the coronavirus crisis
12:47 p.m.

Michigan has emerged as the United States' major coronavirus hot spot, but despite a rising number of infections, it looks unlikely that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) will receive the extra COVID-19 vaccines she's requesting from the Biden administration.

While vaccines are a game-changer and the clearest ticket out of the pandemic for the U.S., their protection likely wouldn't take effect in time to quell Michigan's current surge, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky suggested Monday during a press briefing. "I think if we tried to vaccinate our way out of what is happening in Michigan, we would be disappointed that it took so long for the vaccine to work," she said.

Walensky added that other places that are not in Michigan's situation currently could trend that way if they miss out on their doses, so changing up the federal distribution to react in real time to an "acute" situation could potentially backfire. At the moment, the director said, the best course of action for Michigan is to "go back to our basics" and "really close things down."

Still, Whitmer will reportedly put in another formal request for more doses later in the day. Tim O'Donnell

April 6, 2021

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) says the time has come to start "planning for our lives post-pandemic."

Newsom announced Tuesday that California is aiming to fully reopen its economy on June 15, the Los Angeles Times reports. The plan is to at that point lift most of the state's COVID-19 restrictions and stop using the current system that divides counties into tiers based on factors like number of new cases, according to The Associated Press.

Two criteria will have to be met by June 15 for this to happen, officials said: the state having sufficient vaccine supply for all adults and its COVID-19 hospitalization rates being stable and low.

"With more than 20 million vaccines administered across the state, it is time to turn the page on our tier system and begin looking to fully reopen California's economy," Newsom said. "We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic. We will need to remain vigilant, and continue the practices that got us here — wearing masks and getting vaccinated — but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter."

California's mask mandate is expected to remain in place. But business will be permitted to "return to usual operations" with "common-sense public health policies in place, such as required masking, testing and with vaccinations encouraged," officials said.

In a news conference, Newsom hailed this as a "big day" for the state, though he warned that California being able to "open up as business as usual" by June 15 is still "subject to ongoing mask-wearing and ongoing vigilance." California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly also cautioned that "we will take the necessary precautions" should the state see any "concerning rise in our hospitalizations," per the Los Angeles Times. But Ghaly added that "right now, we are hopeful in what we're seeing." Brendan Morrow

April 6, 2021

President Biden will reportedly announce that all U.S. adults are now set to be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in less than two weeks.

Biden on Tuesday will announce he's moving up the deadline for states to open up COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all adults to April 19, earlier than his previous deadline of May 1, CNN reports.

The president announced in an address last month he was directing states to open vaccine eligibility to all adults no later than May 1. Since that time, all 50 states have either made COVID-19 vaccines available to all adults or announced when they will. According to Axios, Hawaii and Oregon are the only states that will face pressure to alter their timetable after Biden's announcement; they were previously set to expand eligibility to all adults by May 1.

Last week, Biden said that the "vast, vast majority of adults" can expect to be eligible for vaccination by April 19 and "won't have to wait until May 1."

In his remarks on Tuesday, Biden will credit governors' efforts to meet his original May 1 deadline, CNN reports. He'll also reportedly announce that 150 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in his first 75 days in office. The president before taking office set a goal of administering 100 million vaccine doses in his first 100 days, and after that milestone was met early, the goal was doubled to 200 million doses. The U.S is on pace to meet this goal. Brendan Morrow

April 5, 2021

How long will it take for the United States to administer COVID-19 vaccines to 75 percent of its population? Based on the current pace, about another three months, according to one projection.

As of Monday, Bloomberg's COVID-19 vaccine tracker showed that with over 3 million doses being administered in the U.S. on average each day, at this rate, it should take three more months to cover 75 percent of the population. That will be a key milestone considering Dr. Anthony Fauci has said achieving herd immunity should require vaccinating somewhere between 70 and 85 percent of the population, Bloomberg notes.

This puts the U.S. ahead of other major countries, according to this tracker, which estimates the United Kingdom will have vaccinated 75 percent of its population in five months based on its current pace. Israel, which according to The New York Times has been vaccinating its population faster than other countries, in this tracker is shown as reaching the 75 percent milestone in six months on its current pace.

Globally, the tracker shows 75 percent of the world population being vaccinated in 21 months, though Bloomberg notes the pace this is based on "is steadily increasing."

The United Arab Emirates, Malta, and Bermuda are also on pace to get to 75 percent in three months, while Seychelles is on pace to get there in two months, and Gibraltar is just one week away. Of course, vaccinating this percentage of the U.S. population in three months is also dependent on Americans continuing to take the vaccine and on the U.S. not seeing its vaccine rollout slow as in Israel.

The White House celebrated the latest data from Bloomberg's vaccine tracker, with White House Chief of Staff Ronald Klain tweeting that when President Biden took office in January, "the global comparison did not look like this." The White House has eyed a goal of getting the United States "closer to normal" by the Fourth of July. Brendan Morrow

April 5, 2021

India's health ministry reported 103,558 new COVID-19 cases Monday, making India the second country to top 100,000 new cases in a single day. The other country to hit that level, the U.S, recorded more than 200,000 cases a day through much of December. India is inoculating more than 2 million people a day, but with 1.3 billion people, that works out to only 5 percent of its population getting a first dose of vaccine. India, a major vaccine manufacturing hub, slowed down exports of vaccine to focus on immunizing its population.

The epicenter of India's outbreak is Maharashtra state, home to Mumbai, which reported 57,074 new cases Sunday and ordered weekend lockdowns and nightly curfews in response. Some public health experts blame the mounting cases on erosion of the immunity acquired from previous infections, changed behavior, and deadlier and more contagious new variants. About 20 percent of new cases in Maharashtra have been found to include a new "double mutant" variant, which includes the E484Q and L452R mutations, according to India's health ministry.

Louisiana State University virologist Dr. Jeremy Kamil told BBC News he doesn't think the new double variant is more deadly or necessarily more transmissible. India's government says the variants are probably not responsible for the sharp rise in cases. Peter Weber

April 1, 2021

The number of Americans filing new jobless claims has ticked back up after previously declining to the lowest level since the pandemic began.

The Labor Department said Thursday that 719,000 more Americans filed new jobless claims last week, up 61,000 claims from the revised level of the previous week. This number came in above expectations, as economists were predicting there would be around 675,000 new claims, CNBC reports.

A total of 684,000 new jobless claims had been reported last week, which was the lowest level of weekly claims since the COVID-19 pandemic began, although this number was revised down on Thursday to 658,000. By rising back up to 719,000 claims, Thursday's total is once again higher than the pre-pandemic record for most weekly claims, 695,000.

But the Labor Department also said Thursday the four-week moving average of jobless claims declined to 719,000, the lowest level since March 14, 2020. Capital Economics economist Michael Pearce told The Wall Street Journal the "recovery is beginning to accelerate, particularly in the labor market," and Pantheon Macroeconomics chief economist Ian Shepherdson said that "taking the two weeks together it's clear that the trend in claims is falling," per CNBC. Still, Bloomberg wrote that Thursday's unexpected rise "underscores the choppy nature of the labor market recovery." Brendan Morrow

March 31, 2021

With his country facing a surge in coronavirus cases, French President Emmanuel Macron announced during a televised address on Wednesday night that schools will be closed nationwide for three weeks and there will be a one-month ban on domestic travel.

"The epidemic is accelerating," Macron said, making these measures necessary in order to keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. Beginning Saturday, most non-essential stores will be closed across the country, and people who venture outdoors must stay within six miles of their homes. With Easter on Sunday, Macron asked that people "limit all contact as much as we can, including family gatherings."

There are more than 5,000 COVID-19 patients in French intensive care units, and the daily infection rate has doubled since February. Macron said getting people vaccinated is "the way out of the crisis," and efforts will ramp up in the coming days and weeks, with the goal of inoculating about half of the country's population by mid-June. Catherine Garcia

March 31, 2021

Officials inside the White House and federal health agencies haven't been able to forge a consensus about whether the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in the United States is worth panicking about, Politico reports.

Three senior administration officials told Politico the Biden administration is working hard to not call the increase a "surge" because they want to instill confidence in the national vaccine drive, which has been picking up steam. And there is optimism that vaccinations are indeed preventing a much more severe spike — President Biden's chief science officer, David Kessler, said his "educated guess is without vaccines, we would be in a surge right now."

But that doesn't mean the trajectory isn't worrying. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said she's experiencing a feeling of "impending doom" on Tuesday, after all.

For his part, Kessler settled on a middle ground. "You're seeing a slight increase in cases, but you're certainly not seeing a continued drop in cases," he told Politico. "That's the issue. You're plateauing at a high level of crisis." Read more at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

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