White House coronavirus response senior adviser Andy Slavitt on Tuesday urged young Americans to get vaccinated, saying his own son is battling long-haul symptoms of the infection.
“He’s young and fit, and in the prime of his life. But six months later, he stills suffers from tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), shortness of breath and ongoing and frequent flu-like symptoms,” Slavitt said at a White House briefing. “His hands are cold to the touch.”
Slavitt said it is not clear how long the symptoms will last. He said that “many, many” young people are more seriously ill than his son, and that more than one-third of hospitalized COVID patients are under 50.
“My message to young people is simple. Get vaccinated,” Slavitt said. “It’s the most important thing you can do right now.”
Also in the news:
►The U.S. Attorney in Maine has seized $3.6 million from the bank account of Med-Tech Resource LLC, saying the Oregon-based company was involved in deals to sell counterfeit N95 masks and fake respirators to the state of Maine.
►Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that the Lollapalooza music festival will return to Grant Park at full capacity July 29-Aug. 1, 2021. The lineup will be revealed Wednesday.
►Voters in Pennsylvania were deciding Tuesday on two ballot questions that seek to limit a governor’s emergency disaster declarations. Republican lawmakers are upset over shutdowns ordered by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf during the pandemic.
►New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s publisher is scheduled to pay him more than $5 million for the book he authored last year on his handling of the pandemic, according to newly released tax returns and ethics documents.
►Early data indicates that vaccines being used in the U.S. are effective against the variant now devastating India, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 32.9 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 586,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 163.7 million cases and 3.39 million deaths. More than 344.5 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 274.4 million have been administered, according to the CDC. Nearly 123.8 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – 37.4% of the population.
📘 What we’re reading: The CDC may say fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear face masks, but the mask conflict at stores isn’t going away.
Coronavirus vaccination rates across the nation are lower in rural counties than in urban ones in both genders and in all age groups, according to a federal report issued Tuesday. The analysis, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, looked at vaccination rates through April 10. It found rural counties had a rate of about 39% compared with 46% in urban counties.
“We remain committed to listening and to reaching out to communities in every corner of the United States in our work to narrow these differences and to make sure that vaccine coverage is equitable, regardless of whether you live in rural or urban areas,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.
Walensky said 60% of adult Americans have had at least one vaccine dose, crediting vaccines with steadily falling numbers of new cases and hospitalizations. The seven-day average of new cases has dropped to numbers not seen since March 2020, essentially the start of the pandemic, she said.
Federal health officials are releasing $3 billion to help states cope with rising substance abuse and mental health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The money from the coronavirus relief bill will be equally divided between the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant and the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, roughly tripling the federal commitment to the programs, officials say.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported 90,000 overdose deaths for the 12-month period ending last September, 20,000 additional more than the same period a year earlier.
Ohioans on Tuesday began registering for the Vax-a-Million lottery and a chance to claim $1 million cash prizes or college scholarships if they can prove receiving at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot.
Drawings for the lottery, designed to combat vaccine hesitancy, are scheduled to take place on five consecutive Wednesdays starting May 26 on live TV.
“We have heard that local health departments and pharmacies are seeing more people coming in to get vaccinated,” Gov. Mike DeWine said. “This is great news!”
The plan initially called for using voter registration records to choose winners for the cash prize, but state officials have opted for a online registration or toll-free number instead. By opting in, winners will agree to have their vaccination records verified and be publicly announced, state officials said. Ohio residents who are 18 or older, have received at least one vaccine dose and registered for the drawing are eligible for the cash prizes. Five winners will be chosen to receive $1 million each.
Ohio teens 12 to 17 who have received one vaccine dose and registered are eligible for the scholarships, which will cover tuition, room-and-board and books for four years at a public Ohio college or university.
– Laura A. Bischoff, The Columbus Dispatch
Dr. Anthony Fauci admits that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance issued last week that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks in most instances, even indoors, has led to “confusion.” Fauci told ABC News he understands why some businesses might continue to require masks since they don’t know who has been vaccinated. The Biden administration has rejected the idea of a government issued vaccine “passport.”
“The problem and the issue is that we don’t have any way of knowing who is vaccinated and who’s not vaccinated,” Fauci said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may say fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear face masks, but the conflicts at stores won’t just going away. Retailers that have dropped mask rules for vaccinated people have said they don’t plan to interrogate anyone or request their vaccination cards at the door and will instead rely on the honor system.
“Retail employees should never have been the mask police, and they cannot be the vaccine police,” said Brian Dodge, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association. “Businesses are looking at those orders and trying to understand what they can do appropriately in order to comply and keep everyone in their stores safe.”
– Kelly Tyko
While some Republican governors have embraced cash and other incentives to encourage the vaccine-hesitant to get their shot, Gov. Bill Lee says he has no plans to offer any similar programs in Tennessee. West Virginia is offering $100 for anyone ages 16 to 35 who has received the vaccine. Maryland is offering $100 to all state employees who take it. Ohio has it’s $1 million lotteries. Tennessee continues to face vaccine hesitancy in rural parts of the state, where many conservative and religious residents have so far declined the shot.
“We have seen as our primary objective to make the vaccine available to everyone in every corner of this state, and that’s the part that we believe is the state’s obligation,” Lee said. “So we don’t have any plans for incentives.”
– Natalie Allison, Nashville Tennessean
Amid a pandemic that left law enforcement agencies stretched thin and forced shutdowns that left young men with little to do, California registered a devastating surge in homicides in 2020 that hit especially hard in Black and Latino communities.
The number of homicide victims in California jumped 27% from 2019 to 2020, to about 2,300, marking the largest year-over-year increase in three decades, according to preliminary death certificate data from the California Department of Public Health.
The increase in deadly violence played out across large swaths of the state, urban and rural, and was keenly felt in the San Francisco Bay Area. Among California’s 10 most populous counties, the sharpest increases were reported in Alameda County, where homicides rose 57%, followed by Fresno (44%), Sacramento (36%) and Los Angeles (32%).
– Winston Gieseke, USA TODAY Network
Contributing: The Associated Press