The Journal Gazette
Friday, March 26, 2021 1:00 am

Coronavirus roundup

Michigan rate of infections soars to highest in country


LANSING, Mich. – Michigan, which not long ago had one of the country's lowest COVID-19 infection rates, is confronting an alarming spike that some experts worry could be a harbinger nationally.

Michigan reported more than 5,200 new cases Thursday, the most in over three months. The death rate has been steady.

Over the past two weeks, Michigan's seven-day average of new cases per day has increased 122% – the largest change in the U.S. – rising to 3,753 from 1,687, the biggest jump in raw figures, too. The state's seven-day per-capita case rate is behind only New York and New Jersey.

Vaccinations to expand in 3 states

California, Florida and North Carolina announced it will lower the ages for vaccinations, expanding eligibility to the shots as a long-awaited boost in vaccine supplies is in sight.

• California will start vaccinating 16 and older starting in three weeks. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that the nation's most populous state would start vaccinating 50 and older in a week and the population more broadly – except those under 16, for whom vaccines have not yet been authorized – on April 15.

• Florida will open eligibility requirements to anyone 18 and older April 5, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday. Starting Monday, the eligibility requirement for getting the vaccine will drop from 50 to 40, he said.

• North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said residents 16 and older will qualify for a vaccine starting April 7.

NY wants probe of Cuomo family test

New York Attorney General Letitia James called on ethics investigators Thursday to look into reports that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and others connected to him received special access to coronavirus tests a year ago, when such testing was scarce.

Members of Cuomo's family including his brother, CNN journalist Chris Cuomo; his mother; and at least one of his three sisters were tested by top health department officials, some of them several times, according to the Times Union of Albany It mostly happened in March 2020.

AstraZeneca gives defense of vaccine

AstraZeneca insisted its COVID-19 vaccine provides strong protection even after counting additional illnesses in its U.S. study, as the drugmaker responded to concerns raised by American officials in an unusually public rebuke that threatened to further erode confidence in the shot.

In a late-night news release Wednesday, AstraZeneca said it had analyzed more data from that study and concluded the vaccine is 76% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19, instead of the 79% it had reported earlier in the week.

Some experts called the new analysis reassuring and said the updated details didn't look substantially different from what was announced earlier.

UN global vaccine shipping delayed

The U.N.-backed program to ship COVID-19 vaccines worldwide has announced supply delays for up to 90 million doses from an Indian manufacturer.

It's a major setback for the ambitious roll-out aimed to help low- and middle-income countries. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, says the delays come as India faces a surge of infections that will increase domestic demands on the Serum Institute of India, a pivotal vaccine maker behind the COVAX program.

Britain extends limits 6 months

British lawmakers agreed to prolong coronavirus emergency measures for six months, allowing the Conservative government to keep powers to restrict U.K. citizens' everyday lives.

The House of Commons voted to extend the powers until September and approved a road map to gradually ease Britain's strict lockdown over the next three months.

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