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FS-ISAC Coronavirus Update, May 4, 2021
Globally, there have been more cases of Covid-19 reported in the last two weeks than during the first six months of the pandemic, the director-general of the World Health Organization said during a news briefing in Geneva on Monday, adding that India and Brazil account for more than half of last week’s cases but there are many other countries all over the world that face “a very fragile situation.”
The World Health Organization said Monday that is closely following 10 variants “of interest” or “of concern” across the world, including two that were first detected in the US and a triple-mutant variant that’s wreaking havoc in India, as potential global public health threats.
Confirmed coronavirus cases in the US rose at the slowest pace since the pandemic began in the week ended Sunday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg, a 1.07% gain that was below the previous record of 1.25% set in the seven days ended March 14.
Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Health, said Monday that while it would be unfortunate for the US to not to reach herd immunity against Covid-19, most people will still be able to get back to their pre-pandemic lives if case numbers continue to fall, pointing to experience from Israel that has shown that when about 50 to 55% of the population is vaccinated, “you really see case numbers plummet.”
President Biden touted vaccination progress on Monday and predicted a return to some normalcy "by the end of the summer," citing his administration’s work to ramp up production as well as a commitment to scaling it up to help other countries “once we take care of all Americans,” and also addressed vaccine hesitancy, citing some promising statistics in people over 65 who have now received shots.
The continuing spread of Covid-19 will only fuel the rise of more variants, US Food and Drug Administration Acting Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said Monday, warning that “With so much virus replication going on in many parts of the world, it's like a giant petri dish,” and adding “And so they're going to be spitting up variants all the time because there's so much virus replication.”
More than 105.5 million people in the US are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 - including more than 40% of the adult population and nearly 70% of the senior population - according to data published Monday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Food and Drug Administration is preparing to authorize use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in adolescents 12 to 15 years old by early next week, according to federal officials familiar with the agency’s plans, opening up the nation’s vaccination campaign to millions more Americans.
New York and neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut will lift most coronavirus restrictions on businesses starting this month, and in what New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo cast as a “major reopening,” the tri-state area plans to end the majority of capacity restrictions beginning May 19, with stores, restaurants, fitness centers, salons, entertainment venues and offices in the three states allowed to operate without capacity limits for the first time since restrictions were put in place last year, as New York City emerged as the epicenter of the pandemic.
As India continues to record more than 300,000 daily cases, it’s hard to tell when the country will reach its peak, Chandrika Bahadur, chair of the Lancet Covid-19 Commission India Taskforce, said today, adding that the country will continue to see high mortality due to Covid-19 in May, because deaths lag behind the rise in infections.
Nepal has seen a more than 1,200% rise in seven-day average of daily new Covid-19 cases since mid-April, based on a CNN calculation of data from Johns Hopkins University, and on Monday, the country posted its record high 7,388 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours according to government statistics.
More than 600 million people worldwide have been at least partly vaccinated - meaning that more than seven billion have not, a striking achievement in the shadow of a staggering challenge, with half of all the doses having gone into the arms of people in countries with one-seventh of the world’s people, primarily the US and European nations while dozens of countries, particularly in Africa, have barely started their inoculation campaigns.
In an announcement sure to be welcomed by travelers worldwide, EU officials on Monday proposed easing restrictions on visiting the 27-nation bloc as vaccination campaigns across the continent gather speed, and with the summer tourist season looming, the bloc's European Commission hopes the new recommendations will dramatically expand that list amid a move that will soon allow travelers reunite with their friends and relatives living in Europe and support the economy this summer.
The US Transportation Security Administration says it screened more than 1.62 million people at airports across the country on Sunday, a new record that is nearly 10 times larger than the same day a year ago when numbers fell to the doldrums of the pandemic, and to meet what industry groups call “pent up” travel demand, flyers are facing fuller flights and airlines are bringing planes out of storage.
The number of employee office visits in 10 large US cities reached 26.1% of the pre-pandemic level the week ending April 21, according to Kastle Systems, the largest provider of technology that tracks such data through swipes of keycards and other devices, and while Dallas and other Texas metro areas have solidly topped that average, cities such as San Francisco and New York have lagged.
The Small Business Administration on Monday began accepting applications for grants from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, with thousands of restaurants and bars decimated by the pandemic now eligible for $28.6 billion in grants.
Approximately 5 million plus-up payments have been sent since April 1, worth an estimated $11 billion, the Internal Review Service confirmed on Monday, and the agency said it will continue to send out the payments in weekly batches as it receives and processes 2020 tax returns but did not provide a more specific timeline.
Some nurses in Japan are incensed at a request from Tokyo Olympic organizers to have 500 of them dispatched to help out with the games, saying they’re already near the breaking point dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, with officials having said they will need 10,000 medical workers to staff the games, and the request for more nurses comes amid a new spike in the virus with Tokyo and Osaka under a state of emergency.
Vaccine Rollout - US
The CDC reported that 246,780,203 total doses of vaccine have been administered, about 79% of the 312,509,575 doses delivered as of Monday, about 1.2 million reported since Sunday, for a seven-day average of about 2.3 million doses per day, with the average daily rate of vaccinations now declining for about two weeks.
As the pace of vaccinations continues to slow across the country, more than 20 states are not ordering all the available vaccine doses allocated to them by the federal government, according to a CBS News tally, a figure that is the latest sign of lessening demand for vaccinations around the country, as health officials shift from triaging a flood of people clamoring for the shots to targeting harder-to-reach communities.
Just eight states have reported giving less than 70% of their delivered supply of first doses, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures, and of those states, only Alabama, which has the second smallest share of its residents fully vaccinated out of all states, said they had placed orders up to their full allocation this week.
Two national pharmacy chains that the federal government entrusted to inoculate people account for the lion’s share of wasted vaccine doses, according to government data, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recording 182,874 wasted doses as of late March, and of those, CVS was responsible for nearly half, and Walgreens for 21%, or nearly 128,500 wasted shots combined, suggesting that the companies have wasted more doses than states, US territories and federal agencies combined.
Walgreens has administered more than 15 million vaccine doses, the company said Monday and will start offering same-day appointments at its US pharmacies on Wednesday as well as start accommodating walk-ins at some of its stores.
Walgreens is bringing mobile vaccination clinics to Chicago, with traveling clinics that will focus on bringing vaccines directly to underserved communities and those with barriers to accessing the vaccine, and over the next two months, additional mobile clinics will begin rolling across the nation.
Washington residents can still make appointments to get the lifesaving vaccines online at vaccines.gov, but with the initial crush of demand subsiding, the District - like jurisdictions across the country - is also launching numerous walk-in sites, reflecting the need to accommodate those who, for whatever reason, are not able or willing to make an appointment in advance.
Florida businesses and government agencies will be prohibited from requiring people to show proof of a vaccination, starting July 1, under a measure Governor Ron DeSantis signed Monday.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said today that state residents who get their first vaccination in May will be eligible for a free beer at select breweries after showing their vaccine cards as proof.