MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz says it might be early hiccups, but the state is not receiving as much COVID-19 vaccine as it was promised.
Walz made the comments in an interview with WCCO Radio Friday morning. It comes as multiple governors across the country voiced concerns after vaccine allocation reductions.
According to Walz, state officials were hesitant to release unofficial numbers of expected vaccine doses, which they did release last week. The numbers did indeed change.
“We got about 40% less,” Walz said.
Walz says the federal government needs to make sure the vaccine arrives in every state as promised.
“This might just be the early hiccups. I certainly hope that’s the case. But It doesn’t encourage me when Pfizer says it has vaccines in a warehouse,” Walz said. “Those need to get out. We’re ready.”
The first vaccine doses began being administered in the state earlier this week.
Several states were notified by the federal government this week that they will be receiving a smaller second-week supply of the vaccine, which for Minnesota will now include 33,150 doses instead of the initial projection of 58,000 doses.
“Those projections, we’ve been told, can change rapidly, and that’s why we want the public to recognize that when things do change, that that’s not unexpected,” the state’s infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann said during a Friday briefing. “This is just an incredibly fast-moving situation.”
Two senior Trump administration officials told The Associated Press on Thursday that misunderstandings about vaccine supply and distribution schedule changes may have contributed to the fluctuating shipment numbers. Initial numbers were projections based on information from manufacturers. Spaced out delivery schedules of weekly shipments over several days at governors’ requests to make distribution easier may have led to confusion about the number of total doses arriving, officials said.
Federal Operation Warp Speed officials said Pfizer made available 6.4 million doses of the vaccine, and 2.9 million doses were expected to be distributed in the first week after approval. Another 2.9 million are to be held as the second dose for recipients of the first dose to ensure the vaccine’s full effectiveness, while the remaining 500,000 are reserved as contingency doses in case of any issues.
Pfizer has said the company has experienced no production issues.
Minnesota is expected to receive the remaining of its full first-week shipment of 46,800 by end of day Friday. Ehresmann said 947 healthcare workers across the state have been vaccinated as of Friday afternoon, and the state will have access to 94,900 doses of the Moderna vaccine following its approval, which is expected imminently.
Minnesota health officials on Friday reported 2,737 newly confirmed coronavirus cases and 65 deaths, bringing the state’s totals to 391,889 cases and 4,723 deaths since the pandemic began.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Minnesota dropped over the past two weeks, going from 6,331.86 new cases per day on Dec. 3 to 3,136.14 new cases per day on Dec. 17, according to The COVID Tracking Project. The number of new daily cases has also declined in recent weeks after explosive case growth late last month.
Meanwhile, several Minnesota restaurants and bars are defying Gov. Tim Walz executive order barring indoor service at those establishment to help mitigate community transmission of COVID-19. The businesses— some of which are being sued by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison for ignoring the order— face 60-day suspensions of their liquor licenses and thousands of dollars in fines.
Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said while case uptick has been declining across the state, it’s premature to allow indoor service at establishments known to contribute to community spread.
“We know also that we need to see two solid weeks of this kind of decline in order to make sure that that’s really a valid decline and not an artifact of numbers being slow to come in,” Malcolm told reporters. “We may sound extremely cautious, but I think that’s because experience has taught us that it’s wise to really look at this data over a period of time and be mindful of where that tipping point appears to be.”
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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