The United States has once again crossed a grim COVID threshold much faster than any country in the world.
Less than a year after the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic, the United States recorded its 500,000th death on Monday, according to the Johns Hopkins University dashboard. That’s more than double the deaths from COVID-19 recorded in Brazil, which ranks second on the list.
President Joe Biden commemorated the half-million lives lost in a ceremony Monday night at the White House, drawing on his own experience of grief to personalize the unfathomable tragedy while urging Americans to wear masks and to take other measures to prevent the spread of the virus. . He pointed out that the death toll from the pandemic is higher than the number of US servicemen killed in action in WWI, WWII and the Vietnam War combined.
“The people we lost were amazing. They have spanned generations,” Biden said. “Born in America, emigrated to America. Just like that, many of them took their last breaths on their own in America. As a nation, we cannot accept such a cruel fate. As we have been fighting this pandemic for so for a long time, we must resist becoming numb with pain. ”
The United States, with about 4% of the world’s population, has recorded 25% of COVID-19 cases and 20% of deaths. Endless hours of work amidst death and suffering have taken a heavy toll on healthcare workers, who are exhausted and frustrated by those who will not follow public health guidelines aimed at curbing transmission of the virus.
“Don’t clap, don’t give me pastries,” ER doctor Eric Cioe-Peña says in response to people thanking him for his efforts. “I don’t need any of that. I need you to wear a mask and not be COVID.
Even as the nation reaches what Dr Anthony Fauci has called a “terrifyingly historic milestone,” there are signs of better days ahead. Not only have infections, hospitalizations and deaths declined since a post-holiday peak in January, but two highly effective vaccines are found in millions of U.S. guns, and another may be cleared soon.
It’s a race against time, however, as the coronavirus variants spread across the country and threaten to spark a new wave of cases.
As the vaccination effort continues, public health officials are preaching vigilance and continued adherence to well-known mitigation measures – masking, social distancing, handwashing and avoiding large gatherings – in the hope of ‘Avoid another COVID landmark.
Also in the news:
► The White House COVID-19 Response Team said all vaccine doses delayed by winter storms last week will be distributed midway through this week, starting with 7 million on Monday. Team members also said that despite the steep drop in cases this month, infection levels remain above last summer’s peak and life will not return to normal for some time. time. “There are things, even if you are vaccinated, that you cannot do in society,” said Dr Anthony Fauci.
►The House this week is focusing on President Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. Democrats in Congress aim to pass the entire proposal by mid-March, and it currently includes a new round of checks for Americans, a renewed paycheck protection program, and an extension of a Federal boost for unemployment benefits.
►For every American who dies from COVID-19, an average of nine family members are grieving. This represents 4.5 million grieving parents in the United States. Here is the story of one of these families.
►United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Monday that white supremacy and neo-Nazi movements were a “transnational threat” which were “engaged in a frenzy of nurturing hatred” and exploited the pandemic to gain their support .
►The number of patients in California hospitals with COVID-19 has fallen below 7,000, a drop of more than a third in two weeks, state health officials said. The story is similar in Texas, where state data on Sunday showed the lowest number of hospitalizations (7,146) since mid-November.
📈 Today’s numbers: The United States has more than 28.1 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and 500,100 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: over 111.6 million cases and 2.47 million deaths. More than 75.2 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed in the United States and about 64.2 million have been administered, according to the CDC.
📘 What we read: Millions of kindergartens have chosen not to attend public school during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is what is happening now.
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Britain plans to slowly exit COVID-19 lockdown
Britain unveiled its plan to unwind one of the world’s toughest COVID-19 lockdowns on Monday. US public health officials were watching closely as the more transmissible variant of COVID-19 originally identified in the UK continues to spread in the US.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the slow flashback, starting March 8, with children in England returning to class and people being allowed to meet a friend outside. Outdoor shops, hairdressers, eating and drinking in pubs and restaurants will follow on April 12.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that in April B.1.1.7 – the most transmissible variant of COVID-19 originally identified in Britain – is likely to be the most dominant within US borders. The United States is now reporting more than 1,687 cases of coronavirus variants that may spread more easily, avoid certain treatments and immunities, or both.
A steady decline in coronavirus cases in the United States that has brought levels back to where they were at the end of October could be threatened by the “rapid take-off of B.1.1.7.” Said Trevor Bedford, epidemiologist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research . Center in Seattle, in a Twitter feed Thursday.
There is evidence that variant B.1.1.7 “will reach a frequency of 50% in the United States perhaps by the end of March,” he said.
CDC study: teachers, not students, drivers of infection in schools
Amid the nationwide debate over whether to reopen schools during the pandemic, a new study suggests teachers may be more likely to transmit the virus than students.
The document released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examines nine clusters of COVID-19 transmission in elementary schools in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta in December and January. In one of them, 16 teachers, students and parents of pupils at home were infected.
The study found that in eight of the nine groups there was probable teacher-to-student transmission, and in four cases a teacher was the first documented case. A student was the first case only once, and in the other four the perpetrator was not clearly established. Two groups saw teachers infecting each other at meetings or in-person lunches, then a teacher infecting students.
All of the groups involved “less than ideal physical distance” because of space limitations, the authors wrote, with students often less than 3 feet apart, although plastic dividers were placed on desks. .
The CDC said schools can safely reopen even if teachers are not vaccinated against COVID-19 as long as mitigation measures are implemented.
Joe Biden tweaks PPP to give small businesses better access to loans
A federal program that provides loans to businesses to help them stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic is undergoing changes to allow more money to go to the small businesses that need it most.
President Joe Biden on Monday announced several revisions to the Paycheck Protection Program, which Congress approved last year as part of a nearly $ 2 trillion COVID relief bill.
“Small businesses are the engines of our economic progress,” Biden said. “They are the glue of the heart and soul of our communities. But they are being crushed.”
Some 400,000 small businesses have closed their doors amid the coronavirus pandemic. While the Paycheck Protection Program has brought urgent help to many, “a lot of these mom-and-pop businesses have been beefed up by bigger companies that have leapt to the ground,” Biden said.
To address those concerns, Biden announced that only companies with fewer than 20 employees will be allowed to apply to the program over a 14-day period starting Wednesday. Some 98% of small businesses have fewer than 20 employees, and the 14-day application period will allow lenders to focus on their service, administration officials said.
– Michael Collins
Non-English speakers struggle to get COVID-19 vaccine across the United States
More than two months after the distribution of the first coronavirus vaccines in the United States, many states and local governments are provide limited information about vaccines in languages other than English. Language and cultural barriers have made it difficult for many people of color, immigrants and non-English speaking communities to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Experts said more targeted outreach – including door knocking, visits to frontline workers at their workplaces, streamlined registration sites and language translation services at vaccination sites – is needed. necessary to overcome disinformation and educate communities that have long been plagued by inequalities in the country. we
– Cristina Silva
Contribute: The Associated Press