The German government said Monday that it’s suspending the use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine over new reports of dangerous blood clots in connection with the shot.
The Health Ministry said the decision was taken as a “precaution” and on the advice of Germany’s national vaccine regulator, the Paul Ehrlich Institute, which called for further investigation of the cases. In a statement, the ministry said the European Medicines Agency would decide “whether and how the new information will affect the authorization of the vaccine.”
Several other European countries have temporarily halted use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in recent days to investigate cases of blood clots that occurred after vaccination. It has not been approved for use in the United States.
Also in the news:
►Former President Donald Trump speaking up for vaccinations could play a crucial role in lifting the U.S. out of the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci said. Fauci, speaking Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” noted that Trump supporters are far less willing to be vaccinated than Biden backers. The numbers are “so disturbing, how such a large proportion of a certain group of people would not want to … get vaccinated merely because of political consideration.”
►Newly vaccinated residents of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, were treated to a mini-concert last week when famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma played while waiting out his 15-minute post-injection health monitoring.
►The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Heising Simons Foundation are offering five, $7,500 MIT Technology Review COVID Inequality Fellowships. The money is to help journalists produce stories about COVID-19 inequality in under-covered communities in the U.S.
►Federal data last week showed Connecticut lagging the national average on fully completed COVID-19 vaccinations. But federal and state officials now say those numbers were reported in error, and that about 70,000 shots were logged incorrectly in the state.
►Lower physical distancing policies, with masking, can be implemented in schools without negatively impacting student or staff safety, a new study said last week.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has over 29.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 534,800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: Almost 120 million cases and 2.65 million deaths. More than 135.8 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 107 million have been administered, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: In the year of COVID-19, who has really benefited from the stock market boom? While some Americans have seen their stock holdings balloon in value or stashed away stimulus checks, not everyone was able to take advantage of the market rebound. Read more here.
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Texas man who spoke out against dropping mask mandate faces death threats, vandalism
Support is rolling in for a San Antonio man whose Noodle Tree restaurant was vandalized with racist graffiti days after he spoke out against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to rescind a statewide mask mandate.
Mike Nguyen appeared on CNN last week, saying his stance was based on the safety of his staff, himself and the community. Since that interview, he said he has faced death threats on social media. On Sunday, he arrived at his restaurant to find “no mask,” “kung flu,” and “go back 2 China” scrawled in red paint on his storefront.
“The funny thing is, I’m not even Chinese, I’m half Vietnamese, half French,” Nguyen told kens5.com.
The vandalism came just days after President Joe Biden condemned the violence Asian Americans have endured throughout the pandemic. Neighbors came to Nguyen’s aid, helping him clean up the mess. Mayor Ron Nirenberg thanked them, saying the effort “proved that we’re better than this one hateful act.”
The Chinese American Citizens Alliance and the Asian American Alliance of San Antonio released a joint statement denouncing the “ugly display of hate.”
“This ignorant act had not only damaged a business, but it also dishonored the distinguished reputation of San Antonio,” the groups said. Nguyen says he won’t stop speaking out.
“People are rooting for us to succeed and they are there for me, so I just can’t flop down and give up,” Nguyen said.
30,000 deaths later, New York City marks anniversary of first fatality
Somber words and music were set against a backdrop of images of New Yorkers taken by the pandemic as Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday marked a year since reporting the city’s first fatality from COVID-19, a fearful moment of reckoning that sent officials rushing to close businesses and schools.
More than 30,000 New Yorkers have died, more than the city lost in World War II, Vietnam, Sept. 11 and Superstorm Sandy combined, de Blasio said.
“Everyone we’ve lost, what they did, goes on,” he said. “What they contributed, what they created, the love they gave, goes on.”
The city, the state and the nation are showing signs of renewal. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that domestic travelers to New York will no longer be required to quarantine starting April 1. Dr. Anthony Fauci said some form of “normality” could return to the country by the Fourth of July. But Fauci also warned on Fox News Sunday that the U.S. must gradually lift restrictions or risk another wide-ranging lockdown to halt a surge.
Facebook launching vaccination appointment tool
Facebook is launching a tool in its COVID Information Center designed to show when and where you can get vaccinated and provides a link to make an appointment.
Facebook is partnering with Boston Children’s Hospital, which runs the VaccineFinder.org website, to offer the tool that identifies places nearby to get the vaccine.
“Improving vaccine access and equity across the country will be a critical step in achieving herd immunity and bringing this pandemic to a close,” John Brownstein, Boston Children’s Hospital chief innovation officer and VaccineFinder founder, said in a statement.
– Kelly Tyko
With nearly 12M shots given, California opens vaccine eligibility
On Monday, California will open up vaccine eligibility to people with certain significant, high-risk medical conditions or disabilities. An estimated 4.4 million Californians meet the state criteria, which includes more essential workers, people who work or live in jails, homeless shelters and other congregant places, and those with disabilities and health conditions that put them at risk of severe COVID-19.
San Francisco will allow people with HIV to get vaccinated, along with people who identify as deaf or disabled, local officials said. The city is going beyond the state’s eligibility rules to cover developmental, medical, physical, sensory or behavioral health disabilities, including severe mental health or substance use disorders, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday.
“Getting vaccinations to people with disabilities and who have severe underlying conditions, and people who are in congregate settings, is an important part of our efforts to save lives and protect our most vulnerable residents,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement.
– Desert Sun
Duke University locks down as fate of semester ‘hangs in the balance’
Duke undergraduate students have been ordered to stay-in-place until 9 a.m. next Sunday as the school struggles to contain a virus outbreak “principally driven by students attending recruitment parties for selective living groups,” the school said in a letter to students. More than 180 students have been placed in isolation after testing positive in the last week; an additional 200 students are being quarantined as a result of contact tracing.
Students living in Duke-provided housing must remain in their residence hall room or apartment “at all times except for essential activities related to food, health or safety,” the letter said. Students living off-campus are not permitted on campus.
“If this feels serious, it’s because it is,” the letter said. “Our ability to complete the semester, commencement for our seniors, and the health and safety of our community, including your fellow undergraduate students, is hanging in the balance.”
Patients with sickle cell find freedom with vaccine
As the mother of two children, ages 10 and 11, with sickle cell disease, Mariame Doray has spent the past year being extra careful, knowing that they would be at increased risk of severe disease if they fell ill with COVID-19. So when she heard that Indianapolis’s Martin Center, a service agency that supports people with sickle cell disease, was offering a Saturday vaccination clinic for their patients and their family members in concert with Community Health Network, she signed up.
“Now I feel better going to work,” she said, gesturing to the sticker on her shirt that attested to her newly acquired vaccination status.
Sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disorder that can lead to a host of symptoms, including heart problems, stroke, organ damage, reduced life expectancy, and episodes of pain. About 95% of people diagnosed with these conditions are Black. Sickle cell disease patients were added to the Indiana vaccine availability lists in February, along with people with some other high-risk conditions. Read more here.
– Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star
Here’s how to find out when your stimulus payment will come
You can now find out when your next stimulus payment is expected to hit your bank account or get mailed. The IRS updated the “Get My Payment” tool on its website with information on the third round of stimulus checks Saturday, agency spokesperson Karen Connelly confirmed to USA TODAY. Check for your status here.
The third round of Economic Impact Payments will be based on a taxpayer’s latest processed tax return from either 2020 or 2019. That includes anyone who used the IRS non-filers tool last year or submitted a special simplified tax return.
– Kelly Tyko
Contributing: The Associated Press