A U.S. record of more than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths was reported Tuesday evening, with final numbers for the day to be announced overnight.

A total of 4,197 deaths had been reported so far Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The only previous day on which coronavirus deaths surpassed 4,000 was Jan. 7, when 4,194 total fatalities were reported, according to JHU.

Heading into Tuesday, the U.S. daily death toll from COVID-19 averaged 3,223 the previous week, per CNN. 

Holiday travel and casual at-home gatherings, which experts warned against, have been blamed for the current nationwide COVID-19 surge.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced Tuesday second doses of the vaccine will be released immediately. President-elect Joe Biden previously promoted such a plan.

Although more than 27 million doses had been distributed around the country, less than 10 million people had received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Connecticut, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia were states that had administered more than half of the first doses they received. However, other states – Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama, Hawaii, Virginia, Idaho, and California – have administered less than a quarter of the doses they received.

Operation Warp Speed officials defended the slow rollout of vaccines Tuesday, saying some states were too rigid in giving the vaccine to only healthcare workers and nursing home residents.

Officials said the rollout would speed up, and asked states to make the vaccine available to everyone 65 and older and to younger people with chronic conditions.

During the past week, an average of 248,650 new COVID-19 infections were reported daily.


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