The White House said Tuesday that more than 22 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed in the next seven days, a new high that would send the daily average over 3 million for the first time.
The encouraging news comes as the first major wave of stimulus checks should become available in bank accounts across the nation – up to $1,400 per person, a family of four could see $5,600.
More than 15% of U.S. adults are now fully vaccinated and 28% have had at least one dose, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Mississippi joined Alaska on Tuesday in opening the vaccine eligibility flood gates. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday the vaccine will be available to anyone in the state 16 years and older by the end of March, and Connecticut is preparing to open to people 16 years of age and over starting April 5.
Also in the news:
►Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday urged his supporters to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Trump made the pitch during a 20-minute telephone interview with Fox News.
►The health minister of Canada’s most populous province says Ontario seniors won’t receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine since there’s limited data on its effectiveness in older populations.
►B.1.427, the variant first discovered in California, is now a “variant of concern” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has 20% increased transmissibility, and is moderately neutralized by vaccines, according to the CDC.
►Moderna has given the first COVID-19 vaccine doses to children under 12 years of age, the company announced Tuesday. The Massachusetts-based biotech company intends to recruit 6,750 healthy kids under 12 for the trial.
►Just over 1 million Arizona residents are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, state officials announced Tuesday.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has over 29.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 536,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 120 million cases and 2.66 million deaths. Nearly 143 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and more than 111 million have been administered, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: Outdoor seating isn’t always safer than indoor dining. Some structures may be relatively safe, others could be worse, trapping aerosols inside.
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Stimulus checks roll out today; some will buy food, others stocks
The stimulus cash rolling into bank accounts today will put food on the table and pay rent for many Americans struggling financially because of the pandemic.
But many young investors plan to use their relief payments to snatch up stocks, according to a recent survey from Deutsche Bank. Half of respondents between 25 and 34 years old plan to spend 50% of their COVID-19 relief payments on stocks, the study showed, which published the report in February. It surveyed 430 users of online broker platforms between Feb. 5 and 9.
Marlon Watkins, who lost his job last spring, got another one in the fall. “It was a wake-up call,” Watkins said. “Now I’m back on my feet and want to invest so that I’m prepared for the next time something like this happens.”
– Jessica Menton
Vatican says J&J vaccine OK – if it’s the only one available
Catholics might be somewhat confused by reports on differing messages about the acceptability of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine due to a cell line from an abortion being used in its production.
The differences have been resolved and Catholic teaching is clear: Catholics have a moral duty to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 by being vaccinated. However, if given the choice, they should avoid the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Should they choose not to be vaccinated, they have a moral obligation to mask, socially distance and “do their utmost” to avoid becoming infected or infecting others, the Vatican said. Read more here.
– Elizabeth Weise
Duke reports highest number of positive cases in a single week
Duke University, already operating under lockdown to combat a rise in coronavirus infections, on Tuesday reported 231 cases from last week, almost as many as the school had the entire fall semester.
“This was the highest number of positive cases reported in a single week,” the school said in a statement. “The individuals who tested positive have been placed in isolation, while those identified as potential contacts have been placed in precautionary quarantine.”
The school issued a “stay in place” order Saturday, requiring students living in Duke-provided housing to remain in their residence hall room or apartment at all times except for essential activities related to food, health or safety. Students living off-campus are required to stay there, with a few exceptions.
Rush events by unaffiliated fraternities appear to be the main culprit for the outbreak.
“This (stay-in-place) action is necessary to contain the rapidly escalating number of COVID cases among Duke undergraduates, which is principally driven by students attending recruitment parties for selective living groups,” the university said.
US experts question EU decision to suspend AstraZeneca vaccine
Sweden on Tuesday joined the growing number of European nations suspending the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine — a list that includes Germany, France, Spain and Italy — because of reports about a possible link to blood clots that the company and other experts say likely are unrelated to the vaccine. The temporary pause has been branded as irresponsible by some U.S. scientists, who say it threatens the global vaccination effort.
“It creates the perception that these vaccines are dangerous,” said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “The only way out of this pandemic is by vaccination.”
The World Health Organization has urged countries to continue using the vaccine, saying there’s no evidence of a connection to blood clots. Canadian health authorities not only reaffirmed their belief that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, but changed their recommendation Tuesday so that the drug is available to people 65 years and over, as well.
Offit said taking the AstraZeneca vaccine off the market without strong supporting evidence could adversely impact the perception of other vaccines. “While it’s easy to scare people, it’s very hard to unscare them,” he said.
Contributing: The Associated Press