Coronavirus update: Nearly 6,000 vaccinated people got COVID-19 anyway, Johnson & Johnson vaccine still on hold

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The job market made a big improvement last week

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

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 31,439,683 (31,350,848)

Total U.S. deaths: 564,557 (563,520)

Total global cases: 138,489,227 (137,603,448)

Total global deaths: 2,976,972 (2,962,611)

CDC says nearly 6,000 vaccinated Americans got COVID-19

None of the COVID-19 vaccines is 100% effective, so it might not be surprising that some vaccinated people end up being infected with the virus. The CDC puts the number at around 5,800 people.

“To date, no unexpected patterns have been identified in case demographics or vaccine characteristics," the CDC told CNN via email.

Although clinical trial data suggested that vaccinations reduced the seriousness of infections, the CDC reports that 74 Americans died of COVID-19 despite being vaccinated. Seven percent of the 5,800 people were treated in hospitals.

No speedy resumption of Johnson & Johnson vaccinations

There won’t be a quick resumption of COVID-19 vaccinations with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory committee said it needs to see more data before making a decision.

The committee has to decide whether six severe blood clot cases are linked to the vaccine and, if so, whether that constitutes an acceptable level of risk. So far, more than 7 million people have received the shot. 

Six women between the ages of 18 and 48, all of whom received the vaccine and had low platelet counts, developed severe brain blood clots. One woman died.

Job market continues to show fewer layoffs

The latest data from the government suggests that businesses are doing more hiring and fewer layoffs. The Labor Department reports that initial claims for unemployment benefits plunged last week, falling by 193,000 to 576,000.

Last week’s jobless claims number was the lowest since March 14, 2020, just as the U.S. economy began to shut down to “flatten the curve” of the pandemic. New claims for benefits have been steadily declining since the beginning of the year.

The number of people continuing to receive unemployment benefits for the week ending March 27 was 16,934,061. That’s a decline of 1,235,856 from the previous week. 

Stimulus checks boost retail sales

A lot of Americans got their COVID-19 relief payments in March and wasted no time spending the money. Retail sales rose nearly 10% last month after declining 2.7% in February.

Nearly every American received a $1,400 payment, meaning a family of four got $5,600. Advance surveys suggested that many recipients planned to save the cash or use it to pay down credit card debt, but there was plenty left over for spending.

Sporting goods, clothing, and food and beverage sales led the increased spending, making for the best performance for retailers since last May.

Kaiser study tracks the pandemic’s toll on mental health

The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating physically, but researchers say it has also exacted a toll on mental health. A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) says it also created barriers for those who needed to seek mental health treatment.

“Stress and worry about contracting the virus, coupled with job losses, loss of childcare, as well as the devastating loss of loved ones due to COVID-19 are just a few ways in which the pandemic may be having an effect on mental health,” the authors write.

The percentage of American adults who cited the pandemic as having a negative impact on their mental health increased from about one-third in March 2020 to 53% in July 2020.

Around the nation

  • Maine: St. Joseph’s College has imposed a $50 fine for people on campus who are not wearing a face mask, even outside. "We are using all of the tools at our disposal to try to keep COVID off campus," Saint Joseph’s College associate vice president Oliver Griswold said.

  • Nevada: Lyon County will let its brothels reopen May 1. The county commission voted 4-1 to allow all types of businesses to reopen on that date, but face masks will be required at all times. Nevada’s brothels have been closed since March 2020.

  • Michigan: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is resisting calls to shut down businesses in the state, saying the spike in new cases is being driven by other factors. She cites rapidly spreading variants of the virus, youth sports, and people no longer observing rules about masks and social distancing.

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