Here’s what’s happening Tuesday with the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.:
THREE THINGS TO KNOW TODAY
— An increasing number of COVID-19 vaccination sites around the U.S. are canceling appointments because of vaccine shortages in a rollout so rife with confusion that even the new CDC director admitted over the weekend that she doesn’t know exactly how many shots are in the pipeline. States are waiting to find out their latest weekly allocation of vaccines. For days now, governors and top health officials have been complaining about inadequate supplies and the need for earlier and more reliable estimates of how much is on the way so that they can plan accordingly.
— New results extend hopes for drugs that supply antibodies to fight COVID-19, suggesting they can help keep patients out of the hospital and possibly prevent illness in some uninfected people. Eli Lilly said its drug reduced the risk of hospitalizations or death by 70% in newly diagnosed, nonhospitalized patients. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said partial results on its drug suggest it helps prevent infection in housemates of people with COVID-19. Some of the antibodies are already being used to treat certain patients and the drugmakers say they will seek to expand that authorization to allow prevention approaches as well.
— California’s health department released to the public previously secret projections for future hospital intensive care unit capacity in the state, the key metric for lifting a stay-at-home order. However, state officials did not explain how regional per capita virus cases and transmission rates that also were released might influence how much ICU space will be available in four weeks. Last week, state health officials told The Associated Press they were keeping all the data secret because it is complicated and might mislead the public. Coronavirus experts and open government advocates criticized the move, saying the public has the right to know what’s behind decisions affecting their lives.
THE NUMBERS: According to data through Jan. 25 from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases in the U.S. did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 249,234.9 on Jan. 11 to 170,720 on Jan. 25.
DEATH TOLL: According to data through Jan. 25 from Johns Hopkins, the seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths in the U.S. did not increase in the past two weeks, going from 3,242.4 on Jan. 11 to 3,160.9 on Jan. 25.
QUOTABLE: “I think we were on track to have a good — or a better, at least — spring and summer, and I’m worried that the variants might be throwing us a curveball.” — Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security Rivers, on concerns that the more contagious variants of the virus could lead to a deadly resurgence this year.
ICYMI: Officials say a new Brazilian variant of the coronavirus has made its first known appearance in the United States in a person who recently traveled from Brazil to Minnesota. State health officials said Monday that the Brazil P.1 variant was found in a specimen from a Minnesota resident who had recently been to Brazil. The patient lives in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and became ill during the first week of January. Viruses are constantly mutating, and new variants often emerge. Health officials are also worried about variants that were first reported in the U.K. and South Africa.
ON THE HORIZON: Oregon teachers are eligible for COVID-19 shots before senior citizens after Democratic Gov. Kate Brown decided to prioritize reopening schools. The decision has outraged older people and underscores the moral dilemma state and local officials across the U.S. are facing as they decide who’s first in line for the vaccine. Ethicists say America hasn’t faced such a stark moral calculus in generations. Everyone from the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions to communities of color and front-line workers are clamoring for the vaccine. And each group has a compelling argument for why it should get priority.
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