Coronavirus update: Permanent pandemic? More vaccines on the way

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A survey shows that older Americans see more trouble ahead

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

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 27,399,302 (27,295,950)

Total U.S. deaths: 475,776 (471,956)

Total global cases: 107,935,117 (107,482,468)

Total global deaths: 2,372,399 (2,358,085)

Experts say COVID-19 may be here to stay

More and more public health officials are reaching the same conclusion. Despite efforts to vaccinate the world’s population, the coronavirus (COVID-19) may be here to stay.

David Heymann, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, was among the first to raise the alarm late last year, saying he believed the virus could be around permanently. He made clear this week that recent events had not changed his thinking.

“I think if you speak with most epidemiologists and most public health workers, they would say today that they believe this disease will become endemic, at least in the short term and most likely in the long term,” he said in a webinar earlier this week.

Biden says more vaccine is on the way

President Biden has announced agreements with two coronavirus vaccine makers to produce more and deliver it faster.

In remarks at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Biden said Moderna and Pfizer had both agreed to deliver an extra 100 million doses each and speed up the production schedule so that the U.S. would be able to vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of July.

Biden also expressed frustration at widespread shortages of the vaccine but blamed the Trump administration. “My predecessor, to be very blunt about it, did not do his job to get ready for the massive challenge of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans,” Biden said.

Survey: Americans say the worst is not over

Despite a recent decline in cases of the virus and promises of more vaccines, a survey of Americans by the Long Island University Steven S. Hornstein Center for Policy, Polling and Analysis found that a significant number of Americans believe the worst of the pandemic is not over.

Older adults -- those over the age of 60 -- were most likely to believe that. Sixty-five percent of that age group expects more cases and deaths in the weeks ahead. Younger Americans -- those 18 to 29 -- have a more optimistic view.

The poll found that 77 percent of Americans aged 60 and older want to be vaccinated immediately, with 74 percent of all people in the survey saying they want the vaccine.

Americans are losing ground financially

Over the last 11 months, there has been conflicting data on how the pandemic has affected consumers’ pocketbooks. Some surveys point to a rising savings rate, but a new report from GOBankingRates shows the opposite result.

Its survey shows that 40 percent of Americans have less than $300 in savings, a significant drop compared to the pre-pandemic figure of $400 in savings used by the Federal Reserve as a gauge for measuring households' financial well-being.

"We find that people's savings can serve as a kind of litmus test for their financial wellbeing in general," said Julia O'Brien, associate researcher at GOBankingRates. "The 50-30-20 budgeting rule suggests people save 20% of their income, so when people don't have any savings or have to withdraw from it unexpectedly, it's a good indicator that they are struggling financially."

Happy COVID-19 Valentines Day

Sunday marks the first Valentine’s Day during the current pandemic, and it may have changed, at least for this year, how couples celebrate a day that’s all about getting close.

For couples who were together before the pandemic, the effect has mostly been financial. TD Bank’s Love and Money Report found that one in 10 American couples were furloughed, lost their job, or had their hours decreased as a result of COVID-19. Singles, meanwhile, have found the pandemic hasn’t been conducive to starting a relationship. Many have turned to dating apps to meet people. 

"Now, I really rely more on dating apps, texting, face timing rather than just going out and spontaneously meeting a bunch of people," said Sara Hudson, who was interviewed by a Denver TV station.  

Around the nation

  • Florida: Farmworker organizations are asking Gov. Ron DeSantis to add farmworkers to the vaccination priority population. They say these Floridians are especially vulnerable since they live and work in crowded conditions and are often not given protective equipment by employers.

  • Wisconsin: By the end of the week, 489 COVID-19 patients were being treated in Wisconsin hospitals. That’s a decline of 105 in just 24 hours. Of those in the hospital, 129 are in the ICU, down 31 from the day before, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association. 

  • Utah: Gov. Spencer Cox says vaccines are being administered this week at a rate that eclipsed 100,000 doses per week for the first time. At this rate, Cox says every Utah resident should be vaccinated by the end of May.

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