FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) — Residents in the Fort Bend County area may now have bragging rights around the region after officials said they’ve surpassed the federal government’s targeted goal of vaccinated adults.
County Judge KP George released the numbers on Twitter Saturday afternoon, saying that over 70% of their citizens have had a dose.
🇺🇸 Way to go, Fort Bend!
🇺🇸 We have reached (and surpassed) the Federal Government’s aspirational goal of 70% of adults with at least one vaccine dose by July 4.
A new draft consensus statement from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) addresses diagnosis and management of type 1 diabetes in adults.
The impetus for the document comes from the “highly influential” EASD-ADA consensus report on the management of type 2 diabetes, which led to the realization that a comparable document was needed for adults with type 1 diabetes, said writing panel cochair Anne L. Peters, MD, professor of clinical medicine at Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
We are now more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, which officially began on March 11, 2020, when the World Health Organization declared the viral outbreak a global event. It’s also been well over a year since the WHO announced on January 5, 2020, that there was a mysterious virus emerging in Wuhan, China. Since then, more than half a million Americans have died from the virus.
Today, the state of the pandemic looks far different than it did even a few months ago. We now have a handful of vaccines to prevent the infection, and half of all US adults are fully vaccinated. But it’s still crucial that we maintain our awareness of the severity of this crisis. Here’s a quick overview of the most recent essential stats and figures:
Current US vaccination numbers
The daily average number of administered vaccine doses has been dropping since mid-April, and is now just about 1.78 million doses per day, which is a 47 percent decrease from when vaccinations peaked on April 13th at 3.38 million doses per day. About half (49 percent) of the entire US population has now received at least one dose, and nearly 60 percent of those 18 and older have gotten at least one jab. President Biden has said that he wants to have at least 70 percent of Americans with at least one shot by July Fourth. That target might prove more difficult now that vaccinations have slowed. Nearly half (49.8 percent) of US adults are now fully vaccinated. All told, 163.9 million people living in the US have received one dose, and more than 130.6 million have received two Moderna or Pfizer shots or received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
These are the top five states for percentage of population with at least one dose:
Vermont at 70 percent
Hawaii at 65 percent
Massachusetts at 65 percent
New Hampshire at 64 percent
Connecticut at 62 percent
Every state has reached a rate of at least 25 percent complete vaccination, with Vermont leading the way at 53 percent and Mississippi trailing last at 26 percent.
Latest US COVID-19 case counts
The United States has now reported more than 33.2 million cases in total, and there were 24,794 new daily cases on average as of May 24. We’re currently on the decline from our third—and by far largest—peak so far. There was a long plateau, and even a brief rise, from February through April, but since the middle of April cases are once again declining.
COVID-19 testing rates have fallen significantly since the January peak, meaning case numbers aren’t directly comparable to the winter counts. But positivity rates have been falling too, giving some reassurance that the virus is truly becoming less prevalent. It’s crucial that we maintain the precautions that produced this decline. Most importantly, it’s crucial that everyone get vaccinated as quickly as possible. Every adult in the US is currently eligible—this is how we can all contribute to ending the pandemic.
But what these countries generally have in common is large populations. The list of total cases per 100,000 people tells a very different story (not counting countries with fewer than 100,000 people):
The US is the only country on both lists, which is a testament to how poorly we’ve handled containing the pandemic, especially early on. Every other nation with a lot of case counts generally has it by virtue of having a large population.
Though it still trails the US in case counts by a little more than six million, the pandemic is currently ravaging India. The number of new daily cases is rapidly declining, but it’s still the major driver of the global case count. Many countries in Central and South America, including Argentina, Uruguay, Costa Rica, and Paraguay, are also dealing with high infection rates.
Case numbers are continuing to decline in states like Michigan, New York, and New Jersey, while Michigan is still considered one of the riskiest states still for infection. Other risky states include Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Louisiana is the only state where case counts are increasing.
The coronavirus death toll and hospitalization rate
While vaccines offer a light at the end of the tunnel, and the CDC’s current mask guidelines show we are closer than ever to returning to some semblance of normal life, it’s just as important now as it was at the start of the pandemic to remain vigilant.
Correction: An earlier headline and incorrectly stated that COVID-19 cases and deaths were at an all-time low. In fact, hospitalizations and deaths are at their lowest levels since last summer. The body text also said that both deaths and hospitalizations are at their lowest point since March, but in fact only hospitalizations are that low, whereas deaths were lower for a brief period last June/July.
The United States has reached a pandemic milestone of 100 million fully vaccinated adults, White House officials announced at a briefing Friday.
“That’s 100 million Americans with a sense of relief and peace of mind knowing that after a long and hard year, they’re protected from the virus,” said Jeff Zients, COVID-19 response director. “Knowing their decision to get vaccinated protects not just themselves, but also protects their families, their friends, and their communities.”
He added, “A hundred million Americans who can follow the new CDC guidance released this week and enjoy going to the park with their family, dining and socializing with their friends outside, and many more outdoor activities without needing to wear a mask.”
That 100 million amounts to almost 40% of U.S. adults. A total of 55% of adults now have at least one shot, up from 38% at the end of March and 19% at the end of February, he said. The number of fully vaccinated adults has nearly doubled since the end of March.
The news comes on the heels of updated guidance from the CDC giving vaccinated Americans more freedoms. According to the new guidelines, fully vaccinated people can gather outside in uncrowded activities without masks.
Meanwhile, about 8% of Americans who have received one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine did not get their second shot, according to top COVID-19 expert Antony Fauci, M.D.
Fauci stressed the importance of completing both shots, particularly when it comes to protection against variants like B.1.351 ― from South Africa ― and B.1.1.7 from the U.K., which is now the dominant strain in the United States.
“Bottom line of my message: get vaccinated,” Fauci said, “and if you’re having a two-dose regimen, make sure you get that second dose.”
White House COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team, press briefing, April 30, 2021
Author: Russell Falcon
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin
AUSTIN (KXAN) — For the first time in six months, there’s a marked decrease in the number of people admitted to hospitals in Austin with COVID-19. On Sunday, fewer than 10 people with infections were admitted.
Numbers haven’t been that low in the area since October — but that may not last very long. Especially for some young people.
Data’s showing 20-29 year-olds are not only unvaccinated, but purposefully so. That’s despite appointments for vaccinations being open to most Americans ages 16 and older.
But Austin’s top doctor strongly urges young adults, who may feel invincible, to get their shot(s).
“We have seen week after week increase in hospitalizations in those age groups,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Austin Public Health’s Interim Health Authority. “We know those age groups are less excited about getting the vaccine because they perceive the decrease risk in hospitalization and death.”
And it pays off. “On average, people’s disability is cut in half,” Dr. Szanton said. “Their pain decreases. Their ability to bathe and dress improves. People stuck on the second floor of their houses for years can go on family trips.”
Elsewhere, users of assistive devices tell similar stories. “We all know someone who had an aunt or a mother who couldn’t get out of the tub or off the floor, and bad things happened,” said Wendl Kornfeld, 72, who lives in Manhattan with her 83-year-old husband.
They had grab bars installed in their two showers for roughly $ 120 total, “not a huge investment and worth it for peace of mind,” Ms. Kornfeld said.
In Mt. Kisco, N.Y., Joan Potter appreciates the apartment renovations her late husband oversaw 20 years ago. He used a wheelchair, so their bathroom had a roll-in shower with a hand-held shower head, a raised toilet and grab bars in key locations. Now that Ms. Potter, 88, has undergone two hip replacements, she said, “I’m so grateful I have all these things, because I’m not so agile myself anymore.”
Why don’t more seniors take advantage of such devices?
Some adaptations that help people remain at home, like outdoor ramps and stair glides, carry high price tags; basic bathroom devices, widely available in pharmacies and online, generally don’t. But cost can still present an obstacle.
“Medicare covers ‘durable medical equipment’ — hospital beds, wheelchairs, walkers,” said Tricia Neuman, who leads the Kaiser Family Foundation’s program on Medicare. “It doesn’t cover hand rails or grab bars, things used around the house.”
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin-Travis County health officials say they’re hoping to achieve herd immunity from COVID-19 in adults by the end of May.
Dr. Mark Escott, the Austin Public Health interim health authority, said while adult herd immunity could happen by then, COVID-19 can still circulate in children so, in his estimation, early fall would be the earliest time the community could “relax.”
According to the county’s COVID-19 dashboard, the rolling average of new hospitalizations continues to be firmly in Stage 3 risk level at 18. There were 15 new hospitalizations reported Tuesday, and if the downward trend continues, the area could move to Stage 2 in April. The threshold for Stage 2 risk level is a rolling average of new hospitalizations under 10.
“It is a time to get together with family. It’s a time to gather together with your church community. We have to be very careful, particularly in our Hispanic communities, because it could light a fire,” he said.
“And I don’t want that to happen. So folks that are higher risk, really need to choose a virtual option. Other folks, if they’re going to gather together, go to church in person, please wear a mask. Please wash your hands. Please do those things to minimize your risk.”
Escott warned that despite vaccinations, high-risk individuals and those who live with high-risk individuals should refrain from gathering in-person.
About spring break, he said there hasn’t quite been enough time to determine if a spike hasn’t occurred. Once two weeks have passed, then health officials will assess the data and see what they can determine.
Austin Public Health says 180,000 people have been vaccinated by APH alone — but anyone who is currently eligible and has the opportunity is encouraged to get their shot wherever they can.
“The sooner we all get vaccinated, we all can be protected and get back to a more normal scenario,” said Cassandra DeLon, APH Chief Administrative Officer. “But this is not the time to get lax.”
HOUSTON — As Texas joined several other states on Monday in opening eligibility for coronavirus vaccines to millions of healthy adults, anticipation for the shot could be seen in the long line that snaked outside Booker T. Washington High School in Houston.
“This is a good sign,” said Nelson Garcia, 48, who waited more than two hours with his two young children before he was finally within reach of protection from a disease that could be deadly for people with diabetes like himself. “It looks like everyone wants to get vaccinated. I want my children to see that this is a good thing and that the vaccine may finally help us get back to normal.”
On Monday, Texas became the largest state to expand vaccination eligibility to anyone 16 or older, or about 22 million people. Long lines were replicated across the state and appointments were difficult to snag online. Vaccination spots at HEB.com, the website for the most popular supermarket chain in Texas, were few and far between.
The spike was expected. “Virtually anyone can get a vaccine now,” said Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat who represents the Houston region.
Five other states, including neighboring Oklahoma and Louisiana, as well as Kansas, Ohio and North Dakota, also opened their doors for all adults on Monday. Several reported increased interest in the vaccine, but the numbers did not overwhelm the system of vaccine providers.
Also on Monday, officials in New York State, once the center of the pandemic that has killed about 31,000 people in New York City alone, announced that beginning on Tuesday, all adults 30 and older would be eligible for the vaccine. At least 37 other states have vowed to offer shots to every adult who wants one by mid-April.
Six states — Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire and South Carolina — plan to expand eligibility this week, officials in those states said.
On Monday, many in Texas celebrated the milestone, which came with the state struggling to stay ahead of the pandemic; there have been an average of 3,774 new cases per day over the past week, according to a New York Times database.
“Covid is still here. Covid is not going anywhere,” Dr. Joseph Varon, the chief of critical care at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, said as he visited the high school site. “Everybody has to get a vaccine. There is no excuse not to be vaccinated.”
Imelda Garcia, a top official with the Texas Department of State Health Services, called Monday “a truly big day for us here in Texas.” About one in six Texans have fully received the vaccinations needed to fend off a serious coronavirus infection, Ms. Garcia said. Still, the number of Texans who have received at least one dose — about 25 percent — is below the 29 percent nationwide.
Ms. Garcia said the state planned to administer vaccines “as fast as we possibly can,” and she expected to see long lines at vaccination sites for days to come. The state is expected to receive more than one million first doses this week, she said.
Health officials found themselves in a race to vaccinate as many Texans as possible as more contagious variants of the virus continue to spread. At least 500 cases of these variants have been identified, state officials said.
“We need to keep people vaccinated very, very quickly,” Ms. Garcia said. “So that the variants don’t get out of hand.”
While there were no reports of websites crashing or people being turned away on Monday, there were obvious signs that demand for the vaccines was high. The lines were longer than those days earlier at larger sites like NRG Park in Houston. Vehicles snaked around the cavernous parking lot as people anticipated their turn for a drive-by vaccine.
While younger people were among the crowds at vaccination sites, state officials warned that vulnerable populations, such as older people and those who have pre-existing health conditions, remain a priority. This was evident at Booker T. Washington High School, in a historically Black neighborhood of Houston.
Ms. Jackson Lee was surveying the crowd when she spotted a man holding on to a cane and struggling to stay on his feet at the back of the line. She placed an arm around him and gently helped him reach the front.
People in line cheered and applauded as the man, John Custer, 58, walked past them. “I would had waited, I don’t know how long,” he said.
Others like Eddie Taylor, 58, and his wife, Helen Taylor, 60, said they appreciated that many vaccination sites like the high school did not require signing up beforehand. The Taylors got to the end of the line at 8 a.m. hoping to earn a spot before the site shut for the day at 4 p.m.
“You just show up and hope you make it before they close or run out,” said Mr. Taylor, the lead pastor of True Faith and Praise Missionary Baptist Church.
In the Rio Grande Valley, where a combination of poverty, lack of access to health care and a close-knit culture accelerated the spread of the virus over the summer, vaccination sites were a little bit quieter. A majority of residents in Hidalgo County, home to McAllen, had gotten a vaccine by late March, officials said. More than half of its residents qualified because they tend to suffer from chronic pre-existing ailments such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure, said Dr. Ivan Melendez, the county health authority.
Nearly 300,000 people in the region had received their first dose of the vaccine as of Monday, and about 22,000 people were expected to do so in the coming weeks. “I am encouraged,” Dr. Melendez said. “Do we have a long way to go? Absolutely. But we have come a long way.”
Calls for Monday’s appointments in Louisiana began three weeks ago, after Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the state’s expansion of eligibility beyond those with underlying health conditions. But Ruston Henry, a pharmacist in New Orleans, noted that his customer base had grown only slightly younger. “We’re seeing old to middle-aged people,” he said. “We’re not seeing many people who are ages 16 to 20.”
As of Thursday, about 15 percent of Louisianans, or about nearly 721,000, had been fully vaccinated, while more than 1.1 million have received at least one dose, officials said.
In Ohio, the demand for vaccines has been palpable, with appointments filling up quickly and some people putting their names on more than one waiting list. In Franklin County, appointments for the entire week were filled within two hours of being made available. Tan Thai, who works at the Old Village Pharmacy in Columbus, said appointments for her most recent batch of vaccines were snapped up in 10 minutes.
“People are so desperate right now,” Ms. Thai said. “They are looking everywhere.”
Dr. Varon, who has witnessed firsthand the devastation brought by the pandemic in the Houston area, said widespread vaccination efforts did not arrive soon enough. More than 48,000 people have died from Covid-19 in Texas, and he fears a surge after spring break and Easter.
“We are expecting a fourth wave,” he said. “It’s going to happen. Things are not going to be good over the next few weeks.”
He cautioned people from letting their guard down until a majority of the population has been fully vaccinated and herd immunity is reached, a number that would assure that medical systems are not overwhelmed with patients. “We are not even close,” he said of the vaccination rates.
He especially urged communities of color — some of which have shown apprehension to sign up for a virus vaccine — to listen to their doctors and public officials and go to the nearest site. “I tell you, please, the vaccines are safe,” Dr. Varon said. “Get vaccinated. This is your only chance to survive this pandemic.”
Reporting was contributed by A. Colleen DeGuzman from McAllen, Texas, Marina Trahan Martinez from Dallas, Katy Reckdahl from New Orleans, and Lucia Walinchus from Columbus, Ohio.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas opened registration for the COVID-19 vaccine to people aged 16 years or older Monday, and with the move, the state launched a website to help people sign up to get it.
The Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler is another way people can sign up to be on a waitlist to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Users create a profile with basic personal and contact information, and then answer a few screening questions to determine priority like if you’re a first or last responder, work in a hospital or if you have a pre-existing condition.
Once you’re done, you can select preferred days of the week and either a morning or afternoon appointment, and the system will do its best to match you with your preferences at a vaccine site near your address. You can pick between receiving a text message or email to be notified when you’ve been matched with an appointment time.
In a press conference Monday afternoon, Nancy Ejuma, DSHS Deputy Associate Commissioner in the Division for Regional Health Operations, said the website will also ask if you are looking for a first or second dose and which vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer) you got, so it can match you appropriately with a provider that has that type of dose.
If the state’s site has too much traffic, you will get sent to a waiting room. It will tell you that you are in line, ask you not to refresh or close your browser, and it should give you an estimated wait time.
Ejuma explained everyone can sign up on the website regardless of if they’re eligible yet or not. The website will notify people who are not eligible when their status changes. This is mainly for those who are under the age of 16.
The website will also notify those registered of available appointments within their time preferences and vaccine clinics in the area. Vaccine providers are able to use the platform to enter in details for any vaccine event.
If you need any additional support, DSHS asks that you call its Texas Vaccine Support Center at 1 (833) 832-7067. It is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. everyday.
Texas Department of State Health Services runs the site, and even after signing up for the waitlist, the state recommends and encourages people to keep looking at other ways to get the vaccine. It has a map of state providers. DSHS also said this registration site will not replace other COVID-19 vaccine waitlists already open for pharmacies, public health departments, medical practices, etc. They will continue running their websites.
The state expects vaccine dose supply to go up. Texas will get more than 1 million doses this week.
The state is ordering 587,950 doses intended as a second dose.
Vaccine supply expected to increase
DSHS held a press conference Monday afternoon to update the public on vaccine rollout efforts in the state.
Associate Commissioner of Laboratory and Infectious Disease Services Imelda Garcia, MPH, said now is the “right time” to be opening vaccines to all adults as vaccine supply is expected to increase.
“Our federal partners tell us that will be coming will further increase in April,” Garcia said.
This is due to the anticipation that vaccine makers AstraZeneca and Novavax will file for emergency use authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration next month.
Garcia explained some vaccine providers are nearing the end of their waitlists and have reached the priority groups signed up with them. Demand has also decreased in some areas, and Garcia said they’re working with providers who may have extra inventory to get those doses used up or transported to another provider.
While vaccine eligibility is now open to more of the general population, she encourages providers to still prioritize older adults and those with medical conditions.
Improving virus data
The coronavirus data for Texas is promising, DSHS said. Garcia explained we’ve made “remarkable progress” in reducing new cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the virus over the past two to three months. However, it’s not yet time to let down our guards or stop using masks and social distancing.
“We’re still in a race against the virus, and particularly the variant strains that are circulating that we know spread more quickly and could cause more severe disease,” Garcia said.
DSHS said there were about 500 variant cases of the coronavirus detected in Texas, with the majority of them being the United Kingdom variant, or B.1.1.7.
Vaccination stats for Texas
Garcia gave out some numbers on where we are in the vaccine rollout as of Monday:
1 million first doses coming this week, 1.75 million doses allotted altogether including second doses
10.6 million doses total administered so far
More than 7 million people vaccinated over the weekend
7.1 million vaccinated with at least one dose
3.75 million fully vaccinated
Close to a third of all Texans 16 years and up have gotten at least one shot
Close to 1 in 6 are fully vaccinated now
Seniors: Two-thirds have gotten at least a dose, 43% are fully vaccinated
Garcia said depending on the research you look at, herd immunity is achievable in most cases when 70 to 90% of a population is vaccinated. Whether or not that applies to Texas or if the state can reach that threshold is not yet known. She said research and studies are also still ongoing to determine how long the natural immunity from getting COVID-19 really lasts.