Vaccination drive slows Covid cases in US

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There were 51,200 new coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in the United States on Sunday – the fewest since the middle of October, according to updated data from Johns Hopkins University.

The data show about 1,300 Covid-19 deaths on Sunday.

The low mark for new cases since October 18 punctuates a steady decline in cases that began in early January, when the United States was seeing more than 200,000 new cases each day and more than 4,000 related deaths on some.

Since the start of the pandemic more than a year ago, there have been a total of 28.61 million cases and 513,100 related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.

The national distribution of vaccines has been a key factor in the declining cases, experts say. A third vaccine – Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot formulation that has proven to be about 85-percent effective in preventing severe cases – will ship as soon as this week.

The new adenovirus-based vaccine, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen, will be distributed once Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky affirms the Food and Drug Administration’s approval. That’s expected Monday.

Walensky will join Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, White House Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force chairwoman, and response coordinator Jeff Zients at an update from the White House Covid-19 Response Team on Tuesday.

Nationwide, there are several new coronavirus-related updates that take effect with the start of March on Monday.

Blue Shield will take over distribution of all vaccines in California, beginning Monday.

“[March] marks the start of California’s transition to an enhanced provider vaccination network that’s designed to make Covid-19 vaccines available to all Californians equitably, safely and as quickly as possible,” the company said.

Previously, vaccine protocol has been managed from county to county in California, which has caused statewide frustration. The change by state leaders introduces a uniform protocol under Blue Shield distribution.

In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam will ease some coronavirus restrictions on Monday, including the lifting of a statewide midnight curfew and allowing alcohol sales at bars to continue until midnight. Also, outdoor entertainment venues can operate at 30-percent capacity.

Indoor restrictions remain in Virginia, and overnight outdoor summer camps can open on May 1.

In Florida, the state’s largest grocery store chain, Publix, begins offerings vaccines at all of its pharmacies in Miami-Dade and Broward counties – the state’s top two most populous, with more than 4.5 million people.

Also, Broward Health, one of South Florida’s largest hospital systems, opens vaccines to anyone over the age of 18 who meet one of the high-risk categories.

 

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