Coronavirus News Update – March 5: Pace of Vaccinations in U.S. Reaches 2 Million Per Day

Connecticut, Alabama Lift Some Restrictions But Keep Mask Mandates, Disney Workers Abused

By Jesse Sokolow on 5 March 2021
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Walt Disney World in Orlando

On Friday, the world crossed the 116 million mark in coronavirus cases. The global death toll is nearly 2.6 million deaths from the disease, according to Worldometer, which tracks such data.

Since vaccination rollouts began in December of last year, over 54 million people in the United States have received at least one dose, including 27.8 million who have received both doses. Over 21% of the population in the United States over the age of 18 has received at least one dose and nearly 11% has received both doses.

In the United States on Wednesday, for the first time, the average number of doses administered daily of the vaccine crossed the two million mark. When President Biden first took office, he promised to administer more than 1.5 million doses per day, at a time when the pace was just one million daily. The news indicates that President Biden’s goal of having delivered 100 million doses of the vaccine by April 30, his 100th day in office, will be reached.

In Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey, a Republican, extended the mask mandate in the state for another month, to at least April 9. The governor announced that restaurants and other establishments will be allowed to operate at full capacity starting on that date as well. This is in stark contrast to two of her fellow Republican governors, Greg Abbot of Texas and Tate Reeves of Mississippi, who on Tuesday said they would end the mask mandate in their states.

Governor Ned Lamont, Democrat, of Connecticut said that he will lift the capacity restrictions at restaurants, as well as gyms, stores, and religious houses of prayer, on March 19. The move does not include bars that do not serve food. Governor Lamont also said that he would keep the state-wide mask mandate in place. “This is not Texas, this is not Mississippi – this is Connecticut,” said Lamont in a rather pointed statement.

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City said that the city will go door to door to administer the vaccine to elderly residents in retirement communities. New York City Fire Department officials will head the outreach program. The program aims to vaccinate 240 senior citizens per day with the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Jean Castex, the prime minister of France, said in a news conference on Thursday that the country wants to have vaccinated at least 10 million people by the middle of next month. In addition, the Republic wants to have 20 million people vaccinated by mid-May, and 30 million by the start of summer.

Beginning Saturday, the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil will enter into a strict lockdown set to last through March 19 to help curb the spread of the virus. The action was announced by Governor João Doria on Wednesday. The state’s capital, the city of Sao Paulo, where approximately 12 million people live, will be included in the lockdown. Over 75% of the city’s intensive-care beds are currently occupied by Covid-19 patients.

While concerns in recent months have been focused of the amount of vaccine being produced, syringes seem to be the new item that some health-care professionals are struggling to find in abundance. As syringes are necessary to inject the vaccine, an absence of them in any instance would mean that the short-lived Bio-NTech vaccine would go to waste. In February, Japan said that if it did not receive more syringes, it would simply have to throw away millions of doses of the vaccine. Becton, Dickinson and Company, the largest syringes manufacturer in the world,  said that it had ramped up production of syringes to 2,000 a minute, in order to meet over a billion order for the essential needle.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that many Disney World workers face abuse from visitors.   Some visitors “have angrily refused” to follow Disney and city coronavirus rules regarding masks and social distancing. At the Disney Contemporary Resort, a man spit on a security guard after he was asked to adhere to the resort’s face mask-wearing policy. The man reportedly said to the employee, “I’m a guest” as he walked away.

Finally, a Trader Joe’s employee in New York City saw his job reinstated a week after being fired for sending a letter to the CEO of the company requesting more stringent Covid safety protocols in his store. The employee, Ben Bonnema, asked that the store’s air-filtration systems be improved, that the store limit the number of customers allowed in the store at a time, and that face masks be made mandatory. Bonnema had tweeted the letter he had been fired for writing, which made the rounds on social media, even garnering a tweet of support from a scientist whom Bonnema cited in his text.

Anna Breuer contributed reporting to this story

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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