Pien Huang | Michigan Radio
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Pien Huang

It's been a long year for basically everyone — and especially for Dr. Henry Walke. For months on end, Walke has been pulling 13-hour work days as the COVID-19 incident response manager at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a job he took on last July.

He never expected the job to last this long. "The scale of this pandemic is mind-boggling, and it's affected all of us — every facet of our work and home," he says.

COVID-19 vaccinations are on the rise in the U.S. — and so are coronavirus cases.

After a plateau lasting several weeks, the number of cases is once again on the increase in parts of the country.

New cases, test positivity rates and hospital admissions are creeping upward. An increase in daily COVID-19 deaths is likely to follow, health officials say.

Updated May 7, 2021 at 8:57 AM ET

This page is updated regularly.

Vaccinating a high percentage of the population against COVID-19 is a crucial part of the U.S. strategy to curb the pandemic.

Since COVID-19 vaccine distribution began in the United States on Dec. 14, more than 251 million doses have been administered, fully vaccinating over 108 million people or 32.8% of the total U.S. population.

More than 500,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S.

This week President Biden is asking Americans to mark the 500,000 deaths with a moment of silence at sunset Monday. He's also ordered flags on all federal buildings lowered to half-staff for five days.

COVID-19 vaccines are scarce. Many people who want the shots can't get them yet, either because they're not yet eligible, according to priorities set by their state or county, or because there aren't any available appointments.

Updated 5:06 p.m. ET

On Friday afternoon, President-Elect Joe Biden shared a detailed plan to tackle the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, promising to fight the pandemic with "the full strength of the federal government."

In a speech in Delaware, Biden laid out his five-part plan for how to speed up the vaccination campaign: Open up vaccine eligibility to more people; create more vaccination sites; increase vaccine supply; hire a vaccination workforce; and launch a large-scale public education campaign.

Updated 2:20 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is making several big changes to its COVID-19 vaccine distribution strategy, officials announced Tuesday, in a bid to jump-start the rollout and get more Americans vaccinated quickly.

The first change is to call on states to expand immediately the pool of people eligible to receive vaccines to those 65 and older, and those with underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to COVID-19.

This time last year, the world was heading into a pandemic that would upend everything and cost 1.9 million lives — and counting. The promise of the new year is that vaccines are finally here and offer a way out.

Updated at 7:55 p.m. ET

People who are ages 75 and older or frontline essential workers should be next in line to get a COVID-19 vaccine, a federal advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined Sunday.

Those groups follow frontline health care workers and nursing home residents, who have already begun receiving the limited supplies of vaccines available.

In the U.S., front-line health care workers are likely first in line to get immunized with a COVID-19 vaccine, once the FDA says yes. But what about the rest of us?

New data released by the Department of Health and Human Services on Monday gives the most detailed picture to date of how COVID-19 is stressing individual hospitals in the United States.

The information provides nationwide data on hospital capacity and bed use at a hospital-by-hospital level. This is the first time the federal agency has released the COVID-19 hospital data it collects at the facility level. Previously, HHS released data aggregated at the state level only.

Updated 5:48 p.m. ET

A federal advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted Tuesday to recommend who should get COVID-19 vaccines first once one is authorized for use.

Health care workers are expected to be first in line to be offered a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available.

It makes sense: Getting a safe, effective vaccine would help keep them and their patients healthy. Seeing doctors, nurses and medical aides getting COVID-19 vaccines would also set an example for the community.

Top officials from Operation Warp Speed, the government's program to fast-track the development and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, announced they've allocated 6.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to states based on their total populations.

A top U.S. Army general who is co-leading the federal COVID-19 vaccine initiative anticipates that the first of millions of Americans could start receiving COVID-19 vaccines as soon as next month.

Health care workers will almost certainly get the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. when one is approved, according to Dr. José Romero, head of the committee that develops evidence-based immunization guidelines for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As coronavirus cases rise swiftly around the country, surpassing both the spring and summer surges, health officials brace for a coming wave of hospitalizations and deaths. Knowing which hospitals in which communities are reaching capacity could be key to an effective response to the growing crisis. That information is gathered by the federal government — but not shared openly with the public.

Dr. William Foege doesn't know how his private letter to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, got leaked — but he stands by its contents.

"I think we've got about the worst response to this pandemic that you could possibly have," said Foege, who served as CDC director from 1977 to 1983, spanning the Carter and Reagan administrations, in an interview with NPR.

The federal government is starting to crack down on the nation's hospitals for not reporting complete COVID-19 data into a federal data collection system.

Each week we answer some of your pressing questions about the coronavirus and how to stay safe. Email us your questions at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

Updated Friday 2:15 p.m. ET to include a comment from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The federal government is preparing to crack down aggressively on hospitals for not reporting complete COVID-19 data daily into a federal data system, according to internal documents obtained by NPR.

It's still unknown when a COVID-19 vaccine might be available in the United States. But when one is first approved, there may only be 10 million to 15 million doses available, which may be enough to cover around 3% to 5% of the U.S. population.

President Trump has publicly blamed the World Health Organization for being slow to sound alarm bells about the coronavirus.

In March, NPR reported on the tolls of life under quarantine in Wuhan, then the epicenter for COVID-19. We spoke to two visitors who'd returned to their hometown of Wuhan to ring in the Lunar New Year with their families — then couldn't leave for months: epidemiologist Lin Yang, now back in her home in Hong Kong, and Xi Lu, who's returned to London.

A person with a high viral load walks into a bar.

That, according to researchers who study the novel coronavirus, is a recipe for a superspreading event — where one person or gathering leads to an unusually high number of new infections. And that kind of occurrence is increasingly considered a hallmark of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working "to build a revolutionary new data system" for COVID-19 hospital data collection that the CDC will run upon completion, according to Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Birx's comments this week come a month after the Trump administration mandated that hospitals sidestep the agency and send critical information about COVID-19 hospitalizations and equipment to a different federal database managed by the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC.

Earlier this month, when the Trump administration told hospitals to send crucial data about coronavirus cases and intensive care capacity to a new online system, it promised the change would be worth it. The data would be more complete and transparent and an improvement over the old platform run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, administration officials said.

Instead, the public data hub created under the new system is updated erratically and is rife with inconsistencies and errors, data analysts say.

On January 30, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus — then unnamed — to be a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern." The virus, first reported in China in late 2019, had started to spread beyond its borders, causing 98 cases in 18 countries in addition to some

Senate and House Democrats sent letters to the White House on Friday, asking the Trump administration to reverse its decision to sidestep the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collecting critical COVID-19 hospital data.

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