Hamilton Journal News : 2021-03-02



A4 | JOURNAL-NEWS | TUESDAY, MARCH 2, 2021 COMPLETE. IN-DEPTH. DEPENDABLE. CORONAVIRU­S: THE LATEST NATIONAL IMPACT in severe cases and deaths among older people, is “quickly becoming a bigger contributo­r” nationally, Justin Lessler, an expert in infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University, said in an email. “I suspect we will see it overtake natural infection as biggest driver of immunity late spring earliest, more likely midsummer,” Lessler said. Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University, said he believes states and cities have leeway to ease some restrictio­ns because hospitals no longer are at capacity in most communitie­s. But “I do think that masks are likely going to need to be kept in place for some time until we get more of our population­s vaccinated,” he said. “It is important for restaurant­s who are their capacity to remember that we are still in a pandemic and to continue to follow some of those Adalja said. the Dr. Rochelle Walensky, urgently warned state officials and ordinary Americans not to let down their guard, saying she is “really worried about reports that more states are rolling back exact public health measures that we have recommende­d.” “I remain deeply concerned about a potential shift in the trajectory of the pandemic,” she said. “We stand to completely lose the ground that we have gained.” Cases and hospitaliz­ations have plunged the end of January, and deaths have also dropped sharply, but they are still running at dangerousl­y high levels and have even risen slightly past several days. “We cannot be resigned to 70,000 cases a day and 2,000 daily deaths,” Walensky said. Overall, the outbreak killed more than a half-million Americans. The vaccine already is contributi­ng to a decrease CDC, its newly authorized, shot COVID-19 vaccine Sunday night to be delivered to states for use starting today. The company will deliver about 16 million more doses by the end of March a total of 100 million by the end of June. That adds to the supply being distribute­d by Pfizer and Moderna and should help the nation amass enough doses by midsummer to vaccinate all adults. The House is encouragin­g Americans to take the first dose available to them, regardless of manufactur­er. In New York City, where limited indoor dining has resumed, officials said the J&J vaccine will help the city to inoculate millions more people by summer, including through door-to-door vaccinatio­ns of homebound senior citizens. But the efforts come with strong warnings from health officials against reopening too quickly, as worrisome coronaviru­s variants spread. On Monday, the head of one- By Heather Hollingswo­rth and Tammy Webber and Associated Press With the U.S. vaccinatio­n drive picking up speed and a third formula on the way, states eager to reopen for business are eas coronaviru­s restrictio­ns despite warnings from health experts that the outbreak is from that moving too quickly could prolong misery. Massachuse­tts on Monday made it much easier to grab dinner and a show. In Missouri, where individual communitie­s get to make rules, the two biggest ropolitan areas — St. Louis and Kansas City — are relaxing some measures. Iowa’s governor recently lifted mask requiremen­ts limits on the number of people allowed in bars and restaurant­s, while town of Lawrence, home to the University of Kansas, now lets establishm­ents stay open until midnight. Mike Lee, who owns Trezo MISSION, KAN. — and the ing the far over and White the hard-earned since the met- Mare Restaurant & Lounge in Kansas City, said he vaccine access, combined with warmer weather, will improve ness. “I think that people are excited to put this past and be able to start to get back to their ways of doing things,” Lee said. The ush to reopen comes as COVID-19 vaccine shipments to the states are ramping up. Nearly 20% of the nation’s adults — or over 50 million — have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 10% have been fully inoculated 2 1/2 months the campaign to snuff out the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Johnson & Johnson shipped out nearly 4 million doses of hopes over the increased people busi- and vulnerable into them the increasing has p rules,” VACCINATIO­NS rebuke from GOP Gov. Mike Parson, who said vaccine distributi­on has been proportion­al to the population and critics are using “cherry-picked” data. “There is no division between rural and urban Missouri,” Parson said during his weekly COVID-19 update last week. In Republican-led Tennessee, Health Commission­er Lisa Piercey that administra­tion deemed the state’s plan among the nation’s most equitable. Extra doses go to 35 counties with a high social vulnerabil­ity index score — many small and but also Shelby County, which includes Memphis, with a population. Last week, state officials revealed some 2,400 doses had been wasted in County over the past month due to miscommuni­cation and record-keeping. The county also built up nearly 30,000 excessive doses in its inventory. The caused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigat­e the health director to resign. In Nashville, Democratic Mayor John Cooper says the that city residents can get shots elsewhere is a positive, even if the road trips are “a little bit of a pain.” “I’m grateful that other have not said, my gosh, you have to be a res of this county always to get the vaccine,’” Cooper said. Nashville educators Jennifer Simon and Jessica Morris took sick days last week to make the four-hour roundtrip to tiny Van Buren County, population less than 6,000. They got first shots there in January, when Republican Gov. Bill Lee was pushing Nashville and Memphis area schools to return to classes. GOP lawmakers even threatened­topullfund­ingfrom districts that remained online. In-person classes started a couple weeks ago, but the city only began vaccinatin­g teachers last week. “It was scary, frustratin­g, and feeling really betrayed,” Simon said. By Travis Loller, Jonathan Mattise and Gillian Flaccus Associated Press Rita Fentress was worried she might get lost as she traveled down the unfamiliar forested, lane road in rural Tennessee in search of a coronaviru­s vaccine. Then the trees cleared the Hickman County Agricultur­al Pavilion appeared. The 74-year-old woman wasn’t eligible to be vaccinated in Nashville, where she lives, because there were so many health care workers to vaccinate there. But a neighbor told her the state’s rural counties had already moved to younger age groups and she an appointmen­t 60 miles away. “I felt kind of guilty about it,” she said. “I thought maybe I was taking it from someone else.” But late that February day, she said there were still five openings for next morning. The U.S. vaccine campaign heightened tensions between rural and urban America, where from Oregon to Tennessee to upstate New York complaints are surfacing of a real — or perceived — inequity in vaccine allocation. In some cases, recriminat­ions over how scarce vaccines are distribute­d have taken on partisan tones, with rural Republican lawmakers in Democrat-led states complain of “picking winners losers,” urbanites traveling hours to rural GOP-leaning communitie­s to score COVID19 shots when there are none in their city. In Oregon, state GOP lawmakers walked out of a Legislativ­e session last week over the Democratic governor’s vaccine plans, citing rural vaccine distributi­on among their concerns. In upstate New York, public health officials in counties have complained of disparitie­s in vaccine allocation and in North Carolina, rural lawmakers say too many doses were going to mass vaccine centers in big cities. In Tennessee, Missouri and Alabama, a dearth of shots in NASHVILLE, TENN. — one- and notes the Trump rural, ing their health care workers while clinics elsewhere, including the Portland metro area, caught up. The dust-up last month prompted an angry response, with some state GOP lawmakers accusing the Democratic governor of playing favorites with the urban dwellers who elected her. Public health leaders in Morrow County, a farming region in northeaste­rn Oregon with of the highest COVID-19 infection rates, said they had to delay two vaccine because of the state’s decision. Other counties delayed vaccines for seniors. States face plenty of challenges. Rural counties are less likely to have the deep-freeze equipment necessary to store Pfizer vaccines. Health care workers are often concentrat­ed in big cities. And counties were particular­ly hard hit by COVID-19 in many states, but their residents are among the most likely to say they’re “definitely not” going to get vaccinated, according to recent Kaiser Family Foundation polling. Adalja said most of these complicati­ons were foreseeabl­e and could have been avoided with proper planning and funding. “There are people who how to do this,” he said. “They’re just not in charge of it.” In Missouri, where Facebook groups have emerged with postings about appoint- urban areas with the greatest number of health care workers has led senior citizens to snap up appointmen­ts hours from their homes. The result is a hodgepodge of approaches that can look like the exact opposite of equity, where those most likely to be vaccinated are people with the savvy and means to search out a shot and travel to wherever it is. “It’s really, really flawed,” said Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health who noted there are even vaccine hunters who will find a dose for money. “Ideally, allocation­s would meet the population’s needs.” With little more general guidance from the federal government, states have taken it upon themselves to decide what it means to distribute vaccine fairly and reach vulnerable population­s. Tennessee, like many states, has divvied up doses based primarily on county population, not on how many residents belong to eligible groups — such as health care workers. The Tennessee health commission­er has defended the allocation as the “most equitable,” but the approach also exposed yet another layer of haves and have-nots as vaccine rollout accelerate­s. In Oregon, the issue state officials to pause dose deliveries in some areas that had finished inoculat- large Black found Shelby insufficie­nt the situation has and county one Amesh clinics Security, fact rural counties ‘Oh than ident ing and rural and the their in-person rural has know the led ment availabili­ties in rural areas, state Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, a Democrat from the Kansas City sub- urb of Independen­ce, cited a need to direct more vaccine to urban areas. The criticism drew an angry rural