US hits 600,000 deaths from COVID-19

Stressed healthcare worker wearing mask
Stressed healthcare worker wearing mask

dusanpetkovic / iStock

Today the nation faced another grim milestone in its 16-month battle with COVID-19: 600,000 American lives have now been lost to the virus.

The United States reported 12,710 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and 170 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. In total, the country has now recorded 33,480,811 cases, including 600,159 deaths. It leads the world in COVID-19 fatalities, followed by Brazil (488,228) and India (377,031).

The United States reached 500,000 deaths on Feb 22, and the slowdown of fatalities since then has been largely attributed to the use of three effective vaccines. The deadliest month of the pandemic remains January 2021, when nearly 100,000 Americans died.

As of today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID Data Tracker shows that 374,865,165 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered in the United States, and 311,886,674 have been administered, with 145,768,367 Americans fully vaccinated (64.6% of adults over 18 have had at least one dose).

Today the Washington Post published an analysis showing that states and regions with high vaccination coverage are seeing distinctly fewer cases of COVID-19 than states with lower vaccination rates. According to the newspaper, even 10 days ago, high vaccination rates did not correlate to low case counts, but vaccine-acquired immunity is now a major force at play in much of the country.

President Joe Biden has stated that his goal is to have all Americans ages 18 years and up to have at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine within the next 2 weeks, or by the Fourth of July.

California, Vermont reopen

California lifted most of its pandemic-related restrictions today, the Associated Press reports. Starting today, there will be no more state rules on physical distancing or capacity limits in restaurants, gyms, or other businesses, and masks will no longer be mandated for vaccinated people in most settings, although businesses can still require their use.

The most populated state in the country, California has delivered 40 million vaccine doses to residents and now has one of the lowest virus rates in the country. 

In Vermont, the state is opening fully after becoming the first state to have 80% of its eligible population get at least one dose of vaccine, according to the Burlington Free Press. As of Monday, Vermont's vaccination rate was 80.2%.

Vaccination rate in pregnant women

New data published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report today shows that pregnant women ages 18 to 24 and Hispanic and Black women are less likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19 than older women or Asian or White women.

The study was based on 135,968 pregnant women identified between December 2020 and May 2021; 22,197 (16.3%) had received at least one dose of vaccine during pregnancy.

"Receipt of ≥1 dose of COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy was highest among women aged 35–49 years (22.7%) and lowest among those aged 18–24 years (5.5%)," the authors found.

Rates among Asian women were highest (24.7%), followed by White women (19.7%). Only 11.9% of Hispanic women and 6.0% of Black women had received at least one dose.

"Even though COVID-19 vaccination coverage has been increasing, Black and Hispanic women still have the lowest vaccination coverage among all racial and ethnic groups," the authors concluded.

They add, "Similar results have been reported for receipt of other vaccinations during pregnancy, including influenza and tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis vaccines, in which the lowest vaccination coverage was noted among pregnant Black and Hispanic women."

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