President Joe Biden will host a town hall meeting tonight in Milwaukee to address his $1.9 billion COVID-19 relief bill, and bring Americans' focus back to the pandemic after former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial ended this weekend, the Washington Post reported.
In addition to promised relief checks for families, the Biden administration today said it is once again increasing the number of vaccine doses given to states each week—from 11 million to 13.5 million, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
Psaki also said the federal government continues to increase its partnerships with commercial pharmacies, and will send 2 million doses of vaccine to local pharmacies this week.
"This program will expand access in neighborhoods across the country so that people can call," Psaki said.
Severe weather delays vaccine shipments
The refocus on the pandemic comes as cases continue to drop across the country, but severe winter weather and ice storms have delayed vaccine shipments. In Texas, Alabama, and Kentucky, among other states, vaccination sites are temporarily closed because of inclement winter weather.
In total yesterday, the United States tracked 52,685 new COVID-19 cases and 985 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. The US has seen 27,726,970 COVID-19 cases, and 481,109 deaths.
The new 7-day average of cases is 82,500 new cases and 3,000 deaths daily, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins data. The 7-day average high was 250,000 new cases daily in early January. The current 7-day average is the lowest it's been since November.
Doctors see more severe MIS-C
The New York Times reported doctors across the country are saying they are seeing more cases of severe multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) as the pandemic enters its second year. The mysterious disease follows an initial—often mild—infection with COVID-19, and patients have a range of symptoms including rash, gastrointestinal upset, and even cardiac failure.
Doctors said MIS-C remains rare, and they expected an increase of cases following the post-holiday surge in the United States. Still, new cases seem more severe and require intensive care unit visits.
According to data maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and updated through mid-December, officials in US states and Puerto Rico have recorded 2,060 MIS-C cases, including 30 deaths. The median age of children with the disease is 9, but babies and older teens have also been afflicted.
It took 8 months of the pandemic, March to October, for the United States to track its first 1,000 MIS-C cases, and half that time to reach 2,000 cases this month.
Fifty-eight percent of cases are in male children, and 69% of children who develop MIS-C are either Black, Hispanic, or Latino. Almost all affected children test positive for COVID-19 antibodies, or have documented active infections.
The CDC said that as with COVID-19 cases in general, minorities in America are more at risk for MIS-C.
Other US developments
- An investigation by the Associated Press has found that logistical problems still remain with the US supply of N95 respirators, with some hospitals back to pre-pandemic, one-use-per-patient protocols, others continuing to ration their use, and some US manufacturers exporting N95s because they don't have enough domestic orders.
- According to Bloomberg, all US nursing home resident and staff will likely be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of March. The program to vaccinate this population went slower than expected, and 40% of doses allocated to long-term care facilities are counted as unused.