nationwide is typically slower over the weekends and on holidays. Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Nationwide, there were also 142,000 new coronavirus cases on Monday -- which was also a significant decline, about 5,000, from the previous day.
There have been 24.14 million cases in the United States to date, according to Johns Hopkins.
CNN reported Tuesday that a researcher at the University of Arizona says the coronavirus variant identified in Britain may have actually circulated first in the United States.
Biologist Michael Worobey said, in fact, there is evidence that the "B.1.1.7" variant has been imported on multiple occasions.
"This [variant] may already have been established in the U.S. for some 5-6 weeks before [it] was first identified as a variant of concern in the U.K. in mid-December," he said.
U.S. health officials have said at least 100 cases of the variant have so far been identified in almost two dozen states. Experts believe the existing COVID-19 vaccines, however, will also be effective in blocking it.
Other COVID-19 updates on Tuesday:
- Washington, D.C., is preparing for Wednesday's inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Tuesday night, the two will attend a ceremony on the National Mall honoring all Americans who have died so far during the pandemic.
- An investigative panel of the World Health Organization says in an interim report that the world was not prepared for the pandemic -- and blamed China and the WHO for reacting too slowly a year ago in their efforts to contain the outbreak.