US coronavirus: States begin scaling back daily Covid-19 data reporting as federal officials try to vaccinate more Americans
Some health officials are calling the reduction premature, and the National Association of County and City Health Officials urges continued daily tracking of Covid-19 data.
“As far as I know, we are still in a public health emergency as a country,” the association’s chairwoman Lori Tremmel Freeman told CNN on Wednesday. “That hasn’t been downgraded yet.”
Most of these states have reduced to five updates each week; Alabama and Kansas have dropped to three times a week and Florida to just once a week, according to Johns Hopkins University.
“Real-time public health data is the most powerful weapon against a pandemic,” wrote Beth Blauer, executive director of the Johns Hopkins University Centers for Civic Impact, in a blog post published Monday. “The rollback in reporting frequency shows that many states are not viewing the past year of investing in data infrastructure and public data reporting as an integral part of it.”
Daily tracking of Covid-19 data should continue until either the nation’s declaration of being in a public health emergency ends or the nation achieves herd immunity, Freeman said. The United States is still trying to get people vaccinated, Freeman said, so it’s important to compare vaccination rates with other Covid-19 data like cases, hospital admissions and deaths.
“An ultimate goal is to get to the point where even those who don’t stay vaccinated are at far less risk – and no one I know has really landed on that number,” Freeman said of herd immunity.
Biden’s government is still trying to promote vaccination across the country. Such efforts include the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announcing that they are paying a little extra cash to providers to deliver vaccines at home for those struggling to get out of their homes.
“There are approximately 1.6 million adults aged 65 and over who may have difficulty accessing COVID-19 vaccinations because they have difficulty leaving their homes,” the CMS statement said.
CMS will add an additional $ 150 to two-dose vaccination providers to $ 75 per dose, the CMS statement said.
Experts are pushing for vaccines to combat variants
“We cannot let (deltas spread) in the United States,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci in a Covid-19 briefing at the White House on Tuesday, adding it was “such a strong argument” to get vaccinated.
“The effectiveness of the vaccine is reduced at one dose,” said Fauci. “Three weeks after a dose, both vaccines, the (AstraZeneca) and Pfizer / BioNTech, were only 33% effective against symptomatic Delta disease.”
Johnson & Johnson researchers announced Wednesday that the vaccine creates an immune response against some of the more common and worrying variants of the virus.
Its effects appear to be somewhat reduced compared to the beta variant, which was first seen in South Africa, and the gamma variant, which quickly spread in Brazil, but the immune response appeared to be against the alpha variant, which was first discovered in the UK , and a variant identified in California to be fully effective.
Fauci added that variant-specific boosters might be on the horizon.
Even those who have already had coronavirus should get vaccinated, as research shows that immunity achieved from vaccination is better than immunity from a previous infection, Fauci said.
Meanwhile, the United States has reported an average of nearly 14,380 new Covid-19 cases per day for the past week – the second lowest average since March 28, 2020, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Only the Friday average – 14,328 per day – was lower.
And the average number of new Covid-19 hospital admissions per day over a week – just more than 2,200 – is well below the country’s peak average of 16,500 per day on Jan. 9, said CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Tuesday.
However, health experts warn that a recent delay in vaccination rates leaves millions unprotected against Covid-19 variants that have entered the US from other parts of the world.
In the past week, an average of more than 1.07 million Covid-19 vaccine shots were administered per day in the United States – well below the seven-day peak of 3.38 million vaccinations per day that the CDC reported on Jan.
The vaccine maker says they are working to extend the shelf life
Johnson & Johnson – maker of the only US-approved Covid-19 single-dose vaccine – says it is working to extend the shelf life of its product as there are reports that doses in the country may expire before they are used.
Of the 21.4 million Johnson & Johnson doses shipped in the United States, about 11 million were administered, according to CDC data. This vaccine can be stored at refrigerator temperatures for up to three months.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is looking into whether the expiration date of Johnson & Johnson vaccines can be extended and, if so, how the doses can be used, Fauci said on Wednesday.
Johnson & Johnson is conducting stability tests “with the aim of extending the shelf life of our COVID-19 vaccine before it expires,” CNN told CNN this week.
In Ohio, 200,000 doses of the state’s Johnson & Johnson vaccine will expire before the end of the month, and the state cannot share the doses with any other state or country, Governor Mike DeWine said this week.
Correction: A previous headline and version of this story incorrectly labeled the most recent seven-day average of new daily US coronavirus cases as the lowest since March 2020; it is the second lowest since March 28, 2020. An earlier version also incorrectly reported the latest seven-day average of vaccinations given per day.
CNN’s Hollie Silverman, Holly Yan, Amir Vera, Deidre McPhillips, Lauren Mascarenhas, Ryan Prior and Carma Hassan contributed to this report.