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 10:29 AM
Updated: Jan 14, 2021 2:30 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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 268672

Reported Deaths: 5917
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17928195
Hinds17030337
Harrison14510212
Rankin11315223
Jackson11054193
Lee9109147
Madison8663171
Jones6853120
Forrest6260125
Lauderdale6161196
Lowndes5582123
Lafayette5269101
Lamar508765
Washington4965125
Bolivar4164110
Oktibbeha411585
Panola389881
Pontotoc380460
Monroe3727111
Warren3716103
Marshall360172
Union360165
Pearl River3527106
Neshoba3516158
Leflore3132110
Lincoln308389
Hancock300963
Sunflower294277
Tate281862
Alcorn274055
Pike272984
Itawamba271263
Scott264055
Yazoo258456
Prentiss255454
Coahoma252455
Copiah251549
Tippah251551
Simpson244872
Leake238967
Marion228274
Covington224873
Grenada224673
Wayne216336
Adams216271
Winston208271
George206440
Newton201447
Attala197465
Tishomingo196361
Chickasaw190245
Jasper183138
Holmes172568
Clay168637
Tallahatchie158035
Stone153625
Clarke148762
Calhoun142022
Smith131926
Yalobusha124935
Walthall115438
Greene114929
Noxubee114526
Montgomery112936
Lawrence107917
Carroll106922
Perry105931
Amite102727
Webster98024
Claiborne90125
Tunica89621
Jefferson Davis89330
Benton86923
Humphreys85625
Kemper81220
Quitman7169
Franklin71017
Choctaw64013
Wilkinson60125
Jefferson57321
Sharkey45717
Issaquena1616
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 445909

Reported Deaths: 6896
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson651891049
Mobile32138590
Madison28596223
Tuscaloosa21703276
Montgomery20220336
Shelby19584138
Baldwin17496216
Lee13378109
Morgan12741145
Etowah12196189
Calhoun11626228
Marshall10513126
Houston9097168
Limestone842481
Cullman8363125
Elmore8283112
Lauderdale7986112
DeKalb7935112
St. Clair7915139
Talladega6552112
Walker6068184
Jackson605649
Colbert560194
Blount551794
Autauga544065
Coffee470569
Dale415186
Franklin378150
Russell362816
Chilton348079
Covington344681
Escambia342244
Tallapoosa3184109
Dallas314197
Chambers308575
Clarke307339
Pike267735
Lawrence256958
Marion255763
Winston235243
Bibb224751
Geneva214747
Marengo212031
Pickens201831
Barbour188240
Hale187444
Fayette181230
Butler175960
Cherokee167433
Henry161325
Monroe153521
Randolph148236
Washington144027
Clay131050
Crenshaw126245
Macon124337
Cleburne123627
Lamar121324
Lowndes117636
Wilcox109422
Bullock105829
Perry100518
Conecuh98222
Sumter90828
Greene78323
Coosa64619
Choctaw52224
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