The number of vaccines distributed will likely match the number of cases in the United States this week.
But public health experts warn that the number of Americans getting tested for the coronavirus has dropped significantly since January, possibly because Americans are increasingly complacent as the second year of COVID-19 unfolds. and that millions of people get vaccinated every week.
Testing remains a critical part of the COVID-19 control effort, along with the wearing of masks, social distancing, avoiding congested indoor areas, and hand hygiene. While officials are optimistic the vaccines will offer protection, some warn the nation may let its guard down before enough Americans are protected from the virus.
“A lot of people are just done with the pandemic,” said Mary Hayden, professor of internal medicine and pathology at Rush Medical College in Chicago.
But variants in the United States are increasing, if trends are any indication: the country has doubled its known total of such coronavirus infections since February 18. And more states have seen case rates rise last week after a month of plateaus.
Also in the news:
►Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts that U.S. high school students will be able to get vaccinated at the start of the next school year, and elementary students should be online for vaccinations in early 2022.
► Schools in England reopen to all students on Monday, part of what Prime Minister Boris Johnson has described as a plan to get the country to “start to move closer to a sense of normalcy”.
►A vaccination site in the Miami suburb of Florida City was overwhelmed on Sunday after attracting so few eligible takers who began inoculating any adult to avoid wasting the vaccine. Word spread and police had to calm the crowd when the site re-enforced state eligibility rules: 65 and over; medical and police workers, teachers and firefighters over 50; and the younger ones with a doctor’s note saying the virus would be life threatening.
►Idaho State Police were investigating a protest at the State Capitol in Boise on Sunday in which scores of people burned masks to protest against coronavirus public health recommendations they consider to be restrictions on liberty.
📈 Today’s numbers: The United States has more than 28.9 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus and nearly 525,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: over 116.8 million cases and 2.59 million deaths. More than 116.3 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed in the United States and 90.3 million have been administered, according to the CDC.
📘 What we read: Public health experts have criticized Texas, Mississippi and other states for rejecting mask warrants. They also warn of another threat to the country’s hard-fought gains against COVID-19: The number of Americans tested for the coronavirus has declined significantly since January. Read the full story.
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Variant cases have doubled in the United States since February 18, CDC data shows
On Sunday, the United States added a record 380 new cases of coronavirus variants, continuing a trend that has seen the country double its known total of such coronavirus infections since February 18. Different versions of the virus that causes COVID-19 are spreading rapidly even as the rate of new infections has generally declined across the country.
The variants can spread more easily, avoid certain treatments and immunities, or both, leaving them a threat even as more Americans get vaccinated. The United States has 3,133 variants of known cases, up from 2,753 reported Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control said on Sunday.
Most known variant cases in America are from B.1.1.7, which was first seen in the UK with 3037. Vaccines have been shown to be effective against it, but the variant is considered to be at least 50% more infectious than the original strain, which makes rapid and widespread vaccination imperative.
– Mike Stucka
Michigan makes homeless people eligible for COVID vaccines
Homeless people will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in Michigan starting Monday.
“Our vulnerable populations are a priority for us right now,” said Linda Vail, Ingham County health officer, according to the Lansing State Journal. “This opens the door to make sure the population is also vaccinated and that we don’t continue to have outbreaks in the shelters.”
The news comes as infection rates decline and vaccination campaigns intensify. Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently announced the further easing of the state’s coronavirus restrictions, easing capacity limits at restaurants and other businesses while also allowing larger indoor and outdoor gatherings.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson plans to end the mask’s tenure in April
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said on Sunday he would end a mask term next month if the state’s test positivity rate or hospital admissions are low. Hutchinson lifted most security restrictions on businesses on Friday to curb the transmission of the coronavirus. He said it was time to “rely on common sense and good judgment” rather than mandates that cripple businesses.
Last week, President Joe Biden rejected the decision of some Republican governors to end masked terms as “Neanderthal thinking.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the comment as “a reflection of his frustration” over Americans’ refusal to follow public health guidelines.
Hutchinson disagrees. “Just give us back our freedom and lift some of our mandates,” he said. “It’s not a caveman’s thought, it’s common sense.”
Contributor: Ken Alltucker, USA TODAY; The Associated Press