The good news is that bit by bit, day by day, that stack of millions of distributed but not-yet-administered coronavirus-vaccine doses gets a little smaller. At the beginning of the month, it was around 20 million; yesterday morning, it was 17.2 million by the New York Times’ numbers, and this morning, it is down to 16.6 million. (Unfortunately, on the Bloomberg chart, it inched up a little, from 15.4 million to 15.54 million.)
I’ve heard some people complaining that a big portion of the backlog stems from CVS and Walgreens having a sluggish start to their efforts to vaccinate nursing homes, assisted-living centers, and other health providers. In late January, the two drugstore chains appeared to be at least a month behind schedule.
For what it’s worth, CVS says that as of 4 p.m. yesterday, the company has administered 100 percent of the first doses and 97 percent of the second doses in 7,822 “skilled nursing facilities” — and 90 percent of the first doses and 47 percent of the second doses in 37,958 “assisted living and other [long-term care] facilities.” (The two categories are classified differently depending upon the level of care residents require.) That adds up to 3.56 million doses injected into arms so far.
Walgreens measures its vaccination progress differently, but as of Monday, the company had administered 2.33 million doses at 5,545 “skilled nursing facilities” and 20,437 “assisted living and other [long-term care] facilities.” The two companies together have administered almost 5.9 million vaccination shots so far.
A lot of our vaccine rollout has been in fits and starts and been extraordinarily frustrating, but this progress represents a major accomplishment of protecting the most vulnerable first. According to the Covid Tracking Project, fewer than one percent of Americans live in long-term care facilities, but as of February 11, long-term care facility residents made up 36 percent of U.S. COVID-19 deaths — 166,403 deaths.
New York State has suffered 14,155 deaths in long-term care facilities, the highest total of any state, and 1,646 deaths ahead of the state with the second-highest total, California. But deaths in those facilities were 39 percent of the state’s total COVID-19 deaths, putting New York around the middle of the pack among all 50 states. Florida has 9,975 deaths in long-term care facilities, ranking fifth in the nation. About 35 percent of the state’s total COVID-19 deaths occurred in these kinds of facilities.
The state with the highest percentage of COVID-19 deaths occurring in long-term care facilities is New Hampshire, where 790 out of 1,117 total deaths occurred in those facilities. The state with the lowest percentage of COVID-19 deaths occurring in long-term care facilities is Alaska, where 7 out of 280 total deaths occurred in those facilities.