A version of this story appeared in the April 6 edition of CNN’s Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction newsletter. Sign up here to receive the need-to-know headlines every weekday.
The more contagious coronavirus variant first identified in the UK has now been reported in every state in the US. Experts are concerned this strain is hitting younger people hard and could fuel a new surge of the pandemic.
Yet as the US rolls out a breakneck-speed vaccination program, many states have begun relaxing measures, such as mask-wearing mandates. On Monday, some 38,000 people packed into a stadium for a Texas Rangers baseball game, in what President Joe Biden has called “a mistake.” Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration said more than 6 million people have taken flights since Thursday, many of them spring breakers.
“America appears to be done with the pandemic,” said Dr. Michael Osterholm, director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “The virus is not done with us.”
The US has reported more than 15,000 cases of the B.1.1.7 Covid-19 strain, sometimes called the UK variant. Beaumont Health’s Royal Oak hospital in Michigan is noticing their patients are increasingly younger and generally healthier than they were several months ago.
Fred Romankewiz, 54, who tested positive to Covid the same day he planned to get his vaccine, is being treated at the hospital and told CNN the virus feels as if he “went 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.”
Tina Catron, a 44-year-old with no underlying health conditions, said: “You feel like you’re suffocating a little bit.” She experienced oxygen levels at a dangerously low 82% – far below the normal range of 95% to 100%.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.
Q. Can I travel after I get vaccinated?
A. Millions of Americans took flights this week, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still urging people to avoid non-essential travel, even if you’ve been fully vaccinated, because the majority of Americans have not had their shot yet.
While Covid-19 vaccines are very helpful in preventing you from getting sick, it’s not yet certain whether they prevent you from spreading the coronavirus to others.
The agency did say on April 2, however, that “fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread Covid-19” on both domestic and international trips. It provided guidance for those who choose to travel as well as a tiered assessment of the least and most risky types of travel and traveler behaviors, advising short road trips with members of one household or fully vaccinated people with few stops along the way is a much safer option than taking flights that are crowded or involve layovers.
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WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
US will have enough vaccines for all Americans by end of next month
The White House says the country will still have enough vaccines for all Americans by the end of next month, despite problems with a single batch of “drug product” resulting in the loss of 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s shot.
More than 40% of adults and more than 75% of seniors in the US have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and about 23% of adults and 55% of seniors are fully inoculated. A CNN analysis shows the US is vaccinating its people nearly five times faster than the global average.
The US has come under pressure to share its vaccines. Secretary of State Tony Blinken said on Monday the country would do so when it was “more confident” about its own vaccine supply, and vowed it would not “trade shots in arms for political favors.” Blinken offered little detail on what that outreach would look like.
North Korea reportedly won’t participate in the Tokyo Olympic Games
North Korea has reportedly decided to drop out of the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics due to concerns that its athletes could contract coronavirus in Japan, which is battling a surge in cases. The Olympics have been seen as a diplomatic opportunity to engage with the reclusive country, which hasn’t missed a Games since the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
North Korea, an already isolated nation, decided to sever almost all ties with the outside world in 2020 to prevent an influx of coronavirus cases. The country has not reported a major outbreak of Covid-19, and there have been no indications one has taken place, though experts doubt Pyongyang’s claim that the country has not seen a single case of the virus.
After false starts, the Australia-New Zealand bubble starts this month
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday her country would allow Australians to travel to the country quarantine-free from April 18 at 11:59 pm, in an experiment that offers a glimpse into what future foreign holidays may look like in many parts of the world.
Australia has allowed New Zealanders to enter the country without quarantine for several months, and Monday’s announcement will make the arrangement a two-way corridor. Both countries have reported very few Covid-19 cases and deaths, and have tried to stamp out the virus, rather than simply controlling it.
“This is an important step forward in our Covid response and represents an arrangement I do not believe we have seen in any other part of the world. That is, safely opening up international travel to another country while continuing to pursue a strategy of elimination and a commitment to keeping the virus out,” Ardern said during a news conference.
ON OUR RADAR
- An undercover report showing members of the Parisian elite enjoying secret dinner parties in luxury restaurants in violation of Covid-19 rules has sparked fury in France and prompted an investigation.
- “I began to feel like myself for the first time in a year” – Jessamyn Smyth is one of many long Covid sufferers who says her symptoms improved after getting a vaccine. Researchers are looking into it.
- A bar opening event in rural Illinois in February has been linked to 46 Covid-19 cases and a school closure affecting 650 children.
- California now has the lowest Covid-19 positivity rate in the US.
- UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would be going to the pub for a pint in the beer garden when England relaxes coronavirus restrictions next Monday.
- India’s union territory of Delhi has imposed a night curfew with immediate effect as coronavirus cases there mount. Several states are also pleading for vaccines for younger Indians.
TODAY’S TOP TIPS
With summer around the corner and more people getting Covid-19 vaccines in many countries, you may be wondering whether going to the beach is a safe bet. Even for people who have been fully vaccinated, “nothing is going to be 100% safe, just like nothing is going to be 100% risk,” said CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen. The good news is, beaches “are much safer than other settings because they are outdoors,” Wen says.
There are some things you can do to minimize your risk even more. Whether you’re by yourself or with fully vaccinated people, having your own area to relax in will help, says Dr. Ada Stewart, the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Always check local regulations, as some beaches may require reservations or have limited capacity, the CDC says, and plan to arrive “swim ready” by showering and changing at home first. Here are some more tips.
“I’m actually alive today because of a drug that was developed 30 years ago for another condition.” – Dr. David Fajgenbaum, a researcher working to find already approved drugs to repurpose as Covid-19 treatments.
As medical professionals search for new treatments to help coronavirus patients, some researchers are taking a second look at drugs that have already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration . CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks to Fajgenbaum about treating Covid-19 symptoms with existing medicine Listen now.