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US hits 16 million COVID cases; vaccine shipments to begin today

The United States hit a record 16 million COVID-19 cases on Saturday evening, with deaths closing in on the 300,000 mark, even as millions of doses of a new vaccine were expected to start rolling out across the nation on Sunday.

The first vaccine was approved late on Friday by the US Food and Drug Administration and is expected to touch off a mass-inoculation campaign of unparalleled dimension to end the pandemic that has upended daily life and devastated the U.S. economy.

“FDA APPROVES PFIZER VACCINE FOR EMERGENCY USE!!!” President Donald Trump announced on Friday night on Twitter. He promised Americans the vaccinations would begin in less than 24 hours.


But U.S. Army General Gustave Perna said on a Saturday news call that the first shipments will begin on Sunday and will be delivered to 145 locations around the country on Monday.

The remainder of the 636 delivery locations selected by states and U.S. territories will receive doses on Tuesday and Wednesday, he said, adding that Pfizer will have more doses ready every week for distribution and administration.

The first batch of shots is expected to be aimed largely at health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities.