Nearly half of new coronavirus infections nationwide are occurring in just five states – a situation that is prompting the federal government to consider changing the way it distributes vaccines by sending more doses to hot spots.
New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey together reported 44% of the nation’s new COVID-19 infections, or nearly 197,500 new cases, in the last available seven-day period, according to public health agency data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. . The total number of infections in the United States in the same week was over 452,000.
Skipping vaccines in places where numbers are increasing makes sense, said Dr. Elvin H. Geng, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Washington. But it’s also complicated.
“You wouldn’t want to keep these people waiting because they were getting better,” Geng said. “On the other hand, it only makes sense to send vaccines where cases are increasing.”
So far, President Joe Biden’s administration has shown no signs of changing its policy of distributing vaccine doses among states based on population.
The spike in cases was especially pronounced in Michigan, where the seven-day average of daily new infections reached 6,719 cases on Sunday – more than double what it was two weeks earlier.
Although Michigan has seen the highest rate of new infections in the past two weeks, Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer said she has no plans to tighten the restrictions. She blamed the rise of the virus on pandemic fatigue, which gets people moving more, as well as more contagious variants.
Whitmer received her first vaccine on Tuesday, the day after Michigan’s eligibility expanded to all people 16 and older. She asked the White House last week on a conference call with governors if she was considering sending additional vaccines to states struggling with virus outbreaks. He was told that all options were on the table.
In New Jersey, where the seven-day moving average of daily new infections has risen over the past two weeks from 4,050 daily cases to 4,250, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said he was constantly speaking to the White House about the demand. vaccine against the coronavirus, although he has stopped saying he was pushing for more vaccines due to the state’s high infection rate.
Vaccine shipments to New Jersey increased 12% last week, Murphy said on Monday, though he wondered if that was enough.
“We’re constantly watching, OK, we know we’re increasing, but are we increasing at the rate we should be, especially given the number of cases we have?” Said Murphy.
Former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb has urged the Biden administration to push additional injections of the coronavirus into parts of the United States that are experiencing epidemics, including Michigan, New York and New Jersey.
“I think what we need to do is try to keep vaccinating, ramping up the vaccine in those parts of the country,” Gottlieb said in a March 28 appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation”. “So the additional vaccine that’s coming into the market, I think the Biden administration can attribute it to areas of the country that seem trending right now.”
University of California, Berkeley researcher Joshua Schwab recently estimated that doubling Michigan’s current vaccine allocation for two weeks could reduce hospitalizations by 10,000 and deaths by 1,200 by July. He concluded that much larger reductions could be achieved if additional vaccines were combined and certain restrictions were put back in place.
Discussions of sending additional vaccines to states struggling with epidemics come at a time when the number of daily infections in the United States has declined significantly from a peak in January after the holiday season. However, the seven-day daily infection average has been slowly increasing since mid-March.
The five states with the most infections stand out. California and Texas, which have much larger populations than Michigan, report less than half of their number of daily infections. And as of Tuesday, 31 U.S. states were reporting seven-day averages of less than 1,000 new daily cases.
White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said on Tuesday that more than 28 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine would be delivered to states this week. This allocation will bring the US total to more than 90 million doses distributed over the past three weeks.
The news came as Biden announced that more than 150 million coronavirus vaccines had been administered since taking office and that all adults would be eligible to receive a vaccine by April 19.
About 40% of American adults have now received at least one COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only 23% of American adults have been fully immunized – including more than half of Americans 65 and older.
Geng said the nation should take a step back and take it slow. Even a few more weeks of Americans sticking to social distancing and other precautions could make a huge difference.
“The take-home message here is, let’s not jump the gun,” Geng said. “There is light at the end of the tunnel. We all see it there. And we will get there. Slow and steady. “
Bynum reported from Savannah, Georgia. Smith reported from Providence, Rhode Island. Associated Press editors Darlene Superville in Washington, David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan, and Michael Catalini in Trenton, New Jersey, also contributed to this report.
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