7 top developments in US COVID-19 news this week

The race between vaccines and coronavirus variants continued this week, spurring continued warnings about a potential fourth surge, alongside more hopeful news of the Pfizer vaccine's strong efficacy in adolescents.

Here are seven data points on where the nation stands. 

1. In total, the U.S. has reported more than 30.5 million COVID-19 cases as of April 2 at 8:05 a.m. CST, according to data from Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. reported an average of 65,574 cases daily in the last week, up 20 percent from the average seen two weeks ago, reports The New York Times.. This figure is comparable to the seven-day averages seen during last summer's virus surge.

2. Michigan has the highest rate of new cases of any state, 398.5 per 100,000, according to the CDC. COVID-19 hospitalizations are steadily increasing in the state, largely driven by a jump in cases among younger adults who have not been vaccinated. Between March 1 and March 23, hospitalizations jumped 633 percent for adults ages 30-39 and 800 percent for adults ages 40-49, according to data from the Michigan Hospital Association. The CDC also lists six other states among those with the high case rates: New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island. These states have all reported case rates above 238 per 100,000 population for the last seven days.

3. In total, 33,748 people in the U.S. were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of March 30. The current seven-day average for new hospital admissions is 4,948, up 4.8 percent from the previous week's average, according to the CDC

4. At least 553,140 people in the U.S. had died from COVID-19 as of April 2 at 8:05 a.m. CST, according to Johns Hopkins. The nation's seven-day death average was 879 as of March 31, down from an average of 952 deaths on March 24, CDC data shows.

5. The U.S. had administered more than 153.6 million vaccine doses as of April 1, according to the CDC. About 99.5 million people have received at least one dose — representing 30 percent of the U.S. population — and nearly 56.1 million people have gotten both doses, which is about 16.9 percent of the population. Pfizer also shared data this week showing its vaccine is 100 percent effective in children ages 12-15. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the drugmaker plans to submit the data to the FDA in the next few weeks as a proposed amendment to the vaccine's emergency use authorization.

6. The U.K. variant B.1.1.7 accounts for at least 26 percent of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., CDC director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said April 1. The more transmissible variant is already the predominant strain in five regions. On March 31, Houston Methodist published research showing the cases of the U.K. variant are doubling weekly in the city. Nationwide, the CDC has confirmed 12,505 cases of the U.K. variant as of April 1. In addition, 323 cases of the South Africa variant, known as B.1.351, have been detected in 31 states. The agency has also identified 224 cases of the Brazil P.1 variant in 22 states. Some health experts are calling for the U.S. to delay second COVID-19 vaccine doses in order to inoculate more people, more quickly as the variants gain a foothold in the U.S. However, opponents of this strategy say it's unclear how long protection from one vaccine dose may last. 

7. Dr. Walensky said she feels a sense of "impending doom" about another potential COVID-19 surge and issued an impassioned plea for Americans to maintain virus precautions. The pandemic's current trajectory in the U.S. is similar to what Germany and Italy saw just a few weeks ago, according to Dr. Walensky. Now, these countries are seeing a consistent and worrying spike in cases, she added. "We are not powerless; we can change this trajectory of the pandemic," Dr. Walensky said during a March 29 briefing at the White House. "I know you all so badly want to be done. I'm asking you to just hold on a little longer, to get vaccinated when you can so that all of those people that we all love will still be here when this pandemic ends."


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