Over 90,000 more Americans are likely to die from COVID-19 related causes by June 1, a leading forecasting institute says. The projection comes as the U.S. expects to surpass 500,000 deaths within the next two days.
The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) also warns that the world may never reach herd immunity.
IMHE projects that 589,197 Americans will have died by the end of May. The good news is the institute projects that deaths could drop to less than 500 per day by then, and the number could be even lower if Americans are vigilant about wearing masks. The U.S. is currently averaging about 2,000 deaths per day.
More than 75% of Americans now say they wear masks in public. To reach the lower death numbers, the percentage should be about 95%, IHME says.
The institute notes that some political and public health leaders have argued that vaccinating 70%-80% of the global population could effectively end further transmission. But even nations fortunate enough to procure sufficient quantities of vaccine may never reach herd immunity, in which case COVID-19 could become a seasonal affliction that comes each year.
“While it’s possible to reach herd immunity by next winter, it seems increasingly unlikely we will do so, and in light of that we all need to shift our expectations,” IHME says.
►Monday, Britain’s leader will unveil his plan for unwinding one of the world’s strictest COVID-19 lockdowns. American public health officials will be watching closely. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes that by April B.1.1.7, the more transmissible COVID-19 variant originally identified in Britain, is likely to be the dominant one within U.S. borders.
►Nationwide, enrollment at community colleges dropped 10% from fall 2019 to fall 2020, according to the National Student Clearinghouse.
►It has been 10 months since Abby Adair Reinhard’s father died from COVID-19. The Rochester, New York, woman whose chronicle of his death drew nationwide empathy, is still struggling with the loss.
►Fifteen athletes who were supposed to be participating in sports at U.S. colleges as first-year international students during the 2020-21 academic year are suing the Department of Homeland Security and ICE over a policy that prevents students from coming to the U.S. if their schools aren’t offering in-person courses.
►Public health officials in Alaska, where distribution of vaccines has set a gold standard, said 3,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine will arrive later than expected because of a winter storm that has ravaged the continental U.S.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 28 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 497,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 111 million cases and 2.46 million deaths. More than 78.1 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and about 59.5 million have been administered, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: After early confusion, experts say it’s always better to use leftover shots than toss them. “Don’t waste vaccine!”
Hawaii elongates pre-travel virus test window to 96 hours
The Hawaii Department of Health has temporarily elongated the window incoming travelers have to complete a negative coronavirus test. The state said that travelers can now take their pre-boarding coronavirus test up to 96 hours before their flight instead of 72 hours because of winter storms that have ravaged the continental U.S.
The test will still have to be conducted by a state-approved provider. The extension will be in effect through Sunday, Hawaii News Now reported.
Could your Apple Watch, Fitbit help slow the pandemic?
Growing evidence suggests that a smartwatch or Fitbit could help warn wearers of a potential COVID-19 infection prior to a positive test result. Wearables such as the Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy smartwatch, Fitbit and other devices can collect heart and oxygen data, as well as sleep and activity levels. Researchers are studying whether a body’s health data might signal an oncoming COVID-19 infection.
A COVID-19 infection may not be imminent for a person whose heart or activity data suggests a potential infection. But the increased likelihood – and the ability to alert the patient to get tested and possibly quarantine – could provide a vital tool in preventing the spread of the disease and tracking it, researchers say. Such findings, if proved out, could lead to remote medical alerts for other possible viruses, flu and undue stress.
– Mike Snider
Entire school board quits after mocking parents on livestream
The president and all three other members of a California school board have resigned after mocking parents in a livestreamed meeting on school reopening that they appeared to think was private. Greg Hetrick, superintendent of the Oakley Union Elementary School District in Costa County, announced the board members had submitted their resignations in a letter to the school community Friday, calling it an “unfortunate situation.” Video of the Wednesday night meeting has circulated on social media and appears to capture board members mocking parents who have been writing letters to petition the board to reopen schools amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“They want to pick on us because they want their babysitters back,” said Board President Lisa Brizendine.
The board members also use expletives and laugh about parents who take medical marijuana. Toward the end of the recording, the board members appear shocked to receive a message alerting them that the livestream is public. In a statement, the board members expressed their “sincerest apology” and said they “deeply regret the comments that were made in the meeting.”
Contributing: The Associated Press