(CNN) — The US has just surpassed 24 million Covid-19 cases — and more than 60% of them have been reported since Election Day.
The stunning numbers follow brutal surges in the past months — during which the US saw hundreds of thousands of new cases daily, while Covid-19 hospitalization and death numbers reached all-time highs.
And just about a year since the first Covid-19 case was reported in the US, the country’s death toll is fast approaching 400,000 — more than the number of Americans who died in World War I, the Vietnam War and the Korean War combined and nearly as many Americans who died in World War II.
Currently, more than 123,800 Americans are hospitalized with the virus, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
While that number may be down from its January 6 peak of 132,476, hospitals and health care workers across the country are still under tremendous pressure. In Georgia, one hospital official told CNN affiliate WSB they were so full they had to treat patients in hallways and ambulances.
In Texas, the city of Laredo has run out of ICU beds and sent an emergency message to residents urging them to stay home, city spokeswoman Noraida Negron said. Over the weekend, the city had to send multiple patients to hospitals in other areas to accommodate the surge.
“We had no beds whatsoever,” Negron added.
There’s good reason to keep your guard up
And while new cases across the country have also been trending down since hitting a peak last week, experts urge Americans not to let their guard down yet.
For one, even with the apparent improvement, the country still averaged about 207,000 new cases daily in the past seven days.
“The virus has established itself in the human population and it’s not going anywhere,” infectious disease expert Amesh Adalja told CNN. “We’re going to see a lot of transmission until we cross the threshold for herd immunity.”
But also, the Covid-19 variant first identified in the UK is spreading across the US and experts have warned that while it does not appear to be more deadly, it is more easily transmittable and will lead to even more infections.
More than 120 cases of the variant have been identified across 20 states, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the agency warned last week a model trajectory of the variant in the US “exhibits rapid growth in early 2021.”
“In some ways, it’s much worse that it is more contagious because it will infect many, many more people and unfortunately probably will end up killing more people,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told CNN Monday night.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday said the variant is the biggest challenge facing the city.
“Our health care leadership here in New York City, they say we are racing against time to vaccinate the maximum people before that UK variant spreads like wildfire,” he told CNN.
9 states have administered more than half of their vaccine doses
Across the US, more than 12 million people have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and more than 31 million doses have been distributed, according to CDC data.
The ratio of doses administered to doses delivered sits at roughly 39% — but the metric varies wildly across different states.
About nine states, and Washington, DC, have administered more than 50% of the vaccine doses that were distributed, according to CDC data. Those are Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and West Virginia.
Two states have administered less than 25% of their doses: Alabama and Georgia.
How other states are trying to ramp up vaccinations
To boost their numbers, parts of the country are working to find ways to ramp up vaccinations.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers was at the opening of a new Covid-19 vaccination site Monday at the Prevea Health/University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Kress Events Center.
Tommy Thompson, president of the University of Wisconsin System, says more vaccination sites will be opening up soon, with the goal of opening sites on all 26 campuses in the system.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced the state was launching a vaccine pilot program and will partner with local health and school districts to target certain populations.
“These sites will initially serve adults 65 years of age or older, as well as prekindergarten through grade 12 educators, school staff, and child care workers,” a news release from the governor’s office said. “The community vaccination pilot program will be the foundation for mass vaccination clinics in Minnesota communities once the federal government increases vaccine supply.”
In California, all Los Angeles County residents 65 and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine later this week, under a new executive order signed by Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis.
That comes just days after health officials in the county said they did not have enough supply to begin vaccinating that age group, after the state expanded eligibility.
“If we are to ever get out of this dark winter, it is critical that we make headway vaccinating people 65 years of age and older as soon as possible — in line with Governor Gavin Newsom’s recommendations,” Solis said in a statement.
In Florida, 40,000 people are overdue for their second dose
Meanwhile in Florida, more than 40,000 people who received their first vaccine dose are overdue for their second shot, according to the latest report from the state’s health department.
“Overdue” individuals are defined as “those who have received their first dose and have passed the recommended time frame to receive their second dose.”
It’s unclear why the residents are overdue.
Both vaccines that have been authorized for the US market are a two-dose series. The second dose should be administered 21 days after the first dose for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and 28 days after for the Moderna vaccine.
The data comes as Dr. Anthony Fauci highlighted the importance of sticking with both full doses of the vaccine in the appropriate time frame.
Speaking at the Choose Healthy Life Black Clergy Conclave Monday, Fauci said that an experiment evaluating different dosing regimens was recently carried out in people ages 18 to 55. The results showed that when a half dose was given followed by a booster half dose, the level of antibodies produced was comparable to that of someone given two full doses.
“However, that is not clinical proof that they are equally comparable in protecting you,” he said.
“Bottom line, stick with full dose, followed by full dose.”
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