FS-ISAC Coronavirus Update, May 12, 2021
- The rate of new Covid cases in the US fell to an average of 38,800 per day Monday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the first time daily case counts have been below 40,000 since September.
- US health agencies have identified just 23 cases of a rare and dangerous blood-clotting condition among the 8.4 million people who have received Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, according to an update on the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention website today, underscoring the known and potential benefits of the vaccine outweigh its potential risks the agency said.
- Children and teens account for close to a quarter of newly diagnosed coronavirus infections in the US, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported Tuesday, with the group, which represents pediatricians, reporting 72,067 new Covid-19 cases among children for the week that ended May 6.
- Although the World Health Organization now classifies the B.1.617 coronavirus variant first identified in India as a "variant of concern,” it is still classified as a "variant of interest" in the US according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday, but the agency noted that classifications could change - to escalate or deescalate - based on scientific evidence.
- President Biden said today that he expects public health experts, and the White House, to be “more aggressive” in laying out what fully vaccinated individuals can do, in an effort to continue to persuade Americans to get vaccinated.
- The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to meet Wednesday to advise the agency on whether to recommend use of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in 12-to 15-year-olds, followed by Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky deciding whether the agency will recommend the vaccine's use in the new group.
- CVS pharmacies will begin administering Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine in people 12-15 years old after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends it, the company said today.
- Fewer Americans are reluctant to get a COVID-19 vaccine than just a few months ago, but questions about side effects and how the shots were tested still hold some back, according to a new poll that highlights the challenges at a pivotal moment in the vaccination campaign, with just 11% of people who remain unvaccinated saying they definitely will get the shot, while 34% say they definitely won't, according to the poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
- The majority of Americans support showing proof of vaccination in certain situations, are going out more and wearing masks less, a new poll released today found. [See SPECIAL US Pandemic Survey following for findings]
- Data from Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine trials in children aged 2 years and older could be available as early as this fall, Pfizer's Senior Vice President of Vaccine Clinical Research and Development Dr. William Gruber said Tuesday, possibly paving the way for use before the end of 2022.
- Covid-19 booster shots will be free to the public if they are needed to control the ongoing pandemic, David Kessler, chief science officer of the White House Covid-19 response team, told US lawmakers Tuesday.
- Uber and Lyft will provide free rides to and from vaccination sites until July 4 as part of a new partnership with the White House, a White House official said Tuesday, a partnership aimed at improving access to the coronavirus vaccine and helping to meet President Biden's goal of 70% of adults getting at least one coronavirus shot by this summer.
- So-called quad tests, now available at thousands of hospitals and clinics, can detect not only the coronavirus but also two types of influenza and the respiratory syncytial virus, or R.S.V., and while that might not seem essential given that the US, like many other countries, witnessed a shocking absence of a flu season this past winter, as the country begins to reopen, doctors say that flu and other pathogens could make a comeback this fall.
- After a devastating year with wave after wave of coronavirus infections around the world, new cases and deaths are falling in many of the Western nations that were once among the hardest hit, but while the virus recedes in wealthy nations with robust vaccination campaigns, it is pummeling India and threatening to swamp Southeast Asian countries that until now had largely kept the virus at bay.
- India announced a slight decrease Tuesday in new cases from over the weekend, reporting 329,942 infections - still, by far, the most in the world - and 3,876 deaths, and while there are signs that the surge may be abating in major metropolitan areas, the new wave appears to be taking hold in more rural areas that are harder to monitor.
- French Prime Minister Jean Castex expressed hope Monday that the country was finally emerging from the coronavirus crisis, which has claimed at least 106,000 lives and infected more than 5.8 million people on French soil, saying the government was striving to reopen and rebuild following months of restrictions, three nationwide lockdowns and several severe waves of infection, and that the country’s mass vaccination campaign has played a successful role in helping the country attempt to return to life before the pandemic.
- Canada’s most populous province of Ontario says it will pause the use of AstraZeneca PLC’s Covid-19 vaccine because of an increase in the rate of rare blood clotting events among people who have received a dose of that vaccine, with officials saying they made the decision out of an abundance of caution.
- US employers posted a record number of available jobs in March, illustrating starkly the desperation of businesses trying to find new workers as the country emerges from the pandemic and the economy expands, yet total job gains increased only modestly, according to a Labor Department report issued Tuesday.
- On Tuesday, Iowa and Tennessee joined the list of at least nine states that are moving toward the elimination of the extra benefits ahead of the program’s scheduled expiration in September, with the US Chamber of Commerce also calling for an end to the bonus.
- Most economists expect prices for many goods and services to show continued gains on Wednesday, when the Labor Department releases its next monthly inflation report, and the Federal Reserve insists that today’s rising prices - up 2.6 percent over the past 12 months - will not blossom into anything like the economy-wide, double-digit inflationary spiral of the 1970s.
- Travel looks set to continue its rebound during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, which traditionally marks the start of the summer vacation season, with AAA Travel predicting a 60% year-over-year jump in the number of Americans hitting the rails, airports and roads - even as gas prices soar to levels not seen in seven years.
US Restrictions & Schools
- South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster issued a new executive order today, giving parents the power to decide whether their children should wear masks inside public schools, according to a release from his office, and also explicitly prohibits local governments from using a state of emergency as the basis for a local mask mandate and bars all state agencies, local governments, and political subdivisions from requiring “vaccine passports” for any reason.
- Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed suit challenging St. Louis County’s pandemic restrictions, citing the impact on religion, education and personal freedoms, arguing that vaccines are widely available to all adults, making the restrictions unnecessary.
- The pandemic’s effects could erase gains the US made in reducing its dropout rate, which fell from 9.3% in 2007 to 5.1% in 2019, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
- All 50 states have at least some vaccine mandates for children attending public schools and even those attending private schools and day-care centers, and in every case, there are medical exemptions and, in some instances, there are religious or philosophical exemptions, as well.
- For now, private schools are reserving the right to require vaccinations for students but are waiting on formalizing a policy one way or another, according to Myra McGovern, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Independent Schools.
- Virginia top state officials are urging local school systems and private schools to hold vaccination clinics once the Pfizer-BioTech vaccine is approved for 12- to 15-year-olds, which could happen as soon as Wednesday, saying that having local health departments vaccinate youths at school would reduce equity and access issues and allow parents to give written consent ahead of time, without having to make a special trip to have their children vaccinated.
- The Education Department will release $36 billion to colleges nationally to help universities and students struggling during the pandemic, funds that are a part of the American Rescue Plan, with half meant to go directly to students.
- Three Massachusetts college students were suspended this spring after a photo posted on social media showed them attending an off-campus party unmasked, breaking the university’s covid-related policies, but the families of the students have cried foul and say they will challenge the school’s decision.
Economy and Business
- US job openings rose nearly 8%, to 8.1 million in March, the most on records dating back to December 2000, the government said Tuesday, yet overall hiring that month rose less than 4% to 6 million.
- The CEOs of several large US and United Kingdom airlines on Tuesday ramped up pressure on their respective governments to revive air travel between the two countries, asking for a summit to discuss the issue.
- Domestic destinations and motor trips will be the top picks for the more than 37 million people expected to travel between May 27 to 31, AAA Travel predicts, a rebound that reflects both pent-up demand and higher vaccination rates.
- America’s non-tribal casinos took in over $11.1 billion in the first three months of this year, matching their best quarter ever as customers continued returning amid the pandemic and internet and sports betting money helped boost revenue.
- Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said Tuesday that she is cutting, effective June 12, federal unemployment insurance benefits that were created at the start of the pandemic last year, adding she believes the increased payments are holding back the economy.
- Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said today she will end Alabama's participation in federal unemployment programs on June 19.
- The small US manufacturers that rushed to produce face masks over the past year are now stuck with hundreds of millions of unsold face coverings because China is flooding the market with below-cost masks, and most may not survive the end of the pandemic.