States plan for vaccines as daily US virus deaths top 3,100

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FILE - In this Nov. 19, 2020, file photo, medical personnel prone a COVID-19 patient at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles. Across the U.S., the surge has swamped hospitals with patients and left nurses and other health care workers shorthanded and burned out. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

States drafted plans Thursday for who will go to the front of the line when the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine become available later this month, as U.S. deaths from the outbreak eclipsed 3,100 in a single day, obliterating the record set last spring.

With initial supplies of the vaccine certain to be limited, governors and other state officials are weighing both health and economic concerns in deciding the order in which the shots will be dispensed.

States face a Friday deadline to submit requests for doses of the Pfizer vaccine and specify where they should be shipped, and many appear to be heeding nonbinding guidelines adopted this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to put health care workers and nursing home patients first.

But they're also facing a multitude of decisions about other categories of residents — some specific to their states; some vital to their economies.

Colorado’s draft plan, which is being revised, puts ski resort workers who share close quarters in the second phase of vaccine distribution, in recognition of the $6 billion industry’s linchpin role in the state's economy.

In Nevada, where officials have stressed the importance of bringing tourists back to the Las Vegas Strip, authorities initially put nursing home patients in the third phase, behind police officers, teachers, airport operators and retail workers. But they said Wednesday that they would revise that plan to conform to the CDC guidance.

In Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said health care and long-term care facility workers are the top priority, but the state was still refining who would be included in the next phase. A draft vaccination plan submitted to the CDC in October listed poultry workers along with other essential workers such as teachers, law enforcement and correctional employees in the so-called 1B category.

Poultry is a major part of Arkansas’ economy, and nearly 6,000 poultry workers have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began, according to the state Health Department.