Americans begin 2nd COVID-19 pandemic summer with optimism

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About 6 million Americans traveled over this past Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, in a nation that has been battling the COVID-19 pandemic for 15 months.

Last year, Memorial Day weekend celebrations set off the second wave of virus activity across the country, but this year, widespread vaccination of Americans 12 and older led to less ominous predictions about summer travel and health. The 37 million Americans planned to travel 50 or more miles over the weekend, up 14 million from last year. 

Data from the Transportation Security Administration show that nearly 2 million people passed through airport security checkpoints last Friday, a new daily pandemic record, the Washington Post reports.

The United States reported 5,735 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and 138 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. 

Despite the progress made, some experts are warning of the "open air" effect of the summer months. In the past 6 months, Southern states have not vaccinated their populations as widely as Northern states, but because of mild spring weather, transmission of the virus was stalled as people spent time outdoors. 

Now, hot summer months will drive more people inside, and some fear this could result in increased infection rates in the unvaccinated. 

Maryland, California reach 70% vaccine uptake

Andy Slavitt, the White House coordinator for COVID-19 response, tweeted today that Maryland and California are the eleventh and twelfth states to reach the goal of administering at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine to 70% of their adult populations. 

All states are encouraged to meet this milestone in the next 5 weeks, by July 4, marking what President Joe Biden calls America's freedom from the virus. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID Data Tracker shows that, as of May 30, 366,316,945 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered in the United States, and 294,928,850 have been administered, with 135,087,319 Americans fully vaccinated.

Today, Moderna announced that it has begun applying for full approval of its COVID-19 vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The two-dose mRNA vaccine was the second vaccine granted emergency use authorization (EUA) in December 2020. 

Currently, the Moderna vaccine is approved for use in those 18 and older, but the company announced last month it will also seek an EUA for adolescents, following the footsteps of Pfizer/BioNTech. 

Other US developments 

  • The cruise ship industry is gearing up for a battle with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over a law he signed that bans businesses from asking customers about their vaccination status, NBC News reports. In order to resume sailing in accordance with CDC guidance, many cruise liners want to require nearly all passengers and crew to be vaccinated.

  • Massachusetts lifted its mask mandate on Saturday, one of several states that relaxed coronavirus restrictions over the weekend, according to the Associated Press.

  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said on Friday that employers can offer incentives to their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine without running afoul of federal anti-discrimination law, Politico reports. 

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