Covid-19 cases rise in parts of US amid sustained vaccination push

Anthony Fauci's comments came just a day after the country reported a seven-day average of more than 82,000 new cases, up 11 per cent from the week before, according to a CNBC report. Nationwide cases were down 57 per cent last week from the Delta wave's peak this summer, but a jump in Covid-19 patients in the Midwest and Northeast is fueling the sudden increase, Xinhua news agency reported.

Covid-19 cases are starting to climb again in select regions across the United States after stabilising at a high level following this summer's surge of the Delta variant, White House chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci has said.

"The only thing that's a little bit disconcerting is that we're beginning to plateau," Fauci said during an interview hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center on Monday. "In other words, the deceleration of cases is now plateaued, and in some areas of the country, we're starting to see a bit of an uptick."

Fauci's comments came just a day after the country reported a seven-day average of more than 82,000 new cases, up 11 per cent from the week before, according to a CNBC report. Nationwide cases were down 57 per cent last week from the Delta wave's peak this summer, but a jump in Covid-19 patients in the Midwest and Northeast is fueling the sudden increase, Xinhua news agency reported.

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Average daily cases have jumped by 19 per cent and 37 per cent in the Midwest and Northeast over the last week, respectively, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Hospitalisations are up 11 per cent over that same period in the Midwest, while the number of currently hospitalised patients with Covid-19 is flat in the Northeast.

According to The New York Times (NYT), the seven-day average of confirmed cases of the pandemic stood at 84,863 nationwide on Monday, with its 14-day change striking a 14-per cent rise. Covid-19-related deaths were 1,129 on Monday, with the 14-day change realising a 14-per cent fall.

On Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated that 227,133,617 people have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, making up 68.4 per cent of the whole US population; fully vaccinated people stood at 195,275,904, accounting for 58.8 per cent of the total. A total of 30,067,444 people, or 15.4 percent of the fully vaccinated group, have received booster shots.

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Vaccination push

With the pace of inoculations stagnating among adults, the United States is rushing to encourage vaccinations among newly eligible younger children, and "state governments are offering incentives for coronavirus shots for children, just as they did for adults earlier in the year," reported NYT on Monday. Since the CDC formally endorsed the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on November 2 for children ages 5 to 11, more than a million US children have received doses.

The rewards announced for children so far are mostly cash and scholarships, but in some areas, local attractions are also being dangled. Visa gift cards worth 100 US dollars are available to children in Louisiana and Chicago. In New York City (NYC), 100 dollar prepaid debit cards are also available, as are tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Cyclones baseball games.

In San Antonio, parents who have their children vaccinated at city clinics are eligible for a 100 dollar gift card to H-E-B, a grocery store chain. Ohio is running a programme called Vax-2-School in which there will be drawings for 150 scholarships to Ohio colleges worth 10,000 dollars each, as well as five 100,000 dollar scholarships.

On Monday, Dave Chokshi, commissioner of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said that all New Yorkers 18 and older can get a Covid-19 booster if they want one, and he issued a commissioner's advisory reminding providers not to deny anyone who wants that added protection.

The US Food and Drug Administration and the CDC have yet to authorise boosters for all adults, though that could come as early as next week. NYC is making its adults all booster-eligible anyway, said the top doctor. It came ahead of what is expected to be a travel-packed Thanksgiving and Christmas season, with family and friends gathering in groups the size of which many haven't seen for the last two years amid the pandemic.

"It also comes as New York City finds itself in the midst of a Covid-19 case uptick before the busy holiday season has even gotten underway," reported NBC. According to the latest city numbers, the rolling weekly Covid-19 case average was up 13 per cent compared with the rolling average the prior four weeks. Deaths and hospitalisations remained down, "a testament to the power of vaccination to prevent serious illness."

Tightened requirements

With hospitals throughout Colorado facing increases in Covid-19 hospitalisations, state officials announced that attendees of large public indoor events in certain jurisdictions must be vaccinated in order to help curb the virus' spread.

The state also reactivated its crisis standards of care last week for staffing of health care systems, allowing for greater flexibility for hospitals to shift personnel and resources to handle the latest wave of Covid-19 patients.

Colorado is one of several Mountain West states hit hard by a coronavirus surge this fall, driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant as more than 150,000 Americans have died of Covid-19 since June, reported CNN on Monday. Seven states, all west of the Mississippi River, have at least 30 percent of ICU beds filled with Covid-19 patients, according to Sunday data from the US Department of Health and Human Services.

On Monday, the CDC moved four European destinations to its highest-risk category for travel, "a reflection of growing concern over rising cases in Europe just as the United States reopens to international travelers from that region," reported The Washington Post on Tuesday.

The CDC is now recommending that Americans avoid traveling to Hungary, Iceland, the Czech Republic and Guernsey, even when vaccinated. They join other European destinations on the Level 4 list, including some that were added recently, Luxembourg, for example, and others, such as the UK, that have been on the list for months.

The US recently reopened its borders to vaccinated international travelers arriving directly from the UK and most countries in the European Union for the first time in more than 18 months. But the World Health Organization recently declared Europe the latest "epicenter" of the pandemic as cases spike and some countries face a return to lockdowns.