COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in New England have been steadily dropping as more than 60% of residents in all six states have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
But the Deep South states of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, in comparison, are the least vaccinated at around 35%, and new cases relative to the population are generally running higher there than in most of New England. Nationally, about 50% of Americans have received at least one shot.
In a series of tweets last weekend, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health in Providence, Rhode Island, contrasted the relatively low vaccination rates in Springfield, Massachusetts, one of the region’s largest, poorest and most racially diverse cities, with the near-complete vaccination of Newton, an affluent, largely white Boston suburb.
“So if you are in a high vaccination state, your job is not done,” Jha wrote. “Because across America, there are too many people and communities for whom vaccines still remain out of reach.”
The seven-day average of new, daily coronavirus cases dropped to 13,277, the first time it has fallen below 15,000 since the first weeks of the pandemic in March of 2020, top U.S. health officials said Tuesday.
Still, experts say a summer surge could emerge in states lifting restrictions despite lagging in vaccination rates.
“Threats remain,” warned Andy Slavitt, who on Wednesday leaves his post as White House senior adviser for COVID-19 response. “We must push harder so more Americans can return to normal life and the peace of mind that come with being vaccinated.”
Also in the news:
►India’s daily coronavirus infections have dropped below 100,000 for the first time in more than two months, as the monstrous surge that beset the country last month has receded.
►The highly transmissible delta variant now makes up 6% of infections in the United States, the Biden administration said Tuesday.
►Coronavirus case counts have plummeted in Michigan to a level last seen in July 2020 as the percentage of Michiganders 16 and older who’ve gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine approaches 60%. Hospitalizations from the virus also have plunged — dropping 83% since the peak of the last surge in Michigan.
►Several dozen staffers at Houston Methodist Hospital, which became the first major health care system in the U.S. to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations, were suspended without pay this week for not complying with the hospital’s full vaccination requirement. The staffers represent less than one percent of the hospital’s roughly 26,000 employee workforce.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 33.39 million confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 598,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: Over 173.8 million cases and over 3.74 million deaths. Nearly 140.4 million Americans have been fully vaccinated — 42.3% of the population, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: Summer vacation season is underway without a key element this year: packed flights between the United States and London due to COVID travel restrictions.
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Largest summer school program in history faces major task
Millions of children this summer will participate in what’s expected to be the largest summer school program in history, powered by more than $1.2 billion in targeted federal post-pandemic assistance from the American Rescue Plan. But experts worry the students most in need of extra tutoring won’t get it. Studies have also shown students most needing help, typically Black or Latino kids from low-income families who were already being left behind academically before the pandemic, often because of socio-economic factors and systemic racism, are least likely to actually participate. And those who sign up often don’t attend consistently.
“The past many months have been full of trauma and heartbreak and stress,” said Austin Beutner, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District. “We know one of the best places for kids to heal is schools, surrounded by support and their friends and the sense of community that only a school can provide.” Read more here.
– Trevor Hughes
A tale of two states: Did Minnesota get it right?
An analysis of data from Michigan and Minnesota – the only two to provide detailed and comparable vaccine records in response to records requests from USA TODAY – reveals that Minnesota supercharged its health care system, dispersing doses to a wide network of doctor’s offices and hospitals across the state. Michigan, in an effort to equitably distribute vaccines to rich and poor alike, steered doses to public health departments that aimed to entice uninsured residents to mass vaccine events.
Not only did Michigan trail Minnesota’s overall vaccination rate through the end of March, it didn’t do any better at vaccinating Black and Latino residents. Dr. Bryan Jarabek, chief informatics officer at M Health Fairview in Minnesota, said all the hospitals in the state have clinics surrounding them.
“The hospitals and clinics are positioned to take care of the whole state,” he said. “We then showed that to the governor … and said, ‘You can trust us. Give us the vaccines. We will get it to the places that need it.’”
– Aleszu Bajak
Ohio reports 20,000th death – and also fewest hospitalizations to date
Ohio crossed two COVID-19 milestones on Tuesday, reporting more than 20,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic and reporting the fewest number of people currently hospitalized statewide. Since the pandemic began, 20,021 people have died due to COVID-19, the Ohio Department of Health reported.
December remains the deadliest month for the coronavirus in Ohio, with 5,520 deaths, according to state data. But deaths fell sharply in January and February, after older Ohioans and people living in nursing homes were able to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Meanwhile, only 503 COVID-19 positive patients were being treated in Ohio hospitals Tuesday, the lowest number seen since the Ohio Hospital Association began collecting data in March 2020. That’s down from a high of 5,308 on Dec. 15, 2020 and 1,058 just one month ago.
And as of Tuesday, nearly 5.4 million Ohioans (46.18% of the state’s population) had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and nearly 4.8 million people, or 41% of the population, had completed a vaccine regimen.
– Jackie Borchardt, Cincinnati Enquirer
CDC: Vaccinated Americans can visit Canada, Mexico, 60 other nations
Federal authorities are giving their blessing for Americans to visit our neighboring countries to the north and south, as long as travelers are vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised travel health notices for dozens of nations to a lower-risk tier, adjusting travel guidance for vaccinated Americans in the process. Among the 62 destinations that dropped from “COVID-19 very high” Level 4 tier to “COVID-19 high” Level 3 tier are Canada, Mexico, Japan, Italy, France and Germany.
The CDC recommends avoiding countries at Level 4 and says visitors to Level 3 nations should be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. It discourages nonessential travel to the latter group by those who are not vaccinated.
– Bailey Schulz
Fake COVID-19 vaccination cards are being sold online across various platforms, from Amazon to Telegram. Amazon has since taken down the vendor, but photos shared on Twitter show what was once live – a 10-pack of blank vaccination cards for $12.99. Some organizations and states created apps and digital passports to prove vaccination, but there is no widespread practice. Scammers are making use of the confusion to profit from the fake vaccination cards. Scammers have also found space on Telegram, the messaging service and app, to sell fake COVID-19 vaccine cards, BuzzFeed News found.
The FBI shared a public service announcement in March saying that it is illegal to make or buy the vaccination cards because it is a misuse of the official government agency’s seal. They also shared that it puts others at risk of contracting COVID-19.
Contributing: The Associated Press.