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With one more week until Memorial Day weekend, which marks the start of summer in the US, Covid data indicates vaccines are keeping rates of infection low, even as restrictions continue to be lifted.
New daily cases have fallen below 30,000 for the first time since June last year, a sign of progress in the US vaccination campaign.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all dropping, thanks to the rising number of vaccinated Americas. The country is closing in on having half of its adult population be fully vaccinated, with 48.4% of adults having received full doses. More than 161 million people in the country, about 60% of the adult population, have received at least one dose.
One of San Francisco’s largest hospitals had no Covid patients for the first time since the pandemic began. Many states have started to lift their strict Covid restrictions. New York, Connecticut and New Jersey allowed businesses to open at full capacity on Wednesday, while California is set to do the same on 15 June. States like Washington, Oregon and Michigan have also announced a loosening of their restrictions.
“New York is coming back, and it’s a testament to the strength and grit of New Yorkers who banded together, stayed tough and fought as one to defeat this Covid beast,” said Andrew Cuomo, the governor. The state dropped its mask mandate on Wednesday for fully vaccinated people.
Though the US has appeared to turn the corner, it faces a long journey to ensure a significant majority of the population is vaccinated.
Last week, about 1.8 million people each day were getting a vaccine dose – half the number of people who were getting vaccinated in mid-April. Some states have started dramatically decreasing the number of vaccines they are ordering as demand has dropped.
Earlier this month, Joe Biden announced that his goal is to vaccinate 70% of American adults – about 240 million people – with at least one dose by the Fourth of July. That means another 75 million Americans will need to get their first dose of the vaccine by then. Polls have shown that up to a quarter of American adults said they do not plan to get the vaccine.
Incentives are being offered to encourage people to take vaccines. Four states have announced lottery prizes: Ohio’s will see five people winning $1m each. First-dose vaccinations shot up in the state after the program was announced.
Oregon governor Kate Brown, whose state also has a lottery incentive, said: “Getting vaccinated not only protects you from Covid-19, it helps protect your loved ones. It takes us one step closer to unlocking the restrictions during the pandemic. And in Oregon, it now gives you a chance to win $1m. That sounds pretty good.”
A slate of companies have unveiled promotions encouraging customers to get vaccinated. Krispy Kreme is offering free donuts, and dating apps Tinder and Hinge are giving premium services to users who verify their vaccination status.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: US Covid rates stay low as restrictions lifted across the country | Coronavirus