America's Covid-19 vaccine rollout appeared to accelerate on Monday, even as Senate Democrats called on the Trump administration to provide states with more guidance and resources to help them execute their vaccination plans more quickly.
The administration last year set a goal of vaccinating at least 20 million Americans by 2020's end, Politico reports. However, Covid-19 vaccine distribution throughout the United States has been slower than federal officials expected.
CDC data shows that, as of Monday morning, the federal government had distributed about 25.5 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccines currently authorized for use in the United States, but just about nine million Americans had received their first dose of the two-dose Covid-19 vaccines. That's up from about 6.7 million first doses that were administered as of Friday morning.
Although the number of administered vaccines remains well below the administration's target, the latest data suggests America's Covid-19 vaccine rollout may be picking up speed, Bloomberg reports. According to Bloomberg—which is tracking administered vaccine doses in the United States by collecting data from state vaccine reports and CDC—the total number of vaccine doses administered in the United States grew by a record 1.25 million on Monday. However, Bloomberg noted that the number of administered vaccines reported on Monday could be inflated because CDC and some states don't report data on weekends. That means Monday's tally likely includes vaccines that were administered on Saturday and Sunday, as well, Bloomberg reports.
But given America's lagging vaccine rollout so far, Senate Democrats on Monday sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar calling on the Trump administration to provide states with more guidance and resources to correct "significant failures" in the country's vaccination effort.
In the letter, the lawmakers wrote that the administration's failure to release a "long-overdue national plan" with best practices on administering Covid-19 vaccines, instructions on how to use personal protective equipment, and other guidance has hindered America's vaccine rollout. "Federal responsibility does not end with delivery of vaccines to states, as you have suggested," the senators wrote. "Vaccine administration must be a close partnership between the federal government and state, Tribal, and local governments, with the federal government stepping up to ensure that all needs are met."
The lawmakers added that the United States "cannot afford for this vaccination campaign to continue to be hindered by the lack of planning, communication, and leadership we have seen so far," citing data showing that just over 33% of distributed vaccine doses have been administered. "The metric that matters, and where we are clearly moving too slowly, is vaccines in arms," they wrote.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.)—the ranking member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee—led the letter, which 44 additional Senate Democrats signed.
An HHS spokesperson in a statement to Politico pushed back on the lawmaker's claims in the letter. For instance, the spokesperson said the Trump administration has provided states with guidance and resources, including $3 billion in new funding.
In addition, the spokesperson added that "2.3 million vaccinations have been reported to the CDC since Friday morning, as we continue to see the vaccination effort pick up momentum. The federal government through the CDC provided a playbook to states in September and has been working with them ever since on vaccination plans."
The Senate Democrats' calls for more support come as America continues to see persistently high rates of new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths—which could worsen over the next few weeks because of Americans gathering with others over the recent holidays.
According to data compiled by the New York Times, U.S. officials as of Tuesday morning had reported a total of about 22.6 million cases of the novel coronavirus since America's epidemic began—up from about 22.4 million cases reported as of Monday morning.
According to the Times, the United States' average daily number of newly reported coronavirus cases over the past week was 250,721—which is up by 37% when compared with the average from two weeks ago.
As of Tuesday morning, data from the Times showed that the rates of newly reported coronavirus cases were "staying high" in Puerto Rico; Washington, D.C.; and every state except Hawaii. According to the Times, those territories and states have had a daily average of at least 15 newly reported cases per 100,000 people over the past week.
Hawaii has had comparatively low case rates, but it was seeing those rates "going up" as of Tuesday morning, according to the Times. In Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, meanwhile, rates of newly reported coronavirus cases were "staying low" as of Tuesday morning, the Times' data showed.
U.S. hospitalizations for Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, also remained high on Monday, according to data from The Atlantic's COVID Tracking Project. The data showed that 129,748 Americans with Covid-19 were hospitalized for treatment on Monday, including 23,494 who were receiving care in an ICU and 7,781 who were on a ventilator.
As of Tuesday morning, U.S. officials had reported a total of about 376,476 U.S. deaths linked to the novel coronavirus since the country's epidemic began, up from about 374,428 deaths reported as of Monday morning.
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