Over the past week, the United States has averaged more than 3,300 deaths per day, a jump of more than 217% from mid-November.
The numbers are grim, but for some experts they are not surprising. They follow surges in Covid-19 cases – fueled by holiday gatherings – across the country and weeks of record hospitalization numbers.
These numbers are also on the rise in college towns as students return for the first semester of 2021.
Full-time enrollments at higher education institutions represent more than a quarter of the population in 30 U.S. counties, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Infections increased in 26 of the counties in one week, on average by 50%. In Williamsburg, Va., Where William and Mary live, cases have nearly tripled in seven days. Cases more than doubled in Whitman County, Wash., Home of Washington State University, and Albany County, Wyoming, home of the University of Wyoming.
And at least 90% of staffed intensive care beds are occupied in 10 of the counties, including Mississippi State University’s Oktibbeha County, where nearly all intensive care beds are occupied by patients. Covid-19.
Track Covid-19 cases in the United States
Government announces changes in vaccine deployment
Also on Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced that the federal government would no longer withhold doses of the Covid-19 vaccine it was keeping in reserve and urged states to open up vaccinations to more than people.
“We are telling states that they should open up vaccinations to everyone… 65 and over and anyone under 65 who has a comorbid condition with some form of medical documentation,” Azar said.
According to CDC data, more than 27.6 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed to date and more than 9.3 million people have received their first dose – a far cry from what some experts had hoped the country would now be. .
In many cases, it was the rigid adherence to guidelines on who should get vaccines first that slowed vaccine rollout, Dr Anthony Fauci said Tuesday.
While the priorities recommended by the CDC should not be abandoned, Fauci said, “When people are ready to get vaccinated, we will go straight to the next level, so that there are no doses of the vaccine. that remain in a freezer. or a refrigerator where they could fit into people’s arms. ”
Azar added on Tuesday that the second doses will always be available to those who need them, saying that “based on the science and evidence we have, it is imperative that people receive their second doses on time.”
Doses of Pfizer vaccine should be spaced 21 days apart, and Moderna doses should be spaced 28 days apart.
And there are other changes underway: Starting at two weeks, vaccines will be distributed to states based on which jurisdictions receive the most doses in guns and where the most elderly reside.
“We will allocate them based on the rate of administration as reported by states and the size of the population 65 and over in each state,” Azar said. “We are giving states two weeks notice of this change to give them the time to plan and improve their reports if they believe their data is faulty. ”
Nearly 2.3 million children have tested positive for Covid-19
Meanwhile, a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association shows that as of January 7, nearly 2.3 million children have tested positive for Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. .
More than 171,000 of these cases were reported between December 31 and January 7, while over two weeks – between December 24 and January 7 – there was a 15% increase in Covid-19 cases among children, according to the report.
The results mean that children now represent 12.5% of all Covid-19 infections in the United States.
“At present, it appears that serious illnesses from Covid-19 are rare in children,” the report says.
“However, there is an urgent need to collect more data on the long-term impacts of the pandemic on children, including the ways in which the virus can adversely affect the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its effects on the disease. emotional and mental health. ”
Amanda Watts, Joe Sutton, Jacqueline Howard, Naomi Thomas, Jacqueline Howard, Nick Neville, Maggie Fox, Deidre McPhillips, Jessica Firger and Jamiel Lynch contributed to this report.