More than one million doses of the vaccine were administered in a day, new US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data showed Thursday, marking the first time since early July that the single-day change in doses has topped one million. The average pace of those initiating vaccination is more than 70% higher than one month ago.
Reflecting a growing awareness of the urgency to vaccinate the public, two states which have lagged the rest of the nation — Oklahoma and Louisiana — are outpacing the national average, White House Covid-19 Response Team Chief of Staff Asma Mirza said.
“We’re seeing a new willingness, a new openness to getting vaccinated,” she said in a discussion with Louisiana faith leaders.
And because it takes weeks to gain immunity following full vaccination, even those beginning their inoculations need to remain cautious against infection.
Dr. Robert Jansen, Chief Medical Officer at one of Atlanta’s largest trauma centers, Grady Health System, said it was seeing a “tsunami of patients coming into the emergency department.”
The situation is also critical in Texas.
“We are sort of in a very dire situation in Austin,” Lauren Meyers, Director of the University of Texas Covid-19 Modeling Consortium, said, noting that area hospitals are at a “breaking point.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that the state will deploy additional medical personnel to help in hospitals across the state.
Preventative vaccinations are the most effective means to combat Covid-19 infections, and the US Food and Drug Administration will likely approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine around the end of August, former FDA Commissioner Dr. Mark McClellan said Thursday. Current vaccines have been granted emergency use authorization.
Around 51.1% of the total US population is fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Vaccine requirements beginning to take shape
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker issued an executive order Thursday that will require approximately 42,000 executive department employees to provide proof of vaccination by mid-October or face possible termination, according to a spokesperson.
The mayor’s office said the additional step was taken “to protect residents, City employees and public-facing contracted personnel from the Covid-19 outbreak, and more recently the Delta variant outbreak in Orleans Parish.”
In Oregon, all K-12 teachers, educators, staff and volunteers at schools — both public and private — will need to be fully vaccinated for Covid-19 by October 18 or six weeks after full FDA approval, Gov. Kate Brown announced at a press conference Thursday.
The chief physician executive at St. Charles Hospital, in Bend, Oregon, said hospitals are in crisis.
“Our frontline health care workers that have been caring for patients every day are exhausted,” Dr. Jeff Absalon said. “They’re burned out. And we’re in a pandemic that many of us regard as largely preventable.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday that vaccine requirements at schools is a sound strategy to create a safe environment.
“One of the most important ways is to surround the children with people who are vaccinated, if they’re eligible to be vaccinated — and that means teachers and personnel in the school,” Fauci said.
‘This is not an adult disease anymore’
With schools back in session, local officials also find themselves in a quandary over whether to mandate mask-wearing in classrooms as well as the day-to-day challenges of quarantining students exposed to Covid-19.
Dr. Sara Cross, a member of the Covid-19 task force for Tennessee’s governor and an infectious disease specialist at the University of Tennessee, said that bans on mask mandates would have “catastrophic consequences” for those in classrooms.
“When one child doesn’t wear a mask, it doesn’t only affect that child. It affects the entire classroom. It affects teachers. We just had a teacher in the Memphis area, a 31-year-old woman, die of Covid in the past few days from acquiring it in the classroom,” Cross told CNN’s Ana Cabrera on Thursday.
“We can’t handle what we’re seeing. We are estimating that the number of cases in Tennessee will increase six-fold by the end of September if we don’t take measures to mitigate the spread,” Cross said.
“This is not an adult disease anymore,” Cross said, saying the pediatric hospital in downtown Memphis “currently has at least 9 children in the ICU from Covid-19.”
At least 15 states have temporarily or indefinitely required K-12 students to wear masks in schools, according to a CNN analysis, with some provided exceptions: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington.
CNN’s Elizabeth Stuart, Maggie Fox, Deidre McPhillips, Virginia Langmaid, Lauren Mascarenhas, Madeline Holcombe, Rebekah Riess, Kay Jones, Brad Parks, Kristina Sgueglia, Jennifer Henderson, Andy Rose and Melissa Alonso contributed to this report.