U.S. COVID-19 confirmed cases topped 24 million, with total deaths approaching 400,000 on Monday, two days ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.
The country recorded over 24.04 million cases and more than 398,000 deaths as of 5:00 p.m. Monday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
Just a little more than halfway into January, the United States has added a staggering 3.9 million new COVID-19 cases and more than 51,000 virus-related deaths, said a report by CNN on Monday.
The level of transmission in the United States is "screaming," Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN Sunday night.
It took the United States 304 days to reach 12 million COVID-19 cases, according to JHU data. It took the nation only 59 days to have the second 12 million cases.
The United States, which makes up 4 percent of the world's population, accounts for about 20 percent of global COVID-19 deaths.
According to the latest projections of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 16,200 to 29,600 new deaths will likely be reported in the week ending Feb. 6. A total of 440,000 to 477,000 COVID-19 deaths will be reported by this date.
"This is a staggering and mind-numbing number," Sourabh Gupta, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Institute for China-America Studies, said of the surging U.S. COVID-19 cases and deaths in a recent interview with Xinhua.
"Yet, we still have to cope with nonsensical debates about individual freedoms and mask-wearing," Gupta said.
"A vacuum of leadership, coupled with incompetency in the country to take early action to prevent the spread of the virus even after the COVID-19 virus had been identified" has all contributed to the U.S. failure, Sarwar A. Kashmeri, an international relations analyst at Norwich University, told Xinhua.
Political polarization and a rejection of science have stymied the U.S. ability to control the COVID-19 pandemic, said a New York Times article on Sunday.
"That has been clearest and most damaging at the federal level, where Mr. Trump claimed that the virus would 'disappear,' clashed with his top scientists and, in a pivotal failure, abdicated responsibility for a pandemic that required a national effort to defeat it, handing key decisions over to states under the assumption that they would take on the fight and get the country back to business," said the article titled "One Year, 400,000 Coronavirus Deaths: How the U.S. Guaranteed Its Own Failure."
"But governors and local officials who were left in charge of the crisis squandered the little momentum the country had as they sidelined health experts, ignored warnings from their own advisers and, in some cases, stocked their advisory committees with more business representatives than doctors," it said.
Though vaccinations are underway in the United States, containing the pandemic is one of the gravest national challenges Biden's new team faces as it takes office on Jan. 20.
Biden hopes to administer 100 million doses of two-stage coronavirus vaccines in his first 100 days. Biden also plans to sign an executive order requiring masks on federal property and during interstate travel and is urging all Americans to wear face coverings for 100 days.
"In the United States, there has been a great deal of misinformation and confusion about COVID-19," John Manzella, editor-in-chief of The Manzella Report, told Xinhua.
"As a result, many Americans still do not understand the importance of wearing a mask or social distancing -- a problem that very likely has resulted in higher COVID casualties," he said.
The rollout of vaccines for COVID-19 has been slower than expected in the country. The Donald Trump administration planned to inject 20 million Americans by the end of 2020. However, only about 12.28 million doses have been administered as of Jan. 15, according to the U.S. CDC.