Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19 COVID-19 News from Around the Web

U.S. COVID-19 cases top 30 million as states race to vaccinate

Reuters - March 25, 2021

The United States crossed 30 million coronavirus cases on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, as states accelerate the vaccination process by lowering age limits. Health authorities are racing to vaccinate in the face of the first uptick in new cases on a weekly basis since January.

Brighter outlook for US as vaccinations rise and deaths fall

AP - March 25, 2021

More than three months into the U.S. vaccination drive, many of the numbers paint an increasingly encouraging picture, with 70% of Americans 65 and older receiving at least one dose of the vaccine and COVID-19 deaths dipping below 1,000 a day on average for the first time since November. Also, dozens of states have thrown open vaccinations to all adults or are planning to do so in a matter of weeks.

Counties with large Asian, Black or Hispanic populations had higher number of Covid-19 cases, CDC says

CNN - March 25, 2021

In a new study published Wednesday, CDC researchers said more than a quarter of counties with large Asian or Black populations reported a high Covid-19 incidence rate in the first two weeks of April last year. … At the time, about 11.4% of all counties had a high Covid-19 incidence rate, compared with nearly 29% of counties with an above-average share of Asian residents and nearly 28% of counties with an above-average share of Black residents, the study indicates.

U.S. COVID response could have avoided hundreds of thousand of deaths – research

Reuters - March 25, 2021

The US squandered both money and lives in its response to the coronavirus pandemic, and it could have avoided nearly 400,000 deaths with a more effective health strategy and trimmed federal spending by hundreds of billions of dollars while still supporting those who needed it. That is the conclusion of a group of research papers released at a Brookings Institution conference this week, offering an early and broad start to what will likely be an intense effort in coming years to assess the response to the worst pandemic in a century.

FEMA launches nationwide program to help people pay for COVID-19 funeral costs

CBS News - March 25, 2021

FEMA will provide up to $9,000 per funeral and up to $35,500 per applicant to help with expenses related to coronavirus deaths that occurred after January 20, 2020, the agency said Wednesday.

Jobless claims: Another 684,000 Americans filed new unemployment claims

Yahoo! Finance - March 25, 2021

U.S. states saw a bigger than expected drop in initial unemployment claims filings last week as claims fell to a fresh pandemic-era low. … Initial unemployment claims came in below 700,000 for the first time since mid-March 2020, declining more than anticipated after last week's unexpected jump.

Moderna to create dual COVID-19, flu vaccine, CEO says

Fox News - March 25, 2021

Moderna, the maker of the second COVID-19 vaccine to see emergency use approval in the U.S., is now looking to create a dual vaccine against the flu and the novel virus, the company’s chief executive recently said. Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said Tuesday that such a jab could be ready for use in a couple of years, though it would be subject to standard regulatory approval from the FDA, not emergency use as its existing coronavirus vaccine was, he said during The Wall Street Journal Health Forum.

Facebook, Twitter must do more to stop COVID-19 anti-vaxxers, U.S. states say

Reuters - March 25, 2021

Attorneys general for 12 U.S. states on Wednesday accused Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc of doing too little to stop people from using their platforms to spread false information that coronavirus vaccines are unsafe. In a letter to Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, the Democratic attorneys general said “anti-vaxxers” lacking medical expertise and often motivated by financial gain have used the platforms to downplay the danger of COVID-19 and exaggerate the risks of vaccination.

AstraZeneca to publish full U.S. trial results after rare rebuke over ‘outdated’ data

Reuters - March 24, 2021

AstraZeneca will publish up-to-date results from its major U.S. COVID-19 vaccine trial within 48 hours after health officials publicly criticized the drugmaker for using “outdated information” to show how well the immunization worked. The rare public rebuke marks the latest setback for the vaccine once hailed as a milestone in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic that has since been dogged by questions over its effectiveness and possible side effects.

A year fighting a global pandemic leaves US hospitals in shambles, new report finds

CNN - March 24, 2021

Burned out medical staff suffering from trauma and in some cases PTSD, the erosion of public trust in hospitals, and frustration over the "unpredictable and insufficient" supply of vaccines are just some of the problems outlined in a new report on US hospitals released by the HHS inspector general Wednesday. …. It paints a dire picture of the toll a year of treating a global pandemic has taken on the America's health system and highlights the stress that operating in "survival mode" for such a lengthy period has caused those within it.

Hang on to that COVID-19 vaccination card — it’s important

Good Mornin America - March 24, 2021

[It] could be your ticket to freedom in the coming months -- so it should be protected as such. The precious paper card contains vital information including the brand of vaccine you received and the dates you were immunized. According to public health experts, it's crucial to keep that information handy in case you need it to prove your vaccination status, or to streamline possible future booster shots.

New Data Highlight Disparities In Students Learning In Person

NPR - March 24, 2021

The U.S. Education Department [study] reveals that the percentage of students who are still attending school virtually may be higher than previously understood. As of January and early February of this year, 44% of elementary students and 48% of middle school students in the survey remained fully remote. And the survey found large differences by race: 69% of Asian, 58% of Black and 57% of Hispanic fourth graders were learning entirely remotely, while just 27% of White students were.

‘Press 1 for English’: Vaccination Sign-Ups Prove Daunting for Speakers of Other Languages

Kaiser Health News - March 24, 2021

Only two languages were offered when callers dialed in — “press 1 for English” or “press 2 for Spanish.” But Virginia is home to speakers of many other languages — Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Arabic, Mongolian, Amharic and dozens more — who would need the help of translators to get their place in line for a vaccine. … Several individuals in interviews said the immigrant populations they work with, including Asians and Latinos, are eager to be vaccinated. But the barriers are steep, including lower rates of technology literacy and how well they speak English, if at all.

US colleges tout hopes for return to new normal this fall

AP - March 24, 2021

Administrators say how quickly campus life comes back will depend on the success of the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts and the ability to avoid widespread outbreaks. Universities saw their budgets hammered during the coronavirus pandemic, which emptied dorms and led to declines in enrollment, and are facing pressure to reopen fully.

AstraZeneca may have used ‘outdated information’ in announcing results from Covid-19 vaccine trial, U.S. officials say

STAT - March 23, 2021

U.S. health officials raised concerns early Tuesday that positive results that AstraZeneca announced Monday for its Covid-19 vaccine may have been based on “an incomplete view of the efficacy data” from a clinical trial and relied on “outdated information,” throwing another curveball in the saga of the company’s vaccine. In a statement issued soon after midnight Tuesday morning, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said it had been informed about the data questions by the data and safety monitoring board auditing the trial.

New U.S. COVID-19 cases show weekly uptick for first time since January

Reuters - March 23, 2021

New cases of COVID-19 in the United States rose 5% to more than 394,000 last week, the first increase after declining for nine straight weeks, according to a Reuters analysis of state, county and CDC data. Thirty out of 50 states reported more new infections in the week ended March 21 compared with the previous seven days, up from 19 states in the prior week, according to the Reuters analysis.