- The Washington Times - Friday, April 30, 2021

Daily coronavirus cases are down 25% since mid-April, enthusing federal officials who feared “impending doom” in March but now believe the vaccine rollout is making a tangible dent in the pandemic.

The White House on Friday said 100 million people — roughly three in 10 Americans — have completed vaccination. Hospitalizations and deaths decreased 10% and 8% from a week ago as newly reported infections average 52,500 per day, the lowest point since mid-October.

“We continue to move ahead in our progress to end this pandemic,” said Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A person is considered fully vaccinated 14 days after the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna versions.

More than half of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of an approved vaccine, and 43% of the U.S. population overall.

COVID-19 coordinator Jeffrey Zients acknowledged it will “take time” to reach” more people amid reports of slowing demand, now that many seniors and the most eager adults have been immunized.

He said daily dose counts will fluctuate as the administration pursues wider immunity to stiff-arm surges or fast-moving variants.

“We know this next phase won’t be easy,” Mr. Zients said.

The administration is pushing employers to incentivize vaccination, while some parts of the country are offering free drinks or, in West Virginia’s case, a $100 savings bond to get vaccinated.

Government officials face pressure to ease restrictions amid signs of improvement. Places like Texas and Florida are fully open and holding large gatherings, while New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is targeting July 1 for a complete resumption of activity, citing progress in case counts and vaccination.

Dr. Walensky said the city’s target seemed reasonable but declined to say what American society might look like two months ago. She said the CDC will update its safety guidance if cases continue to drop.

“The more people are vaccinated, the fewer cases that we have,” Dr. Walensky said. “This virus has tricked us before, so I would like to sort of watch and see how it goes before making further estimations of what happens in a couple of months.”

She said if too few people get vaccinated moving forward, the virus will keep replicating, giving it additional opportunities for variants to evolve.

“This is why we often describe our vaccine efforts here in the U.S. as a race against the virus,” Dr. Walensky said.

The director said the U.S. government is supporting viral-sequencing efforts at home and abroad, including in India, to find dangerous variants.

Protection against variants is one of the reasons people must show up for their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Recent data show 8% of people aren’t showing up for their second shot.

Dr. Fauci said that’s roughly consistent with other vaccines given in intervals, such as the shots for shingles, but that people should return for the added protection.

“Make sure you get that second dose,” he said.

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