Here’s what’s happening Wednesday with the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.:
THREE THINGS TO KNOW TODAY
— The White House said the U.S. is vaccinating some 1.7 million people per day, up from under 1 million a month ago. New figures from the White House show the steady increase in the pace of vaccinations over President Joe Biden’s first month in office. The data comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Much of the uptick comes from people receiving their second dose of the approved vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer. The pace of first dose vaccinations has been largely steady over the past several weeks, hovering around an average of 900,000 shots per day. Biden is on track to blow past his goal of 100 million injections in his first 100 days in office — though the pace must pick up even further to meet his plans to vaccinate nearly all adults by the end of the summer.
— President Joe Biden has promised that most elementary schools will open five days a week by the end of his first 100 days in office. That’s Biden’s clearest statement yet on school reopenings, an issue where his administration came under fire when aides said schools would be considered open if they held in-person learning just one day a week. Biden had pledged in December to reopen “the majority of our schools” in his first 100 days but has since faced increasing questions about how he would define and achieve that goal, with school districts operating under a patchwork of different virtual and in-person learning arrangements nationwide.
— Arizona has passed two grim milestones, with more than 800,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 15,000 deaths from the disease. The state’s Department of Health Services on Wednesday reported 1,315 additional cases and 82 new deaths, bringing its totals to 801,055 cases and 15,063 deaths in the almost 13 months since COVID-19 was first reported in Arizona. The state was among the national hot spots in last summer’s virus surge and the larger wave that began last fall accelerated during the winter holidays and started to decline last month. State health officials say the number of hospital beds occupied by people with the virus peaked at 5,082 on Jan. 11 and has since fallen to 1,941 as of Tuesday.
THE NUMBERS: According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there were 62,398 new COVID-19 cases and 1,756 deaths in the United States on Tuesday. The record high for new cases was 300,282 on Jan. 2 and the record high for deaths was 5,443 on Feb. 12.
DEATH TOLL: The total number of deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. reached 488,103.
QUOTABLE: “Variants represent a growing threat,” said U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin. “At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing our testing capacity was essential to our ability to track and slow the spread of the virus — the same is true for finding and tracking these variants.”
ICYMI: Gillette Stadium is a sellout. Workers at the mass vaccination site at the home of the New England Patriots have given out 65,878 coronavirus shots. That’s the capacity of the NFL stadium. Brigitte Peters, 79, of Uxbridge, received two tickets to the team’s 2021 home opener after getting the landmark shot on Tuesday evening. It will be her first Patriots game. She said she was excited to tell her grandchildren about the tickets, and the vaccination process was easy and painless. “It couldn’t have been better, I didn’t even feel it,” she said. “It was so easy.” The site operated by CIC Health opened Jan. 18 and started by administering about 300 vaccines per day. It is now giving about 4,000 shots per day, and plans to continue expanding.
ON THE HORIZON: Snow, ice and bitter cold gripping large parts of the nation is delaying people from receiving the coronavirus vaccination. In Georgia, health officials say expected deliveries of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccinations did not arrive due to the weather. The Georgia Department of Public Health said vaccine providers had to reschedule appointments. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said similar delays of vaccine delivery have caused the city to hold back 30,000 to 35,000 vaccination appointments. The winter weather has also delayed planned vaccination events and appointments in Alabama, Missouri and Tennessee this week, according to officials in those states.