New infections drop below 15,000 for first time since March 2020; vaccinated Americans get more travel freedom: Latest COVID-19 updates

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.

The daily average has dropped to one-third the average number of cases seen just three weeks ago. Five months ago the U.S. was seeing 15,000 cases every 90 minutes.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said barely more than 10,000 new cases were reported Monday. She noted that deaths and hospitalizations related to COVID-19 also have continued their precipitous decline.

Walensky credited the 300 million-plus vaccination shots already administered across the nation for the encouraging numbers.

“It gives me so much hope,” she said. “Each week there are more and more data to demonstrate the impact vaccination has on preventing this disease and moving us out of this pandemic.”

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:

►Steven Brandenburg, the former Wisconsin pharmacist who admitted trying to sabotage more than 500 doses of COVID-19 vaccines last winter, received a three-year prison sentence Tuesday.

►The U.S. government is working hard to avoid wasting vaccine doses, but the first priority remains making vaccines readily available to all, Slavitt said. Some waste can’t be helped, he added. In Ohio, nearly 200,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses will expire June 23 if unused, Gov. Mike DeWine warned.

►The Toronto-based Mastercard Foundation says it will spend $1.3 billion over the next three years to acquire and deliver COVID-19 vaccines for more than 50 million people in Africa, with plans to rely on the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

►Spain this week started to allow in fully vaccinated Americans along with unvaccinated minor children. Austria has said it will admit Americans as long as they’ve had at least one round of COVID vaccine.

►Two-thirds of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams have been able to relax coronavirus protocols after four additional clubs qualified and raised the total to 20 franchises reaching 85% vaccinations for players and other on-field personnel.

►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 33.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 598,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: Over 173.7 million cases and over 3.74 million deaths. More than 140.4 million Americans have been fully vaccinated — 42.3% of the population, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: The COVID-19 pandemic barely registered as a blip as humanity continued to spew carbon dioxide into Earth’s atmosphere. Read the full story.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates. Want more? Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

CDC gives OK for vaccinated Americans to visit Canada, Mexico and 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

Pfizer testing vaccine on younger children

Pfizer released new details Tuesday about the progress of its COVID-19 vaccination trials in children, showing the company has completed early testing and is moving forward with lower-dose trials in younger kids. Children are less likely than adults to have a serious case of COVID-19 so drug companies are trying to minimize vaccine side effects while maximizing benefits. For now, Pfizer, which collaborates with German biotech firm BioNTech, is testing its vaccine in grade schoolers at lower doses than adolescents and still lower doses in younger children.

Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, which also make COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the U.S., are testing their shots in children as well.

– Karen Weintraub

India’s new daily infections dip below 100,000 for first time since early April

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. At one point in May, India was reporting more than 400,000 new cases per day. Deaths across the country of nearly 1.4 billion have declined as well, and the combination has prompted some states to relax restrictions.

The latest daily tally of 86,498 new infections pushed India’s total past 29 million Tuesday, second only to the U.S. The Health Ministry also reported 2,123 new fatalities in the past 24 hours, still horrific but about half of the May peak. Both the case number and the 351,309 total reported deaths are considered vast undercounts.

India’s government is trying to accelerate its lagging vaccine program and provide free shots. Less than 5% of the population is fully vaccinated.

‘Joints for jabs’ becomes policy in Washington state

The Washington state Liquor and Cannabis Board said this week it will allow state-licensed cannabis retailers to “provide one joint to adult consumers who receive COVID-19 vaccination at an in-store vaccination clinic.”

The program is the latest incentive in the state’s push to get 70% of its adults at least partially vaccinated by month’s end.

Gov. Jay Inslee has said reaching that mark would allow elimination of most remaining coronavirus-driven restrictions across the state. Inslee unveiled the “Shot of a Lifetime” campaign aimed at promoting vaccination in the state, and the board previously approved free beer, wine or cocktails for those vaccinated by June 30.

As buildings reopen, Legionnaires’ disease lurks

Hotels and office buildings are reopening after remaining dormant for a year or more, and building engineers are keeping a watchful eye for Legionnaires’ disease.

Legionella pneumophila, the bacteria that causes the illness, most often becomes a problem when it sits in stagnant, lukewarm, unchlorinated water and multiplies, said Michelle Swanson, a professor of microbiology at the University of Michigan. That could be a problem in some closed buildings where water has not moved through pipes since the pandemic began.

“It’s almost certain that we’re going to be at risk for more Legionnaires’ disease cases after the shutdown,” said Swanson, a member of a National Academies of Sciences committee that wrote a report in 2020 on the management of Legionella in water systems.

Elizabeth Weise

Wuhan lab leak hypothesis ‘plausible,’ report says

The hypothesis claiming the coronavirus leaked from a Wuhan lab is “plausible” and deserves further investigation, a report on the origins of COVID-19 from a U.S. government laboratory said. The study, prepared in May 2020, was received that October by the State Department when it investigated the pandemic’s origins, reported the Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the classified document.

The report comes as questions grow about whether the virus was the result of an accident in a Chinese laboratory or spread through other means. President Joe Biden has ordered the intelligence community to report on the origins in a matter of months.

Novavax will soon apply for emergency authorization in US

A large trial for Novavax’s COVID vaccine candidate is about to end in the U.S., and research president Dr. Gregory Glenn told an audience at a recent webinar that “we anticipate filing for authorization in the U.K., U.S. and Europe in the third quarter,” meaning July to September, NPR reported. Novavax is one of five companies that received large sums of money from the federal government for developing and/or manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines.

In the U.K., the company reported that its vaccine had protected against all severe disease and was better than 96% effective against any disease from the original strain of the coronavirus, and had 86% efficacy against the variant first seen in the U.K., now known as Alpha. The vaccine was 55% effective in a smaller trial among HIV-negative participants in South Africa, where another variant, now called Beta, was prevalent.

Jails emptied in the pandemic. Should they stay that way?

By the middle of last year, the number of people in jails nationwide was at its lowest point in more than two decades, according to a new report published Monday by the Vera Institute of Justice, whose researchers collected population numbers from about half of the nation’s 3,300 jails to make national estimates.

According to the report, shared with The Marshall Project and The Associated Press, the number of people incarcerated in county jails across the country declined by roughly one-quarter, or 185,000, as counties aggressively worked to release people held on low-level charges, dramatically reduced arrest rates and suspended court operations.

But in most places, the decrease didn’t last long: From mid-2020 to March 2021, the number of people in jails awaiting trial or serving short sentences for minor offenses climbed back up again by more than 70,000, reaching nearly 650,000.

“Reducing the incarcerated population across the country is possible,” said Jacob Kang-Brown, a senior research associate at the Vera Institute of Justice and author of the new report. “We saw decreases in big cities, small cities, rural counties and the suburbs, but the increase we see is troubling.”

Contributing: Mike Stucka, USA TODAY; The Associated Press.

News Related


COVID-19: Cases fall in the Netherlands and UK, while Italy and Romania push vaccines

While COVID-19 cases fall in some European countries, others fear a fourth wave of infections is underway. Cases in the Netherlands have fallen by 44% compared to last week, according ... Read more »

Schools implement mask mandates even as some states impose bans; US reports one case every second: Live COVID-19 updates

The U.S. Department of Education Monday released a roadmap for the return to school this fall, encouraging districts to invest in physical and emotional support for students. Among the roadmap’s ... Read more »

Cobblestone stones honor WWII gay and lesbian resistance fighters

Karel Pekelharing stone. Photo: Nine Jewish gay and lesbian resistance figurines are to be given their own “Stolperstein” or commemorative street tiles in front of their last known address. ... Read more »

Covid UK news – live: Vaccine to be offered to 16 and 17-year-olds as UK sees highest deaths since mid-March

✕ Close Coronavirus in numbers The coronavirus vaccination programme looks set to be rolled out to more than a million 16- and 17-year-olds. It is expected ministers will on Wednesday ... Read more »

Obese mice lose weight ‘sweating out' fat in an immune system experiment, despite eating more

In search of better treatments for type 2 diabetes and other consequences of obesity, Taku Kambayashi has long wondered if he could harness a bodily function that most think about ... Read more »

NYC will have the first government-issued vaccine mandate in the US. Here's what we know.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio just mandated proof of vaccination for indoor restaurants, gyms and performance venues. Here’s how that will work. Read more »

Peak hospital admissions seems to have been reached, 44% fewer new infections

Increase in IC In the past week, 541 new COVID-19 hospitalizations were registered compared to 564 the week before. “In the past week, there were 130 new admissions to the ... Read more »

The Path to Forgiveness When Someone Hurts You: How to Forgive, Let Go, and Protect Yourself

When you’ve been hurt by someone you trust, you might feel angry or resentful, especially if it keeps happening. Forgiving the person who is hurting you can rid you of ... Read more »

How to Boost Your Confidence (13 Steps to Help Your Social Anxiety)

Are you sometimes nervous to speak up and say what’s on your mind? It’s okay to be a little shy every now and then, but it might prevent you from ... Read more »

This South Korean company has figured out how to get the best night's sleep. Does sleep tech work?

A lack of sleep not only makes us grumpy in the mornings but it can also affect our health too. There are a range of gadgets out there with many ... Read more »

NHS must work in “new ways” to deliver care, says new chief executive

Amanda Pritchard during a visit to University College Hospital London, following the announcement of her appointment as the new chief executive of the NHS in England. (PA) The health service ... Read more »

3 ways to show you've gotten the COVID-19 vaccine

Did you misplace your vaccine passport? Here are three other ways you can prove you’ve been vaccinated. Read more »

Covid-19 antibody test: what does your result mean? Why a high score is good but doesn't tell the whole story

Standing in a taxi queue recently I overheard a middle-aged man say to a woman of similar age ahead of him in line, “I got 650”. Whatever he was referring ... Read more »

One-third of all COVID cases reported in Florida and Texas; US reaches 70% of partially vaccinated adults: COVID-19 updates

Florida and Texas had one-third of all COVID cases reported last week, White House COVID-19 Response coordinator Jeff Zients said during a Monday news conference. Florida broke two records — ... Read more »

Rabobank to compensate customers who have paid too much interest

Photo: Rabobank Rabobank is working to settle thousands of customers who have paid large amounts of interest on consumer loans, Cooperative Bank said Tuesday. The decision focuses on the high ... Read more »

Covid UK news - live: PM U-turns on amber watchlist as England could be ‘over the edge' of third wave

✕ Close Boris Johnson hints at U-turn on amber watchlist Plans for an “amber watchlist” have been abandoned as ministers prepare to review the traffic light system which will decide ... Read more »

How to Verify a Physician's License in California

Before you choose a physician for any type of treatment, it’s always a good idea to verify their license. This assures you that their license is in good standing and ... Read more »

Sailing Bronze has won a total of 19 Dutch medals and will win even more.

Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz during the race. Photo: Olaf Kraak ANP In the disappointing medal race of Sailor Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz, she was pushed back to the ... Read more »

From AI to ice vests: How Tokyo 2020 athletes are adapting to the hottest Olympics ever

Tokyo 2020 is likely to go down in history as the hottest modern Olympic and Paralympic Games ever. Daily high temperatures in the Japanese capital have hovered around 31C throughout ... Read more »

How to Use a Monocular

A monocular is like a small telescope. It is smaller and lighter than binoculars while packing the same power. To use a monocular, make sure that you keep a firm ... Read more »

Poorer communities see twice as many smoking related cancers as richer areas, says study

Smoking is linked to poverty and is causing more cancers in poorer communities (Getty Images/iStockphoto) There are nearly twice as many cancers caused by smoking among the poorest people in ... Read more »

Paramedics left in tears from ‘unsustainable demand', warns union

Unison has warned ambulance chiefs that the pressure is taking its toll on their workforce (Getty) Paramedics are being left in tears at the end of stressful shifts, with some ... Read more »

How to Use Apple Health

This wikiHow teaches you how to get started with Apple Health on your iPhone. The Health app makes it easy to access your important health information, including your medical history, ... Read more »

How to Understand Social Distancing

The term “social distancing” is all over the news, but what does it really mean? This term refers to staying a specific distance away from other people to help prevent ... Read more »

How to Treat a Bruised Thigh Muscle

Ouch! A bruised thigh is no joke. The front of your thigh is composed of large muscles called your quadriceps, and anybody who’s ever taken a direct hit there can ... Read more »

How to Treat Tunnel Wounds

A tunnel wound is a secondary wound that occurs alongside a primary wound, and it’s usually caused by an infection or pressure. This kind of wound extends into layers of ... Read more »

How to Treat Overmethylation

Methylation is a fairly complex process, but basically, it’s the natural process where methyl groups (one carbon and three hydrogen atoms) are transferred throughout your body. This happens billions of ... Read more »

How to Treat Numbness in Legs and Feet

Numbness in your legs and feet can cause discomfort and awkwardness, but it’s usually no cause for alarm. If you sit or stand in the same position for an extended ... Read more »

How to Treat Liver Fibrosis

Your liver is an incredible organ—it can grow back from almost nothing. But if it’s damaged too often, it can lead to a condition called fibrosis. The good news is ... Read more »

50 per cent vaxxed is not enough to safely lift restrictions: Doherty Institute

If NSW reaches its target of 6 million Covid-19 vaccinations by the end of the month it will still be “a long way” from being safe from the virus, according ... Read more »

How to Treat Crepitus

Crepitus is a general term for the crackling or popping sound made by a joint. This is typically caused by cartilage or soft tissue rubbing against a joint during movement, ... Read more »

How to Treat Cold Feet

Having cold feet is a pretty common problem, especially during the wintertime. However, if you have persistent cold feet, you could have an underlying condition such as Reynaud’s phenomenon. Fortunately, ... Read more »

How to Treat Buttock Folliculitis

Folliculitis is a common condition causing inflamed hair follicles and a raised rash. While it can occur anywhere on your body, the buttocks are a common area for an outbreak. ... Read more »

'People who do not want to be vaccinated may go elsewhere': Court backs Indiana University mandate

INDIANAPOLIS — Students who don’t like Indiana University’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement can go elsewhere for their education. That was the message delivered by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in ... Read more »

How to Take a Mankind Unwanted Kit

A Mankind Unwanted Kit is made up of 1 pill called mifepristone and 4 pills called misoprostol that your OB/GYN can give you. These are taken to terminate an unwanted ... Read more »

How to Take Control of Your Health

No matter what our existing health, financial, mental, economic, or social situation is, there are things we can each do to take (better) control of our own health. No one ... Read more »

How to Take Care of Yourself

Taking care of yourself can feel like a really big task, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Learn to manage your physical, mental, and emotional health so that you ... Read more »

Japanese shadow painting master delivers hope, delight in Seoul

Read more »

How to Store Ascorbic Acid

Ascorbic acid, or ascorbate, is another name for vitamin C. Ascorbic acid helps your body grow and repair itself and is an essential nutrient. Unfortunately, it is also very delicate ... Read more »

How to Stop Touching Your Face

Touching your face can cause clogged pores and spread acne-causing bacteria. One of the worst habits you can have when dealing with acne is continually touching your face—or worse, picking ... Read more »