Biden meets his vaccination target, the CDC says students can be three feet apart, and cases surge in Europe. Here’s what you should know:
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Biden meets target of 100 million vaccinations 58 days into his term
President Biden announced that today, 58 days into his presidency, his administration will meet its goal of doling out 100 million coronavirus vaccines within its first 100 days. Yesterday the White House also announced that it plans to “loan” a combined 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico and Canada. The vaccine has been authorized for use by the WHO but not yet by regulators in the States, and the US has stockpiled tens of millions of doses while awaiting emergency use authorization.
Individual states have also made good progress. After President Biden announced last week that he aims to make vaccines available to all adults by May 1, at least 17 states have moved even more quickly. In Mississippi and Alaska, appointments are already open to anyone age 16 and older. In Ohio, all adults will be able to sign up for shots starting March 29, and a number of other states have outlined plans for expanding eligibility in April. However, there is concern about who an age-based system leaves behind. Disability rights advocates have expressed anger at the way vulnerable populations are being forgotten. And in some places, vaccinating incarcerated people continues to be a struggle.
CDC amends school guidelines, paving the way for more classrooms to reopen
On Friday morning the CDC updated its guidelines for schools, saying that with universal masking students should stay three, rather than six, feet apart from one another. This change is expected to make it possible for many more schools to resume in-person classes. Earlier this week, the Biden administration also said it would put $10 billion towards screening students and teachers so that more schools can reopen.
Outside of the classroom, many states have inched closer to reopening this week: New Jersey is increasing indoor capacity for gyms and restaurants, and New York announced Yankees and Mets games will be open to fans this season. Still, experts warn that accelerating reopening now would be a mistake. While the national daily case average continues to fall, as do hospitalization rates nationwide, the average number of cases has gone up at least 10 percent in fifteen states. And worryingly, Michigan in particular is seeing a dramatic increase in hospitalizations.
Cases surge in Europe as regulators affirm AstraZeneca’s safety
The European Medicines Agency asserted that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe after more than a dozen countries paused their rollout of the shot amid concerns that it could cause blood clots. The EMA did add that a new warning label will be appended to the vaccine so professionals are on guard for a potential rare complication that could lead to blood clots and bleeding in the brain; however, experts remain staunch that the science proves the vaccine is safe. Overall, they say, the shot will prevent much more illness and death than it could cause.
Following the announcement, countries including France and Germany said they would resume administering the AstraZeneca vaccine immediately, and leaders including Boris Johnson said they would receive the shot in order to encourage the public to do the same. Building vaccine trust and expediting rollout are imperative in Europe as the region faces yet another uptick in cases: Parts of Italy and France went back into lockdown this week, and German leaders are mulling extending the current lockdown to curb the virus’s rapid spread.
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Something to Read
Could humans get the whopping 51 billion tons of greenhouse gas we release every year down to zero? Bill Gates thinks so. In his new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, he breaks down the most pressing issues facing our planet, and how we can innovate to fix them.
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How has Covid-19 gummed up the court system?
The pandemic has complicated courts’ attempts to uphold the rights to public access and to fair and open trials, which was often a struggle even before much of the country went remote. With in-person proceedings limited at best, officials have turned to video and phone conferences, which can be unpredictable and glitchy. Virtual proceedings make it harder for lawyers and clients to communicate with each other during hearings. And while remote proceedings eliminate courthouses’ accessibility issues, there are other barriers to access, particularly for people with disabilities. Going virtual can also pose issues for people without reliable internet at home, particularly among historically marginalized communities.
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