America’s need to step up the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations has become critical. Confirmed cases in the United States rose by 143,073 yesterday to 24,433,486. Many experts believe that figure is much too low because of people who showed no symptoms or were never tested. Fatal cases were up by 1,749 to 404,812. They have risen by as much as 4,000 a day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects the figure to reach 500,000 by mid-February. Yet, the goal to vaccinated 20 million Americans by the end of December was far from achieved.
The percentage of Americans who have been given at least one shot of vaccine stands at 3.2%, according to The New York Times. That is 12.3 million people. Therefore, 39% of doses have been distributed, which is just above 31 million. The rate of vaccination has varied widely from that 3.2%. The state with the best figure is West Virginia at 6.3%. It well ahead of the next state on the list, which is Alaska at 5.4%. The state with the worst result is Alabama at 1.8%.
Just over 205,000 doses have been distributed in West Virginia. A little more than 134,000 have been given. That rate of 65% is also the highest among all states.
The level of the severity of the disease in West Virginia is in the middle among all states as measured by cases per 100,000, based on an average of the past seven days. However, it is high on the list of fatal cases based on a similar yardstick. Cases per 100,000 are at 61 in West Virginia. The national high by state is South Carolina at 97. The low is Hawaii at nine.
Based on the fatal case count, West Virginia’s figure is 1.44 per 100,000, which puts it fourth highest among all states. Arizona sits on the top of the list at 1.67. Hawaii is at the bottom with 0.1.
What accounts for the success in West Virginia? According to the New York Post:
West Virginia has emerged as an unlikely success in the nation’s otherwise chaotic vaccine rollout, largely because of the state’s decision to reject a federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens and instead enlist mom-and-pop pharmacies to vaccinate residents against the virus that has killed over 399,000 Americans.
What does that tell the leaders of other states? Distribution is in disarray in many. In New York, for example, Governor Andrew Cuomo has complained bitterly about the pace at which the state has received doses from the federal government, particularly against what was promised. He has even suggested the state work around the federal distribution system and buy vaccines directly from Pfizer. If a number of states pursued a similar path successfully, the competition for access to doses would become much more confused and less efficient than it already is.
West Virginia’s path to success has been very simple. It has set up a distribution network that works, perhaps because the path to vaccinating its residents does not go through a massive bureaucracy, at least after it reaches the state.