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Cemetery workers bury a coronavirus victim of coronavirus at a funeral in Sao Paulo, Brazil, March 12. Photo: Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images

Brazil became on Wednesday the second country after the U.S. to surpass 300,000 COVID-19 deaths.

For the record: The health ministry confirmed Wednesday another 2,009 Brazilians had died of the coronavirus, taking the total pandemic death toll to 300,685. Brazil's population is much smaller than the U.S., which reached the milestone on Dec. 14, 2020.

  • The country's daily coronavirus death toll on Tuesday passed 3,000 for the first time.

Driving the news: Brazil has reported 100,000 deaths from the virus in 75 days, "a spike health experts blame on a lack of political coordination in fighting the virus, new variants that spread more easily and a disregard for health protocols," per AP.

  • COVID-19 case loads have overwhelmed hospitals across the country, and many have been operating at near or beyond their capacity.
  • Several Brazilian states have reported critical medical stock levels, including inadequate amounts of oxygen, Al Jazeera reports.

Of note: President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly downplayed the virus, and he didn't offer any policies to address the pandemic during a meeting with the heads of other government branches, which was called to coordinate a response to the pandemic, AP notes.

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: First known U.S. case of Omicron variant identified in California — America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron — CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers.
  2. Politics: Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come — Meta removes accounts linked to COVID disinformation effort by China.
  3. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine.
  4. World: Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people — Omicron variant detected in more countriesWHO advises people 60 or older to postpone travel due to Omicron
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Omicron cases confirmed in 3 U.S. states

A healthcare worker inserts a Covid-19 rapid test into a machine in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Daniel Brenner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The third confirmed U.S. case of the newly-discovered Omicron variant was detected in a Colorado resident, state health officials said Thursday.

The latest: In addition to Colorado, the variant has been confirmed in California, and Minnesota.

Early winter heat shatters records in U.S., Canada

Temperature departures from average on Dec. 2, 2021, as depicted by the GFS computer model. (Weatherbell.com)

A widespread and intense heatwave is roasting large portions of the U.S. and Canada, shattering daily and monthly temperature records.

Why it matters: Winter is the fastest-warming season across the U.S., and the lingering warmth is shortening the snow season in places like Colorado and Montana, where mountain snowpack is a critical source of water during the summer months.