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Almost 100 million Americans were unvaccinated in July 2021, a number that is now is down 34% to about 66 million, President Joe Biden said Thursday. These numbers and others are evidence that federal efforts announced this summer, including vaccine requirements, are working, he said
“We’re making important progress … but now is not the time to let up. We have a lot more to do,” Biden said in a White House remarks on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine program.
In addition to fewer unvaccinated people, Biden said there has been a 47% decrease in cases and a 38% drop in hospitalizations in the last 6 weeks. Also, gains are being reported nationwide, with 39 states experiencing a decrease in cases and 38 states seeing a decline in hospitalizations.
The president then outlined a three-point plan to maintain the progress in the fight against COVID-19:
Do more to encourage the remaining 66 million Americans to get immunized. “It’s essential,” he said. Companies with vaccination requirements now typically report more than 90% of their workforce is immunized, he said.
The government will continue efforts to protect the vaccinated. “This week the FDA is reviewing data on the Moderna and J&J boosters. We expect a final decision in the couple of few weeks … and that decision will be based on the science,” he said, adding 1 in 3 eligible seniors have already received a booster shot.
Continue policies to keep schools and students safe. Biden said 96% of school districts are fully open for in-person learning, thanks to protective measures like masks, testing and vaccination.
Speaking of children, Biden said, “I know parents out there are anxiously waiting for a vaccine for children 5- to 11- year olds. The good news is that the FDA and outside experts for the CDC are set to make a decision on whether the vaccine is authorized for that age range in the next few weeks.”
“Let me close with this – the plan I laid out in September is working. We’re headed in the right direction.” He added, however, “we still have critical work to do.” Biden left without answering any questions from reporters.
Fauci: Delta Waning, Danger Not Gone
The COVID-19 surge caused by the more contagious Delta variant appears to be waning as cases, hospitalizations, and deaths drop across the country, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a White House COVID-19 news briefing on Wednesday.
For the first time since early August, the U.S. is averaging fewer than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases per day and reporting under 2,000 deaths per day.
“We had an acceleration. We had a peak … all three of the parameters — cases, hospitalizations, and deaths — are going down. But we have got to do better than that,” Fauci said.
The pandemic is still not under control, he said, adding that “the kind of normal that we are all craving” is possible through higher vaccination rates.
“We can get to control, without a doubt,” Fauci said. “It is within our power and within our capability.”
CDC Releases Optimistic Report
COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are expected to decline during the next 4 weeks, according to the latest CDC forecast published Wednesday, which includes predictions from 21 research groups across the country.
By Nov. 6, the U.S. is predicted to have 740,000 to 762,000 COVID-19 deaths, which marks the third consecutive week of a decline in newly reported deaths. The U.S. has reported 719,000 deaths so far.
Also during that time, the U.S. will likely report up to 10,000 new COVID-19 hospitalizations, which marks a fifth week of projected declines. About 64,000 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized across the country.
Stark Differences by State
At the moment, Alaska has the largest outbreak in the U.S. relative to its population, with 113 cases per 100,000 people, according to Axios. Public health officials are also tracking hot spots in the West and Upper Midwest in Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Hawaii and Connecticut have the lowest caseloads at this time, Axios reported, with an average of 12 cases per 100,000. Nine other states and Washington, DC, are averaging 20 cases or fewer per 100,000 people, including states in the South that had massive Delta variant surges, such as Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana.
“The final message to all of us is always the same: Protect yourself and those around you,” he said. “Vaccination is the answer to getting us to control.”
C-SPAN: “White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing,” Oct. 13, 2021, “White House briefing on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine program,” Oct. 14, 2021.
CDC: “COVID-19 Forecasts: Cases,” updated Oct. 13, 2021.
Axios: “New COVID cases down, but the West is at risk.”
Damian McNamara is a staff journalist based in Miami. He covers a wide range of medical specialties, including infectious diseases, gastroenterology, and critical care. Follow Damian on Twitter: @MedReporter.