April will be an “open season” for vaccination in the US and any adult can get vaccinated, said Dr. Anthony Fauci ahead on Thursday.
Fauci said on NBC’s “Today” broadcast that the vaccination rate is already accelerating. As production of Pfizer and Moderna’s two approved vaccines accelerate and more go online, vaccines will become more readily available quickly, Fauci said.
“It will be … open season by April, when virtually anyone and everyone in any category could start getting vaccinated,” said Fauci.
He said it would take a few more months to logistically inject adult Americans, but predicted herd immunity could be achieved by late summer. Fauci’s comments come amid a slow and chaotic vaccine rollout, with vaccine sites closed for lack of supplies and waiting lists of tens of thousands across the country unable to get an appointment to get a shot.
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In the headlines:
►California has exceeded the number of deaths from COVID-19 in New York, according to data from Johns Hopkins University reported Thursday. The death toll in California reached 45,496, surpassing New York’s death toll of 45,312.
►Oklahoma plans to extend coronavirus vaccine eligibility to school workers and adults with underlying health conditions starting February 22, state health officials said Thursday. There are more than 89,000 preschool children through 12th grade staff and more than 1 million adults with comorbidities who are expected to become eligible.
►Japan could waste 12 million Pfizer vaccine doses due to a lack of dedicated syringes to extract more vaccine from vials. Japan secured cans for 72 million people, assuming each vial could deliver six shots. Health officials are making efforts to acquire more of the syringes they need.
► Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute, Tulane University, LSU Health Shreveport, and several other institutions said in a pre-release report that 2020 Mardi Gras was responsible for tens of thousands of coronavirus cases after a single person likely brought it to New Orleans.
► The World Health Organization recommends that the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University continue to be used in countries with new variants of the coronavirus, even if South Africa stops using the vaccine due to its ineffectiveness against the variants.
► About one in three Americans says they will definitely or probably not receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This emerges from a new poll that some experts say will discourage the news if the US is to achieve herd immunity and defeat the outbreak. Many expressed doubts about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
📈 Today’s numbers: The United States has more than 27.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 471,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The global total: more than 107.4 million cases and 2.35 million deaths. According to the CDC, more than 65.9 million vaccine doses have been distributed and about 44.7 million administered.
📘 What we read: How much rent relief will you get amid the COVID-19 pandemic? If you are white and live in rural America, you are more likely to get help. Read the full story.
Ohio to add underreported COVID deaths to state records
Ohio will add up to 4,000 previously unreported COVID-19 deaths to the state’s roster over the next week after the Ohio Department of Health discovered errors in the October report.
Most of these deaths occurred in November and December, already the deadliest two months of the pandemic with 1,574 and 2,859 deaths, respectively, the agency said in a press release.
The discrepancy stems from the state’s process of checking reported deaths with information on death certificates, said Melanie Amato, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Health.
The correction will result in a few days with above-average deaths, the agency warned.
– Jackie Borchardt and Randy Ludlow, Cincinnati Enquirers
President Kennedy’s nephew has closed his Instagram account
Instagram closed Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s account for sharing discredited claims about COVID-19 vaccines. The nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy has also spoken out against COVID-19 vaccines on his still active Facebook and Twitter accounts. Kennedy claims the vaccines cause severe allergic reactions and have been linked to several deaths, including that of baseball star Hank Aaron. Aaron died Friday morning after suffering a major stroke.
“We removed this account because we repeatedly shared debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,” Facebook said in a statement.
– Coral Murphy Marcos
People who are vaccinated don’t need to be quarantined, CDC says
Fully vaccinated people who meet certain criteria no longer need to be quarantined after exposure to people with COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The simplified rules announced on Wednesday start 14 days after the final vaccine dose and apply three months after that dose to people who show no symptoms. The latter timeframe could be extended as more is learned about the long-term effects of the vaccines. CDC notes that while the risk of transmission from vaccinated individuals is still uncertain, vaccination has been shown to prevent symptomatic COVID-19.
“Individual and societal benefits of avoiding unnecessary quarantine may outweigh the potential but unknown risk of transmission,” the CDC said. Vaccinated individuals should continue to wear a mask, stay at least three feet away from others, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated rooms, and follow other guidelines for travel and other activities, according to the CDC.
Indoor dining returns to New York City on Friday
Thousands of workers in New York’s beleaguered restaurant industry hope to return to normal when indoor dining returns on Friday. Last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that restaurants and bars could allow guests to return to 25% occupancy on Valentine’s Day. On Monday, Cuomo moved up to Friday on the opening day. Governors and mayors in other parts of the United States have recently reopened or relaxed restrictions on indoor dining, including in Philadelphia, Chicago, Portland, Oregon, Maryland, Montgomery County, and New Jersey.
“Unemployment doesn’t scratch the surface of the money we used to make,” said Billy Swenson, a server in New York. “Sitting here doing a quarter of what we used to do … it was very stressful and there wasn’t much relief.”
– Ryan Miller
The NBA’s Karl-Anthony Towns feels guilty about the treatment I received.
Central Minnesota Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns, who lost his mother and six other family members to the coronavirus, played in his first NBA game on Wednesday since testing positive for COVID-19 less than a month ago.
“I had a lot of underlying diseases that weren’t genetically in my favor,” said Town of his illness. “The amount of virus I had in my body wasn’t healthy at all.”
Towns said he shared similar genes with his mother, Jacqueline Cruz, who died on April 13 after being treated and placed on a ventilator in a medically-induced coma. Towns, who donated $ 100,000 to the Mayo Clinic in support of coronavirus testing efforts, thanked the frontline staff and described his survivor’s remorse. He said he felt “very guilty of the treatment I received. I think it should be more generally available to Americans and everyone in the world.”
– Mark Medina
40% of the deaths could have been prevented
About 40% of the more than 470,000 coronavirus deaths could have been prevented if the average US death rate was consistent with that of other developed nations, according to a new report. While the Trump-era Lancet Public Order and Health Commission objected to former President Donald Trump’s “incompetent and inadequate” response, its report says that the country’s poor health outcomes are deeply rooted. The two chairmen of the commission, Dr. Steffie Woolhandler and Dr. David Himmelstein, longtime proponent of a pay-as-you-go health system like Medicare for All, said the report, released Thursday, underscored decades of health, economic and social policies that have accelerated disparities across the nation.
“The most important thing we have to do in our country is to reduce the great and growing inequalities that have emerged in our nation,” said Himmelstein.
– Ken Alltucker
US death rate declining
The United States reported 19,453 COVID-19 deaths in a seven-day period through Wednesday. For the first time in more than a month, deaths were below the 20,000 mark, an analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University in the US TODAY shows. The deaths peaked at 23,541 in the week ending Jan. 14.
Cases in the United States have fallen to less than half of last month’s high, and deaths are following case trends. But even with the declines, cases and deaths remain at high levels. The United States still reports more than one case per second, and cases are reported about three times faster than in the relative lull before the fall. Deaths are still reported four times faster.
In 2021 alone, the United States reported more than 7.2 million new cases and 124,485 deaths.
– Mike Stucka
LA closes Dodger Stadium vaccination center due to “unacceptable” shortage
Los Angeles will temporarily close much of its vaccination sites, including the Dodger Stadium megasite, on Friday and Saturday due to a lack of gunfire. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the move in a video conference on Wednesday, saying the city, which is among the hardest hit by the pandemic, received just 16,000 doses from the federal government this week.
“That’s 90,000 fewer than the week before,” he said. “This is unacceptable.” The city expects to use all available Moderna vaccines for first-dose appointments this week through Thursday.
The White House announced three new mass vaccination sites at sports stadiums in Texas that could deliver a total of 10,000 shots a day. The Dallas, Arlington, and Houston sites will be operated by local health officials with federal support from February 22nd. The action comes days after the National Football League announced it was working with public health officials to allow their stadiums to be used for mass vaccination and Biden’s activation of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program as part of the coronavirus vaccine effort that is making the distribution at retail locations across the country.
Contributor: The Associated Press