California plans to lift most coronavirus restrictions on businesses and workplaces June 15, with officials saying enough people should be vaccinated by then to allow for life to almost get back to a pre-pandemic normal
The Latest: California aims to reopen more widely in JuneBy The Associated PressThe Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO — California plans to lift most coronavirus restrictions on businesses and workplaces June 15, with officials saying enough people should be vaccinated by then to allow for life to almost get back to a pre-pandemic normal.
Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said Tuesday that the mask mandate in the nation’s most populated state will remain in effect and cautioned that California will reopen more widely in mid-June only if vaccine supply remains sufficient and hospitalization rates remain stable and low.
The announcement comes as states across the country have lifted health restrictions as more people get vaccinated.
California had some of the nation’s strictest pandemic rules, becoming the first to institute a statewide stay-at-home order last spring and adopting a complex, color-coded tier system that dictated which businesses could open and at what capacity depending on how widespread the virus was in a county.
Businesses can open with “common-sense risk reduction measures,” including mandated masking and encouraging vaccinations. The state will continue contact tracing and testing. Ghaly says most capacity limits will be lifted, although large-scale indoor events, such as conventions, will be allowed only with testing or vaccination verification requirements.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Biden: All U.S. adults eligible for vaccines by April 19
— Most kids with serious inflammatory illness had mild COVID-19
— Spain prepares vaccine rollout surge as supplies gather pace
— California plans to lift mos t pandemic restrictions June 15
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
TORONTO — Schools in Canada’s largest city will shut down Wednesday and move to online learning because of a third surge of coronavirus infections fueled by more contagious virus variants.
Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa says stronger public health measures are needed to reverse the surge. Ontario is seeing more than 3,000 new infections a day in recent days.
Toronto has one of the largest school boards in North America. Local health officials made the decision after the province declined to act. Ontario Premier Doug Ford says schools are safe.
The closures will be reevaluated later this month.
ANKARA, Turkey — The daily coronavirus cases hit a record of nearly 50,000 in Turkey on Tuesday.
The Health Ministry reported 49,685 confirmed single-day cases. The number of daily deaths also reached the highest level this year, with 211 confirmed in the past 24 hours.
Infections in this country of 84 million have surged since the government eased restrictions at the start of March.
Last week, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced renewed weekend lockdowns and the closure of cafes and restaurants for all but take out service during the Islamic month of Ramadan, which begins on April 13.
However, health groups say the measures are not strong enough to stem the spike.
About 75% of the infections in Turkey have been traced to the more contagious variant first identified in Britain, according to the health ministry.
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary’s prime minister says some lockdown restrictions will be lifted Wednesday after more than a quarter of the population has been inoculated with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
In a video on Facebook, Viktor Orban says a vaccination benchmark of 2.5 million first injections had been reached, a condition for the start of a gradual reopening that will loosen several of Hungary’s pandemic restrictions.
Businesses and services will be allowed to reopen after a month of closures. The start of an overnight curfew in place since November will be extended. Hungary has the second-highest vaccination rate in the European Union but one of the highest infection rates in Europe in recent weeks.
LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer got her first coronavirus vaccine shot, touting it as the most effective way to protect people and return Michigan to normalcy.
The 49-year-old governor was vaccinated Tuesday at Ford Field’s mass clinic alongside her 19-year-old daughter, Sherry, a day after eligibility expanded to age 16 and older. Whitmer urged parents to ensure kids in high school and college are inoculated, too.
The state is experiencing the nation’s highest rate of coronavirus cases in the past two weeks, which the governor — who doesn’t plan to tighten restrictions — blames on pandemic fatigue and more contagious variants. One in 213 people was diagnosed with the coronavirus in the past week.
Whitmer received a dose of the Pfizer vaccine from Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive.
Khaldun says hospitals were treating 3,100 adults with confirmed infections on Monday, up nearly 500 from three days before. About half were under age 60.
More than 36% of eligible residents received at least one shot as of Sunday.
ROME — Restaurant owners and others frustrated by weeks pandemic lockdown have clashed with police during a protest outside Parliament in Rome.
Italian media reports say one officer was injured on Tuesday. Many in the crowd of a few hundred protests lowered their protective masks to shout “Work!” and “Freedom!”
Dining and drinking at restaurants, bars and cafes are currently banned under government measures through at least April. Only takeout or delivery services are permitted. Officers charged the protesters after they tried to breach a police cordon. Members of a far-right political group joined the protest, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.
A surge in infections, driven mainly by virus variants, has produced daily caseloads in the tens of thousands and hundreds of COVID-19 deaths a day for months.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s president announced a deal to buy 10 million doses of Pfizer vaccine amid a rise in coronavirus cases.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the contract marks a “very important day for Ukraine.” He didn’t say when the deliveries will be made to the country of 41 million.
Authorities in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, tightened lockdown restrictions on Monday, closing all schools and kindergartens for two weeks and introducing special passes for medics and others using public transport.
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Ukraine began vaccinations against the coronavirus in late February, after receiving 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Last month, the country also received 215,000 doses of a shot developed by Sinovac.
So far, only about 305,000 people have received the shots amid widespread public reluctance.
WASHINGTON — The White House is stressing that it won’t back any system “that requires Americans to carry a credential” to show they’ve been vaccinated.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki says “there will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”
She says companies or nonprofit groups might offer that kind of “tool” but the White House wants to be sure that “American’s privacy and rights” are protected. Psaki says the Biden administration will be issuing guidance around the matter soon.
So-called vaccine passports currently exist in only one state — a limited government partnership in New York with a private company. But that hasn’t stopped GOP lawmakers in a handful of states from rushing out legislative proposals to ban their use, calling them an infringement on personal freedom and private health choices.
WASHINGTON — The White House says more than 28 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be delivered to states this week.
White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients made the announcement Tuesday during a weekly conference call with the nation’s governors.
The allocation brings the total amount of vaccine distributed over the past three weeks to more than 90 million doses.
Vice President Kamala Harris joined the call from Chicago, where she is traveling Tuesday to promote equity in the distribution of the three approved COVID-19 vaccines.
Harris discussed the administration’s response. She also highlighted President Joe Biden’s upcoming announcement that 150 million shots in arms have been administered since he took office. All adults will be eligible to receive a vaccine by April 19.
BOSTON — New research suggests the protection the Moderna vaccine gives against COVID-19 lasts for at least six months.
The report Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine echoes what Pfizer said last week about its vaccine, which works in a similar way.
Both reports were based on follow-up tests in dozens of people who received the shots during studies that led to the vaccines’ use. Those studies were done before troubling new variants, or versions of the coronavirus, had emerged and started to spread.
A separate report in the medical journal adds to concern about the variants. Scientists measured antibodies that can block the virus in 50 people who had been given the Sinopharm or Sinovac vaccines that were developed in China. Many showed total or partial loss of effectiveness against a virus variant first detected in South Africa.
The vaccines still seemed to protect against a variant first found in the United Kingdom that is now rapidly spreading in the United States and elsewhere.
Pfizer and Moderna have said they are working to update their vaccines, or possibly design a booster shot, in case they’re needed against variants.
NAIROBI, Kenya — Tanzania’s new president appears to be taking a scientific approach to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Samia Suluhu Hassan says she will form a technical committee to advise her about the scope of COVID-19 infections in the country and how to respond to the pandemic. Hassan says COVID-19 is “not something we should be quiet about or refuse flatly or accept without doing a scientific examination.”
She said her government will do medical research to find out the scope of the problem and advise Tanzania about what the world is recommending as well as local expertise.
Hassan’s comments are a dramatic switch from the policy of her predecessor, the late President John Magufuli, who was one of Africa’s leading COVID-19 deniers. He dismissed scientific approaches to prevent and treat the disease. He discouraged the use of face masks and instead promoted prayer, physical fitness and herbal remedies.
Hassan was sworn in as Tanzania’s first woman president on March 19. Tanzania’s opposition leaders say the 61-year-old Magufuli died of COVID-19, the disease he had downplayed.
BRUSSELS — Despite its slow vaccination drive, the European Union says it is still on target to reach what it calls “sufficient community immunity” by the end of June.
The European Commission has said it wants to vaccinate a minimum 70% of the entire adult population by the end of summer. But it is counting on a strong second quarter of vaccine production to reach a threshold of immunity already by the end of June, according to EU Commission spokesman Stefan De Keersmaecker.
With some 107 million doses already distributed and up to 360 million slated for the next three months, the EU said Tuesday the target is within reach.
Our World in Data group says the share of people who received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the EU is 12.8%. The U.K stands at 46% and the U.S. at 31%.
NEW DELHI — The world’s largest vaccine maker, based in India, will restart exports of AstraZeneca doses by June if coronavirus infections subside in the country, its chief executive says.
But a continued surge could result in more delays because the Serum Institute of India would have to meet domestic needs, Adar Poonawalla says in an interview with The Associated Press.
The company is a key supplier for the U.N.-backed COVAX program that aims to distribute vaccines equitably in the world. COVAX says a surge in infections in India has caused the Serum Institute of India to cater to domestic demand, resulting in a delay in global shipments of up to 90 million doses.
The government has intensified its vaccination drive in recent weeks, but the shots have been slow to reach the nation of nearly 1.4 billion people.
India reported 96,982 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours on Tuesday. Deaths rose by 446, increasing the total to 165,547 confirmed deaths since the start of the pandemic. India reported 12.7 million total cases, the highest after the United States and Brazil.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Keith Rowley has tested positive for the coronavirus, his office said Tuesday.
Rowley was tested after experiencing flu-like symptoms on Monday, according to a government statement. He is isolated and under medical supervision.
Rowley had spent the Easter holidays in Tobago and was scheduled to be vaccinated on Tuesday, the same day the twin-island nation launched its vaccination program after receiving more than 33,000 AstraZeneca doses.
The country of 1.2 million people has reported more than 8,000 coronavirus cases and 145 confirmed deaths.
MANILA, Philippines — Former Philippine President Joseph Estrada is hospitalized on a ventilator after being infected by the coronavirus.
Estrada’s son, former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, says his 83-year-old father was hospitalized more than a week ago and initially was recovering well but his condition “suffered a setback” Monday and prompted doctors to place him on a ventilator.
Also, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana says he tested positive for the coronavirus and will go into isolation.
President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the Manila metropolis and four outlying provinces, a region of more than 25 million people, back under lockdown amid an alarming spike in infections. Overall, the Philippines has reported more than 812,000 confirmed cases and 13,817 confirmed deaths, the second-highest totals in Southeast Asia after Indonesia.
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