India reported a global one-day record of more than 314,000 new infections Thursday as a coronavirus surge in the world’s second-most populous country overwhelms a fragile health care system critically short of hospital beds and oxygen.
A month ago India was reporting fewer new cases in a week than it is now reporting in a day.
India’s total of 15.9 million cases since the pandemic began is second to the United States. Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting Thursday to find ways to provide more desperately needed oxygen to hospitals across the nation of 1.4 billion people. A large number of hospitals are also reporting acute shortages of beds and medicine.
Fatalities in India rose by 2,104 in one day, raising the country’s overall death toll to 184,657, the Health Ministry said.
Canada’s health minister says half the people who are testing positive for the coronavirus after arriving in Canada by airplane came from India. As a result, Canada is banning all flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days.
Also in the news:
►COVID-19 hospitalizations among older Americans have plunged more than 70% since the start of the year, and deaths among them appear to have tumbled as well, dramatic evidence the vaccination campaign is working.
►The University of California and California State University systems will require coronavirus vaccinations for all students, faculty and staff on their campuses once in-person instruction resumes this fall. The requirement would go into effect once a vaccine has full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
►Health officials in Colorado say virus outbreaks have increased this week, reaching a total last seen in February, with the most outbreaks reported in schools and nursing homes.
►More than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, Vermont’s tourism industry is estimated to be down about $700 million to date, according to the state Department of Tourism. Losses to the ski industry make up about a seventh of that loss in revenue.
►Arkansas on Thursday marked 1 million coronavirus vaccine shots administered in the state so far, though the governor acknowledged more needs to be done to increase demand.
►New Mexico health officials concerned about vaccination rates say they are exploring recruitment of “community champions” – trusted residents of regions with vaccine hesitancy who can address concerns about safety and efficacy.
►Turkey, grappling with soaring infections, has announced that it is extending an upcoming weekend lockdown to include a public holiday on Friday.
►Just 13 states have rising case counts – about a third of what it had been just a few weeks ago. New U.S. infections fell about 11.7% in the last week compared with the week before, from almost 500,000 to 440,734.
►The Senate Foreign Relations Committee overwhelmingly approved a China competition bill that includes an investigation by the director of National Intelligence on the theory that COVID-19 could have leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
►An “emergency brake” plan by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to mandate uniform restrictions in areas where the coronavirus is spreading too quickly has cleared its final legislative hurdle.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 31.8 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 569,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: more than 144 million cases and 3 million deaths. Nearly 278 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and almost 216 million have been administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
📘 What we’re reading: With several states lifting mask mandates and COVID-19 vaccination rates on the rise, travelers are starting to ask when they will be able to fly without wearing a mask. It shouldn’t be anytime soon, flight attendants say.
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Attorneys general send letter to marketplace sites to crack down on fake COVID vaccine cards
39 attorneys general sent a letter this week to OfferUp, a marketplace site, in an effort to crack down fake COVID vaccine cards being sold online, reported the East Bay Times.
“Allowing users of your platform to market and sell fake vaccine cards is a threat to residents of our states,” says the letter, demanding that OfferUp remove such posts and retain information about the people who are selling the cards.
The letter follows a similar letter sent by 45 attorneys general to Twitter, eBay and Shopify about fake cards on their platforms.
Fake COVID vaccine cards have been the product of growing concern in recent months, as more and more people get vaccinated. The cards have the logos for the CDC and the Department of Health.
A spokesperson for OfferUp said Wednesday that the site’s administrators “actively remove” posts offering fake vaccine cards typically within an hour.
Pregnant women with COVID at higher risk of death and need of intensive care, study says
A study conducted in 18 countries, including the U.S., indicates pregnant women who develop COVID-19 have higher risks for death, preterm birth, need of intensive care and other complications.
Results of the research, involving about 700 pregnant women with COVID-19 and 1,400 without it, were published Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, and they echo smaller studies. The new research also shows newborns of women with COVID-19 also had significantly more adverse effects.
Pregnant women can gain some protection by getting vaccinated; recent evidence suggests the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are safe to use in pregnancy.
US among world leaders on list of vaccinated nations; Israel on top
More than 40% of Americans have been at least partially vaccinated, ranking the U.S. near the top in vaccination rates, Our World In Data reports. The group lists Israel as leading the globe with 62% of its 9 million people getting at least one shot. Others high on the list included the United Kingdom, with 49%, United Arab Emirates, Chile and Bahrain.
The world’s richest countries have collectively bought 1 billion more doses than their citizens need, according to a study by the global advocacy group ONE. The rest of the world has only been able to secure 2.5 billion doses — not enough to vaccinate their populations.
States line up to curb use of ‘vaccination passports’
Indiana could become the next state to ban or place limits on “vaccination passports.” Lawmakers in Indiana inserted language into an unrelated bill that would prohibit state and local governments from requiring employees to prove they have received the COVID vaccine. The language is not strong enough for some social conservatives who also want private businesses banned from requiring proof of vaccinations.
Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Montana and Texas are among states where governors have banned or limited “vaccination passport” use.
Frustrated with CDC rules, cruise lines take business, ships elsewhere
Cruise lines are slowly moving ships abroad after more than a year without sailing in U.S. waters because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Typically, nearly half of cruises worldwide depart from U.S. ports, according to a 2019 report from the Cruise Lines International Association. The CDC’s “conditional sailing order” is keeping ships from sailing, however. Major cruise lines, including Royal Carribean, Norwegian and Virgin Voyages, have announced sailings in other parts of the world, including the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and Israel.
“If the CDC won’t listen to reason, well, we’ll move our ships out of the U.S.,” said Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
– Morgan Hines
Flight attendants want airline mask mandates extended
The federal mask mandate on planes and in airports, signed by President Joe Biden in January and due to expire May 11, should be extended through September, the president of the largest flight attendants union said. Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, told a Senate subcommittee that the nation remains “in the middle of a crisis.”
“I do think it’s important that we recognize that and stay the course here with the mask policies, with all of our diligence (and) with the efforts to get the vaccine out to everyone,” Nelson said.
U.S. airlines have required passengers to wear masks for nearly a year and repeatedly asked for a federal mask mandate to help them enforce it on flights. The efforts were unsuccessful until Biden took office.
– Dawn Gilbertson
Americans grappling with death of loved ones — and their taxes
When someone passes away, their tax headaches don’t die with them. In fact, those obligations can further complicate the lives of survivors. Federal estate taxes may be due and state inheritance taxes could come into play as well.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans mourning the deaths of loved ones to COVID-19 are now dealing with the tax paperwork they left behind. That can often be complicated and time-consuming. Read more here.
– Jessica Menton
Contributing: The Associated Press