July 29, 2021

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Biden administration admits it won’t reach July 4 vaccination goal; CDC studies explain vaccination slowdown: Latest COVID-19 updates

7 min read

The Biden administration won’t reach its “aspirational” goal of getting 70% of adult Americans at least partially vaccinated for COVID-19 by the Fourth of July, White House Coronavirus Response CoordinatorJeff Zients said Tuesday.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have reached the goal already – but some states are at less than 50% of all adults, Zients said at a White House briefing. Still, the goal of at least partially vaccinating 70% of Americans ages 30 and older has been reached, he said, adding that the administration also is on track to hit the 70% target for ages 27 and older by the Fourth of July weekend.

Zients said it will take a few more weeks to reach 70% of all adults but called the current numbers “amazing progress.”

“This is cause of celebration, and that is exactly what Americans will be able to do on July 4th, celebrate independence from the virus,” Zients said. “We will have a Fourth of July celebration that is beyond anyone’s expectations.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, stressed that the press to get more people vaccinated will continue.

“No one should think that when we reach 70% (of all adults) across the country that we are done,” Fauci said. “We are not done until we completely crush this outbreak.”

Also in the news:

►Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration scaled back workplace safety rules Tuesday, keeping mask and other requirements only in health care settings.

►Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to order the arrest of Filipinos who refuse COVID-19 vaccination and told them to leave the country if they would not cooperate with the efforts to contain the pandemic.

►Western Michigan University said it will hold a series of drawings, from August to December, to give away more than $100,000 to students who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

►North Korea has told the World Health Organization it tested more than 30,000 people for the coronavirus through June 10 but has yet to find a single infection. Experts widely doubt North Korea’s claim.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 33.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 602,300 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 178.9 million cases and more than 3.87 million deaths. More than 150.046 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – nearly 45.2% of the population, according to the CDC. 

📘 What we’re reading: Kids’ birthday parties may be partly to blame for increased coronavirus transmission rates, a new study shows. Read more here.

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.

Nursing home deaths up 32% in 2020 amid pandemic, watchdog says

Deaths among Medicare patients in nursing homes soared by 32% last year, with two devastating spikes eight months apart, a government watchdog reported Tuesday in the most comprehensive look yet at the ravages of COVID-19 among its most vulnerable victims.

The report from the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services found that about 4 in 10 Medicare recipients in nursing homes had or likely had COVID-19 in 2020, and that deaths overall jumped by 169,291 from the previous year, before the coronavirus appeared.

“We knew this was going to be bad, but I don’t think even those of us who work in this area thought it was going to be this bad,” said Harvard health policy professor David Grabowski, a nationally recognized expert on long-term care, who reviewed the report for The Associated Press.

Chicago offers in-home vaccinations for all, with $50 gift card

All Chicago residents ages 12 and up are eligible to get vaccinated at home, and those who choose at-home shots will receive a $50 gift card from Grubhub, the city’s Department of Public Health announced Tuesday.

The city’s “Protect Chicago At Home” plan will allow up to 10 people at a residence to be vaccinated, even if people in the group are not Chicago residents, according to the department.

People will be allowed to choose between the Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Dr. Allison Arwady, the city’s commissioner of public health, said Chicago is “the only large city that has expanded this kind of eligibility.”

“This is completely free,” she said in a press conference Tuesday. “As always, there is no insurance required. There is no co-pay. There is no billing after the fact. There is also no formal identification required.”

Nearly 55% of Chicagoans have received at least one shot, and about 48% have been fully vaccinated, according to city data. Many of the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods are still seeing low rates of vaccine uptake. In several neighborhoods, fewer than 30% of people are fully vaccinated.

– Grace Hauck

Vaccine symptoms lead woman to discover Stage 2 breast cancer

Jennifer Moseley received the COVID-19 vaccine to protect herself from one disease. She ended up saving herself from another.

The Iowa grandmother remembers exactly when she got the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine: 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 20 – she had wanted to get the shot before visiting her daughter, Madie Kornberg, and her grandson, Sam, in Jacksonville for his birthday later that week.

The day after her shot, she came down with the flu-like symptoms that are commonly reported as symptoms of the vaccine. Days later, she found a lump. Read more.

– Sarah Kay LeBlanc, Des Moines Register

Young people less likely to get vaccinated, CDC study shows

Young Americans are less likely to get vaccinated against COVID-19 than their elders, a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study showed.

By May 22, 2021, 57% of adults had received at least one vaccine dose, the study said. But coverage was highest among those 65 and older (80%) while it was lowest among those 18-29 years old (38.3%). Nearly 25% of the latter age group reported that they probably or definitely would not get vaccinated, while 23% were unsure. Their biggest questions: concerns about vaccine safety and effectiveness, a second study said.

Adults 18-39 years with lower incomes, lower educational attainment, without health insurance, who were non-Hispanic Black adults who lived in suburbs areas had the lowest reported vaccination coverage and intent to get vaccinated, the study added.

California to pay off all past-due rents, may extend evictions ban

Gov. Gavin Newsom says California will pay off all past-due rent that accumulated in the nation’s most populated state because of the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, a promise to make landlords whole while giving renters a clean slate.

The $5.2 billion multiple aid packages approved by Congress appear to be more than enough to cover all of the unpaid rent in the state, according to Jason Elliott, senior counselor to Newsom on housing and homelessness. 

“California is planning rent forgiveness on a scale never seen before in the United States,” Newsom tweeted.

Still to be determined is whether Newsom will continue to ban evictions for unpaid rent beyond June 30, when federal eviction eviction protections also are set to expire.

Florida outbreak: 2 die, 3 hospitalized – but vaccinated worker not infected

Two employees of Florida’s Manatee County have died and three others were hospitalized after an outbreak in the IT department, County Administrator Scott Hopes said.

None were vaccinated, and another worker who was vaccinated did not become infected, Hopes said. One person died June 14, and Hope said one of the other workers went to a physician complaining of sore throat and other symptoms Wednesday – two days after the first death – and died Thursday. All the victims are relatively young, he said.

“My concern is that this may very well be a variant, and one that appears to be infecting young people,” Hopes said. “You’ve got five known cases in one department  and nearly 50% (died), and all were hospitalized.”

India vaccinates 8M people in one day for first time

India said it vaccinated more than 8 million people on the first day of a program administering free shots to all adults. Monday’s total comes as the government faces continued criticism, accused of failing to provide sufficient supply of vaccines for the nation of 1.4 billion people.

“Today’s record-breaking vaccination numbers are gladdening,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted. “The vaccine remains our strongest weapon to fight COVID-19. Congratulations to those who got vaccinated and kudos to all the front-line warriors working hard to ensure so many citizens got the vaccine. Well done India!”

Eight states, including California, report rise in weekly COVID-19 cases

In the latest week, cases in the United States decreased 19.6% from the week before, but eight states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.

In California, new cases increased 6.2% in the week ending Sunday, and the state ranked 31st among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis. With 11.87% of the country’s population, California had 8.17% of the country’s cases in the last week. Read more.

– Mike Stucka

Study shows mRNA vaccines don’t decrease sperm count

Fertility concerns surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines aren’t exclusive to women. Men are worried, too. Seeking to dispel these fears, researchers at the University of Miami conducted a study to assess men’s fertility after vaccination and found no negative effects on their sperm. From Dec. 17, 2020, to Jan. 12, 2021, they recruited 45 healthy volunteers ages 18 to 50 who were scheduled to get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, according to the study published in JAMA Network.

The participants were prescreened to ensure they had no previous or underlying fertility issues. Semen samples were taken before the first vaccine dose and approximately 70 days after the second, which is about how long sperm takes to regenerate. Read more.

– Adrianna Rodriguez

Contributing: The Associated Press.

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