The European Union hit a grim milestone on Thursday, a top official from the WHO said, when the aggregate death toll for the 53 countries that make up the union surpassed 1 million. Dr. Hans Kluge said the situation across Europe remains serious, but that there are signs that the rapid rise of new cases may soon begin slowing down in Europe, according to The Associated Press. Globally, the death toll is on the verge of reaching 3 million, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. In the U.S., more than 564,000 deaths have been blamed on the coronavirus. For more on how the virus is spreading around the U.S. and the world, watch the video below.
The U.S. has seen 31,420,418 million coronavirus cases since the pandemic started over one year ago. According to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases in the United States there have been at least 564,388 coronavirus deaths in the U.S. with more than 78 million recoveries across the globe. The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.
Since vaccine distribution began in the U.S. on Dec. 14, more than 123 million people have received at least 1 dose of the vaccine, reaching almost 37.3% of the total U.S. population. Of the 123 million who have received the first dose, only 76 million have received the second dose. More than 250 million vaccine doses have been delivered, according to federal data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
After Bangladesh's government ordered all offices and shops to close for eight days starting on Wednesday, tens of thousands of people rushed to get the last trains, buses and ferries out of Dhaka before the nationwide mandatory shutdown began. Travel fares skyrocketed as many in the capital of 20 million desperately sought any way to get them back to home villages and towns, according to AFP. Police stopped people boarding trucks that were taking some out of the city, fearing the cramped vehicles would easily allow the virus to spread, according to France24. The country will become virtually cut off with all international flights halted, and domestic transport curtailed.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he received his second coronavirus vaccine shot and did not experience any adverse side effects from the dose. Unlike many other world leaders, Putin was given both doses of the vaccine away from cameras and out of the public eye. Doctors told Putin that he developed a good immune response to the first shot. “As you see, everything is normal, no side effects,” Putin said at a session of the Russian Geographical Society. The first vaccine dose was given to Putin on March 23, according to The Associated Press. It is unknown which version of the vaccine Putin received; Russia currently has three coronavirus jabs approved which include Sputnik V, EpiVacCorona and CoviVac.
After many countries have paused the distribution of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine amid blood clot concerns, Denmark has become the first country to stop its use altogether. The very rare, but serious blood clots linked to the vaccine led to the country's decision. Denmark had been scheduled to conclude its vaccination process by July 25, but that date has shifted to early August, Reuters said. The new timeline still relies on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine which has seen many delays in Europe. The European Union said last week that the risk of dying from the coronavirus is much greater than the risk of death caused by a vaccine side effect.
With 100 days to go until the Tokyo Olympics begin, much remains uncertain about the plans and setup for the games. Surging coronavirus cases continue to impact Japan, along with overwhelming public opposition to hold the games. Hosting the Olympic events cost billions of dollars, but countries usually make up the cost with tourism. However, fans from abroad are banned from attending the summer games this year. Athletes are also being told to arrive late and leave early, according to The Associated Press. Up to 80% of people in Japan want the Olympics canceled or postponed, according to multiple polls. Many scientists are also opposed to having the games in 100 days. Infectious diseases expert at Keiyu Hospital in Yokohama, Dr. Norio Sugaya, told The Associated Press that "It is best to not hold the Olympics given the considerable risks."
The World Health Organization, along with various international agencies, urged countries to stop selling live wild mammals in food markets due to the high risk of infections. More than 70% of emerging infectious diseases in humans may be sourced from live mammals in food markets, the agencies warn. A recent WHO-led mission trying to find the origin of SARS-CoV-2 virus preceded the announcement, according to Reuters. Trade in wildlife for human consumption was banned in China last year but loopholes remain that allow disease-prone species to be farmed. The WHO-led team said the first infection of the coronavirus in humans probably transmitted from bats to human through another animal.
The EU commission will not renew contracts next year for orders of vaccines made by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Reuters reported that a source. from the Italian health ministry reported the plan to Italian daily La Stampa this week. The source added that Brussels would rather turn focus onto an mRNA coronavirus vaccine, such as Pfizer and Moderna. Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said the EU was in talks to make a contract with Pfizer and BioNTech, according to Reuters. J&J recently has dealt with various delays in production, including a halt in the United States due to a rare side effect concern.
A study by researchers in California who examined more than 48,000 adult patients who were diagnosed with COVID-19 from January 2020 through October 2020 shows that lack of exercise in the years prior to them contracting COVID-19 made them more likely to be hospitalized or die of the illness. “Patients with COVID-19 who were consistently inactive had a greater risk of hospitalization, admission to the ICU and death due to COVID-19 than patients who were consistently meeting physical activity guidelines,” the researchers from the Department of Family and Sports Medicine, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Fontana wrote in the study, which was published this week by the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Even moderate exercise was seen as a positive for those who contracted COVID-19. “Patients who were consistently inactive also had a greater risk of hospitalization admission to the ICU and death due to COVID-19 than patients who were doing some physical activity,” the report said.
The average age of patients observed in the study was 47 and 60 percent were women. In terms of body mass index, or BMI, the average of those studied was 31, which is just above the level that is considered obese in the U.S. The researchers relied on self-reporting from patients on the amount of exercise they either did or didn’t do over the two years prior to the COVID-19 diagnosis. According to the researchers, a lack of physical activity was a more serious risk factor than most of those outlined by the CDC, including “advanced age, sex (male) and the presence of underlying comorbidities, such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.” Only advanced age and a history of organ transplant were greater risks than physical activity, the study showed. Read the complete study here.
According to figures from Johns Hopkins University, new cases and deaths both ticked up nationwide Tuesday with nearly 78,000 new infections tallied and 913 fatalities. The national positivity rate was nearly unchanged at 5.21%. Michigan continued to see a sharp rise in cases, with more than 10,000 reported on Tuesday – most in the nation. Globally, the U.S., while still far and away the overall leader in cumulative cases, tallied the third-most cases on Tuesday. For a closer look at the data, watch the video below.
Nearly 40 million Americans have said they are now worse off than when the coronavirus outbreak first began in the country. A new poll from Impact Genome and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found 55% of Americans claim their financial situations are the same this year as last year. Only about 30% say their finances have improved, and 15% said they are worse off. About 30% of those living below the poverty line have said they are now worse off this year, with only 13% claiming they are better off. Roughly half of Americans in the poll said they were able to save money for much of the past three months, and 37% said they broke even.
For the sixth month in a row, Brazil’s second-most populated city, Rio de Janeiro, has recorded more deaths than births. Due to the ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases and fatalities, data from the country’s civil registry shows that there have been 16% more fatalities than births since October, with 36,437 deaths and just over 32,000 births in that timespan. Since March 2020, when the pandemic kicked off, the city has seen just five months with more births than deaths, CNN reported. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the nation has totaled 13,517,808 infections and 354,617 total fatalities from coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.
Legendary Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger teamed up with Foo Fighters founder and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl to record a song about pandemic life and the eventual emergence from what has been more than a year of upheaval to life on earth because of the coronavirus. The song is titled “Easy Sleezy” and debuted on Tuesday and made enough of a splash to briefly crack into Twitter’s top 30 trending topics. “I wanted to share this song that I wrote about eventually coming out of lockdown, with some much needed optimism,” the 77-year-old singer said. The lyrics in the new song are on the zeitgeisty side and kind of funny, actually. For instance, at one point, Jagger invokes some vaccine conspiracy theories and screeches, “Shooting the vaccine, Bill Gates is in my bloodstream!” Near the end, he gets right to the point, something that many people may feel about the pandemic: “It’ll be a memory you’re trying to remember to forget.” Listen to it below.
On Tuesday, injections of Johnson & Johnson's single-dose coronavirus vaccine have come to a sudden halt across many states in the United States after six women in the United States developed a rare disorder involving blood clots within one to three weeks of vaccination. Federal health agencies called for the pause due to the blood clotting cases and more than 40 states quickly paused or recommend that providers pause the administration the vaccine. CVS and Walgreens announced they would immediately stop Johnson & Johnson vaccinations. Publix and Wegmans, two U.S. supermarket chains, also announced they would suspend the use of the COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC’s outside advisory committee of independent experts has scheduled an emergency meeting for Wednesday.
Despite the recommended pause in Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines, FDA Director Peter Marks says he doesn't expect much an effect on rollout in the country. “I think that this temporary pause is hopefully not going to have a large adverse effect on making those goals in a timely manner — if any at all," Marks said. Vaccine distribution has been ramping up in recent weeks for both Pfizer and Moderna jabs. The J&J vaccine was the only one approved in the U.S. that requires only a single dose. Health officials suggested a pause of the J&J vaccine after six women developed a very rare and severe form of blood clotting after receiving the vaccine. Watch the video below for more.
The start of Ramadan began on Tuesday with restrictions and capacity limits once again curbing the annual celebrations. Islam’s holiest period is typically observed with long prayers and daily fasting, celebrated each night with large feasts and gatherings. Under the coronavirus restrictions enacted by many areas of the world, those celebrations have had to be adjusted, for the second year in a row now. In Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Muslims began Ramadan on Tuesday with socially distanced prayers and a limited number of people were allowed to enter the Grand Mosque, home to the Kaaba. According to The Associated Press, Saudi Arabian authorities were restricting Kaaba access to vaccinated individuals or people who have recently recovered from the virus.
The weather in Mecca is forecast to be slightly cooler than normal this week, but temperatures may rise far above normal next week, up to a forecast high of 108 degrees Fahrenheit next Friday. Ramadan is observed until May 12.
A rapid drop in coronavirus-related deaths in Britain is being attributed to a three-month lockdown instead of vaccinations, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned. The U.K. started its vaccination drive in December and has since opened a first shot to anyone over 50, the clinically vulnerable and health workers. In proportion to population, the nation has vaccinated the second-largest percentage of its residents in the world, behind only Israel. However, shortly after vaccinations began in December, a third lockdown was put into place in January. Daily infections, hospitalizations and deaths have all decreased significantly since February in the country. “The bulk of the work in reducing the disease has been done by the lockdown,” Johnson said. The country is expected to meet its goal of offering all adults a vaccine by the end of July.
The U.S. saw its world-leading case total increase by 70,234 new infections on Monday, the fifth time in the past week the country eclipsed the 70,000 threshold. Prior to March 24, the country had gone four weeks without seeing a day with more than 70,000 cases. The nation also recorded 475 new fatalities from the virus on Monday, pushing its death toll from the pandemic to 562,610, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. For a look at how the virus is spreading around the world, watch the video below.
Japan began administering COVID-19 vaccines for residents aged 65 and older on Monday at more than 120 sites across the country, Reuters reported. Japan recently received a shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but just 2,810 people in Tokyo are expected to get an initial dose, while other parts of the country received 1,000 doses or fewer, Reuters said. Japan has a sizeable elderly population of 36 million. The total population of Japan is around 126 million.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he expects to secure 100 million vaccine doses by the end of June, which would be enough to cover the elderly population. However, younger age groups are not likely to receive the vaccine until late in the summer or even early winter, Reuters said. Japan is less than 100 days away from hosting the rescheduled Summer Olympics and is currently battling a fourth wave of the virus.
A joint statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was issued on Tuesday, recommending a “pause” in the administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, of which 6.8 million doses have been administered. Health officials are looking to investigate reports of a small number of blood clots that have occurred in the weeks after people have received the single-dose vaccine, The Associated Press reported. According to the statement, six women have reported the clots, which have been observed in the sinuses of the brain along with reduced platelet counts, the AP said, making the usual blood thinning treatment potentially dangerous.
Major vaccine distribution sites will pause the use of the J&J vaccine as a result of the investigation, and other states and providers are expected to make the same decision. The FDA and CDC are asking that any individuals who did receive the J&J vaccine report to their health care provider if they experience severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath.
Active cases of COVID-19 in West Virginia hit 7,470 on Sunday, the highest since late February as the state follows an upward trend similar to what is being observed on a national level. In response to the rising numbers, Gov. Jim Justice is urging residents to get vaccinated as soon as they can, The Associated Press said. “You may be sitting there and thinking, ‘Well, now that there’s been a bunch of people to get vaccinated, I can slide by and just not get vaccinated.’ Oh, what a chance you’re taking,” Justice said during a press briefing on Monday. To date, around 37% of the state’s population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the AP. Justice also issued a reminder that the statewide mask mandate remains in effect and that people should continue listening to the advice from medical experts.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health is partnering with Highmark Blue Shield and Latino Connection to launch its first mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic. “What started as a first-of-its-kind COVID-19 mobile testing and education initiative has shifted into overdrive with the launch of the COVID-19 vaccination tour,” George Fernandez, Founder and CEO of Latino Connection said during a press conference on Monday. The mobile clinic will travel to more than 100 minority and underserved communities across the Commonwealth. Additionally, more than 100 events will be held across the state where people without internet can get assistance to register for a vaccination online. This announcement comes one day before everyone in Pennsylvania at least 16 years old will become eligible to get vaccinated.
Nearly two dozen senators have sent a letter to President Joe Biden to support another stimulus payment, citing that the recent $1,400 payments will not last much longer for some Americans, CBS News said. The 21 senators, all of whom are members of the Democratic party, said in the letter that “almost 6 in 10 people say the $1,400 payments set to be included in the rescue package will last them less than three months.” So far, eligible adults have received up to $3,200 spread out in three installments since the start of the pandemic. However, many more senators will need to support the idea of a fourth stimulus check before it could become a reality.
Country music singer and American Idol judge Luke Bryan has tested positive for the coronavirus, sidelining him from his duties on the show, CNN said. Bryan said that he is “doing well” after testing positive and hopes to be back soon to judge singers as they compete to be crowned the next American Idol. Former judge Paula Abdul is set to replace Bryan, joining judges Lionel Richie and Katy Petty, CNN said. It is unclear how many episodes of the reality TV show Bryan will miss due to COVID-19.
A trial conducted in the U.K. found that using a drug intended to help with asthma could help with COVID-19 infections, the BBC said. A research team from the University of Oxford said that using the common asthma medication budesonide twice a day could benefit people who are dealing with the virus from home, especially those who are over 50 years old. More than 1,700 high-risk patients were involved in the trial, and those using an inhaler with budesonide recovered three days sooner than others, the BBC said. There are also indications that the drug could help to reduce hospital admissions. The Department of Health still needs to greenlight the drug before it can be prescribed to patients with COVID-19.
The demand to travel is on the rise as more and more people across the U.S. get vaccinated, and one company is offering an incentive for new employees to meet the demand. Uber has announced that it is investing $250 million for sign-up bonuses and other perks to draw in more drivers after the company said that bookings have reached its highest levels since before the pandemic, The Associated Press reported. It is unclear how much each new driver will receive, but the payments should help the company’s force meet the spike in demand, both from classic passengers and its Uber Eats food delivery service. Uber is also working with Walgreens to help drivers get vaccinated, the AP said.
With a positivity rate above 17% over the last week, Michigan has become the leading coronavirus hotspot in the U.S. And on Monday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky advised shutting down the state to bring the spread of the illness under control. Walensky, speaking during a virtual press conference, said vaccinations are not the answer right now to the worsening situation in Michigan. “Really what we need to do in those situations is shut things down,” Walensky said. "I think if we tried to vaccinate our way out of what is happening in Michigan, we will be disappointed that it took so long for the vaccine to work — to actually have the impact." She added that the effects of vaccinations are delayed and the caseload is rising so fast in Michigan that there is not enough time to wait for the impact of vaccines to begin taking effect. “When you have an acute situation — extraordinary number of cases like we have in Michigan — the answer is not necessarily to give vaccine," Walensky said. Walensky’s strong recommendations come in the wake of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer stopping short of issuing new restrictions. But on Friday, Whitmer strongly urged schools to close for two weeks, youth sports to take a two-week break and for adults to refrain from dining at indoor restaurants for the same amount of time. Watch a clip of Walensky’s remarks below in which she invoked a phrase commonly used by officials in the earliest days of the pandemic: “Flatten the curve.”
Anyone across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that is at least 16 or older will be able to schedule an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine starting on Tuesday, April 13. Gov. Tom Wolf made the announcement on Monday, citing President Joe Biden’s push to open up eligibility by April 19. “We need to maintain acceleration of the vaccine rollout, especially as case counts and hospitalization rates have increased,” Gov. Wolf said in a statement. However, this does not include residents of Philadelphia as the city receives its own allotment of vaccines and sets its own rollout timeline, 6ABC said. Pennsylvania has administered nearly 6.5 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine to date with 2.4 million Pennsylvanians fully vaccinated, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
A successful vaccination campaign in Israel has helped bring coronavirus cases down by 97% and has allowed the government to lift additional restrictions, according to The Times of Israel. The country also may have achieved “a sort of herd immunity,” Eran Segal, a biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, told Israel's Channel 12. “It is possible that Israel has reached a sort of herd immunity and regardless, we have a wide safety net,” Segal said. “I think that makes it possible to remove some of the restrictions immediately.” A spike of cases did not occur following recent Jewish holidays such as Purim and Passover, according to The Times of Israel. As of Saturday, nearly 5 million Israelis had been vaccinated. Israel has a population of about 9 million. To hear from a different expert on how close Israel is to herd immunity, watch the video below.
The drugmaker Regeneron is seeking U.S. approval for its COVID-19 antibody cocktail after a trial found that the drug, REGEN-COV, was effective a limiting the risk of COVID-19 spread in households where someone is already infected with the virus, Reuters reported. Trial data released by the company found that the drug was 72% effective against preventing symptomatic infections within one week, and 93% after that, Reuters said. The company is seeking to make around 2 million doses per year and has already been granted emergency U.S. approval to treat patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms.
Following months of lockdown, U.K. residents were finally able to return to gyms, hairdressers, beer gardens and other establishments that were allowed to reopen on Monday, The Associated Press reported. Strict lockdowns have been in place throughout England since early January due to a surge in infections linked to an infectious new variant of the coronavirus that was found in the country last fall. The country has suffered more coronavirus-related deaths than any other country in Europe with more than 127,000, per Johns Hopkins University. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the residents to "behave responsibly," as the changes went into effect. The AP reported that long lines formed around several popular stores in London and pubs and restaurants with outdoor seating reported a "flood of bookings," even amid a spell of unseasonably cold conditions across the country. Some snow flurries were even reported around southeast England, on Monday. The weather in the London area will remain chilly through the rest of the week, according to the AccuWeather forecast.
The AccuWeather forecast for London shows temperatures (in Fahrenheit) for the next seven days.
Fatalities in the United States dipped below 300 again on Sunday, but the national positivity rate has been inching up ever-so-slightly and ticked above 5% over the weekend, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics. The U.S. added more than 46,000 cases on Sunday to bring the cumulative caseload to more than 31.2 million. New York reported the most new cases in the nation on Sunday with more than 6,600 tallied. For more on how the virus is spreading throughout the nation, watch the video below.
At a conference on Saturday, director of the China Centers for Disease Control, Gao Fu, said the vaccines developed in the nation “don’t have very high protection rates,” The Associated Press reported. Beijing has already distributed millions of doses of the vaccines across the world, and the nation is now considering combining some of the vaccines in an attempt to make them more effective. “It’s now under formal consideration whether we should use different vaccines from different technical lines for the immunization process,” Gao said. More vaccines from China that are mRNA-based are now entering clinical trials. “Everyone should consider the benefits mRNA vaccines can bring for humanity,” Gao said. “We must follow it carefully and not ignore it just because we already have several types of vaccines already.”
Los Angeles residents ages 16 and older may now get a coronavirus vaccine, the Los Angeles mayor's office told CNN. Vaccinations will not begin until Tuesday when the city's 19 vaccination locations reopen. The mayor's office said it worked with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to use targeted text message alerts to encourage communities to make appointments. “We are excited to open vaccination appointments for Angelenos 16 and older. Vaccinations at city-run sites will begin on Tuesday, with support from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, to encourage access for the most vulnerable communities with the highest need. All three vaccines will be available to those 18 years and older, with the Pfizer vaccine authorized for those ages 16-17. We continue to receive a limited supply of vaccines, and when we receive greater supply in the weeks ahead, the City will be ready to administer even more vaccines quickly and safely,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement provided to CNN.
More than 68 million Americans are now considered fully vaccinated, accounting for 20.5% of all adults in the U.S. People are considered fully vaccinated after receiving the one-dose shot by Johnson & Johnson, or after the second dose of a vaccine developed by Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech. To date, 178 million vaccines have been administered across the U.S.
Every single day, over 1,400 new COVID-19 cases and seven fatalities are recorded just from one specific population: prisoners. According to data compiled by the New York Times, the U.S. inmate population has accounted for over 2,700 coronavirus fatalities and has proven to kill prisoners at a far higher rate than the virus does in the general population. Poor access to quality health care, cramped living quarters and often unsanitary settings have allowed for the pandemic to thrive inside correctional institutions, the NYT data has shown.
“It’s inevitable once that new strain gets here, it’s going to spread like wildfire,” James Moore, an inmate at G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Michigan, wrote to the newspaper last month. “It’s inevitable. So we’re basically just sitting back and biding our time until we get sick.”
A saliva testing program is being launched at a New York hospital that could help reopen large-scale events. Mount Sinai Hospital unveiled the program on Monday, saying it will offer an "easy, effective and accurate COVID-19 test for the public." The hospital will conduct testing at four locations in Manhattan, according to ABC News. The test will cost $139.50 and will not be covered by insurance because insurance does not cover testing, "solely for the purpose of attending a leisure or entertainment event," hospital president Dr. David Reich told ABC News. It will be used for those who want a quick way to attend large events. Saliva test results are available within 48 hours but most as soon as 24 hours.
France became the fourth country on Saturday to top the 5 million case mark since the beginning of the pandemic. Previously, that threshold had only been passed by the United States, Brazil and India. The nation has seen 98,202 fatalities from the disease and recently recorded over 97,000 new cases on Thursday, April 8. Only once previously had the nation topped that new case increase in a single day.
St. Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said those who are fleeing for their lives from the St. Vincent volcano eruption must have had a COVID-19 vaccine if they go aboard a cruise ship or are granted temporary refuge in another island. Islands that are accepting evacuees include St. Lucia, Grenada, Barbados and Antigua. Two Royal Caribbean cruise ships are expected to arrive by Friday and a third one in the coming days, as well as two Carnival cruise ships by Friday, ABC7 News reported.
The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is administered to a person at a vaccination site. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
The U.S. has seen 31,085,251 million coronavirus cases since the pandemic started over one year ago. According to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases in the United States there have been at least 561,074 coronavirus deaths in the U.S. with more than 76 million recoveries across the globe. The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.
Australia and the Philippines are two of the latest countries to limit the use of AstraZeneca's vaccine. It was once considered a frontrunner in the global vaccine race, but has now been plagued by safety concerns. Those younger than 60 are no longer eligible to get the AstraZeneca vaccine in the Philippines. Australia also put out a recommendation that those under 50 should get the Pfizer shot instead of AstraZeneca. This comes as rare cases of blood clots continue to worry some countries. Europe's regulator said earlier this week that the vaccine advantages still outweighed its risks. The African Union also pulled out of its contract with AstraZeneca and is looking for a new vaccine for its residents, according to Reuters.
David Marriott was confined to an Australian hotel room for quarantine for several days. During his quarantine, he tried watching TV shows and reading, but quickly grew bored. When his lunch arrived, he noticed the brown paper bowl it came in. He thought it would make a perfect hat and he created the paper cowboy. Marriott collected the paper bags that were delivered to him every day and began making an outfit out of them. Eventually adding a brim to his hat and even making a horse. He even took an ironing board and tied a desk lamp to it to make the neck and head of the horse. The eyes and nostrils of the horse were crafted with coffee pods. Video clips posted online by Marriott created a new world for his creations, adding plot lines to the clips. Marriott has even been seen by hotel staff walking his horse, according to The Associated Press. Quarantine for Marriott started after he returned from a funeral of his father, who caught coronavirus after an operation. All Australians are required to quarantine when returning to the country.
The National Park Service announced this week that for the second year in a row, there will be no celebration on the Fourth of July to commemorate the nation’s birthday due to the coronavirus pandemic. “The marching units that travel from across the country to participate in the parade have not had the necessary eight to 18 months to organize, rehearse and fundraise before making the trip, and most are still unable to travel due to COVID-19 concerns,” the NPS said in a statement. “We are unable to stage a successful event without the excitement and sound provided by these high school bands, drill teams and other youth organizations.” The statement went on to say that the NPS staff members “share everyone’s disappointment,” but that they are looking forward to resuming the annual celebration on July 4, 2022.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday urged high schools across the state to hold remote-only learning for a two week period in a bid to stem the rise of new cases. The state has been leading the nation, or been among the leaders, in new coronavirus cases for days now. Whitmer also called for a two-week hiatus of youth sports and urged adults to avoid dining at restaurants indoors for the same amount of time. "We all need to go above and beyond the rules that are already in place," Whitmer told reporters at a press conference. However, she stopped short of issuing any mandatory orders. "To be very clear, these are not orders, mandates or requirements," Whitmer said. "A year in, we all know what works and this has to be a team effort. We have to do this together. Lives depend on it." Michigan has seen a 17.6% positivity rate over the last seven-day period, according to figures kept by Johns Hopkins University, the third-highest rate in the country. Watch a clip from the press conference below.
As many states open up vaccine eligibility to anyone 16 or older, the rate at which Americans are being vaccinated is higher than ever before. Over the past seven days, the U.S. has been averaging 3 million shots per day, the highest since vaccinations began in December. “At this pace, we're on track to meet the President's goal of administering 200 million shots in his first 100 days,” the White House COVID-19 Response Team said in a Tweet. The U.S. is within 25 million vaccines of achieving this goal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Part of Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California, is being converted into a vaccine site that will start administering jabs this weekend, CNBC reported. The site will help to inoculate up to 10,000 people in the first few weeks, although it is unclear how long the site will be active. Additionally, Facebook is also teaming up with the government of California and other organizations in the area to start mobile vaccination sites across the state that will serve areas such as San Diego and South Central Los Angeles.
The British territory of Gibraltar, located on the southern edge of Spain, is one of the first places in the world to vaccinate the majority of its adult population, AFP reported. With many people inoculated, virus restrictions have been lifted, allowing people to gather in the streets and inside restaurants, and attend live sporting events. Many people out and about in public are no longer wearing masks. The territory has a population of 34,000 and has reported a total of nearly 3,400 infections and 94 deaths through the duration of the pandemic, AFP said. Fabian Picardo, the chief minister of Gibraltar, recently announced that rules restricting gatherings to no more than 16 people will be eliminated by April 16, AFP reported.
Pfizer is set to deliver 40 million vaccines to Australia by the end of the year, enough to inoculate a majority of the country’s population of 26 million people. Australia initially purchased 20 million doses of the vaccine, but on Friday, the country finalized a deal to buy an additional 20 million doses, The Associated Press said. This move comes as the country is shifting away from its initial plan to rely on the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has faced scrutiny in recent weeks due to a potential link to rare blood clots. Australia is still administering the AstraZeneca vaccine, but it is restricted to only those who are at least 50 years old, the AP said.
Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg was fined more than $2,300 (or about 20,000 Norwegian crowns) by the local police after she broke COVID-19 social distancing rules to attend her own birthday party. According to Reuters, the event was held in late February to celebrate her 60th birthday and included 13 family members. Solberg has since apologized for attending the party. The Norwegian police normally wouldn't issue a fine, but because Solberg had been at the forefront of issuing COVID-19 restrictions, they thought a fine would help the public maintain trust in the ongoing restrictions. “Though the law is the same for all, all are not equal in front of the law,” said police chief Ole Saeverud, according to Reuters. “It is therefore correct to issue a fine in order to uphold the general public’s trust in the rules on social restrictions,” he said.
The distribution of vaccines developed by Johnson & Johnson will fall dramatically next week, with the number of doses expected to plummet by 80%, Axios said. Nearly 5 million of the one-dose vaccines were sent across the U.S. this week, but that figure is set to decline to around 700,000. The drugmaker did not say what caused the cutback in shipments, but the company has faced manufacturing challenges, including 15 million doses being spoiled at one of the company’s plants last week. This setback could make it more difficult for the company to reach its goal of delivering 100 million doses by June. So far, Johnson & Johnson has delivered 14.5 million doses across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is seen at a pop up vaccination site inside the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center, Thursday, April 8, 2021, in the Staten Island borough of New York. Ahead of Ramadan, Islamic leaders are using social media, virtual town halls and face-to-face discussions to spread the word that it’s acceptable for Muslims to be vaccinated during daily fasting that happens during the holy month. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Nearly 80,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported across the U.S. on Thursday, sending the cumulative number of cases across the country over 31 million, Johns Hopkins University said. New York, Michigan and Florida reported the highest number of new infections, accounting for nearly one-third of the country’s new cases on Thursday. Elsewhere in the world, India confirmed nearly 132,000 new cases of COVID-19, sending the country over 13 million total cases since the start of the pandemic. India is only the third country to reach this benchmark after the U.S. and Brazil. Watch the video below for more data on how the virus is spreading around the globe.
Despite vaccinations increasing across the United States, employers are still cutting jobs according to the newest report by the Labor Department. Unemployment benefit applicants rose to 744,000 which is an increase of 16,000 from the week prior. Since the economy initially declined in March of last year, jobless claims have declined sharply. However, they still remain very high by historical standards, according to The Associated Press. Applications were at around 220,000 per week prior to the pandemic. More than 3.7 million people were receiving state unemployment benefits last week. Backlogs of unemployment applications has made the numbers less reliable than usual. Economists say that by nearly all measures, the economy is strengthening. The U.S. economy is expected to grow 6.4% this year which would be the fastest annual pace since 1984, according to the International Monetary Fund.
The French Tennis Federation announced that the French Open will be postponed a week, due to challenges with the coronavirus pandemic. Public authorities and governing bodies of international tennis consulted with the FFT to make the decision. The event is now scheduled to take place May 30. By delaying the event, it is hopeful more fans will be allowed than last years 1,000 limit. Last year's tournament got delated until September amid coronavirus concerns. France has since entered a third lockdown to contain the spread.
A medical observation room in New York City has become a scene of music and optimism as the city continues to vaccinate its population. Sounds of Vivaldi, Mozard and Bach could be heard at one of the city's biggest coronavirus vaccination sites. Five musicians in a piano and string ensemble performed live on stage for those in medical observation form the vaccine. For some of the performers, it was the first time they played since the pandemicbegan. “There were three months where I didn’t play the piano because I felt hopeless. You realize how much people need music in their lives. It gives them hope," Pianist Barba Podgurski said. Daily two hour midday concerts light up the waiting area every day as part of a collaboration between the nonprofit group Sing for Hope and violinist Victoria Paterson, according to The Associated Press.
Despite growing concerns from health experts, Brazil will not put a national lockdown into place. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said this week there would be no lockdown even after the nation reported its highest daily coronavirus death toll ever. Over 4,000 deaths were recorded on Tuesday becoming only the third country to reach that mark. Intensive care units in Chapeco surpassed capacity which forced transfers to hospitals in other states, according to The Associated Press. Some restrictions were put into place last month by the city for two weeks. A three-week national lockdown has been called for by nearly 20,000 members of the Brazilian Association of Collective Health.
Five more cases of a coronavirus variant that originated in India have been identified in California’s Bay Area, CNBC reported. This strain is being called a "double mutant" as the virus has two mutations that could make it more transmissible. Dr. Benjamin Pinsky is the medical director of Stanford’s clinical virology laboratory and said that in addition to being more transmissible, current vaccines and antibody treatments may be less effective against the "double mutant" strain. However, it is not all bad news. Peter Chin-Hong is an infectious disease expert at the University of California San Francisco and has compared this to B.1.1.7, another coronavirus variant that originated in the U.K. and has become the dominant strain in the U.S. “If the U.K. variant went into a boxing ring with the Indian variant, the U.K. variant will probably emerge victorious. But only time will tell,” Chin-Hong said.
More than 112 million people across the U.S. have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday. This is 33.7% of the entire population of the country, or about one out of every three people. This figure includes vaccines developed by Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson. Additionally, over 66 million people are considered to be fully vaccinated, or about 20% of the entire population of the U.S.
A severe spike in coronavirus cases continues to impact Iran, as the country has set a daily record for the third straight day. Over 2 million people in Iran have now tested positive for the coronavirus along with 63,884 deaths. The country is dealing with the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, according to The Associated Press. Millions of residents defied a guidance set by the government to discourage travel during the Persian New Year in late March. A slow start to the vaccine rollout has also contributed to the surge in new cases.
Much needed optimism is starting to spread in New York as vaccine eligibility continues to expand. Just a year ago, New York City was the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. Lockdowns and restrictions were put into place for much of the year. But vaccines have now given the city a sense of hope. New York City recently opened vaccine eligibility to all adults. Now, 1 in 3 New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. "It feels good to have that hope on the horizon," New Yorker Brock Dehaven told AFP.
Restaurants across the United States have endured great difficulties with the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, they are dealing with a shortage of a popular condiment: ketchup. According to The Wall Street Journal, the pandemic has turned many restaurants into takeout specialists. And that has caused a reliance on ketchup packets, rather than the bottles or self-serve ketchup machines found in sit-down restaurants. The price of packets has soared 13% since January 2020, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing the restaurant-business platform Plate IQ.
Chris Fuselier, the owner of Blake Street Tavern in Denver, told CNN that if someone had asked him 18 months ago if he was concerned about a shortage of ketchup, he would've said, "Are you crazy?" "It's gotten so bad that when I go to McDonald's or Wendy's," he told CNN, "I'll hoard those extra packets to bring back to Blake Street." Ketchup manufacturer Heinz is taking steps to address the shortage. The company recently announced "a 25% increase in production, totaling 12 billion ketchup packets...a year," CNN reported.
Students at Wyandotte County High School wear masks as the walk through a hallway on the first day of in-person learning at the school in Kansas City, Kan. Wednesday, March 31, 2021. The district was one of the last in the state to return to the classroom after going virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told ABC News that she expects schools will no longer conduct remote learning by this September. "We should anticipate, come September 2021, that schools should be full-fledged in person and all of our children back in the classroom," Walensky said, according to ABC News. Walensky said she expects schools to fully reopen because of the vaccination progress being made in adults as well as the increased tasting capabilities. She also pointed out that children will soon become eligible to get vaccinated. "Mid-May maybe we'll be able to have a vaccine from Pfizer that we'll be able to do down to 12," she said.
More than 75,000 new cases were reported across the U.S. on Wednesday, bringing the cumulative caseload to 30.92 million, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics. And 2,570 fatalities were reported nationwide as the U.S. death toll inched toward 560,000. Globally, the U.S. was third in new cases behind India and Brazil, two countries that have been experiencing a dramatic surge in new cases of late. For more data on how the virus is spreading nationally and globally, watch the video below.
An immediate night curfew has been put into place for New Delhi as coronavirus cases continue to grow. A record amount of new cases in the Indian capital came just one day before the curfew was put into place. More than 100,000 new cases were reported in a single day for the first time earlier this week. The curfew starts at 10 p.m. and lasts until 5 a.m, and will be enforced until the end of April, according to AFP. A similar strict lockdown was put into place in March 2020 when cases first appeared in India.
The more contagious coronavirus variant B.1.1.7, which originated in the U.K., has spread across the U.S. in recent months and is now the most common strain across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Not only is this strain more contagious, but also more deadly, CNBC said. “Testing remains an important strategy to rapidly identify and isolate infectious individuals, including those with variants of concern,” said Rachelle Walensky, the director of the CDC. Despite the widespread infections of B.1.1.7, the number of new cases of COVID-19 has only risen slightly in recent weeks, averaging under 65,000 new cases per day.This is significantly lower than in early January when more than 300,000 Americans tested positive in a single day, according to Johns Hopkins University. The increasing number of vaccinations may be a contributing factor to slowing the spread of the contagious strain with more than 3 million shots being administered every day across the country, CNBC reported.
In accordance with increased capacity limits in Nevada, MGM Resorts is ready to welcome back crowds with an enhanced health and safety program, the company announced this week. In a press release, MGM said meeting planners looking to host large or small events are being offered on-site rapid, molecular COVID-19 testing with its Convene with Confidence program. The program began in September and has helped the resort safely host about 300 meetings and groups for events such as sporting events. "Convene with Confidence is a result of close consultation with health experts and our increased focus on leveraging innovation to not only provide a better guest experience – but a safer one as well," Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts' CEO and President, said in a press release. "MGM Resorts has long been at the forefront of the rapidly evolving hospitality and events industries. We are confident we've built a program that enables companies to meet in person, giving them peace of mind as they do so."
Internet connectivity issues were reported across France on Wednesday as the schools shifted back toward online learning amid the latest lockdown. Prosecutors in Paris were reportedly investigating a possible hacking while France's Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer blamed overwhelmed private networks and servers, The Associated Press reported. Blanquer also disclosed that there had been cyberattacks on state distance-learning networks. Up to 12 million students across the country are currently learning from home. French President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged difficulties while sitting in on an online history class for 14-year-olds in southern France, the AP reported. “I know it’s not easy,” Macron said while adding there had been some “difficulties, some incidents.” The recent surge in cases in the country, which is overwhelming hospitals, has been blamed on the spread of the highly contagious U.K. variant.
A number of universities across the U.S. are making it a requirement that students get a COVID-19 vaccine before returning to campus in the fall, CNBC reported. Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, are just two of a number of schools that have announced mandatory vaccination requirements. More are likely to follow suit, Lynn Pasquerella, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, told CNBC. This is particularly true as more states move to allow people as young as 16 to become eligible for a vaccine. According to CNBC, Rutgers has received state approval to administer vaccines to school faculty, staff and students once the supply becomes sufficient.
A week after shutting down all indoor and outdoor dining, Canadian officials are ordering a four-week-long stay-at-home lockdown and forcing non-essential retailers to close on Thursday for the province of Ontario, which includes Canada’s largest city Toronto, Reuters reported. “To boil it down as simple as possible, folks please, unless it’s for an essential reason, please stay home because the situation is extremely serious right now,“ Doug Ford, Ontario’s Premier, said. “What we do before we start achieving mass immunization will be the difference between life and death for thousands of people," he added. The order requires people in Canada’s most populous province to stay in their residences except for exercise, vaccination appointments or grocery trips. Government officials said this is necessary to avoid higher case numbers as hospitals in Ontario are becoming more stretched. All retailers except those selling grocery, pharmacy and gardening goods will close for four weeks, except for curbside pickup. Big box stores are allowed to remain open. Industry groups had criticized Ford for allowing big box stores to remain open during past lockdowns while forcing small businesses to close.
California plans to reopen its economy by June 15, more than one year after the start of lockdowns and shutting down its economy. On Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said government officials will lift orders and restrictions as there are enough COVID-19 vaccine shots for everyone who wants them and hospitalizations remain stable. “With more than 20 million vaccines administered across the state, it is time to turn the page on our tier system and begin looking to fully reopen California’s economy,” Newsom said in a statement. “We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic. We will need to remain vigilant and continue the practices that got us here – wearing masks and getting vaccinated – but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter,” he added. The state is also set to end its four-tiered, color-coded system, which has been used to determine risk levels. Last month, many states across the nation relaxed restrictions to varying degrees including Texas, Arizona, South Carolina and Florida.
The first dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine was administered in the U.K. on Wednesday. The jab was given at West Wales General Hospital to 24-year-old Elle Taylor. A total of 5,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine have been distributed to centers across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, according to Sky News. It is the third vaccine to be approved for use in the U.K. along with those produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford University-AstraZeneca. A total of 17 million doses of the Moderna vaccine were purchased by the U.K, which will vaccinate 8.5 million people.
The NBA anticipates having arenas at full capacity next season, league sources told ESPN this week. A new partnership between the NBA and CLEAR has paved a path for the league to bring crowds back in full. CLEAR is a biometric screening company that expedites security at many airports worldwide. The COVID-19 health screening by the company will be available to all 30 teams and their arenas. It is expected to bring more fans to games, but individual teams will decide how they will use the technology. Much of the league has already been using CLEAR's Health Pass program which combined a health survey and lab results along with vaccination records for employees and fan protocols. Plans for players to use the service are not currently expected.
Vaccination appointments can now be made by those as young as 16 years old in New York starting this week. In addition to the age expansion, the state plans to offer vaccines to tens of thousands of college students before going home for the summer, according to The Associated Press. Just last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo expanded vaccine eligibility to 30 and over. Those who are 16 and 17 will only be allowed to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as the others have not been authorized for use for those under 18 yet. The increased eligibility is to help New York further cut coronavirus infections and hospitalizations, which have been decreasing in recent months. On Wednesday morning, members of NBC's Today show received their shots live on the air while outside of Rockefeller Center. Watch the video below for more.
A third wave of the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact several regions in Germany, causing leaders to suggest tougher lockdowns. A German government spokeswoman said this week that Chancellor Angela Merkel supports a short, tough lockdown on Germany to further prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Deputy government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer told reporters that, "every call for a short, uniform lockdown is right." The number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants in a seven-day period remains over 100, a mark the country is trying to stay under. It is currently at 110.1, according to Reuters. Nearly 10,000 new cases of the virus were reported in Germany on Wednesday.
More is being learned about the after-effects of suffering from COVID-19 and a new study has provided new insight into the toll the illness can inflict on a person's mental health. A study of more than 230,000 patients, most of whom were Americans, found that about one-third of them were diagnosed with a brain or psychiatric disorder within six months, according to Reuters. The researchers who conducted the study said it was still unclear how the virus was liked to conditions such as anxiety and depression, but noted that these two were common disorders found in COVID-19 patients. “Although the individual risks for most disorders are small, the effect across the whole population may be substantial,” Paul Harrison, a professor of psychiatry at Oxford University and one of the study authors told Reuters. Last year, the same team of researchers discovered that 20% of COVID-19 survivors were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within three months, Reuters said. The study was recently published in the medical journal The Lancet. To read it in full, click here.
For the first time over the course of the pandemic, Brazil has reported more than 4,000 deaths related to COVID-19 in a single day. According to the BBC, hospitals in the country are overcrowded and many patients are dying as they wait for treatment. In some areas, health systems are on the brink of collapse, the BBC said. Only the U.S. with more than 556,000 deaths has a higher death toll than Brazil, which has reported more than 336,000.
Despite the soaring death toll, Brazilian President Jair Balsonaro is refusing to institute any new lockdowns. According to the BBC, Balsonaro is arguing that the economic damage to the country would be worse than the virus itself. Medical experts are warning that Brazil's inability to control the virus is a threat to the entire planet. "Brazil now... is a threat to the entire effort of the international community to control the pandemic," Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, a Brazilian scientist, told the BBC. "If Brazil is not under control, then the planet is not going to be safe, because we are brewing new variants every week... and they are going to cross borders," he said.
Nurse Sharon Daley, administers a COVID-19 vaccination to Hollie Stanley in a makeshift clinic in the kitchen of a community center, Friday, March 19, 2021, on Great Cranberry Island, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
With daily coronavirus cases in the U.S. still down from the dramatic highs reported from mid-December and throughout January, the last week or so has shown a slight uptick in cases across the country. And nearly half of all those new cases were recorded in just five states. According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University researchers, New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey combined for some 44% of the new cases reported throughout the U.S. over the last week. That amounts to almost 197,500 of the more than 452,000 new cases recorded across the nation over that seven-day period, The Associated Press reported. That has caused some to call for more vaccines to be sent to those high-concentration areas. Dr. Elvin H. Geng, a professor in infectious diseases at Washington University told the AP that redirecting vaccine doses in such a manner would be a complicated decision. “You wouldn’t want to make those folks wait because they were doing better,” Geng said. “On the other hand, it only makes sense to send vaccines to where the cases are rising.” For a closer look at how the virus is spreading in the U.S. and beyond, watch the video below.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order this week that says no government agencies, private businesses or institutions that receive state funding can require individuals to disclose proof of vaccination as a condition of engaging in activities. The order does feature an exception for nursing homes and some care facilities, but covers a swath of businesses such as airlines and cruise lines that have been asking for vaccine passports. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis also issued a similar order that bans policies requiring any customers to show vaccine proof. The governors of Mississippi, Nebraska and Missouri have delivered statements in the same vein but have yet to issue orders, according to the New York Times. To hear Abbott's statement, listen below.
The Vancouver Canucks haven’t taken to the ice since March 24, and it may be some time before they skate again due to the coronavirus. As of Monday, 17 players on the team were on the NHL COVID-19 protocol list, NHL.com reported. Typically, an active roster in the NHL is comprised of 23 active players. “Our focus continues to be on the health of everyone involved and we are thankful for the extraordinary health care and guidance we have received from our team's medical staff, [British Columbia] health officials and from NHL and NHLPA medical experts,” the Canucks general manager Jim Benning said. The next game scheduled for the Canucks is a road game against the Edmonton Oilers on April 12, although that game could potentially be postponed depending on how many players remain on the protocol list. New dates for the postponed games have not been announced.
North Korea has become the first country to drop out of the upcoming Tokyo Summer Olympics. The country's already battered health system would be especially strained if an outbreak of the virus occurred, making North Korea extremely sensitive to COVID-19. The country said the decision was made to protect its players from the health crisis caused by COVID-19. North Korea has boycotted the Olympics before for political reasons, but this is the first time due to an infectious disease, according to The Associated Press. Due to the country being on a high alert for the virus, there is little chance the country will reverse the decision. It is not expected that North Korea will receive enough vaccines for its population by July.
For the first time this year, the Czech Republic plans to loosen some of its coronavirus restrictions. The government approved the loosening of the rules which include re-opening clothing shops for children. Botanical gardens and outdoor zoo operations will also be allowed on a limited outdoor operation. The Czech government is also expected to approve allowing 1st to 5th graders to return to school. Since October, schools, shops, restaurants and many services have been closed in the country, according to Reuters. A state of emergency for the country is set to expire over the weekend. Seven-day average coronavirus daily infections have dropped below 5,000 for the first time since December, easing the burden on hospitals around the country.
A statistical model developed by Pennsylvania State University estimated 40,000 children in the U.S. have lost a parent due to the coronavirus. The researchers who built the model are encouraging the opening of resources to survivors in communities. Connecting children to available support including Social Security child survivor benefits is an important first step, Penn State associate professor Ashton Verdery said in a press release. "Research shows only about half of eligible children are connected to these programs in normal circumstances, but that those who do fare much better," Verdery said. According to the model, every 13 deaths from COVID-19, a child loses a parent. The number greatly exceeds the 3,000 children who lost parents due to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Several programs were initiated by the federal government for those kids after the attacks, according to UPI. Children have had school support networks cut off due to restrictions, more than 1.5 billion have been out of school at some point during the pandemic.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its latest forecast the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines should greatly accelerate the global economy and spur growth to reach record highs this year. The agency, made up of 190 countries, said on Tuesday that it expects the world economy to expand 6% this year, The Associated Press reported, before decelerating to a growth of 4.4% in 2022. In 2020, the IMF estimates that the global economy shrank 3.3% due to the crushing pandemic. In the U.S., an expansion of 6.4% is forecast for 2021, its largest growth since 1984.
Speaking at a news conference, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters that it’s a travesty for health care workers and high-risk individuals to remain completely unvaccinated in certain countries. Pointing to the lack of shots that have been provided thus far, Namibia president Hage Geingob called the disparity “vaccine apartheid,” Reuters reported, with some countries forced to wait longer than others to receive the vaccines they had paid a deposit for. “Scaling up production and equitable distribution remains the major barrier to ending the acute stage of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Tedros said. “It’s a travesty that in some countries health workers and those at-risk groups remain completely unvaccinated.”
The Cincinnati Reds announced Tuesday that they are offering $10 tickets to fans who show their COVID-19 vaccination card at the Great American Ballpark ticket windows. The club said the promotional offer is for all home games Monday through Thursday during April and May. “As more fans across Reds Country are getting vaccinated, we want to thank them for doing their part to help make our communities safe,” said Phil Castellini, Reds president and CEO. The Reds said all tickets will be issued digitally to allow for contactless entry. Currently, the ballpark is only hosting fans at 30% capacity.
President Joe Biden is set to announce that he is moving his targeted date for all adults to be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine from May 1 to April 19, The Associated Press reported. Originally, Biden had announced all states must make every adult eligible for the coronavirus vaccine by the start of May. But the increase in states opening eligibility beyond older people and essential workers has caused the administration to adjust the date. The Biden administration is also expected to announce that 150 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered since Inauguration Day, according to the AP. Biden set a goal to give 200 million shots of the vaccine by April 30, which is still on track. A large number of vaccines continue to be sent to states this week. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
One year after coming off a ventilator due to the coronavirus, Paulo Santos plans to run 20 miles between the hospitals where he was treated. On March 17 of last year, Santos was admitted to CentraState Medial Center before eventually being transferred to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in New Jersey a week later. Santos was too weak to talk when he was taken off a ventilator on his 39th birthday last year. After being released from the hospital, Santos went home and started to push himself to walk more places. "I remember the first days at home I was still in a walker, I couldn't stand up. Then the next few weeks, I made it to the driveway, then I started running again," Santos told WABC. Despite suffering a heart attack in September, Santos kept running and said it was healing his body and soul. This weekend, Santos now plans to run 20 miles between the hospitals he was treated for COVID. "I didn't want to thank them for letting me survive I wanted to thank them for giving me the chance to thrive in this new world," Santos said.
The current epicenter of the virus outbreak in the United States remains Michigan, which reported a record number of coronavirus cases on Monday, according to Reuters. The total of 11,082 was higher than anywhere else in the U.S. and also a new single-day record for the state. The previous record was 10,140 on Nov. 20, according to Reuters. No other state reported more than 7,000 new cases on Monday, Reuters said. Like many other states, Michigan recently loosened restrictions on public gatherings inside locations such as gyms, restaurants, pubs and bars. According to Reuters, when the restrictions were eased in early March, daily cases were about 1,800. For more on the spread of the virus in the U.S. and elsewhere, watch the video below.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Tuesday that a travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia will begin April 19. That means that residents of both countries will be able to travel to either one without any necessary quarantine time. "The bubble will give our economic recovery a boost and represents a world leading arrangement of safely opening up international travel while continuing to pursue a strategy of elimination and keeping the virus out," Adern said at a press briefing, according to NPR. The bubble is being referred to as the Trans-Tasman bubble.
It's the first time since the pandemic began that passengers will be able to fly to either country without a mandatory 14-day quarantine period, NPR reported. Despite the progress being made, Ardern cautioned that travel has not fully returned to the way it was prior to the pandemic. "Those undertaking travel will do so under the guidance of 'flyer beware,'" she said. "People will need to plan for the possibility of having travel disrupted if there is an outbreak."
“We really are in a Category 5 hurricane status with regard to the rest of the world,” University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy director Michael Osterholm said Sunday on Meet The Press when asked about the potential for a fourth wave of the coronavirus in the U.S. Osterholm said the world will see the highest number of cases in the pandemic over the coming weeks and that the U.S. is only at the beginning of the fourth wave. He cited the rise in cases in the Midwest, particularly in Michigan, as a sign that the fourth wave was underway along with the fact that those testing positive are younger, in the 30-50-year-old age-range. But, as CNN noted, not all experts are convinced the U.S. will suffer a true fourth wave. Former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb said on Face the Nation that the pandemic is not by any means over, but that a fourth wave is not a certainty. "I don't think it's going to be a true fourth wave," Gottlieb told Face the Nation. "I think we've probably delayed the point at which we can get this behind us for the summer, but we haven't forestalled that opportunity." Watch Osterholm’s comments below.
More than 62 million people have been fully vaccinated since vaccine distribution began in the U.S. on Dec. 14, which is almost 20% of the total U.S. population. Fully vaccinated individuals have had either 1 dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or 2 doses of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. More than 207 million doses have been delivered, according to federal data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For the first time since December, nonessential businesses will be able to open their doors on Monday, April 12, Axios said. This move comes as the transmission of COVID-19 remains low and the vaccination rates continue to steadily increase with nearly half of the population receiving at least one dose of a vaccine. Gyms and hair salons are among the businesses that can open for the first time in 2021. Pubs and restaurants will also be allowed to open outdoor areas just as milder spring weather arrives. "On Monday, April 12, I will be going to the pub myself and cautiously but irreversibly raising a pint of beer to my lips," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday, according to Axios. Barring another wave of the virus in the U.K., the next phase in the country’s reopening plan is set to occur on Monday, May 17.
Pfizer has delayed a shipment of 700,000 doses shipments of coronavirus vaccines that was expected to arrive in Israel on Sunday after the country failed to transfer payment for the last 2.5 million doses, The Jerusalem Post reported. Senior officials at Pfizer said they are concerned that the government-in-transition will not pay what is due and the company does not want to be taken advantage of. "The company is currently working with the Israeli government to update the agreement, to supply additional vaccines to the country. While this work continues, shipments may be adjusted," the company said in a statement.
The pharmacy chain Walgreens has not been following guidance from federal health officials in regards to the timing of the second COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine dose. It is recommended people get two doses, three weeks apart. However, Walgreens separated them by four weeks because that made it faster and simpler for the company to schedule appointments, according to The New York Times. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is acceptable to separate the doses by up to six weeks if necessary, and there is no evidence that separating the doses by a week decreases the vaccine’s effectiveness. However, Walgreens’s decision, which wasn’t publicly announced, sparked complaints from customers and caught the attention of federal officials. Kate Grusich, a spokeswoman for the C.D.C., said the agency asked Walgreens to stop using a longer-than-recommended time period between doses. Walgreens plans to start scheduling people for Pfizer doses three weeks apart as soon as the end of the week.
It almost looked like pre-pandemic times in Texas on Monday afternoon as thousands of baseball fans filled Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, for the Ranger’s home opener. The stadium was allowed to be at 100% capacity for Monday’s matchup against the Toronto Blue Jays, according to KDFW, the only ballpark so far this year to be open at full capacity. Not all of the 40,300 seats were filled with fans, but photos from the game showed people packed in shoulder-to-shoulder around much of the field. Face masks were required, but KDFW reporter Sam Gannon, who was at the game, said on Twitter that some people elected to wear masks, but “there’s plenty who are not wearing masks.” The weather was pitch-perfect for baseball with temperatures in the 70s F with dry conditions.
Fans fill the stands at Globe Life Field during the first inning of a baseball game between the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays, Monday, April 5, 2021, in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers are set to have the closest thing to a full stadium in pro sports since the coronavirus shut down more than a year ago. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)
A new wave of the coronavirus in India is showing no signs of slowing down with the country reporting more than 100,000 new infections on Sunday. This is a new single-day record for the country, surpassing the numbers reported in September at the height of the first wave of the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University. The recent surge in cases comes after India lifted some virus-related restrictions in February when the daily cases were a fraction of where they are today, Reuters said. In addition to the loosened restrictions, more infections variants of the virus have been spreading across the country and officials believe this is contributing to the significant spike in recent weeks, Reuters said. This includes variants that originated in the U.S. (B.1.1.7), Brazil (P.1) and South Africa (B.1.351). India has tallied around 12.6 million cases of COVID-19 over the past year, the third-highest in the world after the U.S. and Brazil. Watch the video below for the latest details about the pandemic in India.
It's been a full year since the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic, but Haiti still does not have any vaccines to offer its citizens. According to The Associated Press, the country of 11 million is only scheduled to receive 756,000 doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine through a United Nations program aimed at assisting low-income countries. Those doses were supposed to arrive in May, but have been delayed until a future date that is currently unknown, the AP reported. Some blame is being placed squarely on Haiti's government. According to the AP, the country didn't apply for a pilot program that would have granted it earlier access to doses. A U.S. State Department report also found that the government misappropriated about $1 million worth of coronavirus aid. However, a spokesperson from the Pan American Health Organization told the AP that Haiti had done a good job focusing on preparing its hospitals. Lauré Adrien, the general director of Haiti’s Health Ministry, blamed the vaccine delay on global scrutiny of the AstraZeneca vaccine as well as concerns that the country doesn't have the proper equipment to store the vaccines. “It’s no secret that we don’t have excellent conservation facilities,” he said. “We wanted to be sure that we had all the parameters under control before we received vaccine stocks.” Haiti has reported more than 12,700 cases and more than 250 deaths over the course of the pandemic. However, experts believe those numbers are lower than the actual count, the AP reported.
As the U.K. begins to transition out of its latest lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday that all citizens in England will be able to take COVID-19 tests twice a week, Reuters reported. The prime minister is expected to confirm plans to resume international travel and reopen different portions of the U.K. economy, Reuters said. And the new mass testing program would help spot new asymptomatic cases while also stopping the chain of transmissions. “As we continue to make good progress on our vaccine program and with our roadmap to cautiously easing restrictions underway, regular rapid testing is even more important to make sure those efforts are not wasted,” Johnson said in a statement, according to Reuters.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom received Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine on April 1, the day that all residents in the state age 50 or older became eligible for the jab. Newsom received the shot at a vaccination site in south Los Angeles, and encouraged all residents to get vaccinated when they are able, his office said in a statement. On April 15, all residents 16 years or older will become eligible to register for the vaccine, the governor's office said. “Getting vaccinated is a vital step we can take to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our community, and brings us that much closer to ending this pandemic,” Newsom said in a statement. “I am proud to receive the vaccine today as we open eligibility to more Californians while keeping our focus on making sure those in our hardest-hit communities are able to easily access this life-saving vaccine. While supplies are currently limited, our statewide network of providers is ready to meet the growing demand and we look forward to vaccine allocations dramatically increasing in the months ahead.” California has administered more than 19 million vaccines as of Saturday, April 3. More than 3.5 million cases have been confirmed in California and more than 58,000 deaths have been linked to the virus in the state. Watch a video of Newsom getting the shot below.
Dealing with a shortage of staff members, Delta Air Lines was forced to cancel around 100 flights on Sunday, The Associated Press reported. “We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience, and the majority have been rebooked for the same travel day,” the airline said Sunday in a statement, according to the AP. The airline reportedly saw 1 million passengers leading up to and during the weekend, the highest number it's seen since before the pandemic. To help accommodate passengers, the airline began opening middle seats on Sunday, April 4 and Monday, April 5. Last Wednesday, Delta announced that it would stop blocking off middle seats starting in May. That move was made during the height of the pandemic last spring to help keep passengers apart from one another. The current middle seat openings are only temporary, the airline said.
In this March 16, 2021, file photo, an usher holds a sign to remind fans to wear masks during a spring training baseball game between the Oakland Athletics and the Arizona Diamondbacks in Scottdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, File)
The U.S. recorded 222 fatalities on Sunday, according to figures tracked by Johns Hopkins University, the first time since Sept. 20 that the nation reported fewer than 300 deaths over a 24-hour period. More than 34,000 new cases were reported on Sunday and the national positivity rate remained below 5%. New York, Florida and New Jersey are the states that reported the highest number of new cases. On a global scale, the U.S. fell to fourth in the world for new cases reported on Sunday, though it still has recorded the most throughout the pandemic with more than 30.7 million. For a closer look at how the virus is spreading around the world, watch the video below.
The cost of travel will gradually rise in the U.S. as more and more people get vaccinated, according to experts in the industry. April 2020 saw a huge plummet of 95% in air travelers in the U.S. when compared to April 2019, which resulted in lower airfare prices due to the lack of demand, ABC News reported. According to Adit Damodaran, an economist with travel search tool Hopper, domestic airfare is expected to rise 4-5% each month as the summer of 2021 nears, and “a lot of that is based on the vaccination rollout.” Experts advise that Americans planning to travel should book their tickets soon to avoid paying higher prices. Along with an increase in demand, an increase of supply may be in the near future as airlines return to an increased flight frequency. “Airlines are burning so much cash, so what we’re seeing is that they’re slowly expanding supply,” said Jesse Neugarten, who founded the flight deal newsletter Dollar Flight Club. “If we have to shut down travel again, they don’t want to get caught in a similar situation as they did in 2020.” In addition to the decline in airfare prices, hotel room costs have also dropped amid the pandemic, however not as consistently as airfare. Small-town hotels experienced smaller dips than hotels in large cities such as New York City, which was down 37% in February year-over-year.
On Saturday, the Biden administration placed drug company Johnson & Johnson in charge the contract plant in Baltimore, Maryland, that ruined 15 million coronavirus vaccine doses this week. In addition, the administration halted the facility from producing. AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, The New York Times reported. The facility will now exclusively produce the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a move that is intended to prevent future mix-ups that would result in more destroyed vaccine doses after Emergent, a manufacturing partner to Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, mixed up some ingredients for the two companies vaccines and caused a delay in authorization of the production lines in the plant. The mistake has led many to worry that public trust in the vaccines may be compromised.
The White House is launching a major $1.5 billion public relations campaign to promote COVID-19 vaccines and ease the concerns of Americans who are skeptical or hesitant to get the shot, Business Insider reports. The ads will use TV, radio, and digital means to target those who have not received the vaccine yet due to concerns about safety, side effects and reactions. The campaign will also use celebrities and government officials to explain where and how people can get vaccinated. The United States has multiple vaccines that have been granted emergency-use authorization by the FDA: two-shot vaccines made by Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna, and the latest addition, a one-shot vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson. Officials have not granted permission for the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been paused in other countries following cases of blood clots in people after getting the vaccine.
The dash to find an available vaccine appointment has cost many people hours of sleep, long drives and weeks of stressful anticipation. But one teenager in Virginia designed a website to make all that much simpler. Sawyer Thompson, a 14-year-old from Rose Hill, Virginia, created the website DMVVaccine.com which refreshes itself every minute with updates showing available vaccines in pharmacies, hospitals, universities and stores throughout the Greater Washington area, WUSA9 reported. Thompson said he used his programming skills and backend data from vaccine registration websites to stream up-to-the-minute information about where appointment openings may be found. “My ultimate goal is to have this website shut down,” he said. “Because then that means the vaccine shortage is over.”
The first case of a coronavirus variant first detected in India has been discovered in Northern California, according to Researchers at Stanford University. The variant was found in. a patient located in the San Francisco Bay Area, NBC News reported. The variant was first discovered in March by officials in India and has two different mutations, including the one found in Northern California. "We believe this is the first described case with this variant in the United States," Stanford Health Care spokesperson Lisa Kim said.
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez has a light fever after testing positive for the coronavirus, he said on Saturday — one day after his 62nd birthday. “I am in good physical condition,” Fernandez said. “I would have liked to end my birthday without this news, but I am in good spirits.” He received the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia early this year. Fernandez is continuing his work as president while in isolation, Reuters reported. The Gamaleya Institute in Russia that developed the vaccine Fernandez received said it is 91.6% effective against infection and 100% effective against severe cases of COVID-19. The institute wished the president a quick recovery said the vaccine will ensure he is able to recovery quickly.
The U.S. has seen 30,610,236 million coronavirus cases since the pandemic started over one year ago. According to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases in the United States there have been at least 554,105 coronavirus deaths in the U.S. with more than 73 million recoveries across the globe. The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.
TSA reports coronavirus outbreak-era travel record was set on Friday in the United States. The Transportation Security Administration said it screened 1,580,785 million people at airports across the country on Friday. During Spring Break, air travel figures continue to rise even as officials remain concerned over infection rates. According to CNN, Friday marked the 23rd straight day when more than a million people have flown by air.
The dash to find an available vaccine appointment has cost many people hours of sleep, long drives and weeks of stressful anticipation. But one teenager in Virginia designed a website to make all that much simpler. Sawyer Thompson, a 14-year-old from Rose Hill, Virginia, created the website DMVVaccine.com which refreshes itself every minute with updates showing available vaccines in pharmacies, hospitals, universities and stores throughout the Greater Washington area, WUSA9 reported. Thompson said he used his programming skills and backend data from vaccine registration websites to stream up-to-the-minute information about where appointment openings may be found. “My ultimate goal is to have this website shut down,” he said. “Because then that means the vaccine shortage is over.”
The Netherlands has joined several other countries in stopping the administration of the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in people under 60 years old following five cases of blood clots among women aged between 25 and 65 who had received the shot. According to a government news release Friday the “precautionary measure” was taken during the ongoing European Medicines Agency (EMA) investigation into whether a link exists between the vaccine and thrombotic events. “There can be no doubt whatsoever about the safety of vaccines. The crucial question is still whether this concerns complaints after vaccination, or due to vaccination,” Hugo de Jonge, Dutch Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport said. “We must err on the side of caution, which is why it is wise to press the pause button now, as a precaution. But only for people under the age of 60.” The move follows Germany’s decision to halt the vaccine for under 60s on Tuesday. Manitoba's Vaccine Implementation Task Force Dr. Joss Reimer said these blood clots can happen between four and 20 days after getting the vaccine and can be like a stroke or heart attack.
Since vaccine distribution began in the U.S. on Dec. 14, more than 101 million people have received at least 1 dose of the vaccine, reaching 30% of the total U.S. population. Of the 101 million who have received the first dose, only 57 million have received the second dose. More than 204 million vaccine doses have been delivered, according to federal data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On Friday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an Executive Order which bans the mandated use of COVID-19 passports in the entire state. The Order, effective immediately, prohibits any government entity or business from requiring a vaccine passport. “Individual Covid-19 vaccination records are private health information and should not be shared by a mandate,” the Order says. “So-called Covid-19 vaccine passports reduce individual freedom and will harm patient privacy.” The Order says the implementation and enforcement of vaccine passports would “create two classes of citizens based on vaccinations.”
Wearing a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis looks on during a news conference, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, at a Navarro Discount Pharmacy in Hialeah, Fla. DeSantis announced that seniors will soon be able to receive COVID-19 vaccinations at Navarro Discount Pharmacies and CVS y mas pharmacies in Miami-Dade County. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
The new order says vaccines are available but not mandated in the state and cites freedom and privacy concerns as the primary basis for the action, according to The Hill. "It's completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply be able to participate in normal society," said DeSantis Monday during a news conference.
The number of new infections continue to surge in Michigan, where a case of the coronavirus P.1 variant was discovered this past week. The variant, also known as the Brazil variant, has caused concern for local officials in Bay County as contract tracing efforts begin. Joel Strasz, public health officer of the Bay County Health Department, said this is the second variant of COVID-19 that has been identified in the county in the past two weeks, the first of which was the B.1.1.7 variant. The P.1 variant is associated with increased transmissibility, according to Michigan.gov, and there are concerns that it might still be able to affect vaccinated individuals. Cases of the P.1 variant now spread across 22 states and 172 infections.
Easter is often a holiday celebrated with family gatherings and elaborate dinners, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is cautioning against those this year, particularly for those who have yet to receive a vaccine. In the CDC issuance, officials are also warning against traveling, urging Americans to postpone plans this year, although a recent release from the CDC did note that traveling is considered "low risk" for fully vaccinated individuals. The centers did say that vaccinated individuals can gather with other vaccinated individuals unmasked, but warned against unvaccinated high risk individuals gathering, ClickOrlando.com reported. For those that do hold large, communal meals, the CDC is encouraging the public to provide single-use options on food, drinks, plates and drinks.
Thirty cases of rare blood clots have been found in people who received the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, the U.K.’s medicines watchdog reports. The blog clot cases were found among more than 18 million doses administered since March 24. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said the risk for people to experience this type of blood clot is “very small,” The BBC reported. The MHRA, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have all said that the benefits of receiving the vaccine outweigh any risks there may be in getting it. "The extreme rarity of these events in the context of the many millions of vaccine doses that have been administered means that the risk-benefit decision facing people who are invited to receive Covid-19 vaccines is very straightforward: receiving the vaccine is by far the safest choice in terms of minimizing individual risk of serious illness or death,” professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, said.
The FDA has approved a change in the distribution of the Moderna vaccine that will allow the company to send more doses across the country. Currently, each vial of the Moderna vaccine is filled with 11 doses, but following approval from the FDA, each vial can now be filled with 15 doses, CNBC reported. This move “will help provide more vaccine doses to communities and allow shots to get into arms more quickly,” said Peter Marks, the director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. As of April 1, 92.5 million doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine have been delivered across the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some baseball fans will need to wait until next week to watch their favorite teams take the field for the first time this season after a three-game series between the Washington Nationals and New York Mets was postponed due to COVID-19. The first game of the series was initially set for Thursday, which was Opening Day across the league, but was called off after four members of the Nationals organization tested positive for COVID-19. On Friday, MLB announced that the games between the two teams on Friday, Saturday and Sunday would all be postponed “due to continued follow-up testing and contact tracing involving members of the Nationals organization,” The Associated Press reported. Of the 14,354 COVID-19 tests conducted across the league over the past week,these four members of the Nationals were the only ones to test positive, MLB said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced new guidelines for people who are fully vaccinated just hours before Easter weekend. Traveling is now considered “low risk” for those that are fully vaccinated, CNBC said. People are considered to be fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of a vaccine from Pfizer or Moderna, or two weeks after the single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. The new guidelines specifically say that older people that are fully vaccinated can travel by airplanes to visit family members, CNBC reported. This is good news not only for families longing to reunite with family members, but also for the travel industry that has taken a significant hit over the past year. The CDC added that fully vaccinated people no longer need to take a COVID-19 test or self-quarantine after travel unless required by state or local authorities.
The coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca has been approved for use in countries around the world, but it has yet to be approved in the United States. However, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor thinks that the U.S. may not need it given the number of vaccines that are currently being produced and distributed. “My general feeling is that given the contractual relationships that we have with a number of companies, that we have enough vaccine to fulfill all of our needs without invoking AstraZeneca,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told Reuters in an interview. The AstraZeneca vaccine is 76% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and 100% effective against severe symptoms and hospitalization, the company said on its website in late March.
In this Wednesday, March 24, 2021, file photo, a health worker holds a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, during a mass vaccination campaign at San Pedro Hospital, in Logrono, northern Spain. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos, File)
Figures released by the United States Department of Labor on Friday showed that employers across the country added 916,000 jobs in March. That is the highest amount since August and also double February's number of 468,000, according to The Associated Press. Economists predict that hiring will ramp up as the economy continues to recover. According to the AP, the U.S. economy still remains about 8 million jobs short of the pre-pandemic totals. One of the most notable developments in the report is the number of jobs held by women increased. The AP reported that about 500,000 women returned to the workforce last month, with experts citing the continued reopening of schools as a big factor.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday that 200 million vaccines have been sent across the U.S., which includes those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. So far, 30% of the total U.S. population has received at least one dose of a vaccine with nearly 17% fully vaccinated. This comes as the country surpassed 30.5 million cumulative cases since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University. Watch the video below for a detailed look at the latest case numbers.
Unusual vaccine side effects are becoming more known as more people get vaccinated around the country. One of these weird side effects is called "nickel mouth." This happens when patients experience a taste of coins in their mouth within minutes of getting their vaccine. It is believed to be an immune response, according to KCNC Medical Editor Dr. Dace Hnida. Another weird side effect discovered is people having vivid dreams about space. “Flying to the moon, planting the flag on the moon. Even somebody going out and taking Abraham Lincoln to get a Big Mac and having the staff want him to autograph the bills," Dr. Hnida said. While unusual, the side effects are just an immune response and are only temporary. The dreams may be caused by the temporary interruption in sleep cycles caused by the vaccine.
Swiss journalist Simon Huwiler has created a composition to represent the sound of the coronavirus pandemic in Switzerland by using notes to represent fatality data. The composition, punched into a roll of paper as holes, is put into an old-fashioned music box where each hole is translated into a note. The composition starts with a monotonous beat to represent each day without any coronavirus deaths in Switzerland before the melody emerges with the first deaths in the nation. "On the right side of my screen I had the daily death rateSwiss journalist uses music box to create song out of COVID-19 fatalities, on the left side the music notations," Huwiler told The Times of Malta. "Then go day by day and look what note is appropriated, what really makes sense with the data but still get some flow into the melody.” Listen to the song here.
Hospitals have become completely filled in parts of India as the coronavirus continues to spread uncontrollably around the country. A hospital in Mumbai has all of its 500 beds reserved for COVID-19 patients completely filled, but patients continue to come in daily. Every second day, new beds are being added to try and keep up with the demand, according to The Associated Press. Some hospitals have a waiting list just to try and get a bed for coronavirus patients. Cases have picked up in India since February and have climbed faster than ever before. A seven-day average of cases has reached 59,000 with 72,000 being reported on Thursday alone. Vaccine rollout has been slow in India, having exported more vaccines than it has administered. About 62 million doses have been administered across India, but 64 million have also been exported. Expansion of its coronavirus drive is expected this week, which will include anyone over 45 years old.
Tour operators in Baja California, Mexico, are now seeing tourists begin to return to the area to see grey whales. As coronavirus cases drop, the desire from tourists to see the creatures has offered relief to the operators of tours in northern Mexico, AFP reported. Last year, the government halted boat trips to visit the whales due to the pandemic, but a drop in cases has resulted in the reopening of boat trips. “It’s the best day of my life, I had dreamed of whales before, so I was already really keen to come,” one tourist told AFP. “The whales are really well behaved, they offered us a lot of excitement.”
The Phase 3 clinical trial of the Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, which is still ongoing, has confirmed that the vaccine provides a high level of protection for at least six months after the second dose has been administered. According to vaccine experts, the protection most likely also lasts beyond the first six months, but the conclusive data in relation to the first six months is still “good news,” CNN reported. "The information coming from Pfizer-BioNTech is good news with evidence that those enrolled in the clinical trials last year are still protected. So we know that immunity will not be short-lived," Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine expert and dean of the school of tropical medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said. "Hopefully the protection might last years, but we won't know until we know.” In a statement from the companies, Pfizer and BioNTech claim the vaccine remains more than 91% effective against the virus without any symptoms for six months. "The vaccine was 100% effective against severe disease as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and 95.3% effective against severe COVID-19 as defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” Pfizer and BioNTech said.
President Joe Biden is now launching a coalition of community, religious and celebrity figures to help promote the COVID-19 vaccine in hard-hit communities to individuals that are skeptical about the shot. The new “We Can Do This” campaign will include ads on television and social media as well as a reliance on individuals within a community corps that will spread information on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines approved in the U.S. “They’re going to listen to your words more than they are to me as president of the United States,” Biden said. According to The Associated Press, hesitancy surrounding the vaccine has led to concerns that recovery from he pandemic could be slowed in the nation. “You are the people that folks on the ground know and rely on and have a history with,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a virtual meeting with over 275 members of the community corps. “And when people are then making the decision to get vaccinated, they’re going to look to you.”
Coronavirus vaccines are able to be tracked from manufacturing plants to hospitals or clinics. However, what happens afterwards has become uncertain amid gaps and tech issues. Aging state vaccine registries have been used by federal agencies overseeing the rollout, but many other data has become unavailable. An average of 2.4 million shots are being administered every day, making a huge task to gather data from. Data collection has improved since the vaccinations began to be distributed in the U.S. back in December, but continued tech issues have posed a potential threat. Equitable distribution of doses, analysis of vaccine protection, and identification of pockets of vaccine hesitancy could be compromised because of these issues, according to Reuters. Seeing who is and who is not getting vaccinated is "virtually impossible" because of the uncoordinated nature of data collection, Marlin County public health officer Dr. Matt Willis told Reuters.
People looking to test themselves for COVID-19 will no longer need a prescription after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved several over-the-counter antigen tests. Antigen tests, according to NBC News, offers quicker results and can detect the virus in asymptotic individuals. The approvals will allow schools, workplaces and other large groups to conduct rapid screening and help health officials track the spread of the virus. The tests work by detecting fragments of viral proteins that trigger an immune response in the body, NBC reported, although these antigen tests are capable of delivering false negative results, which makes frequent testing important.
Pfizer and BionNTech said Thursday that their jointly-produced vaccine is effective against the South African variant of the coronavirus. According to NBC News, the two companies also revealed that 12,000 people in their phase 3 trial of the vaccine experienced high levels of protection against COVID-19 for up to six months following the second dose. "It is an important step to further confirm the strong efficacy and good safety data we have seen so far," said Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech. More than 44,000 people were involved in the study. Some of those involved were given a vaccine, while others received a placebo, NBC News said. Pfizer announced earlier this week that separate trial results found that the vaccine was 100 percent effective for children ages 12-15.
Brazil continues to battle a record amount of coronavirus deaths, causing a surge in burial needs. One of the hardest hit places in Brazil, Sao Paulo, has opened its cemeteries at night to help the increase in burials. Coffins are now being berried around the clock by undertakers. In March alone, over 66,000 deaths were reported in Brazil due to the coronavirus. In total, over 320,000 people in Brazil have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began last year. The recently discovered local variant has been attributed to the new surge in cases by health experts, according to AFP.
Theme parks and stadiums in California are beginning to reopen on Thursday after over 12 months of closure due to COVID-19. According to UPI, one of the first parks to reopen will be Six Flags Magic Mountain on Thursday while Legoland California Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood are planning to fully reopen in two weeks. By the end of April, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim will also start accepting guests again, although all parks will only allow 15% to 35% capacity to comply with state rules.
The reopening plan coincides with Major League Baseball’s opening day, as the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics will now all be allowed to have a limited number of fans attend home games. The Angels, Athletics and Padres are all scheduled to play at home on Thursday to open the season.
As fans around the country slowly begin to return to Major League Baseball ballparks, at least one venue, the Texas Rangers' Globe Life Field, will allow 100% capacity. That decision was made several weeks ago after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared Texas fully open for business while also dropping the state's public mask mandate. But the decision to allow packed crowds is being met with criticism, including from President Joe Biden. "Well, that's a decision they made. I think it's a mistake," Biden said in an interview with ESPN. "They should listen to Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, the scientists and the experts. But I think it's not responsible." The Rangers are on the road in Kansas City today, but will return to their one-year-old stadium for their home opener on Monday against the Toronto Blue Jays. Fans in attendance will be required to wear masks and the organization said social distancing protocols will be in place.
Biden also addressed player concerns about getting vaccinated. "I would say I'm President of the United States and I got vaccinated," Biden told ESPN. "I don't have an unimportant job. Would I take the vaccine if I thought it was going to hurt me? We have done incredible research on the vaccines and they have shown that they work. We have to get to the point where enough people have taken the vaccine so we diminish the possibility for it to spread." MLB reportedly is considering relaxing COVID-19 protocols for players and coaches who get vaccinated, ESPN said. This would allow players to eat at restaurants, gather indoors and utilize clubhouse amenities, according to ESPN.
The U.S. hit a major milestone in the fight against the coronavirus on Thursday when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that 150 million vaccines have been administered across the country. This includes vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. More than half of all Americans at least 65 or older are fully vaccinated, the CDC added. This news comes as the U.S. nears 30.5 million cumulative cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. Watch the video below for a detailed look at the latest figures.
On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced COVID-19 vaccine eligibility in New York will expand to adults 30 and older on March 30, then to all adults 16 years and older starting April 6. The vaccine is currently available to all New Yorkers older than 50, in addition to essential workers and people with various medical conditions, CBS News reports. The new eligibility age comes as New York and New Jersey are seeing the nation's fastest rises in coronavirus cases, despite vaccination efforts. New York reported 67,963 new cases in the past week, which is a 64% jump from the week before, according to data Johns Hopkins University. As of Monday morning, 29.6% of New Yorkers have received at least one shot of the vaccine and 16.8% are fully vaccinated, according to state data. New York City administered a record 478,000 shots last week and is on track to reach a total of 4 million shots this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.
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