For the first time in seven months, the United States is only reporting one new coronavirus case every two seconds. At the country’s worst in January, more than five cases were reported every two seconds. The U.S. is now averaging about new 40,000 cases per day, down about 43% from a recent peak less than a month ago.
The U.S., however is still reporting about 670 deaths per day, with an American dying every other minute.
And Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that he was open to relaxing indoor mask requirements as more people get vaccinated in the nation. The encouraging news comes, however, as some states are asking the federal government to withhold staggering amounts of COVID-19 vaccine this week amid plummeting demand for the shots.
From South Carolina to Washington, states are requesting the Biden administration send them only a fraction of what’s been allocated to them. The turned-down vaccines amount to hundreds of thousands of doses this week alone, providing a stark illustration of the problem of vaccine hesitancy in the U.S.
Also in the news:
►Impromptu street celebrations erupted across Spain early Saturday when a six-month-long national state of emergency to contain the spread of coronavirus ended and many nighttime curfews were lifted.
►Medics with fang stickers are offering Pfizer shots to everyone who visits 14th-century Bran Castle in central Romania, said to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, reported Reuters.
►The Swedish military says some 200 conscripts have been sent home from a major military exercise involving thousands of soldiers in southern and central Sweden due to a suspected outbreak of infections.
►Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced that Montana will share vaccines with Canadian truck drivers from neighboring Alberta.
►A Southern California man was arrested on federal charges Friday after federal authorities say he fraudulently obtained millions of dollars through coronavirus relief funds to buy luxurious cars, take lavish vacations and cover personal expenses.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 32.7 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 581,700 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: Over 157.9 million cases and 3.28 million deaths. More than 329.8 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and more than 259.7 million have been administered, according to the CDC. More than 114.2 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – 34.4% of the population.
📘 What we’re reading: In one analysis, Kaiser Family Foundation found that among 43 states, white people are vaccinated at 1.6 times the rate of Black people and 1.5 times higher than the rate of Hispanic people. More needs to be done to reach minority populations, experts say.
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Parents hesitant to have kids vaccinated, too
Pfizer and BioNTech have submitted an application for full FDA approval of their COVID-19 vaccine for people ages 16 and older, but a sizeable share of parents aren’t so eager to get their children inoculated, recent surveys show. While 71% of parents or caregivers said in a March survey that they would vaccinate themselves, only 58% said they would vaccinate their children, according to a report by ParentsTogether, a national organization that provides education and resources for families.
In a more recent survey, nearly a third of parents said they would wait a while to see how the vaccines are working, according to findings published in the April edition of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Vaccine Monitor. Almost 1 in 5 said they definitely won’t get their child vaccinated.
“It’s going to take some time for all parents to become comfortable with the vaccine, but what I’m hoping people understand… is that this becomes part of a way to protect our children and community,” said Bethany Robertson, cofounder and codirector of ParentsTogether who authored the vaccine hesitancy report.
Laos suffers first recorded COVID death
A 53-year-old Vietnamese woman in Laos has become the first death from the virus recorded in the nation, the Vientiane Times reports. The woman, who worked at a karaoke club in the capital of Vientiane, had underlying medical issues including diabetes, said Dr. Bouathep Phoumin, deputy director general of the Department of Healthcare and Rehabilitation.
The death comes amid a surge in infections since the Lao New Year holiday last month. Phoumin said containment was made difficult when many suspected contacts gave inaccurate information. He warned that people who deliberately concealed information could be charged with spreading the virus.
Los Angeles to offer vaccinations without appointment
Starting Monday, Los Angeles residents will no longer need an appointment to get COVID-19 vaccinations at any site run by the city, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Sunday.
“We stand at a critical juncture in our fight to end this pandemic, and our city will keep doing everything possible to knock down barriers to vaccine access and deliver doses directly to all Angelenos,” Garcetti said in a statement.
The move is geared at people who don’t have the time or technological resources to access or navigate online booking platforms, said the Los Angeles Times.
India reeling amid virus surge
The pace of vaccination in India has dropped and regional officials there say they have limited amounts of vaccines to administer, even as the country grapples with a surge in coronavirus cases and complaints of oxygen shortages at hospitals. The world’s second most populous country is setting a record pace of infections: Just over 403,000 confirmed cases reported Sunday, including 4,092 deaths.
At the same time, vaccinations per day have dropped to an average of 1.3 million in the past week. That’s down from 3.5 million per day in April. So far, about 10% of India’s population have received one dose, while just shy of 2.5% have received both.
On Friday, the European Union called on the United States to start boosting its vaccine exports to help contain the global crisis. The United States said earlier last week that it would support efforts to waive some intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines to allow more countries to produce more of them, but officials said it would not have an immediate impact on global supplies, and drug makers have opposed lifting patent protections.
– Donovan Slack
Contributing: -Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY; The Associated Press.