Future COVID-19 vaccine will be free for some, White House says; 9 states see record increases — 6 updates

Nine states reported record COVID-19 case increases June 16, the same day the White House pledged to provide free COVID-19 vaccines to Americans who otherwise could not afford it. 

Six COVID-19 updates:

1. COVID-19 cases are rising at record levels in nine states, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Texas all reported their highest single-day increase yet, or a record-high seven-day average of new cases June 16. Overall, cases are still increasing in about half of U.S. states. Health experts told STAT they are concerned about lawmakers' and the public's fading concern about COVID-19 amid these increases. "I’m worried that people have kind of accepted where we are as a new normal," Tom Inglesby, MD, director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, told STAT.

2. The Trump administration has pledged to offer a free COVID-19 vaccine for Americans who cannot afford it, according to STAT. A White House official shared the news during a June 16 call with reporters. Officials said they will use a tiered distribution approach when a vaccine is ready, inoculating high-risk individuals first. They also said they cannot guarantee a vaccine will be ready by the end of this year.

3. Vice President Mike Pence said fear of a second COVID-19 wave is overblown, and the U.S. has successfully handled the pandemic under President Donald Trump's leadership, in an opinion piece published in The Wall Street Journal. "The media has tried to scare the American people every step of the way, and these grim predictions of a second wave are no different," Mr. Pence wrote, adding that "our public health system is far stronger than it was four months ago." The vice president cited declining or stable case numbers reported by more than half of states, and a lower national daily average case rate than in April and May. He said President Trump has rallied major labs to expand testing capacity, manufacturers to produce equipment, pharmaceutical companies to research new therapies and treatment, and Americans to embrace social-distancing guidelines.

4. More than 75 percent of Americans have had some aspect of their healthcare disrupted due to the pandemic, a GoodRx survey of more than 1,700 respondents found. Disruptions included canceled or postponed appointments, rationing medications or switching to telemedicine. Women, older patients and those living in the suburbs most commonly reported disruptions in healthcare visits.

5. Self-isolation and household quarantine with contact tracing reduced virus transmission by 64 percent, according to simulation results published June 16 in The Lancet. The modeling study based simulations on data from 40,162 United Kingdom residents, and found a mean transmission reduction of 29 percent for self-isolation of symptomatic cases within the household, 35 percent for self-isolation outside the household, and 64 percent for self-isolation and household quarantine with manual contact tracing of all contacts.

6. Rebalancing "our relationship with nature" is necessary to prevent future pandemics, according to an opinion piece written by three senior officials from the World Health Organization, the United Nations and the World Wide Fund for Nature and published June 17 by The Guardian. Zika, AIDS, SARS and Ebola all originated from animal populations under conditions of severe environmental pressures, according to the authors, who added that those examples "all illustrate that our destructive behavior toward nature is endangering our own health." The novel coronavirus's original host, researchers say, was likely a bat.

COVID-19 data snapshot

Cases: 2,137,731
Deaths: 116,963
Recovered: 583,503

Cases: 8,199,838
Deaths: 444,368
Recovered: 3,978,358

Counts reflect data available as of 8 a.m. CDT June 17.


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