With quickened vaccination pace, US races against COVID variants

drive through COVID

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Over the weekend, the United States administered 4 million COVID-19 vaccines on a single day, a new record that comes as the country has settled into administering an average of 3.1 million shots per day.

"As of today, nearly 1 in 3 Americans and over 40% of adults have at least 1 shot," said Andy Slavitt, the White House senior advisor for COVID response. "One in four adults are fully vaccinated. But the worst thing we could do right now is mistake progress for victory."

The country is witnessing a race that pits an aggressive vaccination strategy against increasingly transmissible variants of the virus, including B117, a variant first detected in the United Kingdom.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID Data Tracker shows that 207,891,295 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered in the United States, 165,053,746 doses have been administered, and 61,416,536 Americans are fully vaccinated.

In order to continue vaccinating all eligible Americans, Slavitt said the Biden administration is opening five more mass vaccination sites, including one at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

Cases increasing in younger adults

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, said the country is now entering the fourth consecutive week of rising case counts. The new weekly average is 64,000 cases per day, up 7% from the prior 7-day period. Deaths have dropped to an average of 800 per day, but hospitalizations are once again creeping up.

"Cases are increasing in younger adults, we know this is due to more highly transmissible variants," Walensky said, also noting that the CDC is tracking more outbreaks connected to youth sports and extracurricular activities.

The United States reported 34,282 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and 222 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. There were 32,105 COVID-19 patients in US hospitals as of April 2, according to the CDC.

In total, the United States has 30,727,862 cases, including 555,174 deaths.

Midwest sees surge in activity

Some states in the Midwest and Northeast are reporting a surge of infections. Michigan now has a 7-day average positivity rate of 15%, the highest the state has seen since last spring, according to mlive. The state is averaging 5,367 new COVID-19 cases a day, up 42% from a week ago.

In Illinois, loosening restrictions have been linked to case increases, as described today in a study from Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The study described how one indoor bar opening event in February led to 46 cases of COVID-19, with one case causing a school closure affecting 650 students.

The bar was in rural Illinois and accommodated 100 patrons. The bar event occurred indoors, with no outside air flow, and mask wearing was inconsistent, according to attendees. Approximately 85% of the cases connected to the event were symptomatic, with symptom onset beginning 1 to 7 days later.

"As community businesses begin to reopen, these findings underscore the importance of businesses and individuals adhering to public health prevention and mitigation guidelines to reduce additional community transmission, including isolation after receipt of a COVID-19 diagnosis and while experiencing COVID-19–like symptoms, even as vaccination efforts expand," the authors concluded.

In related news, air travel broached pre-pandemic levels this past weekend with Easter and spring break travel. Data from the Transportation Security Administration shows that more than 6 million people went through its checkpoints from Thursday through Sunday.

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