Overnight Health Care — US hits new vaccine milestone
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Movie theaters may be making their pandemic comeback. This weekend’s attendance at AMC surpassed the attendance during the same weekend in 2019 — the first time attendance has surpassed pre-pandemic levels.
The White House says 75 percent of adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot. But even with that milestone and the rate of vaccinations picking up, cases, hospitalizations and deaths on Labor Day eclipsed last year’s totals when a vaccine wasn’t available.
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3 in 4 US adults have gotten at least one vaccine dose
Three-fourths of U.S. adults have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, a White House official announced on Tuesday.
White House COVID-19 Data Director Cyrus Shahpar marked the milestone in a tweet, saying the country “just hit” 75 percent of adults with at least one shot.
By the numbers: He said that from Sunday through Tuesday, 1.51 million doses have been administered, with 681,000 newly vaccinated and 105,000 additional doses, while noting that there is “as usual, lower reporting over the holiday weekend,” referring to Labor Day.
The U.S. reached the 75 percent threshold about a month after hitting 70 percent. Previously, President Biden had hoped to achieve the 70 percent mark by July 4.
Comes amid delta surges: The rate of vaccinations has picked up in recent weeks as the highly transmissible delta variant spreads throughout the country, leading to increased case counts, hospitalizations and deaths.
Still, only slightly more than half of the overall U.S. population is fully vaccinated: 53 percent are fully vaccinated and 62 percent have received at least one dose.
LABOR DAY SPIKE
COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations skyrocketed this Labor Day in comparison to Labor Day 2020.
The Washington Post COVID-19 tracker found that hospitalizations on Labor Day in 2021 reached 99,270 individuals, up from 38,192 people in 2020.
That is a 160-percent increase in hospitalization over the past year, despite the U.S. having more than half of the country vaccinated.
Johns Hopkins University data showed there was a 316-percent increase in COVID-19 cases between the two Labor Days, USA Today reported. COVID-19 deaths were also twice as high on the federal holiday compared to last year.
The rise in cases also caused the U.S. to surpass more than 40 million total COVID-19 cases throughout the pandemic, with more than 680,000 deaths.
What’s different: Millions of Americans have received the vaccine this year, which offers them protection. But at the same time, the delta variant has become the dominant strain in recent months, spreading more easily than previous versions of the virus.
Biden to outline strategy for controlling delta variant
President Biden on Thursday will outline additional steps his administration is taking to get the coronavirus pandemic under control as cases and hospitalizations increase in pockets of the country.
Biden will deliver remarks laying out what a White House official described as a six-pronged strategy to slow the spread of the highly infectious delta variant and boost vaccination rates.
“As the President has said since day 1, his administration will pull every lever to get the pandemic under control,” the official said in a statement.
Goal to return to normal: Biden indicated last week following an underwhelming jobs report that his administration is looking for ways to make it safer for kids to return to school and for workers to return to the office.
Biden and other White House officials have repeatedly described the situation as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” pointing to statistics that breakthrough cases in vaccinated individuals remain rare and hospitalizations are extremely rare for those who have gotten the shot.
PRESIDENT UNDER PRESSURE TO RACHET UP VACCINE AID
Lawmakers are pushing for billions in federal funding to boost global COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing in Democrats’ coming $3.5 trillion package, arguing that the Biden administration needs to do more to fight the pandemic worldwide and prevent dangerous new variants from forming.
A group of 116 Democratic lawmakers, including more than half of the House Democratic Caucus, wrote to congressional leaders and President Biden last month, calling on them to back $34 billion to increase global manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines and to help distribute the vaccines around the world.
The push comes as health experts increasingly call on the administration to do more to vaccinate the world, as many countries have still only vaccinated a small percentage of their population, providing fertile ground for new variants to develop that could threaten everyone, including Americans.
But backers of the push in Congress say they have yet to receive firm commitments on the issue from either congressional leadership or the White House.
“No one’s made any commitments to me about it,” said Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), one of the leaders of the letter, saying he had spoken to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and “everybody I’ve spoken to understands the need.”
WHO OFFICIAL: WEALTHY NATIONS PROLONGING PANDEMIC
The World Health Organization (WHO) blasted wealthy nations on Tuesday, saying they are prolonging the pandemic by hoarding treatments and vaccines for the coronavirus.
“This is not just unfair, it’s not just immoral, it’s prolonging the pandemic,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the group’s technical lead for the coronavirus, said during a Q&A. “And it is resulting in people dying.”
“If we had used the vaccine doses that were available differently, we’d be in a very different situation right now globally,” she added.
Ongoing calls for equity: The WHO has for months been calling on wealthy nations to give poorer countries more vaccine doses and to pause booster shots until poorer countries are able to vaccinate more individuals.
Countries in Africa and other parts of the world have struggled to get even 5 percent of their populations vaccinated while wealthier countries have begun administering booster shots for those who have already been fully vaccinated.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- Biden’s Covid booster shot plan mired in confusion amid regulatory hold-ups (Financial Times)
- Inside the Wuhan lab: French engineering, deadly viruses and a big mystery (The Washington Post)
- Israel’s Covid surge shows the world what’s coming next (Bloomberg)
- 4 vaccinated front-line workers cope with pandemic’s toll (The Associated Press)
STATE BY STATE
The pandemic almost killed Allie. Her community’s vaccination rate is 45%. (Kaiser Health News)
- Idaho hospitals begin rationing health care amid COVID surge (The Associated Press)
- California to spend big on Medi-Cal services for homeless (Los Angeles Times)
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s healthcare page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you Wednesday.
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