The rate at which COVID-19 has spread across America has slowed recently. Fatal cases per day have dropped from as many as 4,000 a day two months ago to under 2,000 most days. Daily confirmed case growth has decreased from as many as 225,000 a day to less than 100,000.
Nevertheless, 523,852 people have died from the disease in America, which is about 20% of the world’s total. Confirmed cases number 29,066,212, about 25% of the world’s number. Many epidemiologists believe that the confirmed case figure is low by half because of inadequate testing.
The primary weapons against the spread of the disease remain social distancing and mask wearing. In the past two months, that has been joined by vaccination. The Trump administration forecast a relatively rapid pace of vaccination for the early months of 2021. Most of those goals were missed. Recently, the Biden administration said it would have enough vaccine for all American adults by the end of May.
One reason for the increase in the pace is that Merck has agreed to make Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which recently was approved to be used along with those from Pfizer and Moderna.
The need for a rapid pace of vaccination has heightened recently. Variants of the COVID-19 virus have begun to spread rapidly in America, particularly one first detected in the United Kingdom. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks three of these variants, identified as B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1, for the public. These variants have been detected in at least 46 states so far. Additionally, new variants have emerged in California and New York.
As of Wednesday, 16% of the adult population has been given at least one vaccine dose and just over 8% has received two shots. That is, 107,028,890 doses have been distributed and 80,540,474 shots have been given.
Several states have done much better than the national average as they deliver doses to their adult populations. The one that has done the best is Alaska. There, 23% of adult residents have received one dose and 14% have been given two shots. The federal government has delivered 399,225 doses and 273,350 shots have been given.
The only other state with figures nearly as good is New Mexico, where 22% of the population has had at least one dose and 12% have been given two shots.
One reason Alaska has done so well is special programs to inoculate the military and Native Americans. A high percentage of Alaska’s population falls into these two categories.