Coronavirus update: Clues about the cause of vaccine blood clots, CDC okays adolescent vaccinations

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There was a new pandemic low for unemployment claims

Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 32,819,878 (32,780,283)

Total U.S. deaths: 583,779 (582,867)

Total global cases: 160,566,700 (159,784,683)

Total global deaths: 3,334,194 (3,320,036)

Blood expert zeros in on vaccine blood-clotting cause

A German blood expert has conducted research that he says sheds light on why the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines have triggered rare but serious blood clot conditions in a few vaccine recipients.

Andreas Greinacher, a researcher at the University of Greifswald, believes so-called viral vector vaccines could cause an autoimmune response that leads to blood clots in a small number of people. He believes that reaction could be tied to stray proteins and a preservative used in the vaccines.

“We strongly support raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of this very rare event, and we are currently exploring a potential collaboration with Dr. Greinacher,” a Johnson & Johnson spokesman told the Wall Street Journal.

CDC recommends Pfizer vaccine for adolescents

Just days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has followed suit with a recommendation that the policy be implemented.

An advisory committee to the government health agency took the final step, making the vaccine available to adolescents as statistics show the virus has increased in younger, unvaccinated Americans.

"CDC now recommends that this vaccine be used among this population, and providers may begin vaccinating them right away," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.

Unemployment claims keep falling

While job creation numbers for April were a disappointment, other government statistics suggest that layoffs have dropped sharply over the last four weeks. The Labor Department reports that initial claims for unemployment benefits declined last week to 473,000, the lowest number since the pandemic shut down the economy in March 2020. 

Last week’s number was down 34,000 from the previous week’s revised number. But this week, that number was the smallest of the pandemic so far.

It may be hard to recall, but jobless benefit claims were routinely half of the past week’s low before the pandemic. For the week of March 14, 2020 -- the week before the economy was shut down -- claims totaled just 256,000.

Post-pandemic retirements on the rise

A year ago, when the pandemic threw millions of Americans out of work, surveys showed that there was an increase in the number of people who planned to retire later in life, or not at all. 

A year later, that sentiment appears to have reversed. Government statistics show that the percentage of Americans between the ages of 55 and 74 who have retired has increased over the last 12 months.

The numbers show that the biggest increase has occurred among people between the ages of 65 and 74, which is traditionally considered prime retirement years. Employment experts attribute the increase to job losses and business closings during the pandemic.

The Yankees’ COVID-19 struggles get worse

The New York Yankees’ COVID-19 outbreak has risen from three to seven in the last 24 hours. As we mentioned Wednesday, two coaches and a support staff member have tested positive for the virus.

Before Wednesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said the number of positive cases within the team and staff had more than doubled. Six of the seven infected individuals reportedly have no symptoms, and all of them have been vaccinated.

Boone said the fact that the whole organization has been vaccinated prevented the outbreak from being worse. "I feel like in a lot of ways, because we're vaccinated, we're kind of good and able to deal with this,” he stated.

Around the nation

  • California: Los Angeles County plans to start vaccinating younger teenagers and 12-year-olds starting today. County-run vaccination venues will administer the shots to people under 18 who are with a parent or guardian.

  • Ohio: Companies have offered everything from free beer to donuts to persuade Americans to get vaccinated. Gov. Mike DeWine is upping the ante, announcing that adults who roll up their sleeves will be entered into a special state lottery, with the winner getting $1 million.

  • Illinois: Now that the pandemic is receding, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is trying to rebuild Illinois’ tourism industry. Days before the first leg of the state’s reopening, Pritzker unveiled a new tourism campaign urging visitors from neighboring states to “see all of Illinois.”

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