CDC looks into reports of heart problems in vaccinated young people; India nears 300K confirmed deaths: Live COVID-19 updates

As the U.S. celebrates its lowest case rates in 11 months, India’s confirmed deaths near 300,000.

And while the U.S. is set to vaccinate 50% of Americans with at least one dose, India is dealing with a shortage in vaccines causing a government panel to delay inoculations for those who have recovered from COVID. 

India has reported more than 26 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic began, with almost half occurring in the past two months. On Sunday, the Health Ministry reported 3,741 new deaths, driving India’s confirmed fatalities to 299,266.

COVID is now surging in the country’s smaller towns and villages, causing desperation among people there and in families overseas. Across India, families scour cities for coronavirus tests, medicine, ambulances, oxygen and hospital beds. When none of that works, some have to deal with loved ones zippered into body bags.

Also in the news:

►Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer apologized Sunday after apparently violating state-mandated social distancing guidelines at an East Lansing bar.

►The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking into reports that a very small number of young adults and teenagers vaccinated against the coronavirus may have experienced myocarditis, or heart problems. 

►Two more Major League Baseball teams have been able to relax coronavirus protocols after 85% of their players and other on-field personnel completed vaccination, raising the total to 14 of the 30 clubs.

►The coronavirus restrictions remaining in England can be lifted in June after an official study found that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines offer effective protection against the variant first identified in India, British health officials said Sunday.

►The Navajo Nation has reported 12 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said more than half of the reservation’s adult population has been vaccinated.

►John Coates, an International Olympic Committee vice president, says the Tokyo Olympics would go ahead this summer, even if a state of emergency is in force. Polls show about 80% of Japanese want the Olympics postponed or canceled.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 33.1 million confirmed coronavirus cases and almost 589,900 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 166.9 million cases and more than 3.45 million deaths. More than 357.2  million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and more than 285.7 million administered, according to the CDC. More than 130 million Americans have been fully vaccinated — 39% of the population.

📘 What we’re reading: As the pandemic continues, more information is accumulating about the loss of smell that afflicts as many as 70% to 80% of people who catch COVID-19 and seems particularly common among those with mild disease.

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Florida’s COVID positivity rate remains under 4%; state vaccinates 10 million

Florida’s positivity rate for new COVID-19 cases increased slightly Sunday but remained under 4% for the third time in four days.

Florida also hit a milestone Sunday with more than 10 million residents vaccinated, according to the Florida Department of Health. That includes nearly 8 million people who have completed their dosage and more than 700,000 people in Palm Beach County.

The state announced 2,069 new cases of the virus Sunday and 13 total deaths, marking the fewest deaths in one day since April 11. More than 37,000 people in Florida have died after being infected with coronavirus.

— Jorge Milian, Palm Beach Post

‘Massive increases’ in cases of eating disorders during pandemic

Months of isolation and anxiety brought on by the pandemic have led to a spike in eating disorders, which under normal circumstances cause an estimated 10,000 deaths a year in the U.S.

“We are absolutely seeing massive increases,’’ said Jennifer Wildes, an associate psychiatry professor and director of an outpatient eating disorders program at the University of Chicago Medicine. She said some patients have to wait four to five months for treatment or medication, about quadruple the previous wait time.

An analysis of electronic medical records data from about 80 U.S. hospitals found a 30% increase in cases of eating disorders starting after March 2020.

Dietitian Jillian Lampert of The Emily Program, a multistate treatment center for eating disorders, said the pandemic has created conditions that are especially suited for the development of these issues.

‘’We know that anxiety and isolation are typically very significant components of eating disorders,’’ she said

New US cases fall to numbers not seen in almost a year

New cases across the U.S. have tumbled to rates not seen in more than 11 months, sparking optimism that vaccination campaigns are stemming both severe COVID-19 cases and the spread of the virus.

Hospitalizations and deaths steadily declined last week. Hugs and unmasked crowds returned to the White House, a Mardi Gras-style parade marched through Alabama’s port city of Mobile, and states that have stuck to pandemic-related restrictions readied to drop them. The seven-day average for new cases dropped below 30,000 per day, a number not seen in 11 months. The average number of deaths over the last seven days also dropped to 552.

All the numbers have fallen dramatically since the pandemic roared to new highs in January. Still, experts warn the pandemic is not over.

“My biggest concern is new strains of the virus and the need to remain vigilant in the months ahead,” Boston College public health expert Dr. Philip J. Landrigan said.

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