Chris Adams, 36, spent the past year of the pandemic living with his grandparents in Wichita, Kan. And being “extremely strict” about social distancing. “I never went out,” he said.
But starting Monday, when all adults in Kansas are eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, Mr. Adams plans to find a vaccination site with an appointment available. “I look forward to seeing my friends again,” he said.
Kansas is one of six states – Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas are the others – that will extend eligibility for the vaccine to all adults on Monday. Minnesota will follow on Tuesday, and Indiana and South Carolina on Wednesday.
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly urged residents to make appointments last week, saying, “Given the expected increase in supply by the federal government, we must embrace every vaccine dose quickly.”
While vaccine eligibility continues to grow across America – nearly all states have pledged to question every adult by May 1 – the US also reported an increase in new cases last week. About 75,000 new cases were reported on Friday, a sharp increase from the 60,000 the previous Friday.
States in the northeast caused about 30 percent of the country’s new cases in the past two weeks, up from 20 percent in the first few weeks of February.
In New York, there were an average of 8,426 new cases per day, an 18 percent increase from the average two weeks earlier, according to a New York Times database. In New Jersey, an average of 4,249 new cases were reported daily for the past week, up 21 percent from the average two weeks earlier. And on Friday, Vermont set a daily record with 283 new infections. It is the first state to have a case report since January 18.
For many, the vaccine can’t come soon enough.
Nicole Drum, 42, a writer in metropolitan Kansas City, Can., Cried Friday when she found out she would be eligible to receive the vaccine by Monday. She started calling pharmacies and checking for available appointments online, “within minutes of the news being posted,” she said.
Ms. Drum called about 10 places to no avail. She got luckier on a county website and booked an appointment for Wednesday.
She said she intended to wear a special “I believe in science” t-shirt for her appointment. “I got myself a fun outfit that gave me the vaccine,” she said with a laugh.
She also plans to take her 4-year-old son with her because she wants him to see “how research, science, and people coming together can really help contain things like this,” she said.
“I want him to know that there is no need to be constantly afraid of big, scary things because there are always helpers trying to find out,” said Ms. Drum. “Although the solution might be a stab in the arm that hurts a bit, it’s worth it.”