NEW DELHI — India has set another record for daily COVID-19 fatalities even as infections dipped further.
The Health Ministry on Wednesday reported 4,529 deaths in the last 24 hours, driving the overall toll to 283,248. India also confirmed 267,334 new infections, as daily cases dropped below 300,000 for the third consecutive day. Both numbers are almost certainly undercounts.
Even as India’s overall cases have shown signs of slight decrease, deaths have continued to rise and hospitals are still swamped by patients. Over the last month, India’s COVID-19 fatalities have jumped sixfold.
India’s vaccination drive is also faltering just at the time when it is needed the most. The number of daily vaccine doses has fallen by about half over the last six weeks, from a high of 4 million a day on April 2 to around daily 2 million or fewer this week.
India has the second-highest caseload after the U.S. with more than 25 million confirmed infections.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Restrictions reimposed as virus resurges in much of Asia
— ‘City in transition’: New York vies to turn page on pandemic
— UAE to offer booster shot to recipients of Sinopharm vaccine
— Many U.S. worker s emerging from the pandemic don’t want to return to the jobs they once had.
— Mexico is mounting a final push to get all of the country’s 3 million school teachers vaccinated so that it can reopen schools, perhaps by June.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
LAS VEGAS — The Las Vegas Strip and surroundings will fully reopen to vaccinated diners, dancers, shoppers and club-goers beginning June 1.
Clark County lawmakers on Tuesday followed CDC guidelines and dropped plans to tie business occupancy to coronavirus vaccination rates.
The unanimous vote came after public speakers expressed anger and frustration with pandemic restrictions — especially their effects on schoolchildren.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Friday aligned state requirements with CDC recommendations issued a day earlier. The CDC says fully vaccinated people can stop social distancing and mask-wearing outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.
Most Las Vegas casinos have already returned to 100% occupancy and no social distancing under oversight of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian lawmakers have voted to dismiss the health minister who has faced criticism for the slow pace of the nation’s coronavirus vaccination effort.
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal held Health Minister Maksym Stepanov responsible for the failure to quickly procure more vaccine. Shmyhal says the nation of 41 million people so far has received only 2.3 million doses, and only 948,3300 Ukrainians had received at least one shot as of Tuesday.
Stepanov argued in his defense that the ex-Soviet nation has faced tough competition as nations try to procure vaccines amid the pandemic. Supplies of the Indian-made AstraZeneca vaccine were suspended after infections in India surged.
Ukraine has registered more than 2.1 million infections and 48,469 deaths from COVID-19.
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas’ governor says public schools must end mask requirements starting in June and is ordering Texas’ cities and counties to drop nearly all face covering mandates by the end of the week.
Tuesday’s announcement from Gov. Greg Abbott does not affect private businesses, which can still require customers or workers to wear masks. But the change is the biggest rollbacks of Texas’ pandemic safeguards since Abbott ended a statewide mask mandate in March.
Public hospitals, jails and state-supported living centers will still be allowed to require masks.
The move comes as Texas’ coronavirus cases and COVID-19 deaths continue to plunge and vaccines are being made available to children as young as 12.
Some Texas school have already ended mask mandates. The Texas State Teachers Association criticized Abbott’s decision as premature.
MEXICO CITY — Mexico is mounting a final push to get all of the country’s 3 million school teachers vaccinated so it can reopen schools, perhaps by the second half of June.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Tuesday that getting kids back into classrooms is an urgent necessity, as much for their social development as anything else. He says: “School is like a second home, and we need all students at all levels to return to in-person classes..”
Officials estimate 2.1 million teachers at private and public schools have already been vaccinated, and hope to inject almost 520,000 this week and a similar number in the last week of May.
Schools in four of Mexico’s least-affected states have gone back to in-person classes, but on a very limited scale. The other 28 states have been giving online classes since early last year.
PORTLAND, Oregon — Oregon health officials say businesses and churches can choose to no longer require masks and social distancing for fully vaccinated people, but those places must have individuals show proof of vaccination and review it.
Under new rules announced Tuesday, people will still be required to wear masks while on public transportation and in schools, hospitals and clinics, homeless shelters, correctional facilities and long-term care facilities.
Oregonians have been required since last summer to wear masks inside public spaces such as grocery stores, shops, gyms and restaurants and outside in situations where people cannot remain six feet apart.
CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire will end its participation in all pandemic-related federal unemployment compensation programs June 19 but will offer “signing stipends” totaling $10 million to encourage people to find jobs.
The state was among the first to expand eligibility for unemployment benefits when the pandemic first struck. Between March and April 2020, its unemployment rate jumped from 2.7% to over 16%, but as of this month, was back down to 2.8%.
Gov. Chris Sununu said Tuesday that unemployed workers who find full-time jobs will get $1,000 bonuses after completing eight weeks of work and part-time workers will get $800 until the $10 million bonus fund is depleted.
Connecticut is offering a similar incentive, though it is maintaining the federal $300 supplemental payments for those who remain unemployed.
LOS ANGELES — Five more California counties will move to less restrictive pandemic rules because of improving COVID-19 conditions.
The state Department of Public Health said Tuesday that Orange, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and Amador counties are moving from the orange, or moderate, tier to the yellow, or minimal, tier. Tehama County is improving from the red, substantial, tier to orange.
The moves will put 13 counties in yellow, 35 in orange and 10 in red. No counties are in the purple, or substantial, tier.
WASHINGTON — A top White House adviser for the coronavirus is encouraging young people to get vaccinated, sharing his son’s struggles after acquiring the virus.
Andy Slavitt revealed during a White House briefing Tuesday that one of his sons was diagnosed with the virus late last year and still suffers from lingering side effects.
He’s appealing to younger Americans to roll up their sleeves, even if they feel they’re at less risk than older Americans for serious medical consequences.
Slavitt says his teenage son was “young and fit and in the prime of his life. But six months later, he still suffers from tachycardia, shortness of breath, and ongoing and frequent flu-like symptoms. His hands are cold to the touch.”
Slavitt adds: “Many young people are in this situation, and many, many have it worse. According to the CDC, more than 3 million kids under 17 have contracted COVID-19.”
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