HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Nearly half of new coronavirus infections nationwide are coming from just five states — creating vaccination frustration at the federal level.
Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, Florida and New Jersey together reported 44% of the nation’s new COVID-19 infections in the latest available seven-day period, according to state health agency data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Nearly 197,500 new cases were reported out of the 452,000 total U.S. infections in the same time span.
The heavy concentration of new cases in states that account for 22% of the U.S. population has prompted some experts and elected officials to call for President Joe Biden’s administration to ship additional vaccine doses to those places.
However, the White House has shown no signs of shifting from its policy of dividing vaccine doses among states based on population.
Since the last surge of positive cases in January 2021, Governor Tom Wolf has eased restrictions at bars, restaurants and other businesses while expanding vaccination eligibility to Pennsylvanians.
UPMC infectious disease expert Dr. John Goldman says the recent changes follow an uptick in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and COVID-related deaths.
“We saw the number of cases decline during most of the winter months,” Goldman said, “but it is human nature, people start to go out and not wear their masks or practice social distancing as aggressively as they were in the past.”
Talk of sending extra shots to some states comes at a time when the number of daily infections in the U.S. has fallen dramatically compared to a January spike following the holiday season. However, the seven-day average of daily infections have been rising slowly since mid-March.
The five states seeing the most infections stand out. As of Tuesday, 31 U.S. states were reporting seven-day averages of fewer than 1,000 new daily cases.
White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said Tuesday more than 28 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be delivered to states this week. That allocation will bring the U.S. total to more than 90 million doses distributed in the past three weeks.
The news came as Biden announced more than 150 million coronavirus shots have been administered since he took office, and that all adults will be eligible to receive a vaccine by April 19.
About 40% of U.S. adults have now received at least one COVID-19 shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 23% of American adults have been fully vaccinated — including more than half of Americans 65 and older.
Dr. Elvin H. Geng, a professor in infectious diseases at Washington University said the nation should take a step back and go slow. Even just a few more weeks of Americans sticking with social distancing and other precautions could make a huge difference.
“The take-home message here is, let’s not jump the gun,” Geng said. “There’s light at the end of the tunnel. We all see it there. And we will get there. Slow and steady.”