Fears over possible COVID surge as states relax restrictions amid variant spread

As spring arrives and vaccines are administered at a record level, many states are relaxing COVID-19 restrictions. But health officials warn against prematurely curtailing restrictions, especially as virus variants take hold. Danya Bacchus reports.

Video Transcript

JERICKA DUNCAN: Good evening. On the first day of spring, the country finds itself at a precarious point in the pandemic. New COVID cases now average about 55,000 a day. That's down significantly since peaks in January, but even with the accelerated pace of vaccinations, variants and an easing of restrictions are fueling new infections. Cases are up in more than a dozen states. That's pushed total cases in this country to nearly 30 million. The US death toll topping 541,000. CBS's Danya Bacchus is in Inglewood, California tonight outside a mass vaccination site. Danya, good evening.

DANYA BACCHUS: Good evening, Jericka. More than 43 million Americans are now fully vaccinated, but there are concerns of that progress being hurt. In Miami tonight, the party is over and a new curfew in place to keep spring breakers off the streets.

Tonight, spring is in the air but so is COVID-19. With variants fueling the virus's spread, partiers in Florida spark fears over another surge. And rage over masks still burns as protesters gathered in Arizona to burn theirs.

- We are the people. And we're done putting a muzzle on our face.

DANYA BACCHUS: Health officials warn large gatherings and relaxed restrictions are happening too soon.

ANTHONY FAUCI: Even though vaccines are being distributed at a pretty good clip of 2 to 3 million per day, that could be overcome if certain areas pull back prematurely.

DANYA BACCHUS: That's a big concern in Japan where today, Olympic organizers in Tokyo officially banned overseas spectators from attending the games this summer to cut COVID risks. But there is progress at America's schools.

ROCHELLE WALENSKY: I'm hopeful that we are turning a corner on this pandemic. Getting our children back to school in-person instruction as soon as possible is a critical first step in doing so. Revised CDC guidelines cut social distancing in classrooms from 6 to 3 feet for elementary school students. Masks remain mandatory. And a year after COVID forced them into dock, a cruise comeback of sorts. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity say they'll restart operations in June but only from Caribbean ports.

As Californians line up at vaccine sites like here at the Forum in Los Angeles, this state has reached a milestone, administering nearly three million doses in the past week, Governor Gavin Newsom says all Californians could be vaccine eligible by May. Jericka?

JERICKA DUNCAN: Danya Bacchus for us, thank you.