US virus death toll hits 350,000; surge feared

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BALTIMORE, M.D. — The COVID-19 death toll in the United States has surpassed 350,000 as experts anticipate another surge in coronavirus cases and deaths stemming from holiday gatherings over Christmas and New Year’s.

Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University shows the U.S. passed the threshold early Sunday morning. More than 20 million people in the country have been infected. The U.S. has begun using two coronavirus vaccines to protect health care workers and nursing home residents and staff but the rollout of the inoculation program has been criticized as being slow and chaotic.

Multiple states have reported a record number of cases over the past few days, including North Carolina and Arizona. Mortuary owners in hard-hit Southern California say they’re being inundated with bodies.

The U.S. by far has reported the most deaths from COVID-19 in the world, followed by Brazil, which has reported more than 195,000 deaths.

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

India has approved two COVID-19 vaccines, paving the way for a massive inoculation program. The vaccines are from Oxford University and AstraZeneca and local firm Bharat Biotech.

Britain’s prime minister is warning of new restrictions ahead as coronavirus infections soar. On Monday, the country plans to ramp up vaccinations using the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

— Louisiana Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, 41, who died from COVID-19 complications, was remembered as a man who loved people and felt called to serve others.

— Tokyo’s Gov. Yuriko Koike is asking the national government to declare a “state of emergency” to curtail surging coronavirus infections. Concerns are growing ahead of hosting the Olympics in July.

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Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Sunday that more onerous lockdown restrictions in England are likely as the country reels from a new coronavirus variant that has pushed infection rates to their highest recorded levels.

Johnson, though, insisted he has “no doubt” that schools are safe and urged parents to send their children back into the classroom in areas of England where they can. Unions representing teachers have called for schools to turn to remote learning for at least a couple of weeks more due to the new variant, which scientists have said is up to 70% more contagious.

The U.K. is in the midst of an acute outbreak, recording more than 50,000 new coronavirus infections a day over the past five days. On Saturday, it notched a daily record of 57,725 new cases. The country has seen nearly 75,000 virus-related deaths.

“We are entirely reconciled to do what it takes to get the virus under control, that may involve tougher measures in the weeks ahead,” Johnson said in an interview with the BBC.

In some parts of the British capital and its surrounding…



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