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Coronavirus update: Cases continue to decline, high vaccination rates a positive factor

Most college students say they’ll get vaccinated

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

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 32,999,741 (32,975,491)

Total U.S. deaths: 587,245 (586,598)

Total global cases: 164,348,314 (163,736,528)

Total global deaths: 3,407,240 (3,392,840)

Cases continue to decline in the U.S.

For the U.S., news about the pandemic continues to get better. There were just under 28,000 new cases of COVID-19 reported Tuesday, down from a peak of 250,000. The two-week trend is down 37%.

Among health officials, the emphasis this week has been on increasing vaccinations. While 37% of the total population has gotten the shot, the pace of vaccinations has slowed in recent weeks.

Most states are now administering doses without an appointment. Distribution points have been expanded to include churches, public transportation terminals, and other places where people gather on a regular basis.

States with high vaccination rates report fewer cases

Broken down by individual states, the decline in new cases follows a distinct pattern. A CNN analysis shows that states with the highest vaccination rates are reporting the fewest new cases.

Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Vermont all have vaccinated at least 70% of their adult populations. They’re not only reporting the fewest new cases, but hospitalizations and deaths are also sharply lower in those seven states.

Dr. William Schaffner, a member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, is among the health officials who worry that concentrations of unvaccinated people in a geographic area could cause a resurgence of the virus. "Clearly if you have geographic areas that are under-immunized, the virus is going to find them,” he told the network.

The majority of college students plan to get vaccinated

Many colleges and universities have already announced that vaccinations will be mandatory for students and staff returning to campus in the fall. A survey by College Finance suggests that will be just fine with most people.

According to the survey, 88% of students said they plan to get vaccinated against the virus. Another 72% said they support the mandatory vaccination rule.

The poll also found a political breakdown when it comes to the vaccination question. Students identifying as Democrats were more likely to accept vaccinations than those identifying as Republicans.

Scientists say other vaccines may also help against COVID-19

Scientists suggest that the COVID-19 vaccines might not be the only type of vaccine to provide protection from the virus. Researchers at the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Maryland say measles, polio, and tuberculosis vaccines may also increase immunity to the virus.

These live attenuated vaccines (LAVs) may induce protective innate immunity that mitigates other infectious diseases, triggering the human body’s natural emergency response to infections including COVID-19, as well as future pandemic threats. 

“A review of epidemiological, clinical and biological evidence suggests that induction of innate immunity by existing LAVs, that is, the broadly effective vaccines, can protect against unrelated infections such as coronavirus, and could be used to control epidemics caused by emerging pathogens,” said Dr. Robert Gallo, the institute’s co-founder.

Unions reportedly unhappy with CDC mask guidance

Organized labor has been pressing the Biden administration to pass tougher workplace safety rules, and some union leaders are reportedly surprised and unhappy with the CDC’s guidance that vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear a mask. Some have told Politico that they have advocated for requiring masks in the workplace.

The administration is finalizing emergency COVID-19 workplace safety rules from OSHA, which unions expected to include a mask mandate. David Michaels, who led OSHA during the Obama administration, called it a public health 101 failure.

“By giving advice to vaccinated people, but ignoring the fact that many or most people in many settings will not be vaccinated, the CDC is causing confusion and setting back our efforts to stop this pandemic,” he told Politico.

Around the nation

  • Texas: Texas was the first state to drop its mask mandate, and Gov. Greg Abbott wants to make sure the mandate doesn’t make a comeback. Abbott has signed an executive order that bars public schools and most other government entities from requiring masks. 

  • Massachusetts: Gov. Charlie Baker has set June 15 as the date to end the formal state of emergency that has been in place in Massachusetts since March 10 of last year. That means any pandemic-related executive orders put in place last year will expire. Most virus-related restrictions will end Memorial Day weekend.

  • Ohio: The state legislature is debating a bill that would prohibit a business or government agency from requiring vaccinations against COVID-19. “There are thousands of Ohioans that are asking for the freedom to decide to make their own medical choices,” said Rep. Jennifer Gross. “Vaccination is a medical choice.”

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