US Coronavirus Deaths Toll Hits 250,000

According to new data, as coronavirus cases continue to surge across the nation, the virus' death toll has now hit 250,000. NBC News reports that the U.S. reached the tragic milestone on Wednesday, capping a 42 percent rise in deaths over the past four weeks. Research suggests that the weekly average in early October was 821 per day, but that average climbed to 1,167 per day during the second week of November.

Regarding the new spike in COVID-19 cases, Dr. Brett Giroir, the Trump administration's coronavirus testing czar, spoke with MSBNC's Andrea Mitchell about how crucial this moment in time is for combating the virus. "Right now, we are in an absolutely dangerous situation that we have to take with the utmost seriousness," he said. "This is not crying wolf. This is the worst rate of rise in cases that we have seen in the pandemic in the United States. And, right now, there's no sign of flattening."

Many are hopeful that the recently revealed Pfizer vaccine will be a turning point in the fight against COVID-19. The company announced the vaccine and shared that it is 95 percent effective against the coronavirus. "The study results mark an important step in this historic eight-month journey to bring forward a vaccine capable of helping to end this devastating pandemic," Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer chairman and CEO, said of the development. "With hundreds of thousands of people around the globe infected every day, we urgently need to get a safe and effective vaccine to the world." Pfizer is now planning to seek emergency use of the vaccine with the Food and Drug Administration. The company will also be sharing its data with other countries to help get the vaccine around the world.

While the new vaccine certainly sounds promising, many medical professionals urge the public to use cautious optimism over the early news. "I want to see the raw data," said Dr. Michael Saag, associate dean for global health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "But based on the assumption that the results stand up to peer review scrutiny and the safety data are as advertised," he added, "then this is a grand slam home run." Saag is an independent voice on the subject, as he had no involvement in Pfizer's vaccine trial.