In a briefing Friday, White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said 71% of people 65 and over had received at least one dose of vaccination and that by mid- April, about half of the states would have opened eligibility to all. adults.
“We will need to continue to build on this progress to meet our new target of 200 million shots in the first 100 days,” Zients said, referring to the first 100 days of the Biden administration. “With the resources of the American Rescue Plan, we have the resources to scale up activity, fully implement strategy and put the pandemic behind us. ”
But Zients warned that the fight was not over.
“It is clear that there is reason to be optimistic. But there is no need to relax. Now is not the time to let our guard down, ”he said. “We need to follow public health guidelines: wear a mask, take social distance and get vaccinated when it’s your turn. “
“Deeply concerned about the trajectory”
Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has warned that cases of Covid in the United States are on the rise.
“The most recent seven-day average is around 57,000 cases per day, which is a 7% increase from the previous seven days,” she said. Hospitalizations have also increased slightly and the seven-day average of Covid-19 deaths “continues to stand at 1,000 deaths per day.”
“I remain deeply concerned about this trajectory. We’ve seen cases and hospital admissions go from historic declines, to stagnation, to increases. And we know from previous outbreaks that if we don’t get things under control now, there is real potential for an epidemic. curve to soar again, ”Walensky said.
“Please take this moment very seriously. We vaccinate 2.5 million people per day and they are protected from Covid, ”she said. “We can turn the situation around, but we will have to all work together. Please continue to wear your properly fitted mask and take public health action now that we know it can reverse these disturbing trends.
Walensky said she knew people were tired but it would take a little longer before the mitigation measures could be relaxed.
“Our advice is clear, we are actually vaccinating, very quickly and we are just asking people to hang on a little longer in terms of masks and mitigation strategies so that we can get the majority of people vaccinated,” he said. she “We just want to make sure that we don’t find ourselves in a wave that is really preventable.” ”
“People are starting to back down”
The CDC reported on Friday that 136,684,688 doses of the vaccine had been administered – about 77% of the 177,501,775 doses delivered.
That’s about 3.38 million more than Thursday and marked a new daily record. The seven-day average also hit a record high of over 2.6 million doses per day.
About 27% of the population – nearly 90 million people – have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 14.7% of the population – nearly 49 million people – are fully vaccinated.
Zients told the White House briefing that the administration expects Johnson & Johnson to meet its target of delivering 20 million coronavirus vaccines by the end of March.
While the company has consistently said it is on track to meet the goal, officials in the Biden administration have expressed doubts.
“We have done a lot to help J&J. We are monitoring this very closely, and we anticipate a significant increase at the end of this month, which will allow them to reach at least 20 million doses, ”Zients said.
Asked if the vaccine rollout was fast enough, CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta told Don Lemon on “CNN Tonight” that the Covid-19 vaccination campaign was “the fastest vaccination project. that we have ever seen ”.
“It’s really extraordinary for what it is,” he said. “But at the same time, cases can increase in some places – not because the vaccination is not fast enough – but because people are starting to withdraw. ”
Gupta said a lot of Americans “were looking at this thing in the rearview mirror at this point.”
“It’s the same problem throughout this pandemic. We know what to do, we wait for science to save us. Science is starting to save us, we are even starting to back down further. It’s the real race, ”he said.
“Vaccines are really important and it’s great that they are gaining momentum, but we’re still a little behind. ”
During Friday’s White House briefing, Walensky said officials were stepping up their surveillance for coronavirus variants with more than 8,000 cases of B.1.1.7 – the variant first detected in the UK – having now been reported in 51 jurisdictions.
“Our percentage of variants is a little behind our data because it takes a while to do the sequences and sequence the variants and do this population-based analysis. But, yes, we are worried about the increase, ”she told me.
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during the briefing that the variant appeared to be gaining traction.
“The problem is, the dynamics of the increase tell us that it will continue to be a greater proportion. Because if you look from week to week B 1.1.7 becomes more of a percentage and as the percentage increases it’s a reflection that it has the capacity to become dominant, ”he said. he declares.
CNN’s Maggie Fox contributed to this report.