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As Texas entering the seventh week of efforts to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine, cases and hospitalizations have decreased but remain at all-time highs.
Nearly 1.8 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given in the state to date. The vast majority of people who have been vaccinated in the state – nearly 1.5 million – receive only one of the two doses required for a full inoculation, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Austin American-Statesman of the USA TODAY Network reported last week that more than half of the vaccines that have been distributed have been given to the white population, according to state data. Additionally, hospital directors have raised concerns about congested telephone lines and inefficiencies related to the vaccine registration process.
Meanwhile in California, the state with the most infections is health officials lifted stay-at-home orders for regional homes on Monday, citing a drop in the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients and intensive care units.
–Hojun Choi, Austin-Statesman America
In the headlines:
►In the past week, Alaska has provided more COVID-19 injections per capita than any other state in the country, according to CDC data, Anchorage Daily News reported. Missouri is ranked last of the 50 states.
► Starting Tuesday, travelers flying to the US from a foreign country will be asked to show evidence of a recent coronavirus test with a negative result.
► Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine protects against two variants of the corona virus emerging from Britain and South Africa, although not as strongly as the latter, according to a company study.
► World Health Organization officials indicated Monday that they don’t believe Olympic athletes should receive priority access to a COVID-19 vaccine, especially if that means outperforming the world’s health care workers and the elderly population.
►Google says Monday it will open select a facility to use as the vaccination site and support search results to provide better information about where to find the COVID-19 vaccine.
📈 Today’s numbers: The US has more than 25.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 420,900 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global total: More than 99.7 million cases and 2.1 million deaths.
📘 What we read: Your child may not return to class this year. Is the teacher union to blame? Read more here.
Minnesota reports the first case of the US variant found in Brazil
A highly contagious variant of the coronavirus originally discovered in Brazil has landed in the US
The Minnesota Department of Health said Monday that the resident had recently traveled to Brazil. The person fell ill during the first week of January and specimens were collected on 9 January.
The Brazilian variant appears to be able to avoid the natural antibodies developed from COVID-19 transmission. While that could mean a potential weakening of the current vaccine’s effectiveness, current vaccines still offer protection.
This variation of the virus combines with other viruses circulating in the US – including the first seen in Great Britain, South Africa, and most recently, California.
The pandemic is still raging, but colleges are reopening. What is next?
Campus leaders hope lessons from the fall will position them better for the spring semester. That was before a post-holiday winter wave pushed the number of COVID-19 deaths in America to more than 400,000. Before more infectious variants of the coronavirus emerged. Before the vaccine launch proved to be slower than anticipated.
Now, the returning student population may be at greater risk than it was in the fall – not to mention surrounding communities, where research shows a bigger outbreak in college towns.
Despite those worries, the college continued to move forward. The stakes are high; enrollments plummeted in most colleges last semester, and lost revenue from face-to-face services like campus housing and meals could destroy schools that depend on that money. College towns will experience economic hardship too.
But when I became an administrator talking about the need to reopen, they focus on what went well in the fall – and benefit from the full university experience.
– Chris Quintana, USA TODAY
Contributing: The Associated Press
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