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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 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 coronavirus antibodies at a mobile test site being run by Roseland Community Hospital on Dec. 12, in Chicago, Ill. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
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
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
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, Mass., on Dec. 4. Photo: Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images
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 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 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 Falls Church, Va., on Dec. 10. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Go deeper: Hospitals prepare to vaccinate workers

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Off the rails: Behind Trump's post-election meltdown

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios special series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

  • This page will be updated as more episodes are published.
  • Our podcast on the series is called "How it happened: Trump's last stand." Episodes will be released each Monday, beginning on Jan. 18.
Updated Jan 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
17 hours ago - Health

Amazon offers to help Biden administration with COVID vaccine efforts

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at the White House with Jill Biden in 2016. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Amazon's worldwide consumer CEO Dave Clark has offered to help the Biden administration with its coronavirus vaccination goals by mobilizing efforts to inoculate its employees, according to a letter sent to President Biden on Wednesday.

Why it matters: As demand for the coronavirus vaccine is outstripping supply, Amazon has about 800,000 employees, many of whom are essential workers. The Biden administration wants to vaccinate 100 million Americans in 100 days.