Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)
Total U.S. confirmed cases: 29,821,403 (29,799,255)
Total U.S. deaths: 542,382 (542,168)
Total global cases: 123,321,541 (123,040,456)
Total global deaths: 2,716,990 (2,712,656)
AstraZeneca vaccine shows 79 percent efficacy in U.S. trial
The U.S. could soon have a fourth vaccine to use against the coronavirus (COVID-19). AstraZeneca reports that its vaccine was 79 percent effective in just-concluded U.S. clinical trials. The company plans to seek authorization to distribute the vaccine in the U.S.
The vaccine has been widely used in Europe, but it was sidelined earlier this month after reports of some vaccine recipients developing blood clots. After an investigation, European health regulators determined there was no proven link between blood clots and the vaccine.
“This analysis validates the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as a much-needed additional vaccination option, offering confidence that adults of all ages can benefit from protection against the virus,” said Ann Falsey, a professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and co-lead principal investigator for the trial.
Spring break crowds pose virus threat, police say
Law enforcement officials in Miami Beach are expressing frustration at the growing crowds of young people gathering on beaches and at nightspots, many of whom are foregoing masks and social distancing. Police imposed an 8 p.m. curfew over the weekend to try to disperse the crowds.
Authorities have suggested that Florida is experiencing an influx of out-of-state people, in part, because of its relaxed coronavirus restrictions. Florida no longer has a statewide mask mandate.
Police used force Saturday night to remove people from the streets after the curfew. They say they made more than 1,000 arrests, with 90 percent of those arrested being from out of town.
Royal Caribbean ready to set sail
After being sidelined for nearly all of 2020, the Royal Caribbean International cruise line has announced a summer lineup of seven-night cruises onboard Adventure of the Seas. The voyages will set sail this June from a new homeport in Nassau, The Bahamas.
Destinations for the trips include Coco Cay, various ports in The Bahamas, and Cozumel, Mexico. Travelers can start booking as soon as Wednesday, March 24, and set sail starting June 12. The new itineraries departing through August, which will sail with a vaccinated crew, will be available to adult guests who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and those under the age of 18 with negative test results.
"The vaccines are clearly a game-changer for all of us, and with the number of vaccinations and their impact growing rapidly, we believe starting with cruises for vaccinated adult guests and crew is the right choice,” said Michael Bayley, president, and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.
Many Americans are taking it slow
You wouldn’t know it by the crowded stores, restaurants, and airports, but a new poll shows that a majority of Americans are leery of getting back to normal while the pandemic is still going on. Sixty-two percent of people questioned by healthinsurance.com say they worry about getting the virus.
A quarter of those in the survey said they would unfriend someone if they exposed them to COVID-19, and seven in 10 say they have or know someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Most say they plan to get the vaccine, but even after being vaccinated, 62 percent said they have apprehensions about life "returning to normal.".
Texas Roadhouse CEO dies after COVID-19 battle
Texas Roadhouse founder and CEO Kent Taylor is the latest high-profile victim of COVID-19. His family confirms that Taylor took his own life over the weekend after suffering extremely severe symptoms of the virus.
"Kent battled and fought hard like the former track champion that he was, but the suffering that greatly intensified in recent days became unbearable,” the company said in a statement.
Taylor’s family said one of the most severe symptoms was tinnitus, a common condition involving ringing or other noises in the ears. Although it’s not that common, health experts say the coronavirus can exacerbate tinnitus problems.
Around the nation
New Jersey: The state is suddenly grappling with an uptick in COVID-19 cases after weeks of declines. The state health department now lists three counties -- Hunterdon, Mercer, and Somerset -- as showing “high” coronavirus activity.
Kentucky: Gov. Andy Beshear reports on Twitter that cases of COVID-19 have continued to fall in the state for 10-straight weeks. He also reported a positivity rate of 2.97 percent, the lowest it's been since July. 3.
Washington: Colleges throughout the state have sent letters to students urging them not to travel to crowded beaches for spring break. The University of Washington has told students that “non-essential travel is strongly discouraged” until the virus is under control.