The latest and worst surge in coronavirus cases across the nation is finally over.
The country’s pace of new cases fell this weekend below the low of Sept. 12, the day before the deadly fall surge got underway, became a disastrous winter and turned into a painful spring. Between that day in September and now, the U.S. reported more than 390,000 COVID-19 deaths and more than 26.4 million coronavirus cases, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.
That eight-month surge was responsible for 80% of total U.S. infections and two-thirds of U.S. deaths. The country reported 241,099 cases in the week ending Sept. 12. In the latest and lowest number since, the country reported 232,489 cases in the week ending Sunday.
Daily infections now total less than half what they were a month ago and a small fraction of January’s raging numbers. The U.S. continues to report about 600 deaths a day, roughly one-fifth the pace seen in January.
Also in the news:
►Overnight service on New York City’s subways returned Monday for the first time in more than a year. The system was shut down between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. starting April 30, 2020. The closure was scaled back to 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. in February.
►The first foreign visitors have started arriving in Italy after the government lifted a coronavirus quarantine requirement for travelers from the European Union, Britain and Israel. Italy was one of the world’s most hardest hit nations and withstood long lockdowns since the pandemic began in early 2020.
►Vermont is preparing to hold its first jury trials since the coronavirus pandemic hit last year. Jury draws were taking place Monday in Windham County criminal court, the Bennington Banner reported.
►Pubs and restaurants across much of the U.K. opened for indoor service for the first time since early January on Monday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, seen breaking masking rules multiple times in recent weeks, urged people to be cautious.
►Primary, secondary and junior colleges in Singapore will shift to full home-based learning until the school year’s end. “Some of these (virus) mutations are much more virulent, and they seem to attack the younger children,” Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said.
►The head of Germany’s independent vaccine advisory panel says it’s likely that everyone will have to get vaccinated against COVID-19 again next year.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 32.9 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 585,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 163 million cases and 3.38 million deaths. More than 344.5 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 272.9 million have been administered, according to the CDC. More than 123 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – 37% of the population.
📘 What we’re reading: Honor system, paper cards won’t cut it for COVID-19 vaccine verification, experts say. Vaccine passports are coming.
Ricky Schroder, former “Silver Spoons” and “NYPD Blue” star, can be seen confronting a Costco employee about mask mandates in a video shared on social media. Schroder’s video comes days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that people who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 do not need to wear masks in most indoor and outdoor spaces. In the video, which was posted to Schroder’s Facebook page, the 51-year-old asked a Costco employee why he wasn’t allowed inside the store unmasked.
“Because in the state of California and the county of Los Angeles, and Costco, there has been no change to our mask policy,” the employee, whose name is Jason, responded.
– Jordan Mendoza
The world is reporting 1 million fewer coronavirus cases each week than it had been been during the peak just three weeks ago, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the week ending Sunday, the world reported 4.74 million new cases, compared with 5.78 million cases in the week ending April 28. Contributing the most to the decline of reported cases from several weeks ago are the United States, Turkey and France.
India, however, reported 2.3 million cases in the last week, accounting for 49% of the world’s reported cases. And indications that India is massively underreporting cases and deaths make that nation’s total suspect, and would also impact world totals. More than 20% of India’s tests come back positive, according to Our World In Data, a pace experts say is far too high to accurately capture the scale of the epidemic.
Vanderbilt University’s commencement speaker Sunday was the immunologist who leads the U.S. COVID-19 response, Dr. Anthony Fauci. He spoke virtually, laying out the difficult times that graduates will head into after their commencement services.
“No students dating back 100 years … have had this level of disruption to their student years,” Fauci said. “The world has changed dramatically … The adjustments you will have to make in the world are profound.”
Also speaking at Emory University in Georgia this weekend, Fauci said the coronavirus crisis has “shone a bright light on our own society’s failings.”
“Societal divisiveness is counterproductive in a pandemic,” Fauci added. “We must not be at odds with each other since the virus is the enemy, not each other.”
Target dropped its mask requirement for fully vaccinated customers, joining Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Starbucks, Costco and other businesses. Target’s updated mask policy starts Monday for customers and employees, but the retailer still strongly recommends unvaccinated customers and employees wear masks.
“Given the CDC’s updated guidance last week, Target will no longer require fully vaccinated guests and team members to wear face coverings in our stores, except where it’s required by local ordinances,” the retailer said in a statement Monday.
– Kelly Tyko
The B.1.167 coronavirus variant devastating India has arrived in the United States. Experts say it’s not likely to cause much harm here because of high vaccination rates and because the health care system is not under stress. But with a virus that has defied expectations and the variant infecting hundreds of thousands of Indians every day, researchers are keeping an eye on it.
“We have no reason to believe the vaccine response to this strain will be a problem,” added Dr. Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. “This has already been assessed in Israel and other places and the mutations don’t seem to be able to evade the vaccines.”
– Elizabeth Weise and Karen Weintraub
After deciding last fall that their COVID-19 candidate vaccine wasn’t working well enough, pharmaceutical giants Sanofi and GSK improved the formulation and the pair are now back in the vaccine game. Early Monday, they released results from a mid-stage clinical trial of their new vaccine and announced plans to begin a definitive trial with 35,000 participants within a few weeks. The companies reported that in their Phase 2 trial nearly all the 722 participants mounted an immune response after the second of two shots, without any significant safety concerns.
The vaccine was tested in adults 18-95; those under 60 showed a stronger immune response. After a single shot, participants who had previously been infected with COVID-19 generated a substantial amount of so-called neutralizing antibodies, suggesting the vaccine could work well as a booster, the companies said.
The companies delayed a previous version of their vaccine last December, deciding it wasn’t performing well enough, particularly in older adults. While the United States now has all the vaccine supply it needs for the moment, most other countries do not, and more shots will likely be needed in the next year or two as new variants and time weaken protection from the first doses.
– Karen Weintraub
Jorge Chavez tried for weeks to get a COVID-19 vaccine through the usual routes. But the Lake Worth Beach, Florida, resident said a language barrier, overloaded websites and a lack of proper documentation kept him from securing an appointment. That changed when he walked into an El Bodegon supermarket and met a representative from the Caridad Center, a nonprofit west of Boynton Beach that provides medical care to low-income residents. In a few moments he was signed up for a vaccine, and Sunday he walked out of their clinic relieved to have received his first dose.
“I’m happy to get it,” he said. “It was difficult before but this is a relief.”
Chavez was one of 600 people, most of them Hispanic, who registered to receive the first dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at the Caridad Center’s clinic Sunday, the latest vaccine drive targeting the county’s Hispanic population.
The coronavirus pandemic across Florida continues to slow, even as inoculations languish.
The state’s racial and ethnic gap in COVID-19 vaccinations also showed further signs of closing, and the state’s Hispanic residents showed a substantial uptick in inoculations as of Saturday.
– Andrew Marra and Chris Persaud, Palm Beach Post
For many students, prom is a pivotal high school memory, but for Isabella Killough, plans to celebrate a final time among her friends were not permitted. A senior at Burns High School in Lawndale, North Carolina, Killough was not allowed to attend prom on May 1 because she is a remote learner.
“I was very discouraged because after a crazy school year, it was something to look forward to,” Killough said. “When you realize you can’t participate in a normal thing, it’s really sad.”
Emails were sent to students saying remote learners would be excluded from extracurricular activities, yet none used the word “prom.” Still, Greg Shull, director of communications for the Cleveland County school district, said the school has been transparent all along.
“That communication was well on the front side of the school year,” Shull said. “They decided if you are a remote learner and you wanted to be in any extracurricular activities, you have to be on campus.”
— Latrice Williams and Christine Fernando, USA TODAY Network
Contributing: The Associated Press
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