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 40,000 new cases per day, down about 43% from a recent peak less than a month ago.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that masks could become seasonal and that he was open to relaxing indoor mask requirements as more people get vaccinated. But some states are asking the federal government to withhold staggering amounts of COVID-19 vaccine this week amid plummeting demand for the shots.
Almost half the U.S. population has received at least one jab, more than one-third are fully vaccinated. However, the pace of first-dose vaccinations in the United States has fallen 60% in just the last month, a USA TODAY analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. The U.S. reported administering less than 5.1 million first doses in the week ending Sunday, down from 12.3 million doses in the week ending a month earlier. Compared to their best week of reported first-dose vaccinations, vaccinations are down 89% in South Dakota, 86% in Alaska, 85% in Wyoming and 84% in North Dakota.
– Mike Stucka
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 about 200 conscripts have been sent home from a major military exercise involving thousands of soldiers in southern and central Sweden because of a suspected outbreak of infections.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 32.7 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 581,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: Over 158 million cases and 3.29 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.
A year full of social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing and staying at home to prevent coronavirus spread rendered the 2020-2021 influenza season practically non-existent. Public health and clinical laboratories reported 2,038 flu cases during the season from Sept. 27, 2020 to April 24, 2021, according to the CeDC. The agency estimates about 38 million people were sick with the flu during the 2019-2020 season.
“It’s been an amazing year,” said Dr. John Swartzberg, a professor emeritus of infectious diseases at the University of California-Berkeley in the school of public health. “In all my years of being a flu watcher … I’ve never seen anything like this.”
White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci says it’s about time to start relaxing indoor mask requirements. “I think so,” he said when asked on ABC News. “I think you’re going to probably be seeing that as we go along, and as more people get vaccinated.”
Fauci also said wearing masks could become a seasonal habit for some people trying to avoid respiratory diseases such as the flu. And he predicted that the U.S. will reach President Biden’s goal of 70% vaccination by Independence Day. As vaccinations rise and new cases fall, the CDC will be updating its guidance, said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“We do need to start being more liberal, as we get more people vaccinated,” he added.
Pfizer and BioNTech have submitted an application for full FDA approval of their COVID-19 vaccine for people ages 16 and older, but a sizable 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 one in five 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.
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.
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.
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.