WebMD News Brief

U.S. Sets COVID Records, Lags in Vaccine Rollout

photo of virus 3d render red

Jan. 11, 2021 -- During the past week, the U.S. reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths of any week during the pandemic, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

The numbers continue to surge following holiday travel. The U.S. surpassed 22 million total cases on Friday and has logged more than 370,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Nationwide, nearly 22,000 deaths were recorded in the past week. The average number of deaths is rising in all regions, The COVID Tracking Project reported. California continues to face a dire situation, with about 40,000 new cases per day and 410 deaths per day. On Friday, the state reported more than 52,000 new cases and 695 deaths.

“We’re having our New York moment,” Robert Kim-Farley, MD, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles, told The New York Times.

In Southern California in particular, dozens of hospitals have shut their emergency rooms to ambulances with new patients. Oxygen is in limited supply. Intensive care units, ambulance services, and funeral homes are overwhelmed. Los Angeles County alone reports a COVID-19 death every 8 minutes.

“We all saw the refrigerated trucks in New York and then Texas earlier. We don’t want to get to that stage here in Southern California, but it seems like we’re right there at the cusp,” Wendy Hetherington, the chief of epidemiology for the county’ public health department, told the newspaper.

To combat the growing numbers, governors have begun opening up more access to COVID-19 vaccines earlier than planned, according to The New York Times. Some states, such as Florida and Texas, have expanded the vaccine priority groups to include people who are 65 and older.

So far, less than a third of the distributed doses have been used. As of Friday, more than 22.1 million vaccine doses have been distributed, and 6.6 million people have received a first vaccine dose, according to the CDC.

Some Americans are also beginning to receive a second vaccine dose. The CDC isn’t yet reporting data on how many people have received a second dose, but at least 151,000 people have received the second part of their two-dose regimen, according to a survey by The New York Times.

If the vaccine rollout process goes well in 2021 and cases decline from their record-breaking highs, the U.S. may be able to return to some sense of normalcy in the fall, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Saturday during a virtual conference for performing arts professionals.

“If everything goes right, this will occur sometime in the fall of 2021,” he told the Association of Performing Arts Professionals. “I think you can then start getting back to almost full capacity of seating.”

WebMD Health News Brief

Sources

COVID Tracking Project, “Twitter post, 7:58 p.m. on January 9, 2021.”
Johns Hopkins University, “COVID-19 Dashboard.”
New York Times, “‘Our New York Moment’: Southern California Reels as Virus Surges.”
New York Times, “Pressure Grows for States to Open Vaccines to More Groups of People.”
CDC, “COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States.”
New York Times, “More than 150,000 people in the U.S. have received 2 doses.”
New York Times, “Fauci Suggests Theaters Could Reopen ‘Some Time in the Fall.’”
 

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