VIRUS TODAY: US states report COVID-19 vaccine shortage

Here’s what’s happening Wednesday with the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.:


— A number of states are reporting they are running out of vaccine, and tens of thousands of people who managed to get appointments for a first dose are seeing them canceled. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said about half of the 31 million doses distributed to the states by the federal government have been administered so far. Only about 2 million people have received the two doses needed for maximum protection against the virus.

— President Joe Biden is signing a series of executive actions that reverse his predecessor’s orders on immigration, climate change and the coronavirus pandemic. Biden is requiring the use of masks and social distancing in all federal buildings, on federal lands and by federal employees and contractors. Biden also is directing the government to rejoin the World Health Organization.

— The incoming director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is arriving at an agency that has been relegated to the sidelines during the pandemic. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, 51, an infectious-diseases specialist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, arrives at the CDC this week as the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 400,000 and the nation’s largest vaccination campaign in history encounters confusion and delays.

THE NUMBERS: The U.S. is averaging about 201,000 new cases and about 3,000 deaths each day. The nation’s death toll since the start of the pandemic now stands at about 403,000.

QUOTABLE: “It’s so incredibly, unimaginably sad that so many people have died that could have been avoided.” — Cliff Daniels, chief strategy officer for Methodist Hospital of Southern California, near Los Angeles, after the U.S. death toll topped 400,000.

ICYMI: California officials are pinning their hopes on President Joe Biden as they struggle to obtain coronavirus vaccines and to curb a surge in infections that has packed hospitals and morgues. San Francisco’s public health department says it’s likely to run out of vaccine on Thursday. Los Angeles County is starting to inoculate people age 65 and older despite the scarcity.

ON THE HORIZON: Biden has taken office as the 46th president of the U.S. His ambitious first 100-day plan includes a push to speed up the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to Americans and to pass a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package.


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