Coronavirus live blog, April 6, 2021: All adults expected to be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine two weeks earlier than Biden’s original May deadline
HEre’s Tuesday’s news on how COVID-19 is impacting Chicago and Illinois. Follow here for live updates.
6 p.m. Biden makes all adults will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by April 19
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that he is shaving about two weeks off his May 1 deadline for states to make all adults eligible for coronavirus vaccines.
With states gradually expanding eligibility beyond such priority groups as older people and essential, front-line workers, the president plans to announce that every adult in the U.S. will be eligible by April 19 to be vaccinated, a White House official said.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss Biden’s plans before the formal announcement. Biden was scheduled to visit a COVID-19 vaccination site in Virginia on Tuesday, followed by remarks at the White House updating the nation on the administration’s progress against the coronavirus.
April 19 is about two weeks earlier than Biden’s original May 1 deadline.
3:39 p.m. Nearly half of new US virus infections are in just 5 states
Nearly half of new coronavirus infections nationwide are in just five states — a situation that is putting pressure on the federal government to consider changing how it distributes vaccines by sending more doses to hot spots.
New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey together reported 44% of the nation’s new COVID-19 infections, or nearly 197,500 new cases, in the latest available seven-day period, according to state health agency data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Total U.S. infections during the same week numbered more than 452,000.
Surging vaccines to places where the number is going up makes sense, said Dr. Elvin H. Geng, a professor in infectious diseases at Washington University. But it’s also complicated.
“You wouldn’t want to make those folks wait because they were doing better,” Geng said. “On the other hand, it only makes sense to send vaccines to where the cases are rising.”
So far, President Joe Biden’s administration has shown no signs of shifting from its policy of dividing vaccine doses among states based on population.
2:48 p.m. India could resume vaccine exports by June
The world’s largest vaccine maker, based in India, will be able to restart exports of AstraZeneca doses by June if new coronavirus infections subside in the country, its chief executive said Tuesday.
But a continued surge could result in more delays because the Serum Institute of India would have to meet domestic needs, Adar Poonawalla warned in an interview with The Associated Press.
The company is a key supplier for the U.N.-backed COVAX program that aims to distribute vaccines equitably in the world. On March 25, COVAX announced a major setback in its vaccine rollout because a surge in infections in India caused the Serum Institute of India to cater to domestic demand, resulting in a delay in global shipments of up to 90 million doses.
Since then, daily new infections in India have almost doubled, with the biggest single-day spike of over 100,000 new cases on Monday. Infections are being reported faster in India than anywhere else in the world, prompting tougher virus restrictions in New Delhi and its financial capital, Mumbai.
11:33 a.m. Viral thoughts: Why COVID-19 conspiracy theories persist
As the world struggles to break the grip of COVID-19, psychologists and misinformation experts are studying why the pandemic spawned so many conspiracy theories, which have led people to eschew masks, social distancing and vaccines.
They’re seeing links between beliefs in COVID-19 falsehoods and the reliance on social media as a source of news and information.
And they’re concluding COVID-19 conspiracy theories persist by providing a false sense of empowerment. By offering hidden or secretive explanations, they give the believer a feeling of control in a situation that otherwise seems random or frightening.
The findings have implications not only for pandemic response but for the next “infodemic,” a term used to describe the crisis of COVID-19 misinformation.
“We need to learn from what has happened, to make sure we can prevent it from happening the next time,” said former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, who served in George W. Bush’s administration. “Masks become a symbol of your political party. People are saying vaccines are useless. The average person is confused: Who do I believe?
11:25 a.m. As states expand vaccines, prisoners still lack access
Nationwide, less than 20% of state and federal prisoners have been vaccinated, according to data collected by The Marshall Project and The Associated Press. In some states, prisoners and advocates have resorted to lawsuits to get access. And even when they are eligible, they aren’t receiving important education about the vaccine.
And it’s not just the prisoners. Public health experts widely agree that people who live and work in correctional facilities face an increased risk of contracting and dying from the coronavirus. Since the pandemic first reached prisons in March 2020, about 3 in 10 prisoners have tested positive and 2,500 have died. Prisons are often overcrowded, with limited access to health care and protective gear, and populations inside are more likely to have preexisting medical conditions.
Some prisoners hesitate to report symptoms out of fear they will be placed in solitary confinement and not receive proper care. Others report waiting days for medical care, sometimes being turned away or provided only with aspirin.
And the vaccine rollout has been uneven, despite guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that states should prioritize corrections staff and people in prisons and jails. By the end of March, Arkansas and Florida had not yet begun vaccinating prisoners, while a few states say they have offered vaccination to every adult in their prisons. Eight states have not reported how many prisoners have been vaccinated.
9:03 a.m. Bar opening in rural Illinois linked to COVID-19 outbreak that infected 46, prompted school closure
The opening of a bar earlier this year in rural Illinois was connected to a COVID-19 outbreak that infected 46 people and prompted the temporary closure of a school, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported Monday.
On Feb. 17, the Illinois Department of Public Health was informed of a possible outbreak in people who attended the event about two weeks earlier after a cluster of coronavirus cases was found, the CDC said in its report. The name and location of the bar weren’t included in the report, which said the event was held indoors “with no outside air flow.”
Among those infected were three staff members and 26 patrons, including a person who was diagnosed with COVID-19 a day earlier but wasn’t symptomatic and four others who had symptoms and later tested positive. There were also 17 “secondary cases” among individuals who didn’t attend the event, including five school-age children, two student athletes and two residents of a long-term care facility — one of whom was briefly hospitalized.
The outbreak ultimately resulted in a school closure that affected 650 children, the CDC said. The shutdown started Feb. 18 and stretched for two weeks because 13 school staffers were “in isolation, in quarantine, or absent because their own child was quarantined.”
In addition to detailing the virus’ cascading and insidious effect on communities, the report warns of the inherent risks of reopening businesses during the pandemic and reinforces the need to enforce common mitigation efforts.
“This includes enforcing consistent and correct mask use, maintaining [over six feet] of physical distance between persons, reducing indoor bar occupancy, prioritizing outdoor seating, improving building ventilation, and promoting behaviors such as staying at home when ill, as well as implementing contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine when COVID-19 cases are diagnosed,” the report states.
New Cases & Vaccination Numbers
- 2,102 new cases reported Monday were diagnosed from 59,586 tests.
- Eleven more people died from the virus, bringing the state’s total death toll to 21,384.
- Hospitalizations also continued to rise, with officials reporting that 1,581 beds were occupied by Sunday night.
- State officials also reported that just 27,248 vaccine doses were administered on Easter.