Pennsylvania and Four different states account for almost half of the brand new COVID-19 infections within the US – CBS Pittsburgh
(AP) – Almost half of new coronavirus infections nationwide are in just five states – a situation putting pressure on the federal government to consider changing vaccine distribution by sending more doses to hot spots.
New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey combined reported 44% of the country’s new COVID-19 infections, or nearly 197,500 new cases in the last available seven days. This is based on data from the state health authority compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The total number of US infections in the same week was more than 452,000.
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The heavy concentration of new cases in states that make up 22% of the US population has led some experts and elected officials to urge President Joe Biden’s administration to deliver additional doses of vaccine to these locations. So far, the White House has shown no signs of abandoning its policy of dividing vaccine doses among population-based states.
It makes sense to send extra doses to places where infection rates are increasing, said Dr. Elvin H. Geng, professor of infectious diseases at Washington University. But it’s also complicated. States that control the virus more successfully may see fewer vaccines.
“You wouldn’t want to keep these people waiting because they are better,” Geng said. “On the other hand, it only makes sense to send vaccines to where cases are increasing.”
The increase was particularly pronounced in cases in Michigan, where the 7-day average of daily new infections reached 6,719 cases on Sunday – more than twice as many as two weeks ago. Only New York reported higher case numbers. And California and Texas, which have a far larger population than Michigan, report fewer than half of their daily infections.
Although Michigan has seen the highest rate of new infections in the past two weeks, Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer has said she has no plans to tighten restrictions. She has attributed the virus surge to pandemic fatigue, with people moving more, as well as more contagious variants.
“Stepping back would not fix the problem,” Whitmer said when she received her first vaccine at Ford Field in Detroit, home of the NFL Lions, on Tuesday. “What we have to do is put our foot on the pedals on vaccines” and urge people to wear masks, keep social distance and wash their hands.
Whitmer got the shot the day after Michigan expanded the rating to all 16 and older. She asked the White House during a conference call with governors last week whether it had considered sending additional vaccine to states battling virus volatility. She was told that all options were on the table.
In New York City, vaccination appointments are still difficult to come by. Mayor Bill de Blasio has publicly informed the federal government of the need for a larger vaccine allocation almost daily, a refrain he repeated when speaking to reporters on Tuesday.
“We still need supplies, supplies, supplies,” said de Blasio before adding, “but things are really getting better.”
At the state level, Governor Andrew Cuomo has not publicly called for an increase in New York’s vaccine allocation, although cases have risen in recent weeks and hospital inmates have plateaued.
In New Jersey, where the seven-day moving average of new daily infections has risen from 4,050 daily cases to 4,250 over the past two weeks, Democratic Governor Phil Murphy said he was constantly speaking to the White House about the demand for the coronavirus vaccine despite him stopped saying he was lobbying for more vaccines because of the high rate of infection in the state.
Vaccine shipments to New Jersey rose 12% in the past week, Murphy said Monday, although he wondered if that was enough.
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“We’re always looking at each other, OK, we know we’re going up, but are we going up at the rate we should be, especially given the number of cases we have?” Murphy said.
New virus variants are clearly one of the drivers behind the surge, said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California at San Francisco. If the rise in cases is not suppressed, more people will get sick and die, she said, and in other parts of the country the numbers will rise.
“More vaccine needs to be where the virus is,” Bibbins-Domingo said, adding that people should get over the “scarcity” situation after they believe an increase in vaccine in one place will hurt people elsewhere becomes.
In Florida, relaxed security arrangements during a busy spring break likely contributed to the spread of virus variants, said University of South Florida epidemiologist Jason Salemi. The state’s seven-day average of daily new infections exceeded 5,400, a 20% increase over the past two weeks.
While many new infections appear to be in younger people, Salemi said he is concerned about Florida’s seniors. Approximately 78% of residents aged 65 and over have received at least one dose of vaccine, but approximately 1 million more have not yet received any shots.
“We apparently have the supply,” said Salemi. “Aren’t these people planning to get vaccinated?”
Talk of sending extra shots to some states comes at a time when the number of daily infections in the US has dropped dramatically compared to an increase in January after the holiday season. However, the 7-day average of daily infections has been slowly increasing since mid-March.
The five states with the most infections stand out. As of Tuesday, 31 US states reported a 7-day average of fewer than 1,000 new daily cases.
White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said Tuesday that more than 28 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be delivered to states this week. This allocation will bring the US total to more than 90 million cans distributed in the past three weeks.
The news came when Biden announced that more than 150 million coronavirus shots have been administered since he took office and that all adults will be eligible for a vaccine by April 19.
About 40% of adults in the United States have now received at least one COVID-19 shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 23% of American adults have been fully vaccinated – including more than half of Americans 65 and over.
Geng said the nation should take a step back and go slowly. Even a few weeks of Americans sticking to social distancing and other precautions could make a world of difference.
“The takeaway message here is let’s not jump with our guns,” Geng said. “There is light at the end of the tunnel. We all see it there. And we will get there. Slowly and steadily. “
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