Daily data for March 31

The Covid-19 cases in the USA are on the up again. Nationwide infection rates are well below the high of around 250,000 new cases per day in January, but are approaching the numbers seen during the summer surge when the average daily case number hit nearly 70,000.

To expedite the vaccination campaign, many states are expanding licensing guidelines for those who qualify for a shot. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Wednesday morning that the initial phase of expanded eligibility could frustrate some Americans.

“Some states are willing to qualify a wider population for vaccination and tolerate the fact that the first two or three weeks of it will be chaotic,” said Gottlieb. “Once a state opens the eligibility wide, a lot of people will complain that they can go to the website and not get an appointment. It will take a couple of weeks to clear that excessive demand.”

US Covid cases

Approximately 66,800 new coronavirus cases are reported daily in the US, based on a seven-day average of data from Johns Hopkins University. That number has seen an upward trend, raising concerns about a possible “fourth wave” of infections.

US Covid deaths

The daily death toll has fallen significantly since its winter peak, but it still stands at nearly 1,000 deaths per day based on a weekly average from Hopkins data. Since the pandemic began, the United States has reported more than 550,000 deaths from Covid-19 than any other country.

The introduction of the vaccine could be cause for optimism in this regard. With Americans’ most vulnerable populations protected, the death toll may not rise as much as it has in previous periods when the number of cases has risen.

US vaccine shots administered

As more states expand licensing rules for those who can get a Covid-19 vaccine – President Joe Biden said Monday that 90% of adults in the US will be eligible for Covid-19 vaccinations by April 19 – the daily vaccination rate continues to increase.

After 1.8 million reported vaccine doses administered Tuesday, the 7-day average of shots administered in the US hit 2.8 million.

Some concerns about getting the vaccine may be easing. The Kaiser Family Foundation’s most recent survey on the vaccine monitor found a decrease in respondents who said they wanted to wait and see if they received the vaccine. 17% of respondents chose this answer in March, compared with 39% in December.

However, 13% of respondents in March said they would “definitely not” get a vaccine and 7% said they would only get a vaccine if it was necessary for work, school or other activities.

US percentage of the vaccinated population

Nearly 30% of the US population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and 16% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Wednesday morning, Pfizer said its Covid-19 vaccine was 100% effective in a study in adolescents aged 12 to 15 years.

Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC employee and a member of the boards of directors of Pfizer, the genetic testing startup Tempus, and the biotech company Illumina. Gottlieb is also co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean’s Healthy Sail Panel.

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