Coronavirus update: Committee resumes Johnson & Johnson vaccine review, vaccination rates are slowing down

Photo (c) Andriy Onufriyenko - Getty Images

California is seeing a big drop in new cases

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

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 31,931,027 (31,871,390)

Total U.S. deaths: 570,357 (569,518)

Total global cases: 144,878,978 (144,025,288)

Total global deaths: 3,075,042 (3,062,087)

Advisory committee meeting to review vaccine data

An advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is meeting today to review additional data about rare but serious side effects linked to Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. The committee could vote on a recommended course of action by the end of the day.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has paused the use of the vaccine after six women who received it suffered serious blood clots, resulting in one death. Since then, Reuters reports that the CDC is investigating the death of a woman in Oregon and the hospitalization of another vaccine recipient in Texas.

The Oregon Health Authority said the woman who died was vaccinated before the FDA issued the pause and formed blood clots within two weeks.

U.S. vaccination rate slows

This week, the U.S. hit President Biden’s goal of vaccinating 200 million Americans before the end of April. But as the U.S. hit that goal, the rate of vaccinating people began slowing down, according to the CDC.

The CDC data shows that the U.S. vaccinated 2.9 million people over the past seven days, the first time the number has dropped below 3 million a day in several weeks. But it could be the calm before the storm.

By now, nearly all seniors and frontline workers who want a vaccination have gotten one. At the beginning of the week, eligibility was opened to all adults. Many of them are only now making appointments to receive the vaccine.

California enjoys a sharp downward trend in cases

California was reeling from a surge in new cases of COVID-19 at the beginning of the year. Hospitals were at the breaking point, and businesses were forced to curtail activity again.

Now, just months later, restaurants are open and new cases of the virus have dropped just as fast as they rose. Health officials say they aren’t sure why.

Researchers have put forth a variety of explanations, but the California vaccination rate is far down the list. Some think the rate of infection was much higher in the state than officially reported, leading millions of California residents to build up some immunity.

Employees evenly divided over vaccination policy

As offices around the country prepare to reopen, employers face a thorny and potentially divisive question: Should they require all employees to show proof of vaccination?

A poll suggests that they could disappoint about half their workforce no matter what they decide. Forty-nine percent of working Americans believe that employers should require vaccination proof, according to a survey by Eagle Hill Consulting.

"The good news is that the U.S. is making incredible progress when it comes to getting shots in arms, which is helping to drive business and economic recovery," says Melissa Jezior, Eagle Hill Consulting’s CEO. "But, we're continuing to see employee concerns and divided views on a wide range of COVID-19 issues, which creates an increasingly complicated  situation for employers."

White Castle is rewarding people who have been vaccinated

Who knew there were so many perks involved in getting a COVID-19 vaccination? Consumers can now add White Castle to the list of brands offering incentives to get the shot.

From now until May 31, the burger chain will provide a complimentary dessert-on-a-stick to anyone who can prove they have been vaccinated. In offering the incentive, the company joins other brands like Budweiser, which is giving away free beer, and Krispy Kreme, which is handing out free donuts.

"From the start of the pandemic, we've shared the message that there is 'unity in community,'" said Jamie Richardson, a vice president at White Castle. "We're thankful the vaccines are now widely available to all citizens 16 and over so that every adult can do their part to help our country return to all that we love and crave."

Around the nation

  • Ohio: Senior care facilities across the state report that they can’t hire enough staff. Pete Van Runkle, executive director of the Ohio Health Care Association, blames the pandemic. “It's an emergency," Van Runkle told WKYC-TV. "We've lost a lot of staff. I was talking to a member this morning and they said they were paying starting nursing assistants $18 an hour or $18.25, and that's 50% higher than they would have made pre-pandemic.”

  • Florida: Broward Health is suspending community vaccination events effective today due to low demand. "It has been our great privilege to serve our community these past months, and we are grateful for the numerous ways in which local businesses, public officials and you, our neighbors, have supported our efforts throughout the pandemic," the provider said in a statement

  • Colorado: During the pandemic, there were lots of things you couldn’t do. But you could still play golf, and statistics show 2020 was a banner year for the state’s golf courses. Mile High Sports reports that rounds at Colorado’s public golf courses rose 20% last year.

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