By Peter Shekeli and Dan Whitcomb
(Reuters) – On Tuesday, the Trump administration took steps to speed up American vaccinations against COVID-19, releasing the remaining doses it had kept in reserve, and recommended that states immediately open inoculations for those aged 65 and over.
In recent days, federal and state health officials have stepped up to step up vaccination programs that have photographed only 9.3 million Americans as coronavirus infections remain at record highs in many U.S. states for nearly two weeks from the new year.
Many U.S. states had strict rules that initially gave pictures of health workers and residents of nursing homes, telling “minor workers”
“We have already distributed more vaccines than we have health workers and people in nursing homes,” US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Hazard told ABC News. “We need to get to more administrative channels.”
Approximately 27.5 million doses have been distributed by the US government to the United States, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hazard said the outgoing administration, which had kept doses in reserve to make sure everyone who received the first inoculation received their second shot on schedule, was now confident enough in the supply chain to release that stock.
Last week, a spokesman for Joe Biden said the president-elect, who takes office on January 20, would release more than the reserved doses.
The rate of vaccinations has risen to 700,000 a day across the country and is expected to reach 1 million a day within 10 days, officials said.
“Michigan and the states across the country remain ready to receive more shots, which is why the Trump administration’s decision to honor our request and release millions of doses of the vaccine is so important,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement.
Whitmer, who supported the lower age of vaccination, is seeking permission from the US government to purchase 100,000 doses of vaccine directly from Pfizer Inc.
The US Food and Drug Administration has authorized the vaccine from Pfizer and partner BioNTech SE and a second vaccine from Moderna Inc for emergency use.
As of Monday night, the United States had reported a total of 22.5 million coronavirus infections and 376,188 deaths during the pandemic, the largest in any country. Nearly 130,000 Americans were hospitalized with COVID-19 at midnight on Monday.
DARK SCENES AT THE CALIFORNIA HOSPITAL
Reuters data suggest that the number of COVID-19 patients in need of hospitalization may have increased, at least temporarily, although public health officials warn that further spread could be seen from the holiday gatherings.
California Health and Humanitarian Services Secretary Dr. Mark Galli cites several promising trends in COVID performance across the country, including delaying confirmed daily cases and leveling positive tests.
The number of new COVID hospitalizations across the country has dropped to about 2,500 admissions per day in the last two days from an average of about 3,500 admissions in previous days. Ghaly called this “the biggest signal to me that things are starting to level off and potentially improve.”
Despite encouraging statistics, officials at Providence St. Mary’s Medical Center in Apple Valley, California, said the situation was grim.
“Where we were initially overwhelmed with a lot of patients – we still have a lot of patients – but now they seem to be sicker than they used to be,” said Mary Mandy, executive director of the hospital’s emergency services about 90 miles away. northeast of Los Angeles.
“And every day there are Code Blues on the floor and more and more patients are being updated to the intensive care unit. It’s devastating,” Mandy said.
The latest tide is potentially complicated by a more infectious variant of the virus, first spotted in the United Kingdom and now found in at least 10 US states – California, Florida, New York, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Connecticut, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Texas.
(Report by Peter Shekeli, Barbara Goldberg and Maria Caspani in New York, Anurag Maan in Bangalore and Steve Gorman and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Edited by Bill Bercrot, Peter Cooney and Cynthia Osterman)