April 29 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, James Griffiths, Kara Fox and Niamh Kennedy, CNN

Updated 0002 GMT (0802 HKT) April 30, 2021
29 Posts
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6:12 p.m. ET, April 29, 2021

More than a third of the US has been infected with Covid-19, CDC estimates

From CNN's Michael Nedelman

Roughly 35% of the population is estimated to have been infected with the virus that causes Covid-19 as of March, according to data shared Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The agency estimates the virus has led to 114.6 million infections, 97.1 million symptomatic illnesses and 5.6 million hospitalizations from February 2020 to March 2021.

This means total infections are estimated to be about four times higher than what’s been officially reported. The US hit 30 million cases toward the end of March.

That gap isn't quite as wide as what the agency reported in January, when it estimated an even higher proportion of Covid-19 infections were going unrecognized. Since then, the agency says it received more data on how often people with Covid-19 symptoms seek medical care and testing.

“These updated data indicated higher levels of health-seeking behavior than data included in our previous estimates,” CDC said.

It is unclear how these numbers might factor into herd immunity — including how long natural immunity might last and how much overlap there is with people who are now vaccinated. 

More data: Experts have long said the number of actual infections were significantly higher than reported, but how much higher has been a cause for debate.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington estimates that 30% of the US has been infected as of April 19. This is a large jump from its previous update, just one week prior, when it estimated only 22% of the US had been infected.

“Our estimate of the percent infected to date has increased considerably from last week due to introducing corrections for waning antibodies in our analysis of seroprevalence surveys,” the institute explained last week. Unlike the CDC, the IHME model relies heavily on tests showing the prevalence of antibodies over time across the US. 

6:00 p.m. ET, April 29, 2021

Survey finds evidence schools can be a source of coronavirus spread

From CNN's Maggie Fox

A new study finds evidence that schools can be a source of coronavirus spread to staff and the families of students if those schools don’t take precautions such as requiring masks and limiting extracurricular activities.

Households where at least one child was back to school full-time in-person were 38% more likely to report someone infected with Covid-19 or a Covid-like illness, the team at Johns Hopkins University reported in the journal Science.

But the risk went down if schools imposed mitigation measures – by 9% for each measure added. If schools imposed seven or more different precautions, the increased risk disappeared, the team reported.

“Among those reporting seven or more mitigation measures, over 80% reported student and teacher mask mandates, restricted entry, extra space between desks and no supply sharing, and over 50% reported student cohorting, reduced class size and daily symptom screening,” epidemiologist Justin Lessler and colleagues wrote.

“The results presented here show a clear association between in-person schooling and the risk of Covid-19-related outcomes in adult household members, and that this association disappears when more than seven school-based mitigation measures are reported,” they added.

“In contrast, closing cafeterias, playgrounds and use of desk shields are associated with lower risk reductions (or even risk increases),” they wrote. “Notably, part-time in-person schooling is not associated with a decrease in the risk of Covid-19-related outcomes compared to full-time in-person schooling after accounting for other mitigation measures.”

By the numbers: The team surveyed more than 500,000 households across the country at the end of last year and the beginning of 2021.

“Schools play a unique role in the social fabric of the United States and other countries, and often create potential transmission connections between otherwise disparate communities,” they wrote.

“Even if transmission in classrooms is rare, activities surrounding in-person schooling, such as student pick-up and drop-off, teacher interactions, and broader changes to behavior when school is in session could lead to increases in community transmission,” they added. “One of the main reasons for a focus on schools is not the risk to students, but the risk that in-person schooling poses to teachers and family members, and its impact on the overall epidemic.”

They survey doesn’t prove in-person schooling is the cause of the increased transmission, they noted. Communities that have returned to full-time in-person school are also more likely to have residents who have returned to visiting bars and restaurants, for example.

5:27 p.m. ET, April 29, 2021

Outdoor restrictions in Connecticut will be lifted on May 1, governor says

From CNN’s Sahar Akbarzai 

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont speaks at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic and food giveaway event in East Windsor, Connecticut, on April 29.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont speaks at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic and food giveaway event in East Windsor, Connecticut, on April 29. WFSB

On May 1, the curfew for businesses in Connecticut will move to midnight and outdoor restrictions will be lifted that same day.

For example, the use of masks in outdoor settings are not required, and there will be no table size limit for outdoor events, Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday.  

Over 80% of people 65 and over in the state have been vaccinated with at least their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, Lamont said. 

Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine clinics have resumed vaccination after the federal pause, he said. 

The number of Johnson & Johnson vaccines increases every day, said Josh Geballe, the state’s chief operating officer.

“We’re hopeful to see a strong demand for J & J going forward,” he added. 

4:09 p.m. ET, April 29, 2021

India's ruling party says the "responsibility is ours" when it comes to the worsening Covid-19 crisis

From CNN’s Emmet Lyons and Henry Hullah

A health worker walks inside a banquet hall temporarily converted into a COVID-19 ward in New Delhi on April 27.
A health worker walks inside a banquet hall temporarily converted into a COVID-19 ward in New Delhi on April 27. Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images

The responsibility for the devastating second wave that is sweeping India belongs “first and foremost” to the government but the situation could not have been foreseen, according to Narendra Taneja, a spokesperson for the country's ruling Bharatiya Janata party.

“We are in power, we are the government in India so of course responsibility is first and foremost ours, good or bad, whatever it is. It is our responsibility and we’re trying our very level best,” Taneja told CNN on Thursday. “A lot of people are saying that… we knew in February. At that time, scientists and doctors were more or less of the same view."

Taneja added: “Evidently something went wrong, evidently we were hit by a tsunami, and as you know, you’re often not aware. In most cases 80-90% reasons could be external. We don’t know. We don’t want to blame anybody. We know we’re in power, we are responsible...our focus is now on how we can save lives.”

Some context: Indian Prime Narendra Minister Modi and his Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) have come under fire for holding several mass rallies in the eastern West Bengal state with thousands in attendance between March and April ahead of state elections. Thursday was the last day of voting and polls have now closed in West Bengal.

When asked why his party continued to hold such events as cases rose, Taneja pushed back and said the “autonomous” Election Commission of India was responsible for allowing elections events to continue to take place over a one and a half month period.

Taneja said that BJP had “no option” on whether to hold rallies because of the Election Commission’s decision on when polls were held, saying “we as a political party—for that matter, all political parties in India—had no option but to go along with it.” 

2:34 p.m. ET, April 29, 2021

CDC's ensemble forecast now projects up to 595,000 US Covid-19 deaths by May 22

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

An ensemble forecast published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now projects that there will be 583,000 to 595,000 coronavirus deaths reported by May 22. 

The national ensemble predicts that the number of newly reported deaths will remain stable or have an uncertain trend over the next four weeks, the forecast said. 

The previous ensemble forecast, published April 21, projected up to 596,000 deaths by May 15. 

1:37 p.m. ET, April 29, 2021

US undergraduate enrollment in "steepest decline" since pandemic started, new data shows

From CNN's Elizabeth Stuart

Undergraduate enrollment in colleges and universities saw the "steepest decline" for the spring 2021 semester since the pandemic started, according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released on Thursday.

Overall enrollment for the spring semester was down 5.9% compared with one year ago, while community colleges saw an 11.3% drop. The largest decline in enrollment is among 18-20 year-olds, who account for more than 40% of all undergraduate students. 

The data shows growth in graduate enrollment, however, with a 4.4% increase for the spring semester.

The data was also broken down by race and ethnicity, showing that Native Americans saw the largest decline, 13%, of any ethnic group this spring. Enrollment among White students dropped 8.5%, 8.8% among Black students, 7.3% among Latinx students, and 4.8% among Asian students.

The states seeing the most undergraduate decline are Alaska, Delaware, New Mexico, Oregon and South Dakota, which all dropped double digits from last year.

Three states saw a small uptick in undergraduate enrollment: Nebraska, Utah, and West Virginia. 

1:33 p.m. ET, April 29, 2021

India suffering through the worst air quality in the world amid Covid surge

From CNN's Brandon Miller

In addition to battling an unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases, parts of India, especially in and around New Delhi, are experiencing the worst air quality in the world at the moment.

According to AQICN.org, a global air quality index real-time aggregator, air quality in India today is the worst of any country in the world.

The air quality index at the US Embassy in New Delhi has reached the "hazardous" level (AQI greater than 300) every day this week, the worst stretch of April air quality since the monitoring began in 2014.

While India is no stranger to horrible air quality, as many of its cities top the annual rankings for the worst air in the world, these readings represent much higher-than-normal levels for April. The coldest months of November through February typically see the worst air quality in northern India, as crop-burning combines with weather patterns to trap pollutants near the surface. By April, air quality levels are typically better.

Why this matters: High levels of pollution are known to worsen the impacts from Covid-19, and research from the US has shown that you are more likely to die from Covid-19 if you live in an area with higher levels of pollution. 

1:28 p.m. ET, April 29, 2021

Mumbai announces suspension of Covid-19 vaccinations for 3 days due to shortage

From CNN’s Swati Gupta

People wait to receive a Covid-19 vaccination on April 29 in Mumbai, India.
People wait to receive a Covid-19 vaccination on April 29 in Mumbai, India. Fariha Farooqui/Getty Images

Citing a vaccine shortage, Mumbai’s municipal administration announced the suspension of all Covid-19 vaccinations across the city Thursday evening.

"Owing to non-availability of vaccine stock, no vaccination will be conducted at any Govt/BMC/Pvt CVC for the next 3 days (30 Apr-2 May). All efforts are being made to make more stock available & resume the drive," tweeted the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, the local body which oversees administration in the city.

The state government of Maharashtra, where Mumbai is located, has repeatedly issued pleas regarding the shortage of vaccinations even as India prepares to launch a massive vaccination drive on May 1 for people between the ages of 18 and 44.

The latest announcement follows an extension in Covid-19 restrictions across the state through May 15, which announced earlier Thursday.

Mumbai recorded at least 4,192 new cases, including at least 82 deaths Thursday, according to the city administration.

12:53 p.m. ET, April 29, 2021

First flights carrying emergency Covid-19 assistance for India left US last night

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

The first flights carrying emergency supplies to assist India as it battles a new wave of Covid-19 cases left the US Wednesday night, White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday. 

“The first of two assistance flights left the US for India at around 8 p.m. and midnight last night, which was April 28. The planes carried the first tranche of assistance, which includes oxygen cylinders, rapid diagnostic tests and N95 masks to protect frontline workers,” Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One. 

Jean-Pierre continued: “Additional flights carrying the remaining assistance, including oxygen generators and concentrators are scheduled to depart in the upcoming days.”

The White House said Wednesday it was delivering supplies worth more than $100 million in the coming days to provide urgent relief to India.  

India is facing a national crisis as the number of new Covid-19 cases rises to record levels each day and sick people are being turned away from hospitals that have run out of beds and oxygen.