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Coronavirus Outbreak: Latest Updates

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This article was updated April 22, 2021, at 6:18 p.m. ET.

The United States leads the world in cases of COVID-19. We'll provide the latest updates on coronavirus cases, government response, impacts to our daily life, and more.

What is the latest news?

3 Major League Baseball Teams Testing Sections for Fully Vaccinated Fans

April 22, 6:18 p.m.. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and San Diego Padres are experimenting with dedicated sections of their stadiums where fully vaccinated fans can sit together, The Sacramento Bee reported.

Fans will be required to show a photo ID and a card proving they’re been fully vaccinated for at least two weeks. Children aged 2-15 must prove they recently tested negative for COVID. Fans will still have to wear a face covering unless they’re actively eating or drinking.

The Dodgers will try this kind of seating in two sections for the Saturday game against the San Diego Padres.

The Giants will have sections for fully vaccinated fans for the Friday game against the Miami Marlins at Oracle Park.

The Padres adopted the plan for Petco Park starting last weekend.

Most Major League Baseball teams are limiting attendance at games to between 20% to 30% of capacity.

FDA Details Problems Found at Plant Making Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

April 22, 5:30 p.m. 

The FDA has released a report on conditions at an idled Baltimore manufacturing plant where 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine were contaminated last month.

The report said the factory operated by Emergent BioSolutions was dirty and had peeling paint, and black and brown residue on the floors. Drug components and waste products were not stored or handled properly, the report said.

The staff was poorly trained and did not follow manufacturing procedures, which resulted in contamination of vaccine materials, the report said. Workers moved between different sections of the factory without changing gowns or booties, the report said, citing observations based on examination of video footage.

None of the COVID vaccines made at the Baltimore plant have been released to the public. About 8 million doses of J&J vaccine have been administered in the United States, but all those doses were made in Europe.

Vaccine production has paused at the Baltimore plant and any vaccines produced there have been put into storage and will be further investigated.

“For the vaccines already manufactured (at the Baltimore plant), the products will undergo additional testing and will be thoroughly evaluated to ensure their quality before any potential distribution. We will not allow the release of any product until we feel confident that it meets our expectations for quality,” the FDA report said.

The report also said Emergent had not fully investigated how the 15 million doses of J&J vaccine were contaminated.

The Baltimore plant had been making both the J&J vaccines and the AstraZeneca vaccines. Workers mixed up ingredients for the two vaccines last month, resulting in the J&J doses being ruined. After that, the federal government ordered the plant to stop making the AstraZeneca vaccine.

J&J has received emergency use authorization for its vaccine, but AstraZeneca has not.

J&J and Emergent said they’ll work with the FDA to address problems at the plant.

“Johnson & Johnson will exercise its oversight authority to ensure that all of FDA’s observations with respect to the Emergent facility are addressed promptly and comprehensively,” the company said in a statement.

Meanwhile, a government investigation continues into reports that a small number of people who got the J&J vaccine developed blood clots.

The CDC and FDA recommended a temporary pause in use of the J&J vaccine last week after six women reported a rare blood-clotting disorder. The women, who are between ages 18-48, experienced symptoms 6 to 13 days after receiving a Johnson & Johnson shot. A seventh case involving a woman was later reported, as was a case involving a man who developed a blood clot during the Johnson & Johnson clinical trials.

The government agencies may make a decision as soon as Friday. 

J&J said it would resume rolling out its vaccine in Europe after the European Union’s health agency said a warning about a possible connection to blood clots should be attached to the vaccine.

WHO: Worldwide COVID Cases Reached New Weekly Record

April 22, 1:16 p.m.

More COVID-19 cases were reported worldwide last week than in any other 7-day period during the pandemic, according to new data published Tuesday by the World Health Organization.

Last week’s tally of 5.24 million new cases broke the previous record of 5.04 million new cases reported at the beginning of January.

Globally, new COVID-19 cases rose for the eighth consecutive week, and new COVID-19 deaths increased for the fifth consecutive week. More than 83,000 new deaths were reported, which is an 8% jump from the previous week.

The overall COVID-19 death toll surpassed 3 million last week, the WHO said. It took 9 months to reach 1 million deaths, then 4 months to surpass 2 million, and 3 months to pass 3 million, according to The New York Times.

All regions reported an increase in cases during the past week except for Europe, which saw a 3% decline, the WHO said. The largest increase continues to be reported in Southeast Asia, which is largely driven by a surge in infections in India.

India reported more than 314,800 cases on Thursday, breaking the worldwide record for the most infections recorded in a single day, according to The Associated Press. The U.S. set the previous record of more than 300,600 cases on Jan. 8.

India now accounts for nearly one-third of all new cases worldwide, the WHO said. The country’s total neared 16 million cases on Thursday, second only to the 31.8 million infections reported by the U.S. during the pandemic.

A large number of hospitals in India are reporting shortages of beds, medicines and oxygen, particularly in the capital region of New Delhi. On Wednesday, the New Delhi High Court ordered the government to divert oxygen from industrial use to hospitals, the AP reported.

“You can’t have people die because there is no oxygen,” the court wrote. “Beg, borrow or steal, it is a national emergency.”

India reported the highest number of new cases last week with more than 1.4 million infections, which was a 64% increase, according to the WHO report. The U.S. reported the second-highest number with 477,000 new cases, which was a 2% increase. Brazil and Turkey also reported more than 400,000 new cases during the past week.

The global surge in cases is likely related to the emergence of COVID-19 variants, the WHO said, as well as easing of public health measures.

“The COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of easing, with global case and death incidence increasing at a concerning rate since mid-February 2021,” the WHO wrote in the report. “A third of the global cumulative COVID-19 cases and deaths has been reported in the last 3 months alone, with weekly cases reaching similar levels as the previous peak in January 2021.”

Record-High COVID-19 Cases, Deaths Prompt Lockdowns Across India

April 21, 5:25 p.m.

Daily COVID-19 cases and deaths have reached record-high levels in India as a second surge sweeps across the country, prompting governments to impose new lockdown measures in large parts of the country, according to Voice of America.

India reported more than 295,000 infections on Wednesday and has reported more than 200,000 new infections per day for more than a week. On Wednesday, India's Health Ministry said more than 2,000 people died from COVID-19, a record daily death toll.

Many health experts and government officials have said they believe the death toll is much higher than the official count, Voice of America reported, especially because large cities have reported COVID-19 burials and cremations that exceed the official numbers.

So far this week, the capital city New Delhi has imposed a weeklong lockdown, and Uttar Pradesh, a northern state, announced a weekend lockdown that begins Friday night. Maharashtra, India's western state that includes Mumbai and the hardest-hit COVID-19 region, limited grocery stores and other businesses to four hours per day. Telangana, a state in the southern part of India, imposed a midnight curfew.

With the increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths, both the U.S. and the U.K. announced “do not travel” warnings for India this week, Voice of America reported.

The weeklong lockdown in New Delhi is aimed at preventing the collapse of the city's health system, according to The Associated Press. Hospitals are at capacity, critical care beds and ventilators are limited, and patients are lined up at medical facilities in search of availability.

Oxygen is also scarce. Hospitals in New Delhi had between four to 24 hours' worth of oxygen on Tuesday and called for help from the federal government, according to Reuters. In addition, at least six of India's 30 chief ministers and two federal ministers have tested positive for the coronavirus in recent days.

“The situation was manageable until a few weeks ago. The second wave of infections has come like a storm,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Tuesday, urging people to stay at home but not panic.

“The central and state governments as well as the private sector are together trying to ensure oxygen supplies to those in need,” he said. “We are trying to increase oxygen production and supply across the country.”

Even still, some officials in India have warned against broad lockdown measures as the economy beings to improve. Modi, who imposed a strict lockdown last year, asked states on Tuesday to avoid shutting businesses, according to Bloomberg News.

“I urge states that they should consider lockdowns as the last option,” Modi said. “They should earnestly try to avoid lockdown and focus on micro-containment zones.”

To battle the growth in coronavirus cases, India announced this week that it would begin vaccinating everyone ages 18 and older on May 1, the AP reported. The country has administered more than 120 million doses to its population of nearly 1.4 billion people.

Vaccine Hesitancy Increases Among Gen Z Adults

April 21, 4:20 p.m.

Hesitancy around COVID-19 vaccination appears to be increasing among Generation Z -- those born between 1997 and 2012 -- in recent months, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Public health officials are concerned about vaccine hesitancy in this age group as COVID-19 cases have spiked among young adults.

In a NBCLX/Morning Consult poll conducted in March, 26% of Gen Z respondents said they won't get vaccinated, and 19% said they aren't sure whether they will get inoculated. In a similar NBCLX/Morning Consult poll conducted in March 2020, 5% of Gen Z respondents said they wouldn't get vaccinated.

In a recent STAT-Harris Poll, about 21% of Gen Z respondents said they won't get vaccinated, and 34% said they would “wait awhile and see” before getting a vaccine.

Experts are now looking for new strategies to communicate about vaccines with this age group. During most of the pandemic, public health messaging indicated that older adults faced more vulnerability to the virus, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center, told the newspaper.

“There was less concern about other generations until very recently, which has started to create problems,” Jamieson said. “If you haven't been paying attention to the media recently, how vulnerable would you think you were if you were in the younger generations? The answer is not very.”

In recent weeks, public health messaging has begun to shift to focus on long-term COVID-19 effects among all ages, particularly on the social media platforms that Gen Z prefers, such as TikTok.

“Effective messaging for Gen Zers on TikTok ... looks a lot like effective health messaging elsewhere in so-called legacy media formats, such as newspaper or television,” Allyson Levin, a communications professor at Villanova University, told the newspaper.

“Messages should be scientifically accurate and evidence-based,” she said, adding that some social media posts have included misinformation about vaccines, which “could have the potential to undermine other public health and communication efforts.”

On TikTok, more users are posting videos about vaccine safety and efficacy, as well as explaining why the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was paused and what that could mean. As pharmaceutical companies that manufacture vaccines release more data about vaccine trials in teens and adolescents, that could clear up hesitancy for Gen Z people as well.

“Someone might be looking at the situation and think, 'I'm much closer to 18 than I am to 65, I might want to wait until I've seen the studies for 12 to 18-year-olds,'” Jamieson said. “It doesn't necessarily suggest that you have a population avoiding vaccines for bad reasons.”

How many people have been diagnosed with the virus worldwide, and how many have died?

According to Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 144.22 million cases and more than 3.06 million deaths worldwide.

How many cases of COVID-19 are in the United States?

There are more than 31.9 million cases in the U.S. of COVID-19 and more than 570,000 deaths, according Johns Hopkins University.

WebMD Health News

Sources

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