Coronavirus update: New cases keep trending lower, 2.7 million Americans a day are getting shots

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Oregon is the latest state to struggle against a surge

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

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 32,179,505 (32,130,876)

Total U.S. deaths: 573,452 (572,794)

Total global cases: 148,859,866 (148,018,784)

Total global deaths: 3,138,755 (3,123,782)

U.S. case count still falling

Health officials across the U.S. are reporting a continued decline in the overall number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases as millions of Americans each day get a vaccination. On Tuesday, researchers at The COVID-19 Tracking Project at Johns Hopkins University reported just over 50,000 new cases.

Unfortunately, deaths are still rising. There were 863 deaths on Tuesday, nearly double Monday’s total. However, health experts point out that deaths tend to be a lagging indicator and are usually the result of infections that occurred during the previous four weeks.

As cases continue to trend lower, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued revised guidance for wearing masks outdoors. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state would immediately adopt the CDC’s recommendations.

Vaccination rate steady at 2.7 million shots a day

One reason for the decline in new COVID-19 cases may be the rate at which states are vaccinating their citizens. The CDC’s latest data shows that most states have vaccinated half their populations, with the national vaccination rate holding steady at 2.7 million a day.

For the nation as a whole, 20.1% of the adult population is now fully vaccinated. Another 42.7% have received at least one dose.

The numbers are much higher for the most vulnerable population -- people 65 and older. Among that group, two-thirds have been fully vaccinated and nearly 82% have received at least one shot of a vaccine.

Oregon struggles to get cases under control

As many states report increasing vaccinations and declining cases of the coronavirus, Oregon is moving in the opposite direction. Gov. Kate Brown has added 15 Oregon counties to the “extreme risk” level. Nine more counties were classified as “high risk.”

Brown expressed concern about the rapid spread of the virus across the state. She noted that more than 300 people are currently being treated for COVID-19 in Oregon hospitals.

“If we don’t act now, doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other health care providers in Oregon will be stretched to their limits treating severe cases of COVID-19,” Brown said. “Today’s announcement will save lives and help stop COVID-19 hospitalizations from spiking even higher. With new COVID-19 variants widespread in so many of our communities, it will take all of us working together to bring this back under control.”

Researchers find new ways to treat COVID-19

While the emphasis since the beginning of the year has been on vaccinations, doctors say it’s also important to continue finding ways to treat patients if and when they get the virus. The latest breakthrough is a combination of commonly used hepatitis C drugs and the antiviral drug remdesivir.

A team of international researchers writing in Cell Reports found that, when combined with drugs currently used to treat hepatitis C, remdesivir is 10 times more effective in treating cells infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

Remdesivir, which blocks viral replication by interfering with a viral polymerase, is administered intravenously; this limits its use to patients who are sick enough to be admitted to a hospital. But the researchers believe a drug combining the two medicines could be produced in pill form, meaning it could be taken at home. 

Miami school orders teachers NOT to get vaccinated

Here’s one that has a lot of people scratching their heads: While some employers are deciding whether to require employees to get vaccinated before returning to work, a private school in Miami has ordered teachers and employers NOT to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Press accounts say the school’s administrators have cited erroneous claims circulating on the internet that people who are vaccinated can somehow adversely affect people they come in contact with. CBS News said it obtained an email the school sent to parents explaining the policy.

"We also recommended that all faculty and staff hold off on taking the injection until there is further research available on whether this experimental drug is impacting unvaccinated individuals," the email reads. "It is our policy, to the extent possible, not to employ anyone who has taken the experimental COVID-19 injection until further information is known."

Around the nation

  • New Jersey: Gov. Phil Murphy has loosened restrictions on indoor gatherings so that people can attend indoor events like proms, weddings, and performances. Attendees will still be required to wear masks and socially distance. The new rules take effect May 10.

  • Louisiana:  Gov. John Bel Edwards has lifted the statewide mask mandate. However, the requirement remains in place for K-12 schools, colleges and universities, public transportation, state government buildings, and health care facilities.

  • South Dakota: State health officials are reporting more progress in getting everyone vaccinated. At last count, an estimated 43.89% of South Dakota's 16 and older population was fully vaccinated  A total of 54.22% of the state's adult population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.

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