Samara Heisz/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ERIN SCHUMAKER and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News(WASHINGTON) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 96.3 million people worldwide and killed over 2 million of them, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.Here’s how the news developed Wednesday. All times Eastern:Jan 20, 7:43 pmUS reports daily death recordThe U.S. reported 4,409 deaths Wednesday, the highest number of daily COVID-19 fatalities on record, according to the COVID Tracking Project.“With 11 days remaining in the month, January 2021 is now the 2nd-most deadly month for COVID-19 in the US,” the tracking project tweeted.The seven-day average of daily deaths is 3,043, according to the health data.The tracking project found that daily hospitalizations have seen a slight decrease over the last few days and is now at 122,700.“A hopeful trend: In the last week, no states have reported an increase in hospitalizations by 10% or more,” the tracking project tweeted.Jan 20, 6:24 pmTexas saw record 450 deaths in 1 dayTexas saw a record number of new daily coronavirus deaths, according to the Texas Department of Health.The state reported 450 new COVID-19 fatalities Wednesday. Texas has had over 32,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.There were 25,512 new cases and 5,017 probable cases recorded Wednesday, the state Health Department said. Texas has over 2.1 million cases confirmed so far, according to the COVID Tracking Project.-ABC News’ Gina SunseriJan 20, 4:39 pm‘Better, healthier days lie ahead’: 1st message from new CDC directorDr. Rochelle Walensky, the nation’s new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called for optimism and adherence to science in her first message to the American people Wednesday.“Better, healthier days lie ahead. But to get there, COVID-19 testing, surveillance, and vaccination must accelerate rapidly,” Walensky said in a statement. “We must also confront the longstanding public health challenges of social and racial injustice and inequity that have demanded action for far too long.”Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director, will be conducting a comprehensive review of the agency’s existing COVID-19 guidance and will update those recommendations based on the best available scientific evidence, so that Americans can make informed decisions about their lives, Walensky added.-ABC News’ Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.Jan 20, 2:43 pmUS may be ’rounding a corner,’ PolicyLab researchers sayThe U.S. has experienced “a second week of encouraging data trends and projections” which “lends greater confidence that the country may, as a whole, be rounding a corner,” according to researchers with PolicyLab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.In its weekly report based on an analysis of COVID-19 data, PolicyLab said much of the country appears “to be in a transition period during a winter surge.”Current positivity rates are down nationally and “projections from Southern California to Arizona suggest while overall case incidence may continue over the next four weeks, these areas might expect declines in overall transmission rates in many counties,” the report stated.Researchers noted caution “not to overstate … optimism,” citing evidence for possible increased transmission in winter vacation destinations such as Vail, Colorado, as well as Park City, Utah, and Sun Valley, Idaho.Despite some positive outlook, the report said incidence in coastal areas of the Southeast may continue to worsen into February as people attempt to escape the winter weather.Variants of the coronavirus could also be a factor in the “potential to increase case incidence again,” the report stated.-ABC News’ Brian Hartman contributed to this reportJan 20, 12:14 pmUS marks 1 year since confirming its 1st caseWednesday marks one year since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the United States.It wouldn’t be until several months later that scientists identified the virus that caused COVID-19 in blood samples from people in various U.S. states as early as December 2019.Since the first confirmed case 365 days ago, more than 24.2 million people in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19, which means that approximately one in every 13 Americans have contracted the disease, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.At least 402,400 lives in the U.S. have been lost to COVID-19, representing approximately 19.5% of the worldwide death toll from the disease. That means one in every 823 Americans have now died from COVID-19.New York remains the worst-hit U.S. state in terms of COVID-19 deaths — with more than 37,000 confirmed fatalities — followed by Texas, California and Florida.Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 763,000 people in the U.S. have been hospitalized with COVID-19. Just under 124,000 people nationwide are currently hospitalized with the disease. In the last two weeks, that number has declined by 5.6%, according to data compiled by The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the U.S. outbreak.January has already proven to be one of the worst months on record for the U.S. outbreak. In the first 19 days of 2021, the country has confirmed more than 4.15 million cases and over 55,000 deaths from the disease.Although the numbers are currently impacted by the holiday weekend, the U.S. continues to see a drop in new infections, now averaging approximately 197,000 newly confirmed cases per day, according to The COVID Tracking Project.Jan 20, 11:20 amUS surgeon general resigns at Biden’s requestU.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams resigned from his post Wednesday at the request of President-elect Joe Biden.“I’ve been asked by the Biden team to step down as Surgeon General,” Adams wrote on his official Twitter account.In a lengthy statement that was posted on Facebook, Adams reflected on his role in the COVID-19 response.“In the face of a once in a century pandemic, I sought to communicate the rapidly evolving science on this deadly adversary, and arm people with the knowledge and tools they needed to stay safe,” he said. “I wasn’t always right — because no one was, and this virus continues to humble all of us — but I was always sincere in my efforts to speak to every day Americans, and address the terrible health inequities this virus exposed.”Biden has nominated former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy back to the position and as a senior adviser in the COVID-19 response. Murthy’s nomination will need to be confirmed by the Senate.Jan 20, 10:23 amBiden to sign executive order that will require masks on federal propertyJoe Biden plans to sign more than a dozen executive actions after he is sworn-in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, including one that will impose a mask mandate in federal buildings and on federal land.The new requirement will be part of Biden’s “100 Days Mask Challenge,” which asks Americans to wear face masks for that time period.Biden plans to sign another executive order that will create the position of COVID-19 Response Coordinator and restore the National Security Council’s Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, which is responsible for pandemic preparedness and was dissolved by the Trump administration in 2018.Biden also plans to reverse President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization.Jan 20, 9:51 amVatican begins vaccinating Rome’s homeless against COVID-19Vatican City began offering free COVID-19 vaccinations to Rome’s homeless community on Wednesday, according to Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni.The vaccinations took place in the atrium of the Paul VI Audience Hall, the massive auditorium where the Pope holds his weekly general audiences. An initial group of around 25 homeless individuals, who are all looked after in facilities run by the Office of Papal Charities, received their first doses of the vaccine Wednesday morning, according to Bruni.“Further groups are to follow in the coming days,” Bruni said in a statement.Vatican City, an independent enclave surrounded by Rome that serves as the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, launched a COVID-19 immunization campaign last week, administering doses of a vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech. The tiny city-state has a population of only around 800 people but employs more than 4,000.Both Pope Francis and his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, have received their first doses of the vaccine.The vaccination campaign is voluntary and people under the age of 18 are being excluded for the time being, according to Bruni.Since the start of the pandemic, Vatican City has reported at least 27 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.Jan 20, 8:49 amSome UK hospitals are ‘like a war zone,’ government’s top scientific adviser saysSome hospitals in the United Kingdom look “like a war zone” as doctors and nurses workers grapple with an influx of COVID-19 patients, according to Patrick Vallance, the British government’s chief scientific adviser.“It may not look like it when you go for a walk in the park, but when you go into a hospital, this is very, very bad at the moment with enormous pressure and in some cases it looks like a war zone in terms of the things that people are having to deal with,” Vallance told Sky News in an interview Wednesday.He said there have been “huge numbers” of COVID-19 cases in recent days and that the country’s health care system “is under enormous pressure at the moment.” Official figures show nearly 38,000 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 across the U.K.Vallance’s comments come after the U.K. reported a record 1,610 additional deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday, as the cumulative total approaches 100,000. Since the start of the pandemic, the country has confirmed more than 3.4 million cases of the disease, including more than 91,000 fatalities, according to the latest data published on the British government’s website.The U.K. — an island nation of 66 million people made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — has the fifth-highest number of diagnosed cases worldwide and the fourth-highest death toll, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.Jan 20, 7:56 amZimbabwe’s foreign minister dies from COVID-19Zimbabwe’s minister of foreign affairs and international trade, Sibusiso Moyo, has died from COVID-19, officials said. He was 61.Moyo “succumbed to COVID-19 at a local hospital” early Wednesday morning, according to a statement from presidential spokesman George Charamba.Zimbabwean President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa took to Twitter to confirm the news and post a photo of Moyo.“Zimbabwe has lost a devoted public servant and a true hero, and I have lost a friend. He fought his entire life so that Zimbabwe could be free,” Mnangagwa tweeted. “May he rest in peace.”Moyo gained recognition in November 2017 as the army general who announced on national television that the Zimbabwean military had placed then-President Robert Mugabe under house arrest, while insisting it was not a coup. The move ended Mugabe’s 37-year rule and Moyo was appointed to Mnangagwa’s cabinet when he took power with military backing.Zimbabwe has recently seen a surge in COVID-19 infections amid fears of a new, more contagious variant of the novel coronavirus that emerged in neighboring South Africa. Zimbabwe has confirmed more than 28,000 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, including at least 825 deaths, according to the latest data from the Africas Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Jan 20, 6:41 amOver 15.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered in US so farMore than 15.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the United States to date, according to data published on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.Over 13.5 million people have received one or more doses of the vaccine, while more than two million have received two doses, according to the CDC data, which was updated Tuesday.Jan 20, 5:39 amUS reports over 168,000 new casesThere were 168,058 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Tuesday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.The latest daily case count is far less than the country’s all-time high of 298,031 newly confirmed infections on Jan. 2, Johns Hopkins data shows.An additional 2,550 fatalities from COVID-19 were registered nationwide on Tuesday, down from a peak of 4,462 new deaths on Jan. 12, according to Johns Hopkins data.COVID-19 data may be skewed due to possible lags in reporting over the holidays followed by a potentially very large backlog.A total of 24,253,368 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 401,730 have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of the pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up over the summer.The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4, then reaching 200,000 on Nov. 27 before nearing 300,000 on Jan. 2.Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.