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Fast-Track Vaccines

Winter storms interrupt COVID vaccine distribution

Andy Uhler Feb 17, 2021
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Multiple 18-wheelers wait in traffic on I-35 southbound on Feb. 15, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Montinique Monroe/Getty Images
Fast-Track Vaccines

Winter storms interrupt COVID vaccine distribution

Andy Uhler Feb 17, 2021
Heard on:
Multiple 18-wheelers wait in traffic on I-35 southbound on Feb. 15, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Montinique Monroe/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Winter storms have led to record low temperatures and power outages for millions of people in many states across the U.S. And in Texas, it’s also getting in the way of COVID vaccine distribution.

In Austin, as well as at distribution hubs in San Antonio and Dallas, vaccine operations have been paused again Wednesday because of ice and snow accumulation on roads and millions of people still without power.

Those dangerous driving conditions are also disrupting shipments of the vaccine.

Corpus Christi city officials learned that they would only be getting doses later Wednesday at the earliest.

In Houston, officials had to scramble to administer some 5,000 vaccine doses on Monday after the facility storing them lost power and a backup generator failed.

They decided to offer vaccines to places where people were already congregated and that had the medical staff to distribute the vaccine. They ended up in three hospitals, the county jail and at Rice University.

Another problem in all this is that shelters for people without power could risk spreading COVID-19 even though they’re critical to keep people from freezing.

City officials said postponed vaccine appointments will hopefully be rescheduled for later in the week, but that all depends on the weather.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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