By David Hall

Hospitalizations in the U.S. due to Covid-19 continued to decline and newly reported cases were at levels last seen in late October, though weather conditions are affecting vaccination efforts in some parts of the country.

The U.S. reported more than 69,000 new coronavirus cases for Thursday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University that was published early Friday. The data may update later. Thursday’s tally was similar to the previous day’s revised total of 70,188, which, while still elevated, is well off peak levels of earlier this year.

A total of 62,300 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized in the U.S. as of Thursday, the sixth day in a row the figure has been under 70,000, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The number of people needing treatment in intensive-care units because of the disease also declined, to 13,045, the lowest level since Nov. 12.

The nation’s death toll rose by more than 2,500 for Thursday, as the total exceeded 493,000, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Federal officials, meanwhile, are projecting widespread delays in vaccine shipments and deliveries over the next few days because of severe weather sweeping across the U.S. The weather has affected operations at the FedEx Corp. facility in Memphis, Tenn., and the United Parcel Service Inc. facility in Louisville, Ky., both of which are vaccine hubs for multiple states, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Many vaccination and testing sites across Texas closed over the weekend and earlier in the week, according to local health officials, and some have yet to resume operations. Mississippi’s free drive-through Covid-19 testing sites were closed Thursday, and almost all of the state-run vaccination sites were closed, according to the Department of Health.

Despite the disruptions in some states, vaccination rollouts in much of the country have moved forward. According to data released Thursday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, cases of Covid-19 in nursing homes continue to drop rapidly—a sign that widespread vaccination in the facilities is starting to have an impact.

The 5,672 reported coronavirus infections among nursing-home residents in the week ended Feb. 7 marked the seventh straight week of decline, from 33,601 in the week ended Dec. 20, according to the data. The most recent number was sharply lower than the prior week, and it represented the lowest weekly case total yet reported in the federal data, which goes back to May. However, the latest week of federal data is consistently revised in later releases. The data is drawn from a survey of nursing homes.

World-wide, more than 110 million people have tested positive for the virus, and the global death toll exceeds 2.4 million, according to Johns Hopkins data.

At a virtual meeting Friday with G-7 leaders, President Biden will announce a total of $4 billion in U.S. contributions to the international Covax program, administration officials said, directly engaging the nation in global efforts to supply Covid-19 vaccines to the world’s poorest countries.

In a call with reporters Thursday, senior administration officials said Mr. Biden would announce an initial $2 billion investment and call on other nations to join the World Health Organization vaccination effort and bolster their commitments. The Biden administration said the initial contribution will come from funding appropriated by Congress in December, which is expected to be disbursed by the end of this month.



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