US vaccine supply up 70% over last month, White House says; Tennessee reports 2,400 wasted doses; 112M global cases. Latest COVID-19 updates

The U.S. supply of vaccine doses is increasing again.

States will receive about 14.5 million doses this week, marking a nearly 70% increase in distribution over the last month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday. Psaki also said governors were told Tuesday that the number of doses sent directly to pharmacies will increase by about 100,000 this week.

Before last week’s winter storm delayed vaccine doses to many states, the rollout of shots had been steadily increasing. At least in some states, like Texas, vaccinations had resumed by the weekend. But others hoped to get back on track this week.

The rollout will possibly get even faster, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers emergency-use authorization for the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, possibly as early as this week. Richard Nettles, the company’s vice president of medical affairs, said Tuesday that J&J hopes to supply 100 million vaccine doses by the end of June.

Also in the news:

► The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package Friday, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday.

►A variant first discovered in California in December is more contagious than earlier forms of the coronavirus, a new study out of the University of California, San Francisco suggests.

►More than 2,400 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in Tennessee’s most populous county went to waste over the past month while local officials sat on tens of thousands of shots that they thought had already gone into arms, the state’s top health official announced Tuesday.

►Two months into the vaccine rollout, most Americans still don’t know the gleeful feeling that comes with getting a first dose. Public health officials warned it would take time to vaccinate everyone who desired it, but most people didn’t expect the confusion and inconsistencies that have marred vaccination programs. They likely couldn’t prepare for the feeling of watching as some people near a return to normal while they continue to wait. Read more here.

►The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is calling for better COVID-19 vaccine access for poor nations, saying, “More than 210 countries are yet to administer a single dose.”

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 28.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 502,400 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 112 million cases and 2.48 million deaths. More than 82.1 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and about 65 million have been administered, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: In one year, COVID-19 has left more than 500,000 dead in the United States. If we were to bring them together, the resulting community would be filled with grandparents, great-uncles and aunts, making it the oldest large city in America. View the data.

USA TODAY is tracking COVID-19 news. Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates. Want more? Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Stickers given to people vaccinated for COVID-19 are shown Tuesday at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System campus in Seattle.

Community health centers counted on to vaccinate low-income patients

The Biden administration is targeting community health centers, which serve about 30 million patients nationwide, as vaccine distribution hubs. Two-thirds of those patients live at or below poverty level, half are racial or ethnic minorities and most are uninsured or on Medicaid.

Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, chair of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, announced earlier this month the administration will begin shipping doses to 250 centers, at least one in each state or territory.

At the Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Chief Operating Officer Janice Robinson said more than 3,000 patients are on waiting lists for a shot throughout the network’s 17 community health centers.

“We don’t have enough,” Robinson said. “This will definitely make a change.”

– Nada Hassanein

Woman who died after transplant surgery got COVID from donated lungs, study finds

A woman who died after undergoing a double lung transplant at the University of Michigan Medical School appears to be the first known person to contract COVID-19 from donor lungs, according to a case report published in the American Journal of Transplantation.

The case is rare and represents “the worst-possible scenario” to play out in a pandemic that has killed half a million Americans, said Bruce Nicely, chief clinical officer of Gift of Life Michigan, the state’s federally designated organ and tissue recovery program.

“To my knowledge, this is the first, and actually the only, documented transmission of COVID-19 to a recipient” from donated organs, Nicely said, noting, that Gift of Life Michigan was not involved in this donation. The transplant occurred in late October and the donor was from out of state.

– Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press

Biden administration to send millions of masks throughout the country

President Joe Biden, who has asked all Americans to wear masks during the first 100 days of his term to limit spread of the coronavirus, said Tuesday his administration intends to send millions of face coverings to people throughout the nation soon.

Biden confirmed the plan during a virtual roundtable discussion with four Black essential workers, saying, “We’re probably going to be sending out an awful lot of masks around the country very shortly, millions of them.”

He did not offer details about the timing or the type of mask under consideration.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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