VIRUS TODAY: COVID-19 cases down as US ends deadliest month
Here’s what’s happening Monday with the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.:
THREE THINGS TO KNOW TODAY:
— The deadliest month of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. has drawn to a close with certain signs of progress: COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are plummeting, as vaccinations are picking up. The question is whether the nation can stay ahead of the fast-spreading mutations of the virus. The U.S. death toll has climbed past 440,000, with more than 95,000 lives lost in January alone. Deaths are running at about 3,150 per day on average, down by about 200 from their peak in mid-January.
— The coronavirus pandemic has cut instruction time in the nation’s schools by as much as half, and many middle school and high school teachers have given up on covering all the material normally included in their classes. Instead, they are cutting lessons. English teachers are deciding which books to skip. History teachers are condensing units. Science teachers are often doing without experiments entirely. Certain topics must be taught because they will appear on important exams. But teachers are largely on their own to make difficult choices — what to prioritize and what to sacrifice to the pandemic.
— Americans’ desire to get outdoors during the pandemic despite the winter cold is creating a season unlike any in more than two decades for the snowmobiling industry. From Maine to Montana, it’s becoming difficult to find a new snowmobile for sale. And the rental fleets are booked up. The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association said U.S. represents the world’s biggest market for snowmobiles and Canada isn’t far behind, together combining for more than $30 billion in annual sales.
THE NUMBERS: According to data through Jan. 31 from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases in the U.S. did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 217,703.1 on Jan. 17 to 148,412.9 on Jan. 31. The seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths in the U.S. also did not increase over the same period, going from 3,324.9 to 3,153.3.
QUOTABLE: “The expectation should not be that there’s an immediate, dramatic shift,” Andy Slavitt, the White House’s deputy COVID-19 coordinator said in response to expectations for a potential boost in vaccine distribution if Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 shot is approved by the FDA.
ICYMI: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is acknowledging that Black and Latino New Yorkers are receiving COVID-19 vaccines at far lower rates than white or Asian residents. Data released by the city’s health department shows that 48% of the city residents who have gotten at least one vaccine dose are white. That’s far higher than the roughly one-third of the city’s population that is non-Hispanic white. Just 11% of vaccine doses administered to New York City residents went to Black people and 15% to Latinos. The vaccine numbers are incomplete because about 40% of people who have been vaccinated in the city haven’t provided demographic information. Still, the figures mirror vaccination data from other cities and states.
ON THE HORIZON: The coronavirus immunization campaign is off to a shaky start in Tuskegee, Alabama. Area leaders point to a lingering distrust of medicine linked to a 40-year government study there that used unknowing Black men as guinea pigs to study syphilis. Several people in the mostly Black city are trying to set an example by getting vaccinated. One of those is Black attorney Fred Gray, who filed a lawsuit on behalf of the men affected by the syphilis study that resulted in a $9 million settlement. The now-90-year-old Gray stresses that the syphilis study and the COVID-19 vaccine are completely different.
Find AP’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic