The director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the end of the COVID-19 pandemic will depend on what people do.
“I think a lot of it depends on human behavior,” Dr. Rochelle Valensky said last week at an event organized by the Health Coverage Fellowship, a health journalism program. “We have a lot of science right now. We have vaccines and we can’t really predict human behavior. And human behavior hasn’t served us very well in this pandemic.”
“We are fighting with each other and not battling the common enemy, which is the virus itself,” she continued.
According to the CDC, 66% of the US population age 12 and older is fully vaccinated, more than 187 million people. Health officials have repeatedly urged Americans to get a COVID-19 vaccine, especially with the more transmissible Delta version.
The number of Americans receiving the COVID-19 vaccine has risen to a three-month high as seniors and people with medical conditions seek boosters, and governments and employers push for more workers to get their first doses .
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Demand is expected to increase in a few weeks if regulators authorize the Pfizer vaccine for elementary school children, and some states are reopening mass vaccination clinics in anticipation.
The total number of doses administered in the US is on average nearing 1 million per day, nearly double since mid-July — but still far below last spring. The increase is mainly due to boosters, with about 10% of the country’s over 65 population already getting a third shot, but there are signs of increased demand from other groups as well.
On Thursday, 1.1 million doses were given, including just over 306,000 newly vaccinated people, said Dr. Cyrus Shahpar, the White House’s director of COVID-19 data.
But some states are still struggling to rapidly increase their vaccination rates. The Problem of Wasted COVID-19 Vaccine Shots Continues to Balloon in Louisiana Around 224,000 doses were dumped across the state Because health care providers can’t find enough residents willing to roll up their sleeves. The number of trashed doses has nearly tripled since the end of July, even as Louisiana was battling the fourth, deadly surge of the coronavirus pandemic during that time, sparking increased interest in vaccines.
And there is growing backlash as some states, cities and companies have implemented vaccine mandates, with some governors even banning the mandates.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order on Monday Having said that no institution in Texas can mandate receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. According to a statement from Abbott’s office, “no entity in Texas may compel any person, including an employee or consumer, to receive a COVID-19 vaccination for any reason of personal discretion based on religious belief.” opposes such vaccination from, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis threatened local governments With a $5,000 fine per violation for requiring its employees to vaccinate against the coronavirus, which has decimated hospitals and killed thousands across the state.
In Arizona, Governor Doug Ducey banned districts that mandate masks from accessing the $163 million virus relief pool and said parents could receive $7,000 per student for private schools if their district masks. mandates or goes into quarantine. Masks are required in more than two dozen districts, which account for a third of the state’s 930,000 public school students.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff says he will not enforce the county’s vaccine mandate at his agency. Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who oversees the largest sheriff’s department in the county with nearly 18,000 employees, said in a Facebook Live event on Thursday that he does not plan to fulfill the county’s mandate, which requires Los Angeles County employees to be fired. It was to be fully vaccinated by October. 1.
United Airlines officials say their mandate has worked. About 96% of the airline’s 67,000 US employees have been vaccinated and another 3% are seeking exemptions that could result in them being placed on unpaid leave. Less than 1% will be fired, which officials said will not affect airline operations.
There is also division over the mask mandate in schools where US health officials believe it will protect children who are not able to be vaccinated.
The Department of Education launched a civil rights investigation in August into several Republican-led states that have banned or limited mask requirements in schools, saying the policies amounted to discrimination against students with disabilities or health conditions. can.
The Office of the Department of Civil Rights announced the investigation in letters to education chiefs in Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah. Those states have issued separate restrictions on mask requirements, which the office says may prevent some students from safely attending school.
The US reached its latest heartbreaking pandemic milestone on October 1, with 700,000 deaths from COVID-19, just as the surge from the delta version is starting to slow and offer some relief to overwhelmed hospitals.
But COVID-19 deaths in the US are falling again, with hospitalizations and new cases per day falling below 100,000 for the first time in two months – all signs that the heat wave is waning. Across the country, daily deaths have fallen by about 15% since mid-September and now average around 1,750. New cases have averaged more than 103,000 per day, a 40% drop over the past three weeks.
The easing of the summer boom has been attributed to more mask wear and more people getting vaccinated. The reduction in the number of cases could also be due to the virus burning through susceptible people and running out of fuel in some places.
“There are some communities that are really well vaccinated and really well protected,” Valensky said. “And there are many places that have very little protection, and the virus isn’t stupid. It’s going to go there.”
This story was reported from Los Angeles.