India reeling amid virus surge; CDC updates airborne transmission guidance: Latest COVID-19 updates

·5 min read

The pace of vaccination in India has dropped and regional officials there say they have limited amounts of vaccines to administer, even as the country grapples with a surge in coronavirus cases and complaints of oxygen shortages at hospitals.

The world’s second most populous country is setting a record pace of infections: Just over 403,000 confirmed cases reported Sunday, including 4,092 deaths.

At the same time, vaccinations per day have dropped to an average of 1.3 million in the past week. That’s down from 3.5 million per day in April. So far, about 10% of India’s population have received one dose, while just shy of 2.5% have received both.

India’s Supreme Court is setting up a national task force to conduct an “oxygen audit” to determine whether federal supplies are reaching states. The country’s top court stepped in last week to ensure the federal government provided more oxygen to hospitals in New Delhi.

On Friday, the European Union called on the United States to start boosting its vaccine exports to help contain the global crisis. The United States said earlier last week that it would support efforts to waive some intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines to allow more countries to produce more of them, but officials said it would not have an immediate impact on global supplies, and drug makers have opposed lifting patent protections.

Also in the news:

►Washington D.C.’s Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s recent ban on dancing has faced backlash for prohibiting wedding traditions such as cocktail hour and father-daughter dances.

The pace of U.S. vaccinations has been slowing from its peak on April 10 of 4.6 million daily shots. Public health agencies are working harder to get shots in arms, a critical effort that could help President Joe Biden's new goal of 70% of Americans getting at least one shot by July 4.

► Pfizer and BioNTech said Friday that they had submitted an application for full FDA approval of their COVID-19 vaccine for people ages 16 and older.

►Pakistan on Saturday received its first supply of COVID-19 vaccines through the U.N.-backed COVAX initiative, over 1.2 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

►The Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature backed off its effort to remove Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly from final decisions on how federal coronavirus relief funds are spent.

📈 Today's numbers: The U.S. has more than 32.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 581,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: Over 157 million cases and 3.2 million deaths. More than 329 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and more than 257 million have been administered, according to the CDC. More than 112.6 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – 33.9% of the population.

📘 What we're reading: COVID-19 fear, anxiety continues to hold back fully vaccinated Americans. Where does it come from and how can we overcome it?

Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates. Want more? Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

CDC updates guidance on airborne threat

The Centers for Disease Control updated public guidance on Friday to highlight that the coronavirus is spread through the air – in tiny droplets exhaled by others – and can be transmitted at distances greater than 6 feet.

The agency's previous guidance said the virus spreads "mainly through close contact from person to person."

The CDC said the virus can be breathed in, come in contact with eyes, noses or mouths, and can contaminate surfaces that people touch in some circumstances. The agency said people within six feet still are more likely to get infected, but the guidance reflects current knowledge about transmission and was "reformatted to be more concise."

"Although how we understand transmission occurs has shifted, the ways to prevent infection with this virus have not," the agency said in a statement. "All prevention measures that CDC recommends remain effective for these forms of transmission."

— Donovan Slack

Many parents hesitant on vaccines

The FDA may approve COVID vaccines for kids next week, but a sizeable share of parents aren’t so eager to get their children inoculated, recent surveys show.

While 71% of parents or caregivers said in a March survey that they would vaccinate themselves, only 58% said they would vaccinate their children, according to a report by ParentsTogether, a national parent’s organization that provides education and resources for families.

In a more recent survey, nearly a third of parents said they would wait a while to see how the vaccines are working, according to findings published in the April edition of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Vaccine Monitor. Almost 1 in 5 said they definitely won’t get their child vaccinated,

“It’s going to take some time for all parents to become comfortable with the vaccine, but what I’m hoping people understand … is that this becomes part of a way to protect our children and community,” said Bethany Robertson, cofounder and codirector of ParentsTogether who authored the vaccine hesitancy report.

– Adrianna Rodriguez

Trader Joe's drops senior hours at many stores

Trader Joe's has dropped senior hours at many of its 515-plus stores.

The specialty supermarket, like the majority of the nation's major grocery stores, started designating special shopping hours in March 2020 to help those the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention then considered most vulnerable and at-risk for COVID-19.

Trader Joe's originally set aside the first hour each day at all stores for 60 and older and customers with disabilities. The hours were later reduced to twice a week – usually Wednesday and Sunday – at most stores with some variations.

But recently, hundreds of its stores stopped offering the designated time, the company confirmed to USA TODAY. To find out whether your store still offers senior hours, read more here.

– Kelly Tyko

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID news: India virus surge; CDC airborne transmission guidelines

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