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Coronavirus update: Cases are still increasing, the U.K. variant is everywhere

The CDC issued new guidance on disinfectants

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Photo (c) Paul Biris - Getty Images
Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 30,798,418 (30,708,630)

Total U.S. deaths: 555,777 (555,021)

Total global cases: 132,019,041 (131,435,555)

Total global deaths: 2,864,366 (2,854,911)

Cases are still rising

As millions of Americans get vaccinated, the number of new COVID-19 cases has continued to rise, although the infection rate is higher in some states than in others.

The seven-day average of new cases this week is sharply higher than the 14-day average, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal. That suggests new cases are increasing.

Some health experts believe most of the new cases involve young people who have not yet been vaccinated. They point to the recent death toll, which has been going down. The U.S. reported 603 COVID-19 fatalities for Monday, according to the COVID-19 Tracking Project at Johns Hopkins University.

Variant now present in all 50 states

A more contagious variant of the coronavirus, first identified in the U.K., has now been confirmed in all 50 states in the U.S., according to government health data. Health experts suspect the variants may be responsible for the recent uptick in cases.

Dr. Michael Osterholm, director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, worries that people who have not yet been vaccinated are taking too many risks.

"America appears to be done with the pandemic," Osterholm told CNN. "The virus is not done with us."

CDC: Put away the disinfectant wipes

In updated guidance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it’s not necessary to constantly wipe down surfaces with disinfectants, which was the protocol for most of the pandemic.

The CDC says that in "most situations" with no known coronavirus exposure, clearing surfaces with soap and water will “substantially” reduce virus levels on surfaces. Scientists now say the virus is less likely to spread through contact with surfaces than breathing in airborne particles from an infected person.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says the health agency only recommends the use of disinfectants in indoor settings where there has been a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 24 hours.

Want to travel this summer? Get vaccinated

The whole idea of a “vaccine passport” has become a politically charged issue, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that you’re probably going to need a vaccination if you want to travel this summer. 

Norwegian Cruise Line has asked the CDC to allow it to sail beginning in July, promising that everyone on board would be vaccinated against the virus. The CEO of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker, says his airline will require proof of vaccination to board an aircraft and says he thinks it will become a trend in the industry.

“In the short term, yes, I think that the vaccine passport will be helpful to give confidence both to governments and to the passengers in our industry to start traveling again,” he told CNBC.

Bar opening event may have been a ‘super-spreader’

As COVID-19 cases were declining in February, health officials urged Americans not to let down their guard. A CDC report suggests some people in Illinois weren’t paying attention.

In its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report this week, the CDC traced an outbreak of at least 46 cases, a school closure, and the hospitalization of a long-term care facility resident to a bar-opening event in a rural community.

State health officials identified 29 people who tested positive for COVID-19 or had symptoms after attending the indoor event that celebrated the establishment’s reopening. The CDC did not identify the community.

Around the nation

  • Michigan: Health officials say Michigan has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, but no one can figure out why. Dr. Meredith Hill, the emergency room director at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, said the increase has been more drastic than the previous two weeks. "I think there's obviously more community spread right now," she said. 

  • South Carolina: Republicans in the state legislature have signed a letter to Gov. Henry McMaster asking him to block any effort to require the use of “vaccine passports” in the state. "The use of ‘vaccine passports’ to restrict commerce is a threat to both personal liberty and medical privacy," the lawmakers wrote.

  • Iowa: Cases of the virus are on the rise on college campuses. Another 89 COVID-19 cases were reported at Iowa State University from March 29 to April 4. Seventy students had tested positive on campus the week before.

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