President Joe Biden’s effort to create 100 mass vaccination sites nationwide in 100 days is well underway, with California and Maryland announcing new openings of several such sites last week.
More people are getting shots, too, pushing states to expand eligibility as the U.S. government currently administers about 1.4 million vaccines a day. Wisconsin is leading the way in daily administrations as the state expands its rollout to include free vaccination clinics.
Appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Oregon have been quickly booked. Hundreds of people have showed up at Alabama vaccination sites.
But other states are holding back on giving vaccines, while appointments remain vacant. In Massachusetts, there are still over 7,500 appointments available at mass vaccination sites, but Gov. Charlie Baker said they won’t go to anyone who’s not in the first phase of vaccinations or at least 75 years old.
“I think the goal here is to make sure that every appointment that we have that’s available is taken by somebody who’s eligible,” said Baker, according to CBS-N.
Meanwhile, officials in Mississippi say about 2% of the vaccinations given so far in the state have gone to people with out-of-state addresses, a problem seen in many states where people deliberately leverage widespread vulnerabilities in the distribution process to acquire vaccine. The New Orleans Advocate/The Times-Picayune recently reported that Louisiana residents are traveling to Mississippi to be vaccinated because Louisiana has tighter vaccination eligibility guidelines.
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In the headlines:
►Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will quarantine for 14 days after a member of his security detail tested positive for COVID-19, his chief of staff announced Monday.
►The Biden administration is considering a rule that would require negative COVID-19 test results for domestic air travel, according to Buttigieg.
►Amid stark racial disparities in vaccine access, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will hold a town hall Tuesday on the COVID-19 vaccine and local distribution efforts in her New York district. Roughly half of the predominantly low-income community in Ocasio-Cortez’s district is Hispanic.
►New York City middle schools are to reopen Feb. 25, bringing 62,000 more students back to the classroom for the first time since November.
►Rep. Ron Wright, R-Texas, who battled lung cancer and was hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19, died at 67, his office announced Monday.
►Disney’s California Adventure park is set for a limited reopening mid-March for a “limited-time ticketed experience” of outdoor dining, the company said Monday.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 27 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 464,700 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 106.4 million cases and 2.34 million deaths. More than 59.3 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and about 42.4 million have been administered, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: Even as the latest surge in coronavirus infections abates across the nation, USA TODAY research found 245 hospitals reporting full intensive care units as of Jan. 28 and 477 hospitals reporting more COVID-19 patients in the ICU than the previous week. You can find out which hospitals in your community are overwhelmed here.
A worker brings supplies on Monday into a defunct Stein Mart store that Augusta University is turning into a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Augusta, Ga.US reports 88K new cases; first week of February deadlier than all of June
The 88,044 new COVID-19 cases reported in the United States on Sunday was the low marker in three months, but it still represents an average of more than a case per second, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data found.
The country hadn’t reported fewer than 100,000 new cases in a day since Nov. 2, except for Christmas Day, when some states didn’t report numbers.
In the week ending Sunday, the U.S. reported 819,050 cases, about half the rate reported a month earlier. But January’s disastrous spike in cases led to a surge in deaths. The country has been averaging about 3,000 reported deaths per day for a month, and in the week ending Sunday, the U.S. reported 22,121 deaths.
That first week of deaths in February is greater than the number of deaths reported in all of June 2020.
– Mike Stucka
Worrisome South African variant may change expectations about vaccines
The new study showing the South African variant of the coronavirus eludes protection from the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine means “we must recalibrate our expectations,” according to the researcher who conducted the trial.
There is still much to learn about the variant, which has been detected in only six instances in the U.S. so far. We still don’t know if it’s more transmissible and if so by how much, or whether the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine prevents severe disease from the variant, as some scientists expect. Here are some answers to questions about the variant.
Facebook takes action to crack down on lies about COVID-19 vaccines
Facebook is moving more aggressively to combat vaccine misinformation, taking down debunked claims on Facebook and Instagram including that vaccines cause autism or that it is safer for people to get COVID-19 than to receive the immunization.
Facebook also warned that groups, pages and accounts on Facebook and Instagram that repeatedly share these falsehoods may be removed. Administrators of groups that have administrators or members who have violated COVID-19 policies may also be required to temporarily approve all posts.
The new policy is a departure for Facebook. Last fall, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company would not target anti-vaccination posts the same way it has cracked down on COVID misinformation.
False claims about vaccines have circulated on social media platforms for years, giving rise to a powerful anti-vaxxer movement with deep roots and a long reach.
– Jessica Guynn
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID news: US vaccine distribution plans vary by state; 465K deaths