By Justine Coleman

The Hill

The average number of new daily COVID-19 cases has increased 94 percent over the past two weeks, according to data from The New York Times, as worries over outbreaks climb nationwide.

The U.S. recorded a seven-day average of more than 23,000 daily cases on Monday, almost doubling from the average two weeks ago, as less than half of the total population is fully vaccinated.

Monday’s count of 32,105 newly confirmed cases pushed the seven-day average up from its Sunday level of more than 19,000 new cases — a 60 percent increase from two weeks prior.

All but four states — West Virginia, Maine, South Dakota and Iowa — have seen increased daily averages in the past 14 days, and the average in 16 states at least doubled in that period.

This comes as the highly transmissible delta variant was declared the dominant strain in the U.S. last week.

At the same time, vaccinations have stalled with the daily rate reaching its lowest point during President Biden’s tenure on Sunday at slightly more than 506,000. Monday saw a small uptick in the average rate to more than 527,000 per day, according to Our World in Data.

The rise in case counts come as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says just 48 percent of the total population is fully vaccinated. Officials have said fully vaccinated people are protected from the virus, while unvaccinated people are at much higher risk for serious illness and death.

This leaves a majority of Americans still vulnerable to the virus, in particular children under 12 years old who are not authorized to get the vaccine. Out of the eligible population aged 12 and older, 56.2 percent are fully vaccinated.

The Biden administration has strived to boost vaccination numbers over the past few months and signaled a new strategy focused on grassroots campaigning to promote the vaccine last week. The country fell short of the president’s goal to get 70 percent of adults at least one dose by the Fourth of July.

Increases in COVID-19 cases have previously signaled during the pandemic an upcoming rise in hospitalizations and deaths. The Times data shows that the average deaths are still reducing, but the average daily hospitalizations are climbing with a 16 percent increase from two weeks ago.

Still, case counts are much lower than the devastating peak that hit the U.S. in January, and experts say the country will not reach that level of infection again as vulnerable populations have gotten vaccinated. Seventy-nine percent of those aged 65 and older are considered fully vaccinated.

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By Manuel Rueda, BBC
Bogotá, Colombia

 

 

 

Johana Bautista, 26, gets vaccinated at a conference centre in Bogotá
image captionJohana Bautista got access to a Covid vaccine through the company where she works

When her company announced it had purchased coronavirus vaccines, Johanna Bautista made sure to register with the human resources department for a free shot.

The 26-year-old works as a door-to-door sales agent for telecommunications company Movistar.

A few days later she was at a convention centre in Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, getting her first dose of the Sinovac vaccine.

“It could take months before the government starts to vaccinate people my age,” Ms Bautista said.

“Getting this vaccine today makes me feel very happy and relieved.”

Slow vaccine rollout

Like many developing countries, Colombia is struggling to get enough vaccines for its citizens, even as the number of coronavirus cases in the country rises due to new variants and fewer restrictions on the economy.

The government’s vaccination programme has so far delivered about 22 million doses in the country of 50 million inhabitants, but only about 18% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

To speed things up Colombia is now allowing companies to import vaccines and distribute them for free among their staff.

With the government’s help, employers have purchased 2.5 million doses so far, in an effort to protect workers and boost productivity during the pandemic.

And business associations say they are getting calls from companies in other Latin American countries that are interested in putting similar schemes in place.

Ethical questions

But the private vaccination scheme – which runs in parallel to the government’s own vaccination efforts – has also also been criticised by public health experts who question its ethics and scientific grounding.

While hundreds of thousands of workers with full-time jobs will be vaccinated under the privately funded scheme, others who are unemployed, or work in the informal economy, are being left out.

Even if they need the vaccines just as urgently.

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WORLD STATS

Coronavirus Cases:

188,623,034

Deaths:

4,065,901

Recovered:

172,440,954
Highlighted in green
= all cases have recovered from the infection
Highlighted in grey
= all cases have had an outcome (there are no active cases)

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