The United States recorded its second deadliest day of the COVID-19 pandemic Wednesday with the deaths of 4,409 Americans.
The grim milestone came on the same day president Joe Biden was sworn in and a year to the day since the first case of the virus was recorded in the United States after a man in Washington state tested positive.
Wednesday marked the second deadliest day, according to COVID Tracking Project data. The deadliest 24 hours came on January 12, with 4,462 people dead, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins university.
In the first order he signed since arriving at the White House, Biden on Wednesday mandated masks and physical distancing in all federal buildings and the development of a testing program for federal employees for COVID-19, in a first step to combat a pandemic that has already claimed the lives of more than 400,000 Americans.
Biden’s order says federal employees, contractors and others in federal buildings or on federal lands should ‘wear masks, maintain physical distance, and adhere to other public health measures, as provided in (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.’
The president directed agencies to ‘immediately take action…to require compliance with CDC guidelines’ and for employees to wear masks and engage in social distancing. He called for all Americans to wear masks for 100 days.
America’s death toll is the highest in the world despite the country accounting for less than five percent of the global population. More than 24.1 million people have been infected since the pandemic began.
Wednesday marked the second deadliest day, according to COVID tracking project data. The deadliest 24 hours came on January 12, with 4,462 people dead, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins university
In the first order he signed since arriving at the White House Biden on Wednesday mandated masks and physical distancing in all federal buildings and the development of a testing program for federal employees for COVID-19, in a first step to combat a pandemic that has already claimed the lives of more than 400,000 Americans
Wednesday marked a year to the day since the first case of the virus was recorded in the United States
In October, Biden vowed to require masks on airplanes and on interstate transportation, but he did not take that action on Wednesday. The transportation order is expected Thursday, officials said. U.S. airlines, which have been requiring masks without a legal requirement for months, support Biden’s planned mandate.
Biden’s order Wednesday directs the CDC to ‘promptly develop … a testing plan for the federal workforce,’ adding it will be ‘based on community transmission metrics and address the populations to be tested, testing types (and) frequency of testing, positive case protocols.
The president said agencies may make exceptions to mask requirements, but must ‘require appropriate alternative safeguards.’
The Biden administration must implement new testing requirements for nearly all international air passengers that begin Tuesday, following a CDC order last week. Under the new rules, all U.S.-bound passengers age 2 and over must get negative COVID-19 test results within three calendar days of travel.
Biden’s team also announced it would reimpose entry bans on most non-U.S. citizens who have recently been in Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland and most of continental Europe after President Donald Trump, in one of his last acts in office, issued an order Monday lifting them effective the same day the new testing rules take effect.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the new administration planned ‘to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.’
Tech giant Amazon on Wednesday offered to put its vast operation to work helping President Biden get 100 million Americans vaccinated against Covid-19 in the next 100 days.
Chief of Amazon’s worldwide consumer business Dave Clark sent a letter to Biden urging that its workers get vaccinated as early as possible and offered to put the company’s resources to work in the broader vaccination effort.
The tech giant is the second largest employer in the US with more than 800,000 employees, most of whom are ‘essential workers’ who can’t do their jobs from home, according to a copy of the letter obtained by AFP.
‘We are committed to assisting your administration’s vaccination efforts as we work together to protect our employees and continue to provide essential services during the pandemic,’ read the letter.
Biden’s order says federal employees, contractors and others in federal buildings or on federal lands should ‘wear masks, maintain physical distance, and adhere to other public health measures, as provided in (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.’ The president directed agencies to ‘immediately take action…to require compliance with CDC guidelines’ and for employees to wear masks and engage in social distancing
Biden tweeted about his mask mandate Wednesday
Amazon has agreements in place with a health care provider to administer vaccines on-site at its facilities, including fulfillment centers, data centers, and Whole Foods Market grocery stores, according to Clark.
‘We are prepared to move quickly once vaccines are available.,’ Clark said in the letter.’Our scale allows us to make a meaningful impact immediately in the fight against Covid-19, and we stand ready to assist you in this effort.’
Uber has also offered logistical assistance. Chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi last month urged US states to make sure rideshare drivers get quick access to Covid-19 vaccines so they can help with broader distribution plans.
Biden’s top pandemic advisor Anthony Fauci said this week the new president’s goal of seeing 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccine injected within his first 100 days in office is ‘absolutely’ achievable.
Those claims came after President Biden’s pick to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the Trump administration ‘muzzled’ US scientists when they were needed most.
Dr Rochelle Walensky said that it is her responsibility to ‘fix that,’ she told JAMA editor Dr Howard Bauchner in a Tuesday interview for the journal’s podcast.
The HIV researcher, with no ‘on the ground’ experience running a public health agency, is inheriting an unprecedented pandemic that has killed 400,000 Americans in less than a year, a CDC that has fumbled at nearly every turn of its response and a disastrous vaccine rollout.
Joe Biden and his wife, Dr Jill Biden, both wore masks for the Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington
Chief among the CDC’s problems were communication gaffs that left it at odds with the White House or retracting previous advice and replacing it with Trump administration-approved guidance.
Officials who tried to warn Americans of how dire the pandemic could get, like the CDC’s Dr Nancy Messonnier, simply disappeared after angering the Trump administration.
Communication will be a top priority for Dr Walensky. Ironically, she plans to take a page from former President Trump’s book and streamline CDC’s public messaging through Twitter and other social media platforms.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that up to 508,000 Americans could die of COVID-19 in less than one month.
Published Wednesday, the ‘ensemble’ forecast combines 37 independent forecasts of coronavirus deaths over the next four weeks into one projection.
The forecast predicts that between 22,500 and 23,300 deaths from the virus will be reported each week for the next four weeks. For the week ending February 13, the ensemble forecast projects that reported COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. will be between 17,000 and 29,300.
This means that, in the first 24 days in office for President Joe Biden, anywhere from 465,000 to 508,000 Americans will have died from COVID-19.
It comes just one day after the national death toll eclipsed 400,000.
More than 38,000 Americans died from coronavirus in the first two weeks of 2021, and the numbers only appear to be increasing.
Health experts said widespread vaccination could help curb the surge of cases, but rollout has been slow.
Staff and volunteers distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to people as they remain in their vehicles at The Forum in Inglewood. The Forum is one of five mass-vaccination sites that opened Tuesday in Los Angeles county
Vehicles line up at The Forum in Inglewood for vaccination distribution as a COVID-19 vaccination site. Health experts said widespread vaccination could help curb the surge of cases, but rollout has been slow
More than 35.9 million doses have been distributing but just about half – 16.5 million – have been distributed, according to a CDC tracker.
And in New York City officials were forced to reschedule 23,000 vaccine appointments this week alone.
Mayor Bill de Blasio warned Wednesday that the city would run out of doses altogether by Friday.
De Blasio heightened alarm about the city’s dire shortage of vaccines and called for something to be done to free up more doses at a press conference on Wednesday.
At his own press conference, Governor Andrew Cuomo acknowledged shortages around the state and but shifted blame toward the federal government.
Cuomo said that the state currently has just 145,780 doses remaining and warned that the supply would run out in a maximum of three days.
‘What is clear now is we’re going to be going from week to week – and you will see a constant pattern of, basically, running out, waiting for the next week’s allocation and then starting up again,’ he said. ‘We’re trying to smooth it out, but we’re also trying to get it out as fast as possible.’
The seven million New Yorkers currently eligible to receive vaccines are currently facing wait times of three months or more to get appointments.
Cuomo has projected that it could be six months before all of those currently eligible get their jabs if the federal government doesn’t step in and increase supply.
Just under 908,000 people in the state have received their first doses of the vaccine to date, representing 84 percent of the supply already provided by the federal government, Cuomo said.
The Forum in Inglewood began vaccination distribution serving as a COVID-19 vaccination site, while also serving as a COVID-19 testing site. Amazon on Wednesday offered to put its vast operation to work helping President Biden get 100 million Americans vaccinated against Covid-19 in the next 100 days
New York City was expected to surpass 500,000 vaccinations on Wednesday, de Blasio said, out of more than 940,800 delivered.
A new distribution hurdle emerged on Wednesday, he said, when deliveries of 103,400 doses of the Moderna vaccine were delayed.
‘We already were feeling the stress of a shortage of vaccine. Now the situation has been made even worse,’ he said.
The city is aiming to reschedule appointments for the 23,000 people who had theirs canceled this week within the next week, Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said. He noted that no second dose appointments were rescheduled, only first doses.