The U.S. Food and Drug Administration appears likely to approve the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine this week after finding it to be safe and effective. It would be the second vaccine to receive FDA approval. The first, developed jointly by Pfizer and BioNTech, began worldwide distribution last week, with the first Americans receiving the vaccine on Monday, Dec. 14. The U.S. pre-purchased millions of doses of different vaccines, and approval of the vaccine would ensure millions more Americans are vaccinated in the coming months.
The latest pieces of good news must be balanced against the reality that while vaccination is beginning across the country, it will likely not be until some time in the spring or possibly even summer of 2021 before the country has achieved widespread immunity. Meanwhile, the deadliest and most widespread period in the virus’s history continues, with the Christmas and New Year’s travel period fast approaching.
At least 150,000 new cases have been reported every day this month, and in the past week, there have been four days where at least 2,500 Americans have died from the virus.
Using data from state and local health departments, 24/7 Wall St. compiled and reviewed county-level COVID-19 data. We compared the average of daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases for the week ending Dec. 14 to the average previous week to determine the county in each state where the virus is spreading the fastest, adjusted for the population. All but three states have at least one county or county equivalent in which cases have grown at a faster rate over the past week compared to the week before. We excluded counties with populations of fewer than 5,000 people as well as those with fewer than 20 reported new cases in the past 14 days.
Nationwide, the number of new daily cases per 100,000 residents rose by 10, from roughly 55 per 100,000 in the week ending Nov. 30 to 65 per 100,000 in the week ending Dec. 14. In 34 states, there is at least one county reporting a weekly increase of at least 30 cases per 100,000. In 10 states, the county with the largest increase in cases reported a weekly surge of more than 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. These are the states where the virus is still getting worse.