Coronavirus updates Oregon health workers stuck in snow vaccinate other

COVID-19 has killed nearly 430,000 Americans, and infections have continued to mount despite the introduction of a pair of vaccines late in 2020. USA TODAY is tracking the news. Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates. Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates to your inbox, join our Facebook group or scroll through our in-depth answers to reader questions. The Biden administration’s White House COVID-19 task force held its first virtual briefing Wednesday, promoting its efforts to expedite vaccinations while warning that the nation could surpass 500,000 deaths within weeks. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the agency predicts 479,000 to 514,000 pandemic deaths will have been reported by Feb. 20. Almost 4,000 deaths and more than 140,000 new infections were reported Tuesday alone.“Our case rates remain extraordinarily high and now is the time to remain vigilant,” she said. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reiterated that vaccines appear to be effective against emerging variants, adding that the U. S. is working with companies to develop new antibody treatments that will be effective as newer strains evolve. President Joe Biden said this week he expects the majority of the U. S. population can be vaccinated by summer’s end or early fall. Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser for COVID-19 response, warned that despite ramping up the manufacture and distribution of vaccines, “it will be months before everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one.”►A CDC report released late Wednesday shows the U. K. strain of the virus continuing to spread across the United States. The report shows 315 cases, up from 293 Monday and 144 a week earlier, with California and Florida tied for the most cases with 92 each.►Some people who have received the Moderna vaccine are reporting what has become known as “COVID arm,” a red rash at the injection spot that sometimes gets itchy. There’s no indication that it’s dangerous and usually it goes away in a few days, doctors say.►Despite conspiracy theories by anti-vaxxers, it’s unlikely baseball icon Hank Aaron died because of a COVID-19 vaccine shot. The Fulton County Medical Examiner said Aaron, who was two weeks shy of his 87th birthday, died of natural causes Friday.►Eli Lilly announced that its monoclonal antibody cocktail cuts hospitalizations by 70% for high-risk COVID-19 patients. Oregon health workers who got stuck in a snowstorm on their way back from a COVID-19 vaccination event went car to car injecting stranded drivers before several of the doses expired. Josephine County Public Health said on Facebook that the “impromptu vaccine clinic” took place after about 20 employees were stopped in traffic on a highway after a vaccination clinic. Six of the vaccines were getting close to expiring so the workers decided to offer them to other stranded drivers.

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