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The US has lost 500,000 lives to Covid-19. Now Americans face a serious


“As a nation, we can’t accept such a cruel fate. We’ve been fighting this pandemic for so long. We have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow,” the President said. “We have to resist viewing each life as a statistic or a blur or on the news. We must do so to honor the dead, but equally important care for the living, those they left behind.”

Biden also participated in a moment of silence, standing by 500 lighted candles outside the White House, joined by first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff.

A flag atop the White House and flags at the US Capitol were lowered to half-staff Monday afternoon.

The pandemic is far from over as more than 1,200 American deaths were reported Monday.

But Americans can steer its course — and help prevent many more families from suffering inconsolable grief.

Major challenges ahead

Live updates on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines
As numbers of new cases and hospitalizations go down, however, reports of highly contagious variants go up.
“I am worried about this variant — the B.1.1.7 variant (first found in the UK),” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

“If that takes over, the numbers are going to start to spiral up again. There’s no end to what the death toll will look like unless we can vaccinate ahead of it.”

But as the number of vaccinations slowly increase, some Americans say they won’t get a Covid-19 vaccine — hurting the chances of herd immunity and hindering a return to normal life.

Where we stand with vaccinations

More than 44.1 million Americans have received at least one dose of their two-dose vaccines, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
About 19.4 million have been fully vaccinated. That’s about 5.9% of the US population — far less than the estimated 70% to 85% of Americans who would need to be immune to reach herd immunity.
Insist or incentivize? Companies are deciding whether to make vaccines mandatory
Some states are still grappling with vaccine delays after severe weather walloped much of the country last week.

But the US will likely be caught up by the middle of this week, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“Obviously it is a setback because you’d like to see the steady flow of vaccine getting out there to get into people’s arms, but we can play pretty good catch-up,” Fauci told NBC on Sunday.

To speed up vaccinations, some experts have suggested delaying second vaccine doses to get more first doses into people’s arms.

Both vaccines on the US market — developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — require two doses, the second of which are intended to be administered 21 days and 28 days after the first, respectively.

Fauci told CNN Sunday the US is currently sticking with the vaccine schedule that is backed up by data from clinical trials.

“The science points directly towards continuing with what we know … from the clinical trial,” he said.

Good news (for now) on cases and hospitalizations

Nationwide, the rates of new Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are declining.

The number of patients hospitalized with Covid-19 has fallen for the 40th day in a row, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

FDA issues updated guidance on adapting Covid-19 vaccines, tests and therapeutics for coronavirus variants

Daily deaths have declined 24% this past week compared to the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, earlier Monday touted encouraging numbers in declining new cases, deaths, and hospital admissions, but also offered a note of caution.

The seven-day average of deaths reported each day is at its the lowest since the beginning of December, she said.

At a White House coronavirus task force briefing held before the death toll was updated, Walensky noted the falling death rate but said the total number of Covid-19 fatalities is “a truly tragic reminder of the…



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