Via Teleconference Washington D.C. April 7 10:33 A.M. EDT
ACTING ADMINISTRATOR SLAVITT:
Good morning. Thank you for joining us.
Yesterday afternoon, President Biden delivered a report to the nation on the progress of our vaccination program and our fight against this pandemic.
As the President communicated, our job is to bring the public the truth — both the good news and the bad news. And we're in a period when there's a fair amount of both. We're making real progress even amidst continued challenges.
First, there's good news to report: The President announced yesterday that all adult Americans will be eligible to be vaccinated by April 19. This is ahead of the original May 1st timeline that he set about — that he set last month. So this means that there is no better time for seniors who haven't been vaccinated to get their shot now.
At this point, over 76 percent of seniors have had at least their first shot. If you know a senior who has not yet had the opportunity to get a shot, consider helping them arrange that opportunity and see what help they need. A number of seniors live alone and may need transportation or other help. The good news is there are more and more locations in more places available for them.
President Biden also announced that we crossed 150 million shots in just 75 days of his administration.
We also have progress to report in our effort to open schools safely. At the beginning of March, the President directed states and the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program to prioritize the vaccination of teachers, school staff, and childcare workers during the month of March.
As the President announced yesterday, as of the end of March, the latest CD esti- — CDC estimates show that almost 80 percent of pre-K through 12th grade teachers, school staff, and childcare workers received at least one shot.
And today, the Department of Education released the latest round of data from its own ongoing survey on the impact of COVID-19 on K through 8th grade students and the state of school reopening in the nation.
This is encouraging early data — covering the month of February — and shows progress toward the President's goal to have K through 8th grade schools open five days a week.
And in the final piece of good news: To help meet our goal of ensuring Americans have a vaccine site within five miles of where they live, and to advance equitable distribution of the vaccine, we're announcing today that we are expanding our community health center vaccine program so that the nearly 1,400 community health centers can sign up to receive and administer doses to their patients. Many community health centers are located in underserved communities and serve patients that are predominantly either uninsured or underinsured.
As of today, more than 108 million Americans have gotten at least their first shot. And our vaccination program is progressing ahead of schedule, due to the aggressive steps we've taken at the President's direction, to increase vaccine supply, the number of vaccinators in the field, and the places for Americans to get vaccinated, as well, of course, as the strong work of our partners.
But as the President also underscored, even as we vaccinate Americans in record numbers, we're still not even halfway there. And the progress we have made can be reversed if we let our guard down.
Better days are on the horizon. We do believe a more normal Fourth of July holiday is within reach. But that's nearly three months away. And as the President said, "The real question is: How much death, disease, and misery are we going to see between now and then?"
So, before I turn to Dr. Walensky, let me just close by reminding Americans: It is in our power to minimize death, disease, and misery. If we — if all of us do our part, we can help save lives in April, May, and June.
Wear a mask. Socially distance. Get vaccinated when it's your turn.
And now over to Dr. Walensky.
Thank you, Andy. And good morning, everyone. I'm glad to be back with you today. As always, I'll begin with an overview of the data. CDC's most recent data show that the seven-day average of new cases is a little more than 63,000 cases per day. This is up approximately 2.3 percent compared to the prior seven-day average. Hospital admissions also continue to increase. The most recent seven-day average — about 5,000 admissions per day — is up about 2.7 percent from the prior seven-day average. And deaths decreased 19.7 percent to a seven-day average of 745 per day.
Vaccinations continue to increase, with the most recent seven-day average of nearly 3 million vaccinations delivered daily, up 8 percent from the prior seven-day period.
While these rates of vaccination are incredible and so encouraging for all of us, trends are increasing in both case numbers and hospitalizations. Across the country, we are hearing reports of clusters of cases associated with daycare centers and youth sports. Hospitals are seeing more and more younger adults — those in their 30s and 40s — admitted with severe disease. Data suggests this is all happening as we are seeing increasing prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 variants, with 52 jurisdictions now reporting cases of variants of concern.
Based on our most recent estimates from CDC surveillance, the B117 variant is now the most common lineage circulating in the United States. Testing remains an important strategy to rapidly identify and isolate infectious individuals, including those with variants of concern.
These trends are pointing to two clear truths. One, the virus still has hold on us — infecting people and putting them in harm's way — and we need to remain vigilant. And, two, we need to continue to accelerate our vaccination efforts and to take the individual responsibility to get vaccinated when we can.
We have to recognize the high risk of infection in areas of high community transmission. I encourage communities to consider adjustments to meet their unique needs and circumstances. For example, in areas of substantial or high community transmission, CDC guidance specifically suggests refraining from youth sports that are not outside and cannot be conducted at least six feet apart. Similarly, large events should also be deferred.
We have guidance on CDC's website on how to host small events safely, recognizing that our goals are to decrease transmission of COVID-19 and, importantly, to keep schools open and students engaged in in-person learning.
To this end, I'm pleased to report that an important mitigation strategy — educating — educator vaccination — was rolled out in the month of March, and it worked. As the President announced yesterday and Andy reiterated: By the end of March, 80 percent of all teachers, school staff, and childcare workers across this country had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That's nearly 8 million people educating our children and working in our schools who have some protection against the virus.
And we must continue to vaccinate as many Americans as we can each day because when we invest in vaccination and other public health prevention measures, we are seeing case counts decrease and deaths decrease. This is the case in older adults, where over 55 percent of adults over 65 and older are fully vaccinated, protecting those that we — were so vulnerable a year ago when this pandemic began.
The trends in increasing cases and transmission also underscore the importance of President Biden's announcement that all U.S. adults will be eligible to receive a vaccination by April 19th.
We are vaccinating, on average, 3 million Americans every single day — getting shots into arms, providing protection. I urge everyone who has not received a COVID-19 vaccine to roll up their sleeves and join the nearly 108 million people who have already received at least one dose.
I want to close by acknowledging the two important truths of this moment: There is still reason for us to be concerned with rising case counts, rising variants reported, and increasing hospitalizations — and there is so much reason for so much hope.
Thank you. I'll now turn things over to Dr. Fauci.
Thank you very much, Dr. Walensky. What I'd like to do over the next couple of minutes is to just talk a bit about the duration of immunity.
If I could have that first slide.
I'm going to break it up into two components: the duration of immunity to natural infection and the duration following vaccination.
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