The United States surpassed 300,000 recorded deaths from COVID-19 Monday — the same day the first American was vaccinated against the coronavirus that causes the disease. The grim number comes about two weeks after millions of Americans defied warnings to avoid travel and gathered with family members for the Thanksgiving holiday. According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, by Monday afternoon 300,267 Americans have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The U.S. makes up nearly 1-in-5 deaths worldwide from COVID-19. The medical staff listens during a news conference at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center in Los Angeles, Dec. 14, 2020.While it took four months for the first 100,000 Americans to succumb to the virus, some public health experts forecast another 100,000 deaths before the end of January. Similar surges are being recorded around the world, as a number of European countries enter a second round of lockdowns, even as front-line health care workers begin to receive vaccines against the virus. In EuropeGermany is heading for a second lockdown starting Wednesday amid rising coronavirus infections. The government is urging citizens to avoid Christmas shopping in the two days before most stores close and social distancing rules tighten.  People queue in front of a shop, as the coronavirus disease outbreak continues, in Frankfurt, Germany, Dec. 14, 2020.According to Johns Hopkins, as of Monday afternoon, Germany had recorded more than 1,356,650 confirmed cases and more than 22,300 deaths. Italy has overtaken Britain as the European country with the most COVID-19 deaths, according to data collected by JHU. Monday afternoon, Italy had more than 65,000 deaths, while Britain had 64,500. Prime Minister Micheal Martin of Ireland said Monday that some COVID-19 restrictions may be reimposed in January, after top health officials said infection cases may rise again after many sectors of the economy reopened in the past two weeks. In AsiaIn Asia, South Korean health authorities said 150 virus testing centers will be opened in phases in the capital area, adding to more than 210 existing sites.  The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said the country registered 718 new cases Monday, but the additional cases marked a drop from the more than 1,000 reported Sunday. South Korea has seen relatively low total infections and deaths at 43,484 and 587 respectively as of Monday afternoon.  A medical staff member wearing protective gear takes a swab from a woman to test for the COVID-19 coronavirus at a temporary testing station outside Seoul station in Seoul, Dec. 14, 2020.In Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Monday that the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine has been approved, with the first shots to be delivered by the end of this month. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday that her country has agreed to allow quarantine-free travel from Australia in the first quarter of next year. Australia is already allowing New Zealanders to skip a two-week quarantine required of travelers from other countries.  
 

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