(CNN) — The United States reported more than 4,000 deaths from Covid-19 on Thursday, the highest number of virus-related deaths the country has reported in a single day since the pandemic began.
It is the third day in a row that record daily deaths from the disease have been recorded, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, while the number of infected people exceeded 21.56 million.
The most recent forecast from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) projects that there will be between 405,000 and 438,000 deaths by the end of the month. The previous forecast, released on December 30, projected up to 424,000 deaths by January 23.
The continued spread of the virus and rising death toll comes even as the US is working to distribute vital COVID-19 vaccines, a process that has been criticized for being too slow.
US Chief Health Officer Jerome Adams said Thursday that states that can vaccinate beyond the Phase 1a recommendations, which include healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities. term, they should.
“Not only can states, but they MUST aggressively expand vaccination to other phases if current supply exceeds demand in phase 1a,” Adams said on Twitter.
The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices guidance, which identifies priority groups for vaccination, Adams said, are “recommendations, not mandates.” He shared a picture of other groups identified in phases 1b and 1c, including essential front-line workers, people aged 75 and over, and people with high-risk conditions, among others.
Adams’ comments were echoed by Kentucky Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack, who said Thursday that sticking to the guidelines for who should take priority for the vaccine “should not get in the way” from using all the doses they receive.
“Sometimes more than 30% of eligible people refuse to get the vaccine when it is offered to them,” Stack said. “You need to be flexible or else we won’t administer the vaccine.”
“An injection in an arm with availability is ultimately a higher priority than an injection in only some arms,” he added. “We are prioritizing, but focusing on not letting vaccines sit for long periods in the freezer, where they don’t help anyone.”
In an interview with NPR, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the rollout of the vaccination process still needs a couple of weeks to catch up with previous projections. But if that doesn’t happen, he said, “then we really need to make some changes.”
US ‘Overstated’ Vaccine Expectations, Health Official Says
Nearly 6 million people in the U.S. have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, the CDC said, and another 21.4 million doses have been distributed.
That’s well below what was promised: Officials from the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed had previously promised that 40 million doses would be distributed by the end of December and that 20 million would be vaccinated.
“We promised too much and we didn’t deliver as a nation,” Dr. Stack said in a briefing, adding that their state received only a third of what they expected.
“If we had projected realistic amounts, the public would not have seen this as a deficiency; we would have recognized him for the incredible achievement it was to have even this many vaccines so quickly.
Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine explained that it is known “a week or two in advance” how many doses the state would receive.
“But the actual amount to be transported often ends up being somewhat different depending on the variables Operation Warp Speed has to deal with in terms of manufacturing and what they get.”
“I think it is important not to set unrealistic expectations that later disappoint the public,” he added. “It could cause (the audience) to be disillusioned with the show.”
States see ‘a health crisis of epic proportions’
Meanwhile, US hospitals are being flooded with COVID-19 patients, with a record 132,476 on Wednesday, and 132,370, the second highest number, on Thursday, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
At the epicenter of the virus is California, a state that has been among several to report record hospitalizations, increased deaths and a healthcare system struggling to keep up with demand.
There were 459 new deaths from covid-19 on Wednesday and a record 22,820 patients treated in hospitals for the virus, the California Department of Public Health reported.
More than 8,000 of them are hospitalized in Los Angeles County, where the emergency medical system is under great pressure, the health department said.
This is a health crisis of epic proportions. I am more concerned than ever and, in part, my concern is rooted in the reality that it will take much longer for us to stop the spread given the high rate of community spread, ”said Los Angeles County Public Health Director, Barbara Ferrer, in a statement.
As of Thursday, one person died from COVID-19 in the county every 8 minutes.
In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said more vaccines and funding were needed to help control the virus. But it also “depends on us as individuals,” he said.
“We have to continue to do everything we can with our behavior to secure our bubble, make the right decisions and make sure… that we are doing everything we can to stop this.”
Kentucky posted two highs Wednesday: 5,743 new cases reported in one day and a positivity rate of 11.7%, the highest in the state since May.
“Today’s numbers show how important a centralized effort and response is in defeating this virus,” said Governor Andy Beshear.
In Louisiana, the increase in cases and hospitalizations has led to stricter coronavirus restrictions in New Orleans. Starting Friday morning, no special gatherings and events will be allowed except for people living together in a single household, and outdoor tables in bars and restaurants will be limited to six people from the same household, according to a statement. from the mayor’s office.
“These coming weeks will be a watershed moment in the history of our response to this pandemic,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “These restrictions are short-term, but they are in place for a reason.”
The ‘very dangerous game’ of the variant
At least 56 cases of a covid-19 variant first discovered in the United Kingdom have been identified in the United States, after health officials in Texas and Connecticut announced cases in their states.
The patient identified in Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston, is a male in his 30s and 40s with no travel history, authorities said, implying the variant circulates locally.
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said his state health officials identified two cases in people ages 15 to 25 living in New Haven County. They both recently traveled, one to Ireland and the other to New York state.
Cases of the variant have been found in other states, including California, Florida, Colorado, Georgia, New York, and Pennsylvania. And health experts warn that it could become a problem if the United States does not control the spread of Covid-19.
“We are playing a very dangerous game with this virus right now,” Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead for coronavirus response, told CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. “What worries us is that the more this spreads, the more opportunities it has to mutate.”
Van Kerkhove pointed out that many mutations won’t have a huge impact on the virus, but if a virus changes its genetics in a certain way, tests may not be able to detect it as easily and vaccines might not work as well against that.
The virus is more likely to mutate in countries like the United States, which is experiencing unprecedented and uncontrolled spread.
He noted that some countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, have done a better job controlling the pandemic.
“It is completely up to us to be able to control the virus,” he said. “The virus is controllable, including these variants.”
Jen Christensen, Alta Spells, Virginia Langmaid, Elizabeth Cohen y Maggie Fox Ben Tinker, Sarah Moon, Cheri Mossburg, Rebekah Riess, Jamiel Lynch, Keith Allen, Naomi Thomas, Anna Sturla, Taylor Romine, Melissa Alonso y Elizabeth Cohen contribuyeron a este reporte.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism