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COVID-19 Death Toll Hits 450,000 But Infections Slow — Where Does The U.S. Stand?

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

We begin this hour with an update on the latest COVID-19 numbers, both the ones that look encouraging and the ones that still look, frankly, pretty awful. In the awful column, the U.S. is barreling towards half a million deaths from COVID-19. We will hit that milestone later this month. But a glimmer of good news - infections have slowed these last couple of weeks.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

That's right. A month ago, the U.S. saw more than 300,000 new cases of coronavirus in a single day. Yesterday, that number was down to about 123,000. And declines are happening in all but a few states.

KELLY: But the still-huge number of new cases is worrisome. Here's how Dr. Anthony Fauci put it on NPR's Fresh Air.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

ANTHONY FAUCI: That means the virus has almost an open playing field. To replicate means you give it an opportunity to mutate.

KELLY: So masks and social distancing must continue, Fauci says. And we need to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.