• Britain’s drug regulator Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency confirmed Wednesday that there is a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and “very rare cases of blood clots,” but maintained the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks. 
  • As states lift restrictions and worrisome coronavirus variants spread, scientists and federal health officials have been warning that a fourth surge of cases could arise in the US even as the nation’s vaccination campaign gathers speed, and the seeds of such a surge may now be sprouting in the Upper Midwest and the Northeast.
  • Hospitals are seeing more and more younger adults in their 30s and 40s admitted with severe cases of Covid-19, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday, explaining that “Data suggests this is all happening as we are seeing increasing prevalence of variants, with 52 jurisdictions now reporting cases of variants of concern.”
  • Michigan’s ongoing outbreak drew attention at a White House news conference on the pandemic on Wednesday, with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky saying that a team from her agency was in the state working to assess outbreaks in correctional facilities and to boost testing among participants in youth sports, and Andy Slavitt, a senior health policy adviser to President Biden, added the administration had not ruled out sending extra vaccine doses.
  • An ensemble forecast published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now projects there will be 568,000 to 588,000 coronavirus deaths in the US by May 1, representing a slight slowing of the rate over the next three and a half weeks from the previous ensemble forecast published March 31 that predicted up to 585,000 coronavirus deaths by April 24.
  • The coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom is now the most common strain of coronavirus in the US, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday, with the agency’s update Tuesday night showing there are currently 16,275 confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 mutation identified in 52 states and jurisdictions.
  • In response to a question Wednesday about when the US can reopen more broadly, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, outlined the conditions she believes are needed to reach that point alongside the vaccination of the population, saying that “In the context of vaccination, we still need to have our case counts be really low to stop circulating virus, to stop the emergence of variants, to stop hospitalizations, and ultimately to stop deaths."
  • Just over 33% of the US population - more than 109 million people - have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, and 19.4% of the population - more than 64 million people - are fully vaccinated, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released today.
  • The National Institutes of Health said Wednesday it has begun looking at why some people have suffered from severe allergic reactions shortly after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, with the information gathered during the trial to help doctors advise people who are highly allergic or have a mast cell disorder about the risks and benefits of receiving the two vaccines.
  • The decrease in personal mobility caused by Covid-19 stay-at-home orders was connected to increased well-being risks, particularly in Black and Hispanic communities, new data shows, and for every 10% reduction in mobility through implemented Covid-19 measure, the odds of an individual experiencing unemployment, food insufficiency, mental health problems, and class cancellations increased, according to research from the Household Pulse Survey published Tuesday in the JAMA Network Open.
  • US school districts are making strides in their efforts to reopen, but new data shows that many more students are still learning fully remotely than fully in-person.  
  • The S&P gained slightly to hit a record high on Wednesday as minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting showed the central bank’s commitment to accommodative policy in order to support a full economic recovery, with the broad equity benchmark rising 0.1% to 4,079.95, the Dow rose 16.02 points, or 0.1%, to 33,446.26, and the Nasdaq dipped 0.1% to 13,688.84.

Vaccine Rollout - US

  1. More than 171 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the US, according to data published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 76% of the 225,294,435 delivered, and around 2.9 million more since yesterday, for a seven-day average of about 3 million per day.
  2. Hawaii on Wednesday became the last state to commit to meeting President Biden’s expedited deadline to make vaccines available to all US adults by April 19 - nearly two weeks earlier than the President’s original target of May 1.
  3. A White House official said on Wednesday that the US will be approaching having nearly half of all adults with their first shot of the vaccine by the end of this weekend.
  4. The White House announced today that it is expanding vaccinations at community health centers across the country, a move aimed at advancing the distribution of vaccines more equitably and helping the administration’s goal of ensuring Americans have a vaccine site within five miles of where they live.
  5. Maryland will receive about 80,000 fewer doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine than expected this week, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said Wednesday.
  6. Oklahoma’s State Department of Health will remove the residency requirement for the vaccine starting Thursday due to increasing supply and continued progress in vaccination efforts, health officials announced Wednesday, becoming one of the first states to officially invite out-of-state residents to get the shot.
  7. Excitement gave way to frustration outside a mass vaccination site in Hagerstown, Maryland, on Tuesday, as hundreds of people seeking the vaccine without appointments were turned away and others waited as long as seven hours for their shots.

US Outbreak

  1. The US is currently averaging 785 daily deaths over the last seven days - down 21% since last week, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, and the country is reporting 64,766 average daily cases over the last week – which was down 3%.
  2. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said today she is really encouraged about decreased numbers of deaths that she believes are an impact of vaccination, especially in elderly communities,” but warned that current case counts are “way too high to be thinking that we’ve won this race.”
  3. Several states in the Upper Midwest have reported significant increases in new cases and hospitalizations, and in the Northeast, New York and New Jersey have continued to see elevated case counts.
  4. Michigan’s new cases and hospitalizations have more than doubled in the last two weeks, and in that same period the six metro areas in the US with the greatest number of new infections relative to their population have all been in in the state.
  5. Illinois is seeing a spike in cases, with the daily average for new infections jumping about 56 percent in the past two weeks, to about 2,832 a day, and hospitalizations have risen about 28 percent over the last fourteen days.
  6. Wisconsin and North Dakota have seen their average case counts jump by 50 percent or more in the last two weeks.
  7. Mount Sinai Hospital in New York is launching a saliva-testing program that could prove to be a game-changer for reopening large-scale events, with the program unveiled this week said to offer "easy, effective and accurate COVID-19 test for the public" at four testing locations in Manhattan, according to Dr. David Reich, the hospital's president, who added the saliva testing is "equal in accuracy to nasal swabs."
  8. The D.C. Council voted Tuesday to allow landlords to evict tenants who are deemed dangerous to their neighbors, poking a small hole in the pandemic-related tenant protections that many landlords have viewed as onerous.

US Restrictions & Schools

  1. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey lifted the state’s mask mandate today, saying the order would go into effect on Friday, but saying that individuals are still “strongly encouraged” to wear face coverings when in public or in close contact with others.
  2. New York City’s beaches will open for Memorial Day weekend, and public outdoor pools will open in late June, a signal that the pandemic’s worst days may be over, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
  3. Brown University has joined a small but growing number of American colleges and universities requiring students to get vaccinated before they attend classes in person and participate in other activities on campus, with President Christina Paxson announcing in a letter on Tuesday that all students at the Ivy League school will be welcomed back to campus in the fall and invited to live in the university's Providence, Rhode Island, residence halls provided they have gotten shots.