By Peter Szekely NEW YORK (Reuters) – A group of major city mayors have called on the incoming Biden administration to bypass state governments and send them vaccine shipments directly as coronavirus infections in the United States surpassed Thursday the 23 million mark. In a letter to President-elect Joe Biden, some three dozen mayors in cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston said they were in the best position to help the new administration meet its goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans. in its first 100 days. “While it is essential to work with state and local public health agencies, health care providers, pharmacies and clinics, it is necessary to be agile and fill in the gaps that are unique to each local area,” they said in their letter dated Wednesday. “Mayors have the ability and experience to build the necessary local partnerships and fill these gaps, especially when it comes to reaching disadvantaged communities,” the letter read. Biden plans to present a stimulus proposal Thursday that will include resources for the launch of the coronavirus vaccine. The nation’s mass vaccination effort has fallen short of the initial goals of federal health officials, who expected to have 20 million first injections of the two-dose regimen administered by the end of 2020. Only 11.1 million vaccines of more than 30 million doses that were distributed to states on Thursday, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mayors, with 40 million people in their cities, said very few of them were receiving vaccines directly from the federal government. They cited New York’s history of vaccinating 5 million people against polio in two weeks as proof of its effectiveness. “That level of reach is what your administration needs to meet its goal,” they said. The US Food and Drug Administration has licensed a vaccine from Pfizer Inc (NYSE 🙂 and its partner BioNTech and a second vaccine from Moderna (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc for emergency use. Both require two doses, while a Johnson & Johnson (NYSE 🙂 vaccine, scheduled to launch in March, only requires one injection. Biden will take office on January 20 with the United States, the third most populous country, which leads the world in total coronavirus infections and deaths. CONCERNS: THE NUMBER OF HOSPITALIZATIONS COULD INCREASE The virus had infected 23,027,112 people, or nearly 7% of the American population, by Thursday afternoon, increasing by about 1 million people every six days for the past five weeks. according to a Reuters tally. The death toll stood at 385,324. Even adjusting for population, the United States leads most of the world and all major industrialized nations in infections, and its adjusted death toll is second only to the United Kingdom and Italy in the industrialized world, according to an analysis by Reuters. While the number of COVID-19 patients sick enough to require hospitalization has been fairly stable over the past week, with 130,214 reported Wednesday night, several state officials were concerned that the number could rise. Not only was there an increase in new cases between January 5-9, including a one-day record of 294,482 last Friday after the end of the year holidays, but there have since been some potential super events. spreader, including the January 6 assault on the United States Capitol by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump. So far, four US lawmakers have announced that they tested positive for COVID-19 after they were forced to flee the attackers and hide for hours with other lawmakers and their staff, some of whom were not masked. Many members of Congress have been vaccinated, including 66-year-old New York City Democrat Adriano Espaillat. He was the fourth lawmaker to test positive despite saying he had received a second dose last week. He noted that vaccines take time to be effective. Some evidence suggests that vaccines can begin to protect recipients within 10 to 14 days after the first dose, but their effects have not been studied as a single-dose injection. In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine told a news conference that hospitalizations increased over a 21-day period, although he had yet to see an increase since the Christmas holiday period. In New Jersey, state health officials have cited a model that projects an increase in hospitalizations, which generally delay the emergence of new cases, in the next week.