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April 19, 2021

More than half of US adults have gotten a vaccine. So why are coronavirus cases still rising?

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    Even though more than half of American adults have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, coronavirus cases are still rising throughout much of the United States.

    Your top resources on the Covid-19 vaccines

    More than 50% American have received at least one vaccine dose

    According to CDC data, nearly 130 million American adults—or 50.4% of the country's total adult population—have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. Further, about 84 million American adults—or 32.5% of the country's total adult population—have been fully vaccinated. CDC considers Americans fully vaccinated two weeks after they receive Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine or their second dose of Pfizer/BioNTech's or Moderna's two-dose vaccines.

    A disproportionate share of the Americans who have received at least one vaccine dose are older adults, according to CDC data. Specifically, the data shows more than 78% of Americans ages 75 and older have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while only about 25% of adults ages 18 to 29 have received at least one vaccine dose. Vaccinations rates are lower among young adults in part because states previously applied age restrictions on vaccine appointments due to limited vaccine supply. As of Monday, however, all American adults are eligible to sign up for Covid-19 vaccination appointments.

    During a White House Covid-19 briefing on Friday, Jeff Zients, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, said the United States is on pace to meet President Biden's goal of administering 200 million Covid-19 vaccine doses within his first 100 days in office, which will be April 30.

    Where America's coronavirus epidemic stands

    Although the pace of vaccinations has accelerated, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky during a White House Covid-19 briefing on Friday said new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are continuing to rise.

    According to data compiled by the Times, the United States' average daily number of newly reported coronavirus cases over the past week was 67,308—up by 5% compared with the average from two weeks ago.

    The Times' data showed that, as of Monday morning, the rates of newly reported coronavirus cases were "staying high" in Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C and 25 states that have reported a daily average of at least 15 newly reported cases per 100,000 people over the past week. Those states are Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

    In addition, the rate of newly reported coronavirus cases was "going up" as of Monday morning in Louisiana, Mississippi, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Wisconsin, which have had comparatively lower case rates, the Times reports. In the remaining states and U.S. territories, rates are "going down" or "staying low," according to the Times' analysis.

    Meanwhile, data also shows hospitalizations are rising again. According to the Times' data, 45,643 Americans with Covid-19 were hospitalized on Sunday—up by 11% compared with the average from two weeks ago. Thirty-eight states have each reported an increase in the number of their state residents hospitalized with Covid-19 during the seven-day period ending on April 15, according to a Washington Post analysis of HHS data.

    Why cases and hospitalizations are still rising

    Walensky earlier this month said hospitals are seeing an increase in younger adults with Covid-19 being admitted for treatment as new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus spread throughout the United States.

    Health experts say many factors are driving the increase in hospitalizations among young Americans, including that young adults and older teens were generally among the last groups of Americans prioritized to receive Covid-19 vaccines, CNBC reports.

    Paul Offit, a physician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said he believes more young Americans are being hospitalized with Covid-19 because "they're getting infected more frequently because of the contagiousness of the virus."

    The Biden administration plans to send $1.7 billion to CDC and local and state governments beginning next month to identify and track the spread of coronavirus variants.

    Even as cases and hospitalizations are increasing, data shows deaths are continuing to decline. According to the Times' data, 352 new deaths were linked to the coronavirus on Sunday, down 8% from the average two weeks ago.

    Carlos del Rio, Emory University's executive associate dean of medicine, said, "We've seen mortality in the [United States] decline despite cases going up, and that's because we're vaccinating people," noting the "vaccines have saved thousands of lives already" (Yen/Mattise, Associated Press, 4/18; Schwartz, NPR, 4/18; Saric, Axios, 4/18; Caldwell/Kallingal, CNN, 4/17; Achenbach/Dupree, Washington Post, 4/15; Lovelace, CNBC, 4/16; Stein/Keith, "Shots," NPR, 4/16; McIntire, Roll Call, 4/16; New York Times, 4/19).

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