States navigate COVID-19 vaccine distribution

From California to New York, states are grappling with how best to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to the most vulnerable residents as quickly as possible.

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered three mass vaccination sites to operate 24 hours per day, according to the New York Times. The state has 164,800 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to distribute this week.

That vaccine will be distributed at the three 24-hour sites, which are located at Yankee Stadium, the Javits Center in Manhattan, and at the New York State Fairground in Syracuse until supplies are exhausted.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he wanted to use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — which is a single dose — in a program aimed at vaccinating homebound elderly people in the city.

Reaching the vulnerable in California

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state will begin setting aside 40% of all vaccine doses for the state's most vulnerable neighborhoods, about 8 million people in 400 ZIP codes. Currently, the state has made adults older than 65 and some essential workers priority recipients of the vaccine. But of shots given thus far, only 17% were administered in vulnerable communities.

"That goal will be how we re-open our economy safely," Newsom said on Twitter of the 40% designation. "It's the right thing to do AND the fastest way to end the pandemic."

Other states have allowed adults 50 and up to get vaccinated, including Indiana and West Virginia. In more than 40 states, teachers of all ages are eligible for vaccines.

In total, the United States is approaching an average of 2 million vaccines given each day, per a New York Times analysis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID Data Tracker shows that 109,905,530 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered in the US, and 82,572,848 have been administered, with 27,795,980 Americans fully vaccinated.

Biden criticizes Texas, Mississippi

In other state news, President Joe Biden yesterday called the lifting of mask mandates and indoor occupancy restrictions in Texas and Mississippi "Neanderthal thinking."

"I hope everybody's realized by now, these masks make a difference," Biden said at the White House. "We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way with which we're able to get vaccines in people's arms. We've been able to move that all the way up to the end of May to have enough for every American, to get every adult American to get a shot.

"The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything is fine, take off your masks, forget it." 

Four former surgeons general wrote a letter to Biden yesterday, asking for a "National Vaccine Day" to highlight the importance of vaccination. The 1-day federal holiday would be part celebration, part education and would help ensure that as many Americans as possible get the vaccine, the surgeons general wrote.

Other US Developments

  • After concerns because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was developed with cell lines derived from aborted human fetuses, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops said Catholics, if given a choice, should choose the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine but should not avoid the Johnson & Johnson vaccine altogether.

  • Yesterday, the United States reported 64,682 new COVID-19 cases and 2,360 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. In total, the nation has recorded 28,796,800 cases of COVID-19, including 519,316 deaths.

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