US health authorities warned the Covid-19 pandemic would make winter one of the most difficult times in US history. That prediction is quickly proving true.
December was devastating. And January could be deadlier.
For the past week, the US averaged more than 3,000 Covid-19 deaths per day. And Monday marked the seventh day in a row the country reported more than 200,000 new Covid-19 infections, CNN has reported.
The grim numbers have been fueled by last month’s holiday travels and gatherings that experts had warned against.
“This is what we were afraid of — people letting their guard down over Christmas and New Years,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday while announcing the spread of the virus was increasing across the state.
Arizona’s hospitalization numbers are at all-time highs due to a surge that the state’s top health official said earlier this month followed the Christmas holiday.
In Los Angeles, which has been battered by the virus for weeks now, one health official says the aftermath of holiday get-togethers is likely still on its way.
“It takes two to three weeks for patients to get sick enough to need the hospital after they’ve gotten the virus, and Christmas was only two weeks ago, and we’re already full,” said Dr. Anish Mahajan, chief medical officer at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
“We don’t have any more ICU capacity,” he added. “All of the hospitals in the region are putting ICU patients in unusual places in the hospital just to find room for them.”
Meanwhile, nearly nine million people have now received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and more than 25.4 million doses have been distributed across the US, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of Monday morning, about 35.3% of doses distributed had been administered, compared with about 30.2% Friday.
Amid a rollout that has been far slower than some officials hoped, more states are abandoning guidelines from the CDC and taking their own approach to administering the vaccine, a new analysis found.
Timelines vary across the country and “access to Covid-19 vaccines in these first months of the U.S. vaccine campaign may depend a great deal on where one lives,” the Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies health care policy, said in a report issued Monday.
The report found 40 states are still in Phase 1a — when the CDC recommends vaccinating healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents — either fully or partly. Ten states and Washington DC were in Phase 1b. Only Michigan has moved to at least part of Phase 1c, the report said.
For Phase 1b, CDC recommended vaccinating people aged 75 and older and frontline essential workers and for Phase 1c, the agency recommended the vaccinations of people 65 and older, younger people with high-risk conditions and other essential workers.
States are “making the decision to just get as many people vaccinated as they can,” and bypassing recommendations for vaccine prioritization, said Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee on Monday.
“I think where people are right now is they have the vaccine and they just want to get it out there,” Offit said.
Without the “public health infrastructure for mass vaccination” in place, states are having to learn how to manage mass vaccinations in real-time, and some are learning quicker than others, he added.