• The latest coronavirus update for the US, via data from Johns Hopkins University, shows that there have been more than 24.6 million coronavirus cases identified in the US since the pandemic began, along with more than 411,000 deaths from the coronavirus.
  • White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci has now begun briefing reporters about the pandemic under the auspices of the Biden administration.
  • Dr. Fauci told reporters he feels liberated to now speak his mind under the Biden administration, compared to working for President Trump.

A little less than 20 million COVID vaccinations have now been completed in the US since the first shots began in mid-December, according to Bloomberg’s coronavirus vaccine tracker, but that’s still not yet on track for where it needs to be to start to make a dent in the pandemic here.

The new Biden administration has set a target of completing 1 million vaccinations per day, in order for President Biden to achieve his pledge of 100 million COVID vaccinations done during his first 100 days in office. Meantime, the latest coronavirus update from The Atlantic’s COVID Tracking Project shows that COVID hospitalizations in the US, at least, are trending downward. That number hit a pandemic high of 132,000 on January 12 and is now at less than 120,000 people.

And while all this is happening, the doctor who’s been at the forefront of the US coronavirus pandemic response as one of the country’s most trusted and authoritative sources of information has just given his first briefing under the auspices of the Biden administration — and raved about how liberated he now feels to not be working for Trump officials anymore.

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White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci returned to the White House press briefing room Thursday under very different circumstances than he encountered up to this point. Put simply, he insisted that Biden officials will now let him speak his mind freely, without fear of repercussion, whether the news he’s sharing is good or bad.

“I can tell you, I take no pleasure at all in being in a situation of contradicting the president,” Dr. Fauci told reporters, something he nevertheless tried to do very delicately when President Trump said something amiss so as not to anger him. “The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what the evidence, what the science is — let the science speak, it is somewhat of a liberating feeling.”

Accordingly, the now 80-year-old doctor stressed to the assembled reporters that the US coronavirus picture is still extremely worrying. And the latest statistics from Johns Hopkins University certainly bear that out.

There have now been more than 24.6 million coronavirus cases that have been identified in the US since the pandemic began, along with more than 411,000 deaths as a result of the coronavirus.

“One of the things that was very clear as recently as about 15 minutes ago, when I was with the President, is that one of the things that we’re going to do is be completely transparent, open and honest,” Dr. Fauci continued during his press briefing. “If things go wrong, not point fingers but to correct them. And to make everything we do be based on science and evidence.”

This is why Dr. Fauci kicked off his remarks by reminding the reporters: “We are still in a very serious situation,” one that’s “historic in a very bad sense.”

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.