Menacing coronavirus variants are common across the country, although new cases of the original virus are rapidly falling off.
The United States reported 1,932 cases of variants as of Tuesday evening, up 49% from a week earlier. The variants seem to spread more easily, bypassing some immunities and treatments, or both. However, they remain a very small percentage of all cases.
Variant B.1.351, first discovered in South Africa, was first reported last week in Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, New York and Tennessee. On Sunday, South Carolina said there had been two cases of this variant; There were 21 cases on Tuesday.
The variant is of concern as experts warn that it may spread more easily than the original virus and it may reduce the effectiveness of some COVID-19 vaccines.
The United States reported 220 new cases (1,881 cases total) of variant B.1.1.7, which was first seen in the United Kingdom on Tuesday. The variant appears to be significantly more contagious than the original virus. The Centers for Disease Control say the British variant can now be found in 45 states and territories. the South African variant in 14; and the P.1 variant first seen in Brazil can be found in four.
Also in the news:
►Ghana became the first country in the world to receive vaccines obtained through the United Nations-supported COVAX initiative. 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were given on Wednesday. Ghana is one of the 92 countries that have signed the COVAX program.
►The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on President Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid package on Friday. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday.
►A variant, first discovered in California in December, is more contagious than previous forms of the coronavirus, a new study from the University of California, San Francisco suggests.
►The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, calls for better access to COVID-19 vaccines for poor nations and says: “More than 210 countries still have to give a single dose.”
📈 Today’s numbers: The US has more than 28.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 502,400 deaths. according to the Johns Hopkins University. The global total: More than 112 million cases and 2.48 million deaths. In the United States, more than 82.1 million vaccine doses have been distributed and about 65 million administered. according to CDC.
📘 What we read: In one year, COVID-19 left more than 500,000 dead in the US. If we brought them together, the resulting community would be full of grandparents, great uncles, and aunts, making it the oldest major city in America. View the data.
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More than 2,400 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in Tennessee’s most populous county were lost last month while local officials sat on tens of thousands of shots they believed had already fallen into the arms, the state’s top health official said. The finding comes after the state health department opened an investigation over the weekend into a report that the recent severe winter storms resulted in 1,000 cans being thrown in Shelby County, which includes Memphis. Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said the problems were far more common and went back to February 3.
“The people of Shelby County deserve efficient and effective vaccinations,” Piercey said. “It is our largest population center. It’s also one of our color centers for disadvantaged populations and minorities, but people deserve good access to vaccines. “
According to Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, states will receive approximately 14.5 million doses of vaccine this week, up nearly a 70% increase in distribution over the past month. Psaki also said governors have been told that the number of doses being sent direct to pharmacies will increase by about 100,000 this week. Before last week’s winter storm delayed vaccine doses in many states, the number of shots had increased steadily. At least in some states like Texas The vaccinations had resumed until the weekend. But others were hoping to get back on track this week.
The rollout could be even faster as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering emergency approval for Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine. Richard Nettles, the company’s vice president of medical affairs, said Tuesday that J&J hopes to deliver 100 million doses of vaccine by the end of June.
The Biden administration targets community health centers that serve approximately 30 million patients nationwide as vaccine distribution centers. Two-thirds of these patients are at or below the poverty line, half are racial or ethnic minorities, and most are uninsured or on Medicaid.
Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Chair of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, announced earlier this month that the administration will begin shipping cans to 250 centers, at least one in each state or territory.
At the Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Janice Robinson, chief operating officer, said more than 3,000 patients are on waiting lists for a shot at the network’s 17 community health centers.
“We don’t have enough,” said Robinson. “This will definitely make a change.”
– Nada Hassanein
A woman who died after a double lung transplant at the University of Michigan Medical School appears to be the first known person to develop COVID-19 from donor lungs. This emerges from a case report published in the American Journal of Transplantation.
The case is rare and represents “the worst possible scenario” to play out in a pandemic that killed half a million Americans, said Bruce Nicely, chief clinical officer of Gift of Life Michigan, the state-mandated organ and tissue restoration program of the state.
“To the best of my knowledge, this is the first and actually only documented transmission of COVID-19 to a recipient” from donated organs, Nicely said, noting that Gift of Life Michigan was not involved in this donation. The transplant was done in late October and the donor was from another state.
– Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press
President Joe Biden, who has asked all Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days of his term in office to limit the spread of the coronavirus, said Tuesday that his administration intends to send millions of face covers to people across the country soon.
Biden confirmed the plan during a virtual roundtable with four key black workers, saying, “We’ll likely be shipping a lot of masks across the country in a very short time, millions of them.”
He did not give any details about the timing or the type of mask considered.
Featuring: Mike Stucka, USA TODAY; The Associated Press