Trump administration is leaving states scrambling in the fight against COVID

Trump administration is leaving states scrambling in the fight against COVID
President Donald J. Trump listens as Vice President Mike Pence addresses his remarks during an update on the nation's COVID-19 Coronavirus testing strategy Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

The United States is more than 9 months into the pandemic and the Trump administration has yet to incorporate a national strategy to combat the coronavirus. Now, after months of fighting to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus with 50 different state strategies, states are scrambling yet again. This time, there is confusion surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine and how it will be distributed.

According to Politico, states are hitting roadblocks as they try to figure out who should be prioritized for the first limited number of doses of the coronavirus vaccine. While federal and state officials agree that the country's 21 million frontline healthcare workers should be at the top of the prioritization list, there is little to no plan to determine which groups of Americans would follow.

The publication reports that there is no method to balance how "high-risk groups, including the 53 million adults aged 65 or older, 87 million essential workers and more than 100 million people with medical conditions that increase their vulnerability to the virus."

Josh Michaud, an associate director for global health policy at Kaiser Family Foundation, expressed concern about the country's path going forward after reviewing each state's current distribution plan.

"States are going to have to pick and choose who gets the first doses," said Michaud. "It's very obvious that states are in different places when it comes to planning and identifying who those people are."

Moncef Slaoui, former Glaxo Smith Kline executive who now leads Operation Warp Speed, admitted that the making such decisions will be no easy feat.

"I don't expect the states to make uniform decisions," he told the publication. "Some may prefer long-term care facilities or the elderly, while others may prioritize their health care workers. It would be wrong to immunize 18-year-olds first. I hope no one does that. But otherwise it's shades of gray."

During a panel meeting last week, Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, explained the process needed to plan for distribution before the vaccine is available.

"Typically there is a window of time after ACIP recommendations and before the vaccine hits the shelf," said Messonnier. "This time we're talking about an almost instantaneous rollout."

The latest news comes as states battle upticks in coronavirus cases. As of Thursday, Dec. 3, there are more than 14.1 million coronavirus cases in the United States and a COVID-related death toll of more than 270,000.

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