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: 1388634

Reported Deaths: 25566
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook55620110461
DuPage923681316
Will769181032
Lake683491014
Kane59419807
Winnebago34106506
Madison30930526
McHenry29182294
St. Clair28316519
Peoria23443342
Champaign21100154
Sangamon19094240
McLean18553187
Tazewell17227305
Rock Island15245329
Kankakee14550217
Kendall1327899
LaSalle12779250
Macon10997211
DeKalb10116121
Vermilion10021142
Adams8677126
Williamson7595134
Whiteside7199174
Boone683677
Ogle620683
Grundy598678
Clinton578991
Coles5770100
Knox5642153
Jackson510065
Henry507870
Livingston489691
Woodford483282
Stephenson481985
Macoupin478288
Effingham476872
Franklin454178
Marion4513117
Jefferson4422122
Monroe438094
Lee419354
Randolph416487
Fulton405159
Logan396964
Morgan393482
Christian383875
Montgomery379474
Bureau378383
Fayette322555
Perry320360
Iroquois313867
McDonough290851
Jersey271652
Douglas260636
Saline260357
Lawrence241127
Shelby232638
Union228141
Crawford214525
Bond208724
Cass203527
Ford188948
Warren184148
Clark183733
Jo Daviess182724
Pike181853
Wayne181053
Hancock180631
Carroll178337
Richland176940
Edgar176740
White170626
Washington164825
Moultrie163128
De Witt157229
Mason154145
Piatt152414
Clay149643
Mercer149334
Johnson147616
Greene145134
Massac135840
Wabash135612
Cumberland130119
Menard125012
Jasper116718
Marshall108119
Hamilton84215
Schuyler7797
Brown7286
Pulaski7007
Stark64824
Edwards57712
Calhoun5302
Henderson52814
Scott4881
Putnam4863
Alexander47411
Gallatin4694
Hardin39112
Pope3284
Out of IL350
Unassigned02433

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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

Cases: 750702

Reported Deaths: 13766
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1032371783
Lake556801007
Allen41671691
St. Joseph36983564
Hamilton36570417
Elkhart29394459
Tippecanoe22894225
Vanderburgh22555400
Porter19354325
Johnson18432388
Hendricks17615317
Clark13207193
Madison13141344
Vigo12612253
LaPorte12418221
Monroe12202175
Delaware10955198
Howard10298225
Kosciusko9626120
Hancock8563145
Bartholomew8167157
Warrick7858156
Floyd7785180
Grant7234179
Wayne7161201
Boone6943103
Morgan6747141
Dubois6215118
Marshall6210116
Cass6008109
Dearborn589778
Henry5895109
Noble580987
Jackson508975
Shelby501096
Lawrence4738122
Gibson444793
Clinton441255
Harrison441173
DeKalb439685
Montgomery437590
Whitley406443
Huntington402681
Steuben399859
Miami393169
Jasper387754
Knox375890
Putnam372360
Wabash360683
Ripley347070
Adams345455
Jefferson335885
White331653
Daviess3033100
Wells295281
Decatur289992
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey273835
LaGrange273072
Scott270156
Clay266548
Washington245434
Randolph244783
Jennings235349
Spencer234531
Starke228058
Fountain220748
Sullivan214443
Owen211658
Fulton202242
Jay200932
Carroll193420
Orange188155
Perry187237
Rush175926
Vermillion174844
Franklin170335
Tipton166146
Parke149416
Pike138234
Blackford136232
Pulaski120647
Newton113736
Brown104243
Crawford102416
Benton101514
Martin91715
Warren84015
Switzerland8138
Union72810
Ohio57811
Unassigned0420