COVID-19 Update

Updated ET, Sat ,

A half-million Americans are now dead as a result of the novel coronavirus that first hit U.S. shores just a little more than a year ago, a sad milestone that’s left families mourning nationwide.

U.S. deaths passed the 500,000 mark on Monday. Global deaths related to Covid-19 have surpassed 2.46 million, with the U.S. leading all countries with more than twice the number recorded by the next closest, Brazil, according to Bloomberg’s virus tracker.

Hospitalizations and deaths have fallen since peaking in early January as treatments have improved, a rising number of Americans have gotten natural immunity from surviving the virus, and more people are getting shots of vaccines produced by either Moderna Inc. or the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE team. There’s still a growing threat, though, from swift-moving mutations that have emerged from the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, and are now increasingly seen in the U.S.

“Half a million deaths,” said Anthony Fauci, the U.S.’s top infectious disease doctor, on CNN’s “State of the Union” broadcast on Sunday. “It’s terrible. It is historic. We haven’t seen anything even close to this for well over a hundred years since the 1918 pandemic of influenza.”

New York State lawmakers on Monday sought to move forward with an effort to strip Gov. Andrew Cuomo of emergency powers awarded to him during the coronavirus pandemic amid controversy over how his administration handled patient care at New York-area nursing homes.

Republicans in the state legislature held a press conference as they prepared to introduce legislation to immediately take those executive powers away from Cuomo, with hopes it could be formally approved by Monday night.

"This isn't following the science. This is arbitrarily making decisions that might be best for the governor, but I'm not sure they're best for the people in New York State," New York State Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said. "This is the time to take away those executive powers from the governor."

Cuomo’s expanded powers have allowed him to issue widespread executive orders intended to protect the public health throughout the pandemic.

A spokesperson for Cuomo did not return Fox News’ request for comment.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious diseases expert, said the U.S. has done "worse than most" other countries on Monday as the nation approaches half a million COVID-19 deaths.

"I believe that if you look back historically, we've done worse than most any other country," Fauci said during a Monday appearance on ABC News' Good Morning America. "And we're a highly developed, rich country."

The U.S. has reported nearly half a million deaths due to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic almost a year ago in March.

According to data from John Hopkins University more than 498,900 people have died of COVID-19 as of Monday morning. Globally, 2.4 million people have passed due to the virus.

The World Health Organization recently concluded its six-week investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, but some of its conclusions have solicited skepticism from scientists.

Some of the scientific doubt, however, was not in response to the WHO, but to China’s unwillingness to provide holistic data regarding the appearance and early spread of the virus throughout Wuhan.

While China has repeatedly denied that the coronavirus jumped to humans before December 2019 and that the virus even originated in China at all, some scientists have alleged that its denials were based on politics, not science.

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