U.S. reports record 299,000 COVID-19 cases; Trump says numbers 'exaggerated'

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Jan. 3 (UPI) -- The United States reported a record of more than 299,000 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours as President Donald Trump on Sunday claimed the numbers were "exaggerated."

Data gathered by Johns Hopkins University showed the United States reported 299,087 new cases on Sunday along with 2,398 new deaths as many states reported more than one day of data after the New Year's Day holiday. The United States leads all nations with 20,439,674 cases and 350,267 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data.

In a tweet on Sunday, Trump blamed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's process for reporting cases for the high totals.

"The number of cases and deaths of the China Virus is far exaggerated in the United States because of @CDCgov's ridiculous method of determination compared to other countries, many of whom report, purposely very inaccurately and low. 'When in doubt, call it COVID.' Fake News!" Trump wrote, using a name for the virus he has often deployed to blame China for the global pandemic, as the virus was first discovered in the city of Wuhan.

Appearing on CNN's State of the Union, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said that he had not identified any reason to doubt the reported totals of cases and deaths.

"From a health perspective, I have no reason to doubt those numbers and I think people need to be very aware it's not about the deaths as we talked about earlier but the hospitalizations and the capacity," said Adams. "These cases are having an impact in an array of ways and people need to understand there is a finish line in sight but we have to keep running towards it."

At least 123,639 people were hospitalized on Saturday, marking the 32nd consecutive day with more than 100,000 hospitalizations, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Adams said that while projections of possible surges in cases following the holidays are "scary," he still has faith in the administration's vaccine rollout despite falling far short of plans to administer 20 million vaccines by the end of 2020.

"I want people to understand that the projections we were putting out were based on what we could control at the federal level. And we did deliver on 20 million doses delivered, but you're always going to have more doses allocated versus delivered. Delivered versus shots in the arms. I just want to be frank," he said.

A total of 4.28 million doses have been given nationwide, according to a tally by Bloomberg and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The total number of doses administered is 13 million.

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