COVID vaccine rates fall, putting Biden’s July 4 goal in jeopardy


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The rate of vaccinations around the country has sunk to new lows in recent weeks, threatening President Joe Biden’s goal of 70% of American adults with at least one dose by July 4. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursdaythat 63% of adults had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, only slightly up from the 62% the week before. Twelve states, including Utah, Oklahoma, Montana, the Dakotas and West Virginia, have seen vaccinations sink to 15 daily shots per 10,000 residents; Alabama had just four people per 10,000 residents get vaccinated last week, according to data from The Washington Post. 

The “low-hanging fruit – those people who absolutely want to get vaccinated without you telling them anything” have already been vaccinated, which has led to the slowdown, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-diseases expert, said on a White House-organized call with community leaders last week, according to the Post.

The White House has already made plans to combat the slowdown. Biden announced a monthlong effort to encourage more Americans to roll up their sleeves for a shot last week.

Also in the news:

►Dr. Jeff Duchin, the chief health officer for Seattle and King County, told The Seattle Times that 97% of recent COVID-19 cases there have occurred in unvaccinated people.

►A report by the Pew Charitable Trusts said after an initial sharp drop in tax revenue, 29 states recovered to take in as much or more during the peak pandemic period of March 2020 through February 2021 than they did during the previous 12 months.

►Britain’s health secretary says the delta variant, which is fast becoming the dominant coronavirus variant in the U.K., is 40% more transmissible compared to the country’s existing strains. He acknowledged Sunday that the rise in delta variant cases may delay the government’s plan to lift most remaining lockdown restrictions on June 21. 

►During the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents, weary of monitoring their children’s online classes, yearned for schools to reopen. Then vaccines expanded, schools reopened in many cities, and teachers returned – but huge numbers of students didn’t. 

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 33.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 597,600 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: Over 173.3 million cases and over 3.73 million deaths. More than 138.9 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – 41.9% of the population, according to the CDC. 

📘 What we’re reading: What does the end of COVID-19 in America look like? Perhaps no end at all, but a resigned acceptance of a bearable level of death. Read the full story. 

Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates. Want more? Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Moderna today announced that it has requested authorization of its its COVID-19 vaccine in adolescents with Health Canada – and will file for emergency use authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “for this important, younger-age population.” The FDA expanded its emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s vaccine to include people 12 to 15 last month.

Moderna also said it had filed data for a conditional marketing approval in the 27-nation European Union to expand use of its coronavirus vaccine to children. Last month, the European drug regulator approved the shot made by Pfizer and BioNTech for children 12 to 15.

“We remain committed to doing our part to help end the COVID-19 pandemic,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said.

The southern Chinese city of Guanzhou was placed in lockdown Monday following an outbreak of COVID-19 that has sickened dozens of people in recent days. Anyone who is given permission to leave must show a negative test for the virus taken in the previous 48 hours. The same rule applies to anyone seeking to leave the surrounding province of Guangdong. The city also is restricting indoor dining, conducting mass testing and banning residents in high-risk neighborhoods from leaving their homes. At least two districts in the city of 18 million people have been closed off entirely.

The variant causing the Guangzhou outbreak – the delta variant first identified in India – is reportedly more infectious because those who have it are slower to display symptoms while carrying more virus particles.

First lady Jill Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci toured a vaccination site at a historic Harlem church on Sunday in a promotional appearance aimed at re-energizing the lagging national vaccination drive. Biden, Fauci and Sen Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, watched as people got their shots in the basement of the Abyssinian Baptist Church. The church first started offering vaccine doses in January in an effort to boost the vaccination rates in New York City’s Black and Hispanic communities.

Biden asked a teenager about to get his shot how old he was, and when he said he was 14, she responded, “You’re 14, that’s exactly what we want! Twelve and over.”

For months, Mississippi Health Officer Thomas Dobbs has been pleading with Mississippians to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Mississippi is last in the nation for fully vaccinated people. As of Friday afternoon, over 911,000 people were fully vaccinated in Mississippi or 29% of the population. But it lags behind the nation’s average of 41%. For multiple weeks, Dobbs has reiterated it: Mississippians will either get vaccinated against the virus or they will suffer its effects.

“There’s no excuse for that,” Dobbs said during the livestreamed talk with the Mississippi State Medical Association. “I will personally drive up to your house to give you one.”

– Sarah Haselhorst, Mississippi Clarion-Ledger

A growing group of volunteers is going door to door, helping people get vaccinated against COVID-19 and answering questions the people of Randolph County have about the pandemic. The four who began the effort built off their experience canvassing with the Randolph County Democratic Committee. What began as a focused effort to register seniors without internet for the vaccine grew to be a larger operation involving hundreds of other doors to encounter.

Randolph is one of the poorest counties in Georgia. The rural demographics of the county make residents more susceptible to coronavirus infection. People in rural areas are at a higher risk of hospitalization, according to the CDC. As for access, those without a mode of transportation or Internet access are unable to register or travel to get vaccinated.

That’s where the group that developed out of Neighbor 2 Neighbor steps in. Joyce Barlow told CNN that not only is it about helping people get inoculated, but it is also about listening to them and their concerns about COVID-19 and the vaccines.

“That’s what this is all about. Neighbor to neighbor. As soon as we get herd, or community immunity for all our neighbors, then it will be safe for all of us to go out. I know everybody’s been cooped up,” Barlow said to a Randolph County resident. “We want to get everyone protected. We are, after all, our brother’s and sister’s keepers.”

When Sarah Farhan walked up to people at Milwaukee’s Eid al-Fitr festival last month and asked them whether they’d gotten the COVID-19 vaccine yet, many looked skeptical.

Then Farhan switched to speaking Arabic.

“Then they just exploded with words,” she said. “They were like, ‘Oh, OK, so can you tell me this and that?'”

Farhan, who is set to attend the Medical College of Wisconsin in the fall, was working her new summer job as a vaccine educator for the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition.

The coalition hired eight college students who speak languages common in Milwaukee’s Muslim community such as Arabic, Somali, Rohingya and Urdu. They want to encourage hesitant people to get the vaccine while dispelling fears and misinformation about it.

“When you’re able to communicate in the language that they’re most familiar with, there becomes a sense of comfort and familiarity, and I think that there’s more confidence in going and getting the vaccine,” women’s coalition president Janan Najeeb said.

– Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Contributing: The Associated Press



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