Biden announces month-long COVID-19 vaccine push

NY National Guard, Mark Getman / Flickr cc

Today President Joe Biden announced a month-long vaccine push aimed at Americans under the age of 40 in an effort to vaccinate 70% of American adults with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine by Jul 4.

"If you get a shot this week you can be fully vaccinated by July 4, and celebrate independence from the virus," Biden said today during a news conference. "We need everyone to pull together to get us over the finish line."

Getting to the finish line will protect Americans from another wave of illness and death in the fall, Biden said, while announcing five initiatives the federal government is taking in June to increase vaccine uptake amount young Americans and minorities.

Among the initiatives is "Shots in Shops," which will turn barber and beauty shops in predominantly Black neighborhoods into vaccine sites.

Biden also reemphasized a free vaccine appointment ride program from Lyft and Uber, and free childcare for parents while they are getting their vaccines at YMCAs across the country.

Pharmacies including Walgreens and CVS have said they will stay open late on Friday evenings in June to allow more young people to get vaccinated ahead of a weekend if they are concerned about side effects.

Even Anheuser-Busch is partnering with the president to offer free beer to Americans who post pictures of themselves with vaccination cards on social media before July 4. 

West Virginia is latest to offer incentives

Across the country, private businesses and local and state governments continue to announce incentives for vaccination. West Virginia became the latest state to offer prizes to young people who get vaccinated: Winners could get a truck, college tuition, or more than $1 million dollars.

After a promising early start, West Virginia's vaccination rate has slowed, with just 51.1% receiving at least one dose of the vaccine. 

In total, 51% of Americans adults are vaccinated with at least one shot, and in 28 states, 50% of adult residents are fully vaccinated. Vaccination rates have slowed to roughly 1.1 million per day since a peak in mid-April of 3.5 million shots per day.

But for the first time since March of 2020, daily case counts have dropped to around or below 20,000, and the death rate is now down 85% from the pandemic peak.

"This is an all-American summer of freedom and joy and celebration," said Biden, of the country's progress.

Yesterday the United States reported 23,010 new COVID-19 cases, and 641 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. In total the United States has confirmed 33,294,023 COVID-19 cases, including 595,497 deaths.

In the past week, new daily reported COVID-19 cases fell by 28.4%, according to data from the Washington Post. New daily reported deaths fell 8.1%, and COVID-related hospitalizations fell 15.4%.

And though vaccination rates among elderly Americans are the highest in the country, US nursing homes are still experiencing scattered COVID-19 outbreaks, largely because of unvaccinated staff members, and there continue to be hundreds of deaths each week attributed to the coronavirus, the Associated Press reports.  

End-stage renal disease deaths

Finally today, the CDC published new data on excess death in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) during the first 7 months of the pandemic.

Between Feb 1 and Aug 31 of 2020, an estimated 8.7 to 12.9 excess deaths per 1,000 patients or 6,953 to 10,316 excess deaths in a population of 798,611 US ESRD patients occurred.

"The estimated number of excess deaths per 1,000 patients and total excess deaths were two to three times higher among dialysis patients than among kidney transplant patients," the authors concluded.

Potential reasons for excess deaths in ESRD patients include skipped in-person health visits, weakened immune systems, or increased SARS-CoV-2 transmission from other patients, staff members, or the wider community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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