Dec 13, 2020 - Health

In photos: U.S. health care workers on the pandemic front lines

Healthcare worker Demetra Ransom comforts a patient in the Covid-19 ward at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas on December 4

Health care worker Demetra Ransom comforts a patient in the COVID-19 ward at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, on Dec. 4. Photo: Mark Felix/AFP /AFP via Getty Images

The first truckloads of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine were set to leave a Michigan manufacturing plant Sunday for distribution across the U.S., offering hope that a mass rollout will alleviate the strain on hospitals and medical staff.

The big picture: Coronavirus hospitalizations are soaring, and surging U.S. case numbers surpassed 16 million Saturday. Some 3 million vaccine doses are being distributed this week. Health care workers are being prioritized for inoculations. NIAID director Anthony Fauci stressed to Axios there's still a fair way to go, with 75%–80% of Americans needing to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.

Vail Health Hospital pharmacy pharmacist Jessica Peterson, left, places two boxes of mock Covid-19 vaccines into the hospital's ultra-cold freezer at the hospital on Dec. 8
Vail Health Hospital pharmacist Jessica Peterson places two boxes of mock COVID-19 vaccines into the hospital's ultra-cold freezer at the hospital on Dec. 8 in Vail, Colo. Photo: Getty Images
Workers test residents for COVID-19 and COVID-19 antibodies at a mobile test site being run by Roseland Community Hospital on December 12, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.
Workers test residents for COVID-19 and coronavirus antibodies at a mobile test site being run by Roseland Community Hospital on Dec. 12, in Chicago, Ill. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Leigh Witherspoon, clinical pharmacist, St. Joseph Health, opens the So-Low Ultra-Low freezer at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital on Wednesday, December 9, 2020, in Santa Rosa, Calif.
A St. Joseph Health clinical pharmacist opens a freezer at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital on Wednesday, Dec. 9, in Santa Rosa, Calif., which can hold 250,000 doses of the vaccine for COVID-19. Photo: Yalonda M. James/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
Healthcare workers wear face masks and carry signs in support of resident physicians, interns and fellows at UCLA Health
Health care workers carry signs in support of resident physicians, interns and fellows at UCLA Health as they protest for improved COVID-19 testing and workplace safety policies outside of UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, Calif., Dec. 9. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images
Health care workers dance to a Christmas song at nursing station in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center on December 10
Medical staff members dance to a Christmas song at a nursing station in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, on Dec. 10. Photo: Go Nakamura/Getty Images
 A nurse writes a note to communicate with staff outside the room of a Covid-19 positive patient at UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts on December 4
A nurse writes a note to communicate with staff outside the room of a COVID-19 positive patient at UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester, Mass., on Dec. 4. Photo: Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images
Medics transfer a patient on a stretcher from an ambulance outside of Emergency at Coral Gables Hospital where Coronavirus patients are treated in Coral Gables near Miami, Florida
Medics transfer a patient on a stretcher, Dec. 10, from an ambulance outside of emergency at Coral Gables Hospital, where coronavirus patients are treated in Coral Gables, Fla. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images
A COVID test site in a parking lot at Bergen Community College run by Bergen County and the Bergen New Bridge Medical center on December 3, 2020 in Paramus, New Jersey.
A testing site in a parking lot at Bergen Community College run by Bergen County and the Bergen New Bridge Medical Center on Dec. 3 in Paramus, N.J. Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images
Health care workers prepare COVID-19 tests to hand out to long lines of subjects who self-administer the tests at Long Beach City College-Veterans Memorial Stadium on Wednesday, Dec. 9
Health care workers prepare COVID-19 tests to hand out to people who self-administer the tests at Long Beach City College-Veterans Memorial Stadium on Dec. 9 in Long Beach, Calif. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
A staff member holds a bag of appreciation gifts during a Christmas party at the Goodwin House senior living community center in Arlington, Virginia
A staff member holds a bag of appreciation gifts during a Christmas party at the Goodwin House senior living community center in Falls Church, Va., on Dec. 10. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Go deeper: Hospitals prepare to vaccinate workers

Go deeper