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COVID-19 Cases Rise In the US Amid Sustained Vaccination Push

  • Travellers walk past a billboard of COVID-19 prevention at JFK International Airport, New York, U.S., Nov. 8, 2021.

    Travellers walk past a billboard of COVID-19 prevention at JFK International Airport, New York, U.S., Nov. 8, 2021. | Photo: Xinhua

Published 17 November 2021
Opinion

Nationwide cases were down 57 percent last week from the Delta wave's peak this summer, but a jump in COVID-19 patients in the Midwest and Northeast is fueling the sudden increase.

White House advisor Anthony Fauci warned that COVID-19 cases are starting to climb again in select regions across the U.S. after stabilizing at a high level following this summer's surge of the Delta variant.

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"The only thing that's a little bit disconcerting is that we're beginning to plateau," Fauci said addint that "the deceleration of cases is now plateaued, and in some areas of the country, we're starting to see a bit of an uptick."

Fauci's comments came just a day after the country reported a seven-day average of more than 82,000 new cases, up 11 percent from the week before. Nationwide cases were down 57 percent last week from the Delta wave's peak this summer, but a jump in COVID-19 patients in the Midwest and Northeast is fueling the sudden increase.

Average daily cases have jumped by 19 percent and 37 percent in the Midwest and Northeast over the last week. Hospitalizations are up 11 percent over that same period in the Midwest, while the number of currently hospitalized patients with COVID-19 is flat in the Northeast. The seven-day average of confirmed cases of the pandemic stood at 84,863 nationwide on Monday, with its 14-day change striking a 14-percent rise. COVID-19-related deaths were 1,129 on Monday, with the 14-day change realizing a 14-percent fall.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated that 227,133,617 people have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, making up 68.4 percent of the whole U.S. population; fully vaccinated people stood at 195,275,904, accounting for 58.8 percent of the total.

VACCINATION PUSH

With the pace of inoculations stagnating among adults, the United States is rushing to encourage vaccinations among newly eligible younger children, and "state governments are offering incentives for coronavirus shots for children, just as they did for adults earlier in the year," reported NYT on Monday. Since the CDC formally endorsed the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Nov. 2 for children ages 5 to 11, more than a million U.S. children have received doses.

The rewards announced for children so far are mostly cash and scholarships, but in some areas, local attractions are also being dangled. Visa gift cards worth US$100 are available to children in Louisiana and Chicago. In New York City, US$100 prepaid debit cards are also available.

In San Antonio, parents who have their children vaccinated at city clinics are eligible for a US$100 gift card to H-E-B, a grocery store chain. Ohio is running a program called Vax-2-School in which there will be drawings for 150 scholarships to Ohio colleges worth US$10,000 each, as well as five US$100,000 scholarships.

On Monday, Dave Chokshi, commissioner of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said that all New Yorkers 18 and older can get a COVID-19 booster if they want one, and he issued a commissioner's advisory reminding providers not to deny anyone who wants that added protection.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the CDC have yet to authorize boosters for all adults, though that could come as early as next week. NYC is making its adults all booster-eligible anyway, said the top doctor. It came ahead of what is expected to be a travel-packed Thanksgiving and Christmas season, with family and friends gathering in groups the size of which many haven't seen for the last two years amid the pandemic.

"It also comes as New York City finds itself in the midst of a COVID-19 case uptick before the busy holiday season has even gotten underway," reported NBC. According to the latest city numbers, the rolling weekly COVID-19 case average was up 13 percent compared with the rolling average the prior four weeks. Deaths and hospitalizations remained down, "a testament to the power of vaccination to prevent serious illness."

TIGHTENED REQUIREMENTS

With hospitals throughout Colorado facing increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations, state officials announced that attendees of large public indoor events in certain jurisdictions must be vaccinated in order to help curb the virus' spread. The state also reactivated its crisis standards of care last week for staffing of health care systems, allowing for greater flexibility for hospitals to shift personnel and resources to handle the latest wave of COVID-19 patients.

Colorado is one of several Mountain West states hit hard by a coronavirus surge this fall, driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant as more than 150,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 since June, reported CNN on Monday. Seven states, all west of the Mississippi River, have at least 30 percent of ICU beds filled with COVID-19 patients, according to Sunday data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

On Monday, the CDC moved four European destinations to its highest-risk category for travel, "a reflection of growing concern over rising cases in Europe just as the United States reopens to international travelers from that region," reported The Washington Post on Tuesday.

The CDC is now recommending that Americans avoid traveling to Hungary, Iceland, the Czech Republic and Guernsey, even when vaccinated. They join other European destinations on the Level 4 list, including some that were added recently, Luxembourg, for example, and others, such as the United Kingdom, that have been on the list for months.

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