U.S. Wants Faster Vaccinations as Pandemic Worsens, Job Market Suffers

U.S. health officials sought to speed up the sluggish pace of COVID-19 vaccinations on Thursday, as the coronavirus claimed over 4,000 American lives for a second straight day and employment data showed the pandemic further stifling the job market, Reuters informs.

As of Thursday, roughly 6 million people across the United States had received a first injection of the two-shot vaccines, accounting for less than one-third of more than 21 million doses shipped to date, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That number falls far short of the 20 million vaccinations the U.S. government had vowed to administer by the end of 2020 as the pandemic raged largely unchecked with ever-increasing record numbers of infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

The contagion and strict public health measures imposed to contain it have also wreaked havoc on business activity.

A closely watched Labor Department report set for release on Friday was expected to show that the U.S. economy in December created the fewest jobs since the outbreak of the pandemic in March and may have even shed workers. 

More than 270,000 new U.S. infections were reported on Thursday and COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 132,046 patients, down slightly from Wednesday’s record tally. The respiratory virus killed 4,002 Americans on Thursday alone, just under Wednesday’s record 24-hour toll of 4,008 deaths.

The latest surge has been compounded by the spread of a new, more infectious coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom that has now been found in at least eight U.S. states, including California, Colorado, Florida and New York.

Pennsylvania and Texas became the latest two states added to the list on Thursday, but health officials say spread of the UK variant will likely accelerate across the country in the weeks and months to come.

With the pressure on healthcare systems growing by the day, political leaders announced steps to quicken the rate of inoculations.

On Wednesday, top health officials announced plans to start distributing COVID-19 vaccines through pharmacies around the country earlier than expected this week as states have struggled to administer supplies they have received.

The partnership with 19 pharmacy chains will eventually allow the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed program to deliver vaccines to as many as 40,000 locations around the country, U.S. officials said at a news conference on Wednesday.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar also told governors to not let vaccines go unused due to policies requiring healthcare workers get the shots first.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.