With over 40% of the U.S. population at least partially vaccinated, many of those most at-risk or most eager to get vaccinated have already done so. Now the U.S. faces a tough road ahead to protect hard-to-reach populations.
Some states have already turned down or scaled back vaccine shipments as supply outpaces demand.
Louisiana has stopped asking the federal government for its full allotment of the vaccine while Mississippi asked for the vials to be shipped in smaller packages so they don’t go to waste. About three-quarters of Kansas counties have turned down new shipments of the vaccine at least once over the past month.
The Biden administration expects the daily vaccination rate — currently at 3 million and outpacing many countries — to “moderate and fluctuate” going forward, said Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator.
“We’ve gotten vaccinations to the most at-risk and those most eager to get vaccinated as quickly as possible,” Zients said in a task force briefing Friday. “We know reaching other populations will take time and focus.”
In an attempt to better reach those hesitant to take the vaccine, the White House announced a “We Can Do This: Live” campaign to connect people on social media to trusted information by pairing health professionals with influencers, including actress Eva Longoria, TV personality Ryan Seacrest, Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank and players of the NBA and the WNBA.
Meanwhile, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is available again after an 11-day pause due to reports of rare blood clots. States are counting on the easier-to-store, one-dose option to help protect hard-to-reach populations, including people who are experiencing homelessness, the homebound and incarcerated individuals.
Also in the news:
► More than 40% of Americans have been at least partially vaccinated, ranking the U.S. near the top in vaccination rates, Our World In Data reports. This comes as Michigan’s coronavirus case rate has begun to fall, dropping 12.5% over the last week, suggesting the state’s third surge — the worst in the U.S. — may be waning.
► The United States’ land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain restricted to nonessential travel through at least May 21, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
► During the pandemic, wealthy Americans have taken advantage of cheap mortgages, increased savings and the ability to work from home, and their demand for bigger homes and million-dollar listings outpaced sales of homes across all other price ranges.
Iowa strip clubs blocked from COVID relief challenge federal and state rules rules
After strip clubs were denied pandemic financial assistance given to bars and restaurants, several owners legally challenged the federal and state rules that exempted their establishments from grants.
Dozens of them succeeded, with judges forcing the U.S. Small Business Administration to issue Paycheck Protection Program loans to the suing strip clubs.
Last year, attorneys wrote the U.S. Small Business Administration could block Paycheck Protection Program loans from strip clubs because they needed to “consider the public interest” for the agency’s “limited resources.”
But lawyers for a collection of strip clubs argued in federal court that the Small Business Administration’s rules never made sense.
Wins for strip clubs in Iowa could change the way the government treats strip clubs going forward.
– Tyler Jett, Des Moines Register
FDA, CDC have ‘full confidence’ J&J vaccine benefits outweigh risks
Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccine will be made available to the public again, ending an 11-day pause initiated after a rare blood clotting disorder was associated with the shot.
The government has uncovered 15 vaccine recipients who developed a highly unusual kind of blood clot out of nearly 8 million people given the J&J shot. Three died, and seven remain hospitalized.
Federal health officials said the single dose vaccine is critical to fight the pandemic — and that the small clot risk could be handled with warnings.
The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “have full confidence that this vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks in individuals 18 years and older,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock, the FDA’s acting commissioner.
Two-dose vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, which are made differently and haven’t been linked to clot risks, are the mainstay of the U.S. vaccination effort. But many states had been counting on the easier-to-store, one-dose option to also help protect hard-to-reach populations including people who are homeless or disabled.
– Elizabeth Weise and Karen Weintraub
Michigan was warned about British COVID-19 variant, but many ignored it
Local health departments across Michigan started sounding the alarm months ago: A deadlier coronavirus variant that had first ravaged Britain was now here.
And yet Michiganders — from state prison employees to small business owners and local officials to parents of high school athletes — ignored medical experts’ repeated warnings about the highly infectious variant. They rebuffed stay-in-place recommendations, allowed crowded events to occur and turned a blind eye to defiant behavior, according to thousands of internal health department emails and contact tracing notes from across the state and interviews with those in charge.
Michigan is now the worst COVID-19 hot spot in the nation, the second worst for the British variant
Indian hospitals plead for oxygen, country sets virus record
India put oxygen tankers on special express trains as major hospitals in New Delhi begged on social media on Friday for more supplies to save COVID-19 patients who are struggling to breathe. More than a dozen people died when an oxygen-fed fire ripped through a coronavirus ward in a populous western state.
India’s underfunded health system is tattering as the world’s worst coronavirus surge wears out the nation, which set a global record in daily infections for a second straight day with 332,730.
India has confirmed 16 million cases so far, second only to the United States in a country of nearly 1.4 billion people. India has recorded 2,263 deaths in the past 24 hours for a total of 186,920.
The fire in a hospital intensive care unit killed 13 COVID-19 patients in the Virar area on the outskirts of Mumbai early Friday.
CDC recommends pregnant people get vaccinated
The CDC is recommending pregnant people receive COVID-19 vaccinations.
Walensky announced the recommendation during an update on the pandemic at a White House briefing. She noted a CDC study published this week found no safety concerns with Moderna and Pfizer vaccinations given during the third trimester of pregnancy.
‘”We know that this is a deeply personal decision, and I encourage people to talk to their doctors or primary care providers to determine what is best for them and for their baby,” Walensky said.
Her recommendation seems to go farther than advice on CDC’s website, which says the vaccines are unlikely to pose a safety risk during pregnancy but doesn’t flat-out recommend the shots.