There is some news of positive trends. Cases are falling nationwide by 73% and hospitalizations have dropped by nearly 55%.
IKE EJIOCHI: It's an unforgettable milestone-- the United States, approaching half a million deaths.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: It's something that is stunning when you look at the numbers-- almost unbelievable, but it's true. This is a devastating pandemic.
IKE EJIOCHI: So many souls, lost like Gwen and Mike Albert. Together for 50 years, dying only eight days apart.
- I was able to be with her and hold her hand and they turned off the ventilator.
IKE EJIOCHI: There are positive trends, with cases falling nationwide by 73%, and hospitalizations dropping by nearly 55%. Yet concerns of a new wave persists, with New York reporting its first case of the South African variant in a Long Island resident, and the vaccines may be less protective against it.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: If, in fact, this becomes more dominant, we may have to get a version of the vaccine that is directed specifically against the South African Isolette.
IKE EJIOCHI: Dr. Fauci, warning Americans could be wearing masks into 2022. The vaccination effort slowed down across the country after the dangerous winter weather storms, delaying six million doses. But even with delays, the fight continues, with vaccination efforts now ramping up around the country.
The California Governor, Gavin Newsom, touring a new vaccination site in Inglewood, highlighting a need to address Black and Brown communities hit hardest. And this morning, a new Israeli study on the Pfizer vaccine suggests people who receive both shots are almost 96% less likely to get sick. This weekend, the country is starting to get back to normal, easing COVID restrictions, and using green passes to residents who have been vaccinated. While here at home, the Biden administration pushes to get kids back in classrooms, and efforts Democrats say they'll address this week in their nearly $2 trillion COVID relief package.
President Biden's expected to have a ceremony later today commemorating the 500,000 lives lost, and he's expected to be joined by Vice President Harris. In Washington, Ike Ejiochi, ABC News.