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The US just suffered its worst day ever for Covid-19 deaths. But this summer could be 'dramatically better'

Covid-19 is now killing faster than at any point in 2020. And the new year just started.The US reported its highest number of...

Posted: Jan 13, 2021 10:27 AM
Updated: Jan 14, 2021 3:30 AM

Covid-19 is now killing faster than at any point in 2020. And the new year just started.

The US reported its highest number of Covid-19 deaths in one day Tuesday: 4,327, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In fact, the five highest daily tallies for new infections and new deaths have all occurred in 2021.

Over the past week, the US has averaged more than 3,300 deaths every day, a jump of more than 217% from mid-November.

More than 3 million new US cases have been reported in the first 13 days of the year. As of Wednesday, more than 23 million Americans have been infected with the virus, a million more than just four days earlier, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Many experts aren't surprised after widespread holiday gatherings, casual get-togethers with friends and weeks of record-high hospitalization numbers.

More than 131,300 people are now hospitalized with Covid-19, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

In some parts of the country, hospitals have reached their breaking point.

On Tuesday, Arizona reported a record-high 5,082 hospitalized Covid-19 patients. The same day, it broke a second record: more than 1,180 Covid-19 patients in ICU beds.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards extended an order that keeps mitigation measures in place for nearly another month, saying the state was seeing a 'huge spike' in cases and hospitalizations.

College towns see spikes in Covid-19 infections

As students return for the first semester of 2021, many college towns are seeing a new onslaught of Covid-19.

More than a quarter of the population in 30 US counties comes from full-time enrollment at higher education institutes, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

In 10 of those counties, at least 90% of staffed ICU beds are occupied, according to the NCES. Those counties include Oktibbeha County, home to Mississippi State University, where almost all ICU beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients.

And in 26 of the counties, Covid-19 cases increased by an average of 50% over the past week.

In Williamsburg, Virginia -- home to William & Mary -- Covid-19 cases nearly tripled in one week. But the university said most students have not yet returned to the area. As of Wednesday, the university had only two known active cases -- one is a student, and one is an employee.

New cases doubled in both Whitman County, Washington -- home of Washington State University -- and Albany County, Wyoming -- home of the University of Wyoming.

Why June could be 'dramatically better'

While vaccinations continue to lag behind predictions, health experts are begging Americans to hunker down in their bubbles for these next few months as soaring hospitalizations lead to record daily deaths.

While those 'awful' numbers will likely continue this winter, better months are coming, said Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the US Food and Drug Administration's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.

Mass vaccinations, warmer weather, a new presidential administration and a population building immunity could lead to a 'dramatically better' summer, he said.

Two 'remarkably effective' vaccines are already being administered, and two more vaccines -- from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca -- 'are right around the corner,' Offit said.

An international team of researchers who tested Johnson & Johnson's vaccine wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday that early-stage trials showed that it generated an immune response in almost all volunteers, with minimal side effects, after a single dose.

The company expects to report on more advanced trials later this month and is hoping to apply for emergency use authorization from the FDA soon after.

The incoming Biden administration 'isn't into this cult of denialism' that has surrounded the Trump administration's coronavirus response, and it would 'take this problem head on,' Offit said.

If another 55% to 60% of the population can be vaccinated -- something Offit said can be done if the US gives 1 million to 1.5 million doses a day -- 'then I really do think that by June, we can stop the spread of this virus.'

Big changes to vaccine distribution

On Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the federal government will no longer hold back second doses of Covid-19 vaccines that it kept in reserve.

'We are telling states they should open vaccinations to all people ... 65 and over and all people under age 65 with a comorbidity with some form of medical documentation,' Azar said.

Second doses will still be available to those who need them, he said, noting that 'based on the science and evidence we have, it is imperative that people receive their second doses on time.'

The Pfizer vaccine doses should be spaced 21 days apart, and the Moderna doses should be 28 days apart.

More than 27.6 million vaccine doses have so far been distributed, according to CDC data, and more than 9.3 million people have received their first dose -- a far cry from where some experts hoped the country would be by now.

In many cases, it's been the rigid following of guidance on who should get the vaccines first that has slowed the vaccine rollout, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday.

While priorities recommended by the CDC shouldn't be abandoned, Fauci said, 'When people are ready to get vaccinated, we're going to move right on to the next level, so that there are not vaccine doses that are sitting in a freezer or refrigerator where they could be getting into people's arm.'

Once the supply of vaccine is available, pharmacists around the country will have the capacity to give 100 million doses of vaccine in one month, Steven Anderson, the president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, told reporters on a phone call.

And starting in two weeks, vaccines will be distributed to states based on which jurisdictions are getting the most doses into arms and where the most older adults reside.

'We will be allocating them based on the pace of administration as reported by states and by the size of the 65 and over population in each state,' Azar said.

'We're giving states two weeks' notice of this shift to give them the time necessary to plan and to improve their reporting if they think their data is faulty.'

Only six states have administered more than 50% of the doses distributed to them, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Connecticut, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia.

On the opposite end, seven states have administered less than 25% of the doses they were given: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho and Virginia.

Almost 2.3 million children have tested positive

Nearly 2.3 million children tested positive for Covid-19 from the pandemic's start through January 7, a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association shows.

More than 171,000 of those cases were reported between December 31 and January 7, while over two weeks -- between December 24 through January 7 -- there was a 15% increase in child Covid-19 cases, the report said.

The findings mean children now represent 12.5% of all infections in the US.

'At this time, it appears that severe illness due to Covid-19 is rare among children,' the report said.

'However, there is an urgent need to collect more data on longer-term impacts of the pandemic on children, including ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its emotional and mental health effects.'

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the last name of a member of the US Food and Drug Administration's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. His name is Dr. Paul Offit.

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Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1059324

Reported Deaths: 19873
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook4292708939
DuPage681561136
Will57429861
Lake52591877
Kane45300667
Winnebago25971407
Madison23853455
St. Clair21836415
McHenry21268244
Champaign1523994
Peoria14775235
Sangamon14299232
McLean13013156
Tazewell11765242
Rock Island11752301
Kankakee11358177
Kendall951477
LaSalle9271247
Macon8701178
DeKalb733590
Vermilion7325110
Adams7267114
Williamson6102114
Boone549077
Whiteside5201173
Clinton495384
Coles466379
Ogle455470
Knox4531140
Grundy429054
Effingham427968
Jackson410767
Henry397675
Marion3923111
Franklin378367
Macoupin377294
Randolph366566
Livingston357966
Monroe351768
Stephenson348874
Jefferson3356102
Morgan322988
Woodford312566
Logan304256
Lee300372
Bureau298582
Montgomery297038
Christian295372
Fayette288553
Perry261360
Iroquois255755
Fulton253048
Jersey217252
Lawrence215130
McDonough211450
Saline199853
Douglas198633
Union195732
Shelby195035
Crawford173434
Cass173031
Bond172023
Warren157543
Pike152945
Richland151044
Wayne148743
Jo Daviess147424
Hancock146032
Clark144628
Washington143225
Edgar142552
Carroll141832
Ford136649
Moultrie135228
White131429
Clay130138
Greene124942
Johnson120815
Wabash116214
Mercer116128
Piatt115916
Mason115540
De Witt112026
Cumberland106427
Jasper101916
Massac100430
Menard85310
Hamilton70916
Marshall65213
Schuyler61216
Pulaski6053
Brown59911
Stark49220
Edwards4619
Henderson44516
Calhoun4354
Alexander3807
Gallatin3804
Scott3671
Putnam3451
Hardin2988
Pope2402
Unassigned1080
Out of IL320

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 583160

Reported Deaths: 9246
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion805561286
Lake43837665
Allen31608539
Hamilton27929303
St. Joseph26542369
Elkhart23971338
Vanderburgh18366212
Tippecanoe17160118
Johnson14273280
Porter14256158
Hendricks13697238
Madison10424210
Vigo10362171
Clark10032129
Monroe8993105
Delaware8703129
LaPorte8664153
Kosciusko781477
Howard7788137
Warrick630990
Hancock629697
Bartholomew621694
Floyd6028105
Wayne5872156
Grant5764109
Dubois537870
Boone528167
Morgan509287
Marshall490584
Henry487463
Cass468059
Noble456357
Dearborn449743
Jackson412345
Shelby398177
Lawrence377875
Clinton361839
Gibson352356
DeKalb335163
Montgomery331551
Knox324139
Harrison322642
Miami306843
Steuben302640
Adams293535
Wabash290245
Ripley288945
Whitley288925
Huntington280357
Putnam280047
Jasper278233
White264038
Daviess258772
Jefferson244738
Fayette240448
Decatur239982
Greene230660
Posey228026
Wells227146
LaGrange222861
Scott215037
Clay214732
Randolph206740
Jennings190635
Sullivan187931
Spencer178617
Fountain176125
Washington173016
Starke170141
Jay161121
Fulton157929
Owen156536
Carroll150515
Orange148133
Rush146718
Perry143627
Vermillion142933
Franklin141733
Parke12778
Tipton127132
Pike112425
Blackford106122
Pulaski94237
Newton88420
Brown84829
Benton83510
Crawford7399
Martin68813
Warren6497
Switzerland6155
Union6063
Ohio4627
Unassigned0374