Biden meets his vaccination target, the CDC says students can be three feet apart and cases are increasing in Europe. Here’s what you need to know:
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Biden hits goal of 100 million vaccinations 58 days after start of tenure
President Biden announced that today, 58 days after starting his presidency, his administration reach its goal to distribute 100 million coronavirus vaccines in its first 100 days. Yesterday, the White House also announced that it plans to “loan” 4 million combined doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico and Canada. Use of the vaccine has been cleared by the WHO but not yet by regulators in the United States, and the United States has stored tens of millions of doses pending clearance for emergency use.
Individual states have also made good progress. After President Biden last week announced his intention to make vaccines available to all adults by May 1, at least 17 states evolved even faster. In Mississippi and Alaska, appointments are already open to anyone aged 16 and over. In Ohio, all adults will be able to sign up for vaccines starting March 29, and a number of other states have presented plans to expand eligibility in April. However, there are concerns about who is leaving behind an age-based system. Disabled People’s Rights Defenders expressed their anger at the way vulnerable populations are being forgotten. And in some places, vaccinate incarcerated people continues to be a struggle.
CDC changes school guidelines, paving way for more classrooms to reopen
On Friday morning, the CDC updated its guidelines for schools, saying that with universal masking, students should stay three, rather than six, feet apart. This change should allow many more schools to resume in-person lessons. Earlier this week, the Biden administration also said it would spend $ 10 billion screening of students and teachers so that more schools can reopen.
Outside the classroom, many states moved closer to reopening this week: New Jersey increases the indoor capacity of gymnasiums and restaurants, and New York announced Yankees and Mets matches will be open to fans this season. Still, experts warn that the expedited reopening now would be a mistake. As the daily national average of cases continues to decline, as does national hospitalization rate, the average number of cases has increased by at least 10 percent in fifteen states. And worrying, Michigan in particular is seeing a dramatic increase in hospitalizations.
Cases rise in Europe as regulators say AstraZeneca is safe
The European Medicines Agency has stated that AstraZeneca vaccine is safe after more than a dozen countries halted deployment of the vaccine over fears it could cause blood clots. The EMA added that a new warning label will be attached to the vaccine so that professionals are on their guard for a potential rare complication that could lead to blood clots and bleeding in the brain; however, experts remain convinced that science proves the vaccine is safe. Overall, they say, the vaccine will prevent far more illness and death than it could cause.
Following the announcement, countries like France and Germany said they would resume administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine immediately, and the leaders including Boris Johnson said they would receive the photo to encourage the public to do the same. It is imperative to build confidence in vaccines and accelerate deployment in Europe as the region faces a further rise in cases: Italy and France returned to lockdown this week, and German leaders are considering extend current lockout to curb the rapid spread of the virus.
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How did Covid-19 erase the justice system?
The pandemic has complicated attempts by courts to uphold the rights to public access and to fair and open trials, which was often a struggle even before much of the country was removed. With in-person debates limited at best, officials have turned to video conferencing and conference calls, which can be unpredictable and glitchy. Virtual procedures make it more difficult for lawyers and clients to communicate with each other during hearings. And while remote procedures eliminate courthouse accessibility issues, there are other barriers to access, especially for people with disabilities. Going virtual can also pose challenges for people without a reliable internet at home, especially among historically marginalized communities.
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