Another 92,000 are expected to die from the virus over the next three weeks, according to an ensemble forecast published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Pennsylvania, officials said the number of admissions is approaching double the peak experienced during the spring. The Louisiana governor said earlier this week that the state saw a “huge increase” in infections and hospitalizations. And in Arizona, officials on Tuesday reported record-breaking Covid-19 admissions and ICU numbers.
Hundreds of thousands of infections are added to the country’s census every single day, with the United States adding more than three million new reported infections since the beginning of the month.
LA officials reiterated other leaders’ warnings, adding that they “have not yet seen the effects of transmission in the period from around Christmas to New Year.”
States expand groups eligible for vaccination
And some experts have encouraged states to open up vaccine regulation to more groups to help speed up vaccine administrations.
In New Jersey, residents 65 and older and residents ages 16 to 64 with certain chronic health conditions are now eligible to sign up for vaccination, officials said Wednesday. California also expanded its eligibility guidelines to include residents 65 and older. A press release from the state Department of Health added that health care workers and residents in long-term care facilities remain California’s top priority for vaccines.
“There is no higher priority than distributing these vaccines efficiently and equally as quickly as possible to those facing the most serious consequences,” Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “People 65 and older are now the next group eligible to start receiving vaccines. For those who are not yet eligible for vaccines, your turn is coming.”
The announcements follow similar from state leaders, including Mississippi government Tate Reeves, who earlier this week said residents 65 and older or people with already medical conditions can make appointments for Covid-19 vaccinations.
“My top priority is not to try to fight this pandemic with stricter and stricter orders,” Reeves said. “It’s to get better and better at distributing the vaccine, and that’s what our focus is now.”
Mass vaccination centers open
And while they are expanding the list of who can be vaccinated, states are coming up with more options for where residents can get their shots.
“This plan is in motion,” he said, adding that the city will release more details once the plan is worked out.
De Blasio’s announcement came about a day after he and New York Mets owner Steve Cohen said a 24-hour mega-vaccine site would be set up at Citi Field in Queens later this month.
In Hawaii, officials said Wednesday that they are opening two new mass vaccination sites in Covid-19, which they hope may in a few weeks be able to vaccinate between 3,000 and 4,000 people daily.
The site will be able to vaccinate up to 7,000 people each day, said Andrew Do, acting chairman of the county supervisory board at a news conference Wednesday.
Here’s how pharmacies will help
Pharmacies will also play a key role in helping administer vaccines.
On Wednesday, the head of one of the country’s largest pharmacy chains expressed optimism that it could soon provide up to a million vaccine doses daily.
“We are very hopeful that the federal program will soon open and open a more direct distribution to pharmacies across the country that open access,” CVS Health Executive Vice President Karen Lynch said Wednesday during the annual JP Morgan Health Care Conference.
CVS can administer 25 million vaccinations a month, Lynch said, through its retail locations across the country.
“We have a great reach,” Lynch added, saying the company’s 10,000 stores can reach about 85% of the U.S. population.
The Walgreens also said earlier this week that they expect to manage approx. 30 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine across the country by the end of this summer, when vaccines are available to a wider population.
The pharmacy chain said they are hiring and training staff and increasing the capacity for digital and telephone reservation in preparation for the broader rollout of the vaccine.
“We make sure everyone is ready to come after this as soon as the vaccines become available galore, which we think will probably be March, April,” Walgreen’s COO Alexander Gourlay said at the conference.
CNN’s Amanda Watts, Alexandra Meeks, Gregory Lemos, Lauren del Valle, Jamiel Lynch, Michael Nedelman and Sarah Moon contributed to this report.