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Homeland Security

White House COVID-19 Team Focuses on Vaccinations as Infections Continue to Fall

By VOA News May 07, 2021

The White House COVID-19 Response Team said Friday its focus is on meeting the president's new goal of fully vaccinating 160 million Americans by July 4, as infections, hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline.

At the team's briefing, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said by the end of the day, 110 million Americans will have been fully vaccinated and 150 million Americans, or 57%, will have had at least one shot.

Zients said to help meet the president's goal, the government will make walk-up, no-appointment shots available at 20,000 pharmacies around the country. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will also be shipping vaccines from high volume vaccination centers around the country to smaller community-based sites where it's more in demand. Family doctors and pediatricians will also able to administer vaccines.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky said once again, the national daily average for infections continued its decline over the previous two weeks, falling by 13% to 45,817 per day. Hospitalizations fell by 8% and deaths are down by nearly 4% over the same period.

Walensky also discussed a study released this week by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington that considers deaths caused by the pandemic's disruption to health care systems and communities, as well deaths directly related to COVID-19.

With that in mind, the study suggests the pandemic global death toll is about 6.9 million — more than twice the reported number of roughly 3.2 million. In the U.S., the study puts U.S. pandemic deaths at more than 905,000, as opposed to the 580,000 that are reported.

Walensky said the CDC has long been aware that the pandemic death toll is not just those who died from COVID-19 specifically, but also includes those who were unable or unwilling to receive care or died from other illnesses because the pandemic made usual health care services unavailable.

She said the CDC is looking carefully at those deaths and will decide whether to count them as COVID-19-specific or as "collateral" deaths. Regardless, Walensky said the death toll in her mind, is just one more reason to get vaccinated.

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