The United States has been taking strides to reduce the spread of COVID-19 throughout the country. As of April 13, 2021, over 200 million vaccines have been distributed, with the numbers still on a steady rise. The total cumulative number of cases is 31,289,768 and the total deaths amount to 562,852. The overall positivity rate within the country is currently 16.3%.
The US has been distributing the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines on the basis of emergency use authorization. On April 13 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine be put on pause. This announcement comes after six American women developed blood clots as a result of the vaccine. For one woman, the clotting disorder was fatal.
Dr. Peter Marks, the Director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, and Dr. Anne Schuchat, the Principal Deputy Director of the CDC, explained in a joint statement that they “are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution” and added that “right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare.”
While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been put on hold, individual states are still making significant progress in terms of vaccination rates. States with the highest vaccination rates include Minnesota, South Dakota, New York, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, all of which maintain a vaccination percentage of 39%-42% of the population. Fifteen other states and the District of Columbia fall shortly behind with a vaccination percentage of 36%-39%. These vaccination percentages include any individual who has received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Vaccinations are not the only measures states have been taking to mitigate the spread of the virus. Mask mandates differ in details from state to state, but as a whole, they tend to require the use of masks in indoor public spaces, on public transportation and taxi services, and outdoors when people are unable to be properly socially distanced. The use of facemasks in public places is mandated by 27 state governments, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Conversely, 12 state governments have lifted their state-wide mask mandates, despite the fact that their respective positivity rates were not exceptionally low.
Regarding stay-at-home orders, seven state governments and Puerto Rico are currently still advising their populations to stay at home. The rest of the country does not have any recommendations concerning going out to public places. Businesses are mostly open throughout the country, with only seven states and Puerto Rico reporting mixed degrees of business closures.
The Biden Administration does not seem to agree with all of the current COVID-19 measures being taken at the state level. In a press conference at the end of last month, Biden urged governments and citizens alike to remember that “our work is far from over. The war against Covid-19 is far from won.” He further expressed his support for Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Director of the CDC, who has been adamantly warning that the US is heading towards “impending doom” due to the recent spike in cases. He added that “this is deadly serious” and that he believes that certain states should press pause on their plans to reopen in response to a recent rebound in daily cases.
COVER PHOTO: TOM BRENNER/REUTERS