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VIRUS TODAY: US death toll from COVID-19 passes 400,000

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The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus has eclipsed 400,000 in the waning hours in office for President Donald Trump, whose handling of the crisis has been judged by public health experts to be a singular failure

THREE THINGS TO KNOW TODAY

— The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus has topped 400,000 in the final hours of Donald Trump’s presidency. The milestone comes almost exactly a year after health officials diagnosed the nation’s first case of the virus, and after months of efforts by Trump to downplay the threat and his administration’s responsibility to confront it. The number of dead is about equal to the population of Tulsa, Oklahoma; Tampa, Florida; or New Orleans. It is just short of the estimated 409,000 Americans who died in 2019 of strokes, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, flu and pneumonia combined. By week’s end, the toll will probably surpass the number of Americans killed in World War II.

— Mutations to the virus are rapidly popping up. Each new infection gives the virus a chance to alter itself. So far, vaccines seem to remain effective against the new variants, but the longer it takes to vaccinate people, the more likely it is that a version of the virus that can elude defenses could emerge. Health officials say the more contagious variant first identified in Britain may become dominant in the U.S. by March. That could mean more hospitalizations and deaths.

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— Dozens of clinics have cropped up around the U.S. to address a puzzling and troubling aspect of COVID-19 — the effects that can stubbornly afflict some people weeks or months after the infection itself has subsided. The symptoms can include pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression and foggy-headedness.

THE NUMBERS: The U.S. is averaging about 207,000 new cases and more than 3,200 deaths each day.

QUOTABLE: “Grocery workers have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and are as critical to our food supply as farmers.” — Tim Metcalfe, who owns three markets in Wisconsin, after grocery store workers were excluded from the next phase of state vaccination plans.

ICYMI: California has become the first state to record more than 3 million known coronavirus infections. That’s according to a tally Monday by Johns Hopkins University. The milestone wasn’t entirely unexpected in a state with 40 million residents, but its speed was stunning. California just reached 2 million cases on Dec. 24. The state also has seen more than 33,600 COVID-19 deaths.

ON THE HORIZON: Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is worried after watching news coverage of fans celebrating close together following the Chiefs’ 22-17 NFL playoff victory over Cleveland. Now, with the Chiefs hosting Buffalo in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, Lucas is urging fans to keep safety precautions in mind.

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Find AP’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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