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In some US nations, a hasty COVID-19 vaccine rollout backfired.

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In some US nations, a hasty COVID-19 vaccine rollout backfired.
In some US nations, a hasty COVID-19 vaccine rollout backfired.

In some US nations, a hasty COVID-19 vaccine rollout backfired.

 

Despite demands to speed up the COVID-19 vaccination program in the United States and return the country to normal, the first three months of the launch indicate that faster is not always better.

A recent study showed that states like South Carolina, Florida, and Missouri, which rushed ahead of others to deliver the vaccine to ever-larger groups of people, vaccinated a smaller share of their population than states like Hawaii and Connecticut, which operated more slowly and methodically.

According to analysts, the rapid expansion of eligibility triggered an increase in demand that was too much for certain states to manage, resulting in severe chaos. Vaccine stocks were in short supply or unpredictable, websites crashed, and phone lines were congested, causing widespread confusion, dissatisfaction, and resignation.

“The technology just wasn’t up to the challenge. Dr. Rebecca Wurtz, an infectious disease physician and health data specialist at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, said, “It sort of backfired.” “In their hurry to please all, governors delighted few and disappointed many,” she continued.

The results could serve as a cautionary tale for governors around the country, as many have announced dramatic expansions in their rollouts in recent days in response to President Joe Biden’s challenge to make all adults eligible for vaccination by May 1.

“You can do a better job if you’re more targeted and focused,” said Sema Sgaier, executive director of Surgo Ventures, a nonprofit health-data company that partnered with The Associated Press on the report. “If you have the infrastructure in place to vaccinate all those people easily, you can open it up.”

Several factors hampered state vaccination efforts. After the first vials of precious vaccine arrived on Dec. 14, conspiracy theories, inadequate coordination, and unreliable shipments hindered progress.

However, state officials had complete discretion over the size of the qualifying population, who made widely differing decisions over how many people they invited to get in line when there wasn’t enough vaccine to go around.

When the campaign first started, most states prioritized health-care professionals and nursing-home residents. States did so in line with national guidelines from experts, who also recommended doing everything possible to meet everybody in those two categories before moving on to the next.

Governors, however, hurried forward due to political pressure and public outcry. Both the outgoing Trump administration and the new Biden administration called for encouraging older Americans to obtain vaccines.

By late January, more than half of the states had opened their doors to senior citizens — some aged 75 and up, others aged 65 and up. That’s when the real issues began.

People in Steven Kite’s age group are now qualified in South Carolina. 13th of January Kite, 71, promptly arranged a vaccine appointment at a nearby hospital. However, his appointment was cancelled the next day, along with thousands of others, due to a vaccine shortage.

“At first, it was aggravating,” Kite admitted. He rescheduled after a week of confusion. He and his wife have also been immunized. “It all worked out in the end. I’m sure they’ve had other issues. The doses have been administered in an inconsistent manner.”

Vaccine seekers in Missouri drove hundreds of miles to small towns due to shortages in big cities. After the state opened eligibility to those 65 and older on Jan. 18 and then expanded further, Dr. Elizabeth Bergamini, a pediatrician in suburban St. Louis, drove about 30 people to sometimes out-of-the-way vaccine events.

“We went from having to vaccinate several hundred thousand people in the St. Louis region to needing to vaccinate an additional half-million people, but we still hadn’t vaccinated the first group,” Bergamini said. “It’s all been a complete disaster.”

Dr. Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer of the Association of State and Tribal Health Authorities, said, “It got a little chaotic.” “We generated much more demand than supply,” says the author. This put a strain on the system, and it may have made it less efficient.”

According to Plescia, the results indicate that “a more methodical, calculated, judicious, priority-based approach — contrary to common opinion — can potentially be as effective, if not more efficient, than opening it up and making it accessible to more people.”

In retrospect, the easiest classes to vaccinate were health professionals and nursing home patients. Doses could be sent to their homes and workplaces.

Wurtz said, “We knew where they were and who they were.” It became more difficult to find the right people as states became larger than those populations. Residents in nursing homes remain in nursing homes. People over the age of 65 can be found almost everywhere.

In early March, West Virginia defied the trend by having both a large number of eligible residents and high vaccination rates, but the state took it slowly and developed capacity before extending eligibility.

Similarly, Alaska retained a high vaccination rate for a smaller eligible population before opening vaccinations to all 16 and older people on March 9. Because of the huge rise in eligible adults towards the end of the study period, the AP and Surgo Projects agreed to leave Alaska out of the research.

According to the report, Hawaii had the lowest percentage of adult population registered for vaccination, at about 26%, as of March 10. Despite this, Hawaii had the eighth-highest dose rate in the world, with 42,614 doses per 100,000 adults.

As of the same date, 33% of Connecticut’s adult population was eligible, and the state had given out doses at the fourth-highest rate in the world.

Missouri, on the other hand, had the highest percentage of adult population qualifying, at about 92 percent. Despite this, Missouri ranked 41st among the states with 35,341 doses per 100,000 adults.

Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Missouri — all in the bottom ten for overall vaccine results — had higher-than-average shares of their people qualified for vaccines.

Five of the top ten states for vaccination rates — New Mexico, North Dakota, Connecticut, Wyoming, and Hawaii — continued to have more stringent eligibility requirements. South Dakota and Massachusetts, two other top-performing states, were around average in terms of how many people were registered for vaccine.

Dr. Mark McClellan, a former head of the Food and Drug Administration who was not involved in the new research but reviewed it for AP, said, “This is a detailed report showing a strong correlation between scope of eligibility and vaccination rates across states.”

According to McClellan, the better-performing states could be achieving outcomes by paying more attention to vaccine availability, thoroughly vaccinating high-risk populations, and then steadily expanding to new categories while waiting for supplies to develop.

What happens next will be determined by how much states will develop their vaccine delivery systems and whether Americans are still willing to get vaccinated, even though the danger fades as more people are covered and case numbers decline.

“Have states used this time wisely and productively to lay the groundwork for the infrastructure that will enable more people to use it?” Sgaier inquired.

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Pearl Harbor survivors gather on 80th anniversary of attack

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Pearl Harbor survivors gather on 80th anniversary of attack

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — A few dozen survivors of Pearl Harbor and other veterans gathered Tuesday at the site of the bombing 80 years ago to remember those killed in the attack by Japan that launched the U.S. into World War II.

The USS Chung-Hoon, a guided missile destroyer, passed in front of the pier with its sailors “manning the rails,” or lining the ship’s edge, to honor the World War II veterans present.

David Russell, a 101-year-old from Albany, Oregon, who survived the attack while on the USS Oklahoma, stood to salute to the destroyer on behalf of the veterans.

Herb Elfring, 99, said he was glad to return to Pearl Harbor considering he almost didn’t live through the aerial assault.

“It was just plain good to get back and be able to participate in the remembrance of the day,” Elfring told reporters over the weekend.

Elfring was in the Army, assigned to the 251st Coast Artillery, part of the California National Guard on Dec. 7, 1941. He recalled Japanese planes flying overhead and bullets strafing his Army base at Camp Malakole, a few miles down the coast from Pearl Harbor.

Elfring, who lives in Jackson, Michigan, said he has returned to Hawaii about 10 times to attend the annual memorial ceremony hosted by the Navy and the National Park Service.

About 30 survivors and about 100 other veterans of the war joined him this year. Veterans stayed home last year due to the coronavirus pandemic and watched a livestream of the event instead. Most attendees this year wore masks.

They observed a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the same minute the attack began decades ago.

Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro recounted in his keynote address how Petty Officer 1st Class Joe George tossed a line to the USS Arizona that six men trapped by fire in the battleship’s control tower used to cross to his ship, the USS Vestal. Five of the six survived. Among them was Donald Stratton of Red Cloud, Nebraska, who died last year. Del Toro said he recently met with Stratton’s family.

“We sometimes talk about our victory in World War II as though it was inevitable. Only a matter of time. But there was nothing inevitable about one sailor’s decision to toss that line,” Del Toro said.

He said it took millions of individual acts of valor and courage at home and overseas to get the nation through the war.

The bombing killed more than 2,300 U.S. troops. Nearly half — or 1,177 — were Marines and sailors serving on the USS Arizona.

David Dilks, 95, traveled to Hawaii from Hatfield, Pennsylvania, with his son-in-law. Dilks enlisted out of high school in 1944, going from playing basketball one day to serving in the Navy the next.

Dilks said his battleship, the USS Massachusetts, bombarded targets like Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Philippines during the war.

He recalls one day in March 1945 when he and his shipmates were watching the movie “Stage Door Canteen” on the ship’s fantail when a loud noise interrupted the film. They then saw a Japanese kamikaze plane crash into the USS Randolph aircraft carrier next to them.

“We never had a movie up topside after that,” he said.

Sitting at Pearl Harbor on the 80th anniversary of the attack, he said he’s thinking in particular about those that died.

“All of the sailors and soldiers who fought here — you should be proud of them. But more proud of those who didn’t make it,” he said.

Several women who helped the war effort by working in factories have come to Hawaii to participate in the remembrance this year.

Mae Krier, who built B-17s and B-29s at a Boeing plant in Seattle, said it took the world a while to credit women for their work.

“And we fought together as far as I’m concerned. But it took so long to honor what us women did. And so of course, I’ve been fighting hard for that, to get our recognition,” said Krier, who is now 95. “But it was so nice they finally started to honor us.”

This year’s ceremony took place as a strong storm with extremely heavy rains hit Hawaii, flooding roads and downing power lines. The ceremony was conducted under a pier with a metal roof. Skies were overcast but it was not raining during the ceremony.

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Denver weather: Will it finally snow this week? Here’s what to expect.

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Denver weather: Pleasant Saturday, windy Sunday, chance for snow Tuesday

It’s been a long time coming but Denver may finally get its first snow of the season. Although it’s very late and we’ve waited nearly a record number of days in between accumulating snows, the streak could come to an end this week.

The weather this season has been concerning. The overall lack of snow and precipitation, in general, is enough to have sent Denver back into severe drought. While the upcoming storm isn’t going to be a blockbuster, it is at least something and any kind of moisture is very much needed.

Denver as of Tuesday has gone 231 days without seeing measurable snow. The only year with a longer span between measurable snows in Denver was all the way back in 1887 when the city went 235 days without accumulating snow. With the way this forecast may pan out, it’s possible we could get a tenth of an inch of snow Thursday, which would snap the streak at 233 days. It is more likely Denver will receive measurable snow Friday, meaning we will fall one day shy of the all-time record. Regardless of when snow officially happens, it has been a very long time since Denver has seen snow.

The record latest date of the first snow in Denver has come and gone and is almost a distant memory at this point.

Latest first snow dates in Denver

1) 2021 — TBD
2) 1934 — Nov. 21
3) 1931 — Nov. 19
4) 2016 — Nov. 17
5) 1894 — Nov. 16

FORECAST

A cold front associated with this system will push across the region late Thursday night into Friday morning. Above-average temperatures are expected Thursday before the cold front moves in, so we have nice weather expected until then.

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Avalanche leads NHL in scoring but ranks 27th in defense. “We got to be better defensively. Doesn’t matter who’s in net”

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Avalanche leads NHL in scoring but ranks 27th in defense. “We got to be better defensively. Doesn’t matter who’s in net”

NEW YORK — Jared Bednar’s demeanor after Monday’s 7-5 victory at Philadelphia bordered on somber. The Avalanche had just improved to 2-1-1 on its five-game road trip, but its head coach wasn’t too thrilled for the third time in four games.

Sure, the high-scoring Avs can score goals. They lead the NHL at 4.14 goals per game and have reached seven goals a league-high four times. But they rank 27th in goals-allowed (3.45) and they’ve given up more goals (20) than they’ve scored (19) on the trip, which concludes Wednesday against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

“I know what we’re selling in the locker room,” Bednar said of defensive structure. “I think our team has a real good idea on what we have to do to have success long-term, but it just doesn’t seem like we’re following through on it for 60 minutes.”

The structure appears off, with the Avs allowing far too many opportunities on their send of the ice so far this season. Colorado had a league-low 25.4 shots against average last season. Currently, it is allowing 30.3, tied for ninth.

Goaltending could also be part of the problem, although Bednar didn’t acknowledge that. Throughout the trip, Colorado has used two guys who were pegged to begin the season in the minors (Jonas Johansson and rookie Justus Annunen) while Darcy Kuemper recovers from an upper-body injury and Pavel Francouz completes his minor-league conditioning assignment.

Johansson has a .884 save percentage in eight appearances and Annunen is at .892 in two. Kuemper (.903) isn’t much better and Francouz has yet to play in the NHL this season after suffering a lower-body injury in the preseason.

“We got to be better defensively. Doesn’t matter who’s in net,” Bednar said.

Avs players realize the problem — particularly the two defensemen who spoke at the post-game news conference in Philly.

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