POST 132. February 20, 2021. CORONAVIRUS. “In Texas, where over 2.5 million people are still without power, the state health department said this week’s vaccine shipments wouldn’t arrive until Wednesday at the earliest.”

…“Due to the severe winter weather currently impacting a large swath of the country, the U.S. government is projecting widespread delays in COVID-19 vaccine shipments and deliveries over the next few days,”… Kristen Nordlund, a CDC spokeswoman, wrote in an email to The Washington Post.

Nordlund did not say how many doses would be affected, but several jurisdictions have been informed that their deliveries could be delayed.

In Texas, where over 2.5 million people are still without power, the state health department said this week’s vaccine shipments wouldn’t arrive until Wednesday at the earliest.

“No one wants to put (the) vaccine at risk by attempting to deliver it in dangerous conditions,” the Texas Department of State Health Services tweeted.

The grocery store chain Publix stopped accepting vaccination appointments in Florida, South Carolina and Georgia because of shipping delays.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Monday canceled the state’s mass vaccination events through Friday.” (D)

“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and shipping companies postponed last Friday’s shipments, which included 407,000 first doses and 333,000 second doses to Texas in anticipation of the bad weather, said Chris Van Deusen, spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

It remains unclear when providers might receive those deliveries, officials said, given the wide swath of Texas that is dealing with historic snow and ice accumulations, impassable roads, power outages, cell phone outages or no access to clean water.

“We’re not expecting shipments for this week to arrive until tomorrow at the earliest, and deliveries will be subject to local conditions,” Van Deusen said Tuesday. “No one wants to put vaccine at risk by attempting to deliver it in dangerous conditions.”

Before the storm arrived, Texas was on track to administer 1 million doses per week and had fully vaccinated more than 1 million Texans with both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna two-dose regimen by the weekend, according to DSHS numbers…

Public health officials in Dallas, Houston, Austin and other cities postponed planned vaccination events or individual appointments until at least the end of the week, saying the injections would restart once travel conditions were less dangerous. Officials in Hays County were focusing on second doses rescheduled for the end of the week at a local high school and pushing first doses to next week…

One potential threat to supply already in Texas is the inability of the power grid to keep up with demand, which has resulted in rolling blackouts and outages across the state. Health officials have not reported any doses wasted so far, but those numbers will continue to come in throughout the week and offer “a clearer picture of the effects on vaccine storage in the coming days,” Van Deusen said…

Hospitals are required to have generators with enough fuel reserves to power the entire hospital for 96 hours, according to National Fire Protection Association standards. State health health officials are directing them to closely monitor vaccine supplies, and if a power outage means the vaccine can’t be stored properly, the vaccine may be transferred to another facility or administered to “any willing person to ensure that it is not wasted,” according to an update sent to hospitals from the Texas Hospital Association. That authorization is in effect until Thursday, when health officials will re-evaluate that protocol, the update said…

“Nothing was wasted, nothing was thrown away,” he said.” (A)

“But things are about to get (and have already begun getting) messy. Dr. Anthony Fauci described the problem as “significant” in an interview with MSNBC on Thursday.

“It’s been slowed down in some places going to a grinding halt,” he said. “We’re just going to have to make up for it as soon as the weather lifts a bit, the ice melts, and we can get the trucks out and the people out.”

The trucks aren’t the only problem. Hospitals and care centers in certain areas such as Austin, Texas have had to evacuate patients as Uri has left medical centers without power or access to water. Not only can these facilities not serve as COVID-19 vaccination hubs for whatever vaccine supply is still available in the state—they don’t even have the capacity to care for current patients.

Non-hospital vaccination sites are also being forced to temporarily shutter. “We’ve delayed the vaccinations because we can’t open up the vaccination facilities,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said in an interview with CBS News. “It’s just not safe for people to be out. So, we need this to thaw. And my understanding is we might be a day or two away from that. And then we are going to just have to re-double our efforts to make sure the vaccine that we have gets in the peoples’ arms. But for right now, we’re on pause.”

In one show of the extraordinary efforts being taken to grapple with the problem, active-duty troops are standing by to be deployed to Houston next week to assist in the vaccine drive.” (B)

“The tumult comes at an already vexing juncture for hospitals in Texas, nearly a year into a pandemic that has stretched many to their limits. While new coronavirus cases in Texas have fallen sharply, from an average of more than 20,000 a day a month ago to less than half that in recent days, much of the state is struggling as the virus continues to spread and as vaccine distribution was slowed by this week’s storms.

The Odessa, Eagle Pass and Huntsville areas have been reporting new virus cases at some of the highest rates in the country. And state officials have warned that case numbers this week were likely to be artificially low because of reporting gaps during the storm. In Travis County, which includes Austin, officials had not provided new case data since last Friday and said they did not expect to do so again until the weekend, citing the effects of the storm on their staff…

Still, some doctors in Texas cautioned that the situation could grow worse, noting the possibility of rising risks connected to Covid-19 as the state tries to recover from the storm. About 7,600 coronavirus patients were hospitalized statewide as of Wednesday, according to the Covid Tracking Project, down from about 14,000 at the peak in mid-January.

Though Texas avoided the worst of the pandemic last spring, the state has struggled often since then. Case numbers spiked last summer and again in the fall and early winter. The Eagle Pass, Lubbock and Laredo areas are among the country’s five metropolitan areas with the highest rates of known cases over the course of the pandemic.” (C)

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