In other words, the pandemic is not yet showing any signs of slowing down. Rather, across the country, states are reporting an increase in numbers.
California reported more than 1,000 Covid-19 deaths in just two days and hospitalizations are at record-high levels, with nearly 23,000 patients admitted with the virus.
Arizona’s top health official said Thursday that “coming out of the Christmas holiday,” the state’s Covid-19 numbers are inching upward.
And while vaccinations are now several weeks in, it will be months before they’re widespread enough to make a meaningful impact in the pandemic’s course, experts have warned.
Health officials say they ‘overpromised’ on vaccine rollout
The vaccine rollout will need a couple weeks to catch up, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday, and if that doesn’t happen, changes will need to be made.
“I think it would be fair to just observe what happens in the next couple of weeks,” he told NPR. “If we don’t catch up on what the original goal was, then we really need to make some changes about what we’re doing.”
“We just need to give a little bit slack — not a lot — but enough to say, well, we’re past the holiday season, now let’s really turn the afterburners on,” he added.
“We overpromised and underdelivered as a nation,” Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, said at a Thursday briefing sponsored by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. “We only got a third of what we thought we were going to get based on the initial modeling.”
“Had we just projected realistic quantities, the public wouldn’t have seen this as a shortcoming — we would have recognized it for the incredible accomplishment it was to have even this much vaccine this fast,” Stack said.
Other health leaders said states need more money and more staff in order to be able to administer the vaccines fast enough.
Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said states, cities and territories had been given just $340 million to build the infrastructure for vaccine rollouts up until the end of the year.
“That is clearly insufficient to accomplishing what we’re trying to accomplish,” Levine said.
The money will be “critical for several aspects of our response,” Levine added, including contracting with companies to do community vaccine clinics.
New studies offer more insight on Covid-19 transmission
Meanwhile, new findings now help shed more light on the transmission of the virus.
One team of researchers found that more than half of Covid-19 cases may have been transmitted by people not showing symptoms. It’s a model — not a real-life study — but based on data from eight studies done in China, about 59% of all transmission came from people without symptoms, the researchers said.
“Across a range of plausible scenarios, at least 50% of transmission was estimated to have occurred from persons without symptoms,” the team wrote in the journal JAMA Network Open.
Within three weeks of colleges or universities opening to in-person instruction, counties that were home to these institutions “experienced a 56% increase in incidence,” CDC-led researchers wrote in the agency’s weekly report.
Meanwhile, incidence decreased by 5.9% in counties without large universities and by 17.9% in those with universities that held remote classes, they found.
Throughout the course of the pandemic, many universities struggled in their response to the virus, some opting to begin the fall semester with in-person classes and converting to remote after a rise in infections, while others attempted to control spread of the virus by prohibiting events like parties and student gatherings.
In Arkansas, fraternity and sorority gatherings and activities were linked to hundreds of Covid-19 cases at a university, a new report found.
The study, published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, described more than 960 confirmed and probable cases at an unnamed university in the state — 97% of which were in people aged 18 to 24.
Researchers from the state’s health department and the CDC said 54 gatherings were linked to cases at the university and more than 90% of those events involved sororities and fraternities.
CNN’s Raja Razek, Cheri Mossburg, Jen Christensen, Jacqueline Howard, Maggie Fox, Naomi Thomas and Melissa Alonso contributed to this report.
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