Speed Reads

COVID crisis

Biden chief of staff warns coronavirus death toll could soon reach 500,000

President-elect Joe Biden's incoming White House chief of staff, Ron Klain, predicted on Sunday that the coronavirus death toll would reach 500,000 in the first weeks of the new administration. The current toll is 397,600, and it is expected to exceed 400,000 by Biden's inauguration on Wednesday. "The virus is going to get worse before it gets better," Klain said on CNN's State of the Union. "People who are contracting the virus today will start to get sick next month, will add to the death toll in late February, even March, so it's going to take a while to turn this around."

Biden has vowed to step up the pace of vaccinations, aiming for 100 million inoculations within 100 days. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading infectious-disease authority on the federal coronavirus task force, said on NBC News' Meet the Press that Biden's goal "is absolutely a doable thing."