(CNN) — More than 38,000 Americans have died from Covid-19 in the first two weeks of the new year.
Another 92,000 are projected to die from the virus over the next three weeks or so, according to a joint forecast released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The numbers are scary and reflect what public health experts have repeatedly warned: While the end is in sight, with the help of vaccination already underway, the nation still faces tough times ahead.
Currently, more than 130,300 people are hospitalized with the virus, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.
In Pennsylvania, officials said the number of hospitalizations was approaching double the peak experienced during the spring. The Louisiana governor said earlier this week that the state was experiencing a “huge increase” in infections and hospitalizations. And in Arizona, officials on Tuesday reported record numbers of hospitalizations and occupancy of intensive care units (ICUs) from COVID-19.
Hundreds of thousands of infections are added to the nation’s tally every day. The US added more than three million new infections reported since the beginning of the month.
In Los Angeles County, about one in three residents has been infected with the virus since the start of the pandemic, according to data released by county officials. The outbreaks have increased in workplaces, as well as in schools and daycare centers, they said.
Echoing warnings from other leaders, Los Angeles officials added that they “have not yet fully seen the effect of the broadcast of the period from Christmas to New Years.”
And with all eyes now on the nation’s capital ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration day, cases in Washington have never been higher. Right now, it averages more than 320 new cases every day, roughly a 38% increase from the previous week. The country’s capital has reported a total of more than 32,600 covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, of which approximately 10% were added in 2021.
States Expand Groups Eligible for Vaccination
So far, more than 29.3 million doses of the covid-19 vaccine have been distributed nationwide, and more than 10.2 million Americans have received their first dose, according to CDC data.
And some experts have encouraged states to expand eligibility to more groups, to help speed up vaccine administration.
In New Jersey, residents 65 and older and residents 16-64 with certain chronic illnesses are now eligible to sign up for the vaccine, authorities announced Wednesday. California also expanded its eligibility guidelines to include residents 65 and older. A news release from the state health department added that healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities remain California’s top priority for vaccines.
“There is no higher priority than efficiently and equitably distributing these vaccines as quickly as possible to those facing the most severe consequences,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “People 65 and older are now the next eligible group to start getting vaccines. For those who are not yet eligible for vaccines, it will be their turn.
The announcements follow similar ones made by state leaders, including Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, who earlier this week said residents 65 and older or those with pre-existing medical conditions can schedule appointments for covid vaccines. -19.
“My top priority is not trying to fight this pandemic with increasingly strict orders,” Reeves said. “It is getting better and better in the distribution of the vaccine, and that is our focus now.”
Mass vaccination centers open
And as the list of who can get vaccinated is expanding, states are introducing more options to get vaccinated.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is working on a plan to use Yankee Stadium as a vaccination center, he announced Wednesday.
“That plan is in motion,” he said. He added that the city will release more details when the plan is drawn up.
De Blasio’s announcement came a day after he and New York Mets owner Steve Cohen said that a 24-hour vaccination mega-center will be set up at Citi Field in Queens later this month.
In Hawaii, officials said Wednesday they are opening two new mass vaccination sites for covid-19, which are expected to vaccinate between 3,000 and 4,000 people daily in a few weeks.
And in California, the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim is now Orange County’s first “super” vaccination site for COVID-19. Hundreds of cars had lined up for its unveiling on Wednesday, CNN affiliate KCAL / KCBS reported.
The site will be able to vaccinate more than 7,000 people each day, Andrew Do, acting chairman of the county’s Board of Supervisors, said at a news conference Wednesday.
This is how pharmacies will help
Pharmacies will also play a key role in helping to administer vaccines.
On Wednesday, the director of one of the nation’s largest pharmacy chains expressed optimism that they could soon be administering up to a million doses of vaccines a day.
“We are very hopeful that the federal program will soon expand and open more direct distribution to pharmacies across the country, which will expand access,” CVS Health Executive Vice President Karen Lynch said Wednesday at the annual event. JP Morgan Health Care Conference.
CVS can deliver 25 million vaccines a month, Lynch said, through its retail stores nationwide.
“We have a great reach,” Lynch added, saying the company’s 10,000 stores can reach about 85% of the US population.
Walgreens also said earlier this week that it expects to administer about 30 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine nationwide by the end of this summer, once the vaccines are available to the general population.
The pharmacy chain said it is hiring and training staff and increasing digital and telephone backup capabilities in preparation for the broader implementation of vaccination.
“We make sure everyone is ready as soon as vaccines are available in bulk, which we think will probably be in March, April,” Walgreens COO Alexander Gourlay said at the conference.
CNN’s Amanda Watts, Alexandra Meeks, Gregory Lemos, Lauren del Valle, Jamiel Lynch, Michael Nedelman, and Sarah Moon contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism