During a press briefing today, Andy Slavitt, a senior White House pandemic adviser, expressed optimism about America's prospect of ending the pandemic.
"Things are about to get a whole lot easier," said Slavitt. Today in all 50 states, anyone over the age of 16 is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The nation continues to vaccinate an average of 3 million Americans each day.
"Over 80% of seniors, and 50% of adults in the US had at least one dose," Slavitt said. "Lack of supply, lack of locations, confusing rules are all in the past."
Slavitt said the Biden administration has orchestrated 60,000 free and convenient places to get a shot, and 9 out of 10 Americans live within 5 miles of a vaccination site. And to ensure that momentum continues, Slavitt said the Department of Health and Human Services is getting $150 million in funds to give to community health providers to get shots into arms.
Today the White House will launch a massive, 1-day campaign to boost vaccination uptake in the nation. According to the New York Times, President Biden filmed and will air a public service announcement promoting the vaccine, and Anthony Fauci, MD, the White House's chief medical adviser, will take to Snapchat to offer teen users 15-second videos on vaccines.
"With 50% of American adults having now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and everyone 16 years of age and older eligible, there is much reason to feel hopeful," said Georges Benjamin, MD, the executive director of the American Public Health Association in a media statement.
"But I urge all Americans to keep wearing a mask, practice physical distancing, wash your hands, and get vaccinated as soon as possible."
Feds investigating handful of clot cases
During the briefing, Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the agency was investigating a handful of cases involving blood clots to see if they are connected to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which has been put on pause after six vaccine recipients developed rare and potentially deadly brain clots.
Walensky said she was encouraged that only a handful of additional cases had so far been brought to the attention of the CDC, and the agency would investigate the cases and present its findings to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices before the group meets on Friday to discuss the pause on the one-dose vaccine.
Yesterday Fauci told CBS' Face the Nation that he believes there will be a decision over whether to end the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Friday, possibly with some form of restriction or warning.
Cases continue to rise
Though news of vaccine progress was promising, Walensky said the 7-day average of new daily cases remains elevated, at 67,000 per day. One month ago, the country was down to 53,000 per day.
Michigan, which has had the most virus activity in recent weeks, is averaging 6,732 new COVID-19 cases a day, up 2.8% from a week ago, but the number of daily new cases appears to be plateauing, according to mlive. Hospitalizations and deaths continue to climb in the state, however.
The United States reported 42,018 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and 313 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker.
In total the United States has 31,716,799 confirmed cases, including 567,551 deaths.
Other US developments
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revoked the emergency use authorization for the investigational monoclonal antibody therapy bamlanivimab for use alone to treat mild to moderate COVID-19. The potential benefits of the therapy no longer outweigh the risks, because of a rise in resistant variants, the FDA said.
- A burgeoning industry around fake CDC vaccination cards is raising concern that people might use the cards to misrepresent their vaccination status at school, at work, or in various living and travel situations, potentially exposing others to risk, the Washington Post reports.
- Alaska will begin offering COVID-19 vaccinations to tourists starting Jun 1, according to the Anchorage Daily News. Vaccine will be offered at four of the state's largest airports.