More than a million doses of the vaccine were administered in a day, new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed on Thursday, which has crossed the one million mark for the first time since early July. The average pace of those starting vaccination is over 70% higher than a month ago.
As a result of a growing awareness of the urgency to vaccinate the public, two states lagging behind the rest of the nation — Oklahoma and Louisiana — are surpassing the national average, said Asma Mirza, chief of staff for the White House Covid-19 Response Team.
“We see a new willingness, a new openness to get vaccinated,” she said in a conversation with Louisiana faith leaders.
And because it takes weeks to gain immunity after full vaccination, even those starting their inoculation should remain cautious against infection.
dr. Robert Jansen, chief medical officer of one of Atlanta’s largest trauma centers, Grady Health System, said it saw a “tsunami of patients entering the emergency department.”
The situation in Texas is also critical.
“We are in a very difficult situation in Austin,” said Lauren Meyers, director of the University of Texas Covid-19 Modeling Consortium, noting that hospitals in the region are at a “breaking point.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that the state will deploy additional medical personnel to assist hospitals across the state.
Preventive vaccinations are the most effective way to fight Covid-19 infections, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is likely to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in late August, said former FDA Commissioner Dr. Mark McClellan Thursday. Current vaccines are licensed for emergency use.
According to the CDC, approximately 51.1% of the total U.S. population is fully vaccinated.
Vaccine requirements begin to take shape
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued an executive order Thursday that, according to a spokesman for about 42,000 executive department employees, will require them to provide proof of vaccination by mid-October or it will be possible to resign.
The mayor’s office said the extra step has been taken “to protect residents, city employees and publicly contracted personnel from the Covid-19 outbreak, and more recently from the Delta variant outbreak in the parish of Orleans.”
In Oregon, all teachers, educators, staff and volunteers in schools — both public and private — must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by Oct. 18, or six weeks after full FDA approval, Governor Kate Brown announced at a news conference Thursday.
The chief physician at St. Charles Hospital, in Bend, Oregon, said hospitals are in crisis.
“Our frontline health workers who care for patients every day are exhausted,” said Dr. Jeff Absalon. “They’ve burned out. And we’re in a pandemic that many of us consider largely preventable.”
dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday that vaccination requirements in schools are a good strategy for creating a safe environment.
“One of the most important ways is to surround the kids with people who are vaccinated, if they’re eligible to be vaccinated — and that means teachers and school staff,” Fauci said.
‘This is no longer an adult disease’
With schools back in session, local officials also find themselves in a quarantine over whether or not to mandate the wearing of masks 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 the governor of Tennessee and an infectious disease specialist at the University of Tennessee, said a ban on mask mandates would have “catastrophic consequences” for those in classrooms.
“If a child doesn’t wear a mask, it doesn’t just affect that child. It affects the whole class. It affects teachers. We just had a teacher near Memphis, a 31-year-old woman, died of Covid in recent days by contracting it in the classroom,” Cross told CNN’s Ana Cabrera on Thursday.
“We can’t handle what we’re seeing. We estimate that the number of cases in Tennessee will increase sixfold by the end of September if we don’t take steps to reduce the spread,” Cross said.
“This is not an adult disease anymore,” Cross said, saying the children’s hospital in downtown Memphis “currently has at least 9 children in the ICU from Covid-19.”
According to an analysis by CNN, at least 15 states have temporarily or indefinitely required K-12 students to wear masks in schools, with some exceptions: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey , New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington.
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 of CNN contributed to this report.