Health officials are warning of possible coronavirus outbreaks after crowds gathered across the United States this weekend to celebrate Super Bowl Sunday. Although “a majority” of people and businesses followed the rules, according to Tampa Bay’s mayor, photos from outside of Raymond James Stadium showed throngs of maskless fans celebrating the Buccaneers’ win.
Meanwhile, health officials are also warning states against easing virus restrictions. Although new cases and deaths have been decreasing over the past several weeks, experts believe virus variants are likely underreported and still pose an increased risk of a resurgence of the coronavirus, NBC News reports.
The U.S. has reported more than 27 million coronavirus cases and 466,000 virus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to a tally by NBC News.
Here are the latest coronavirus updates from the U.S. and elsewhere:
CDC Plans National COVID Vaccination Forum to Reassert Federal Leadership
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for the first time during the pandemic, will host a nationwide forum on the safest and most effective ways to vaccinate millions of Americans, a Biden official told NBC News as the new administration seeks to re-empower scientific agencies sidelined under the previous administration.
The Feb. 22-24 event with national, state, local and tribal medical practitioners is part of a series of initiatives the new administration is taking to signal that the federal government is playing a more aggressive leadership role in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
The goal is to communicate national standards for how best to build trust and confidence in vaccines and to ensure “equitable vaccine access and uptake to all populations,” the official said.
It’s the most recent example of the administration’s trying to assert itself in coordinating the COVID-19 response and re-empowering scientific agencies.
Read the full story on NBCNews.com
Levi’s Stadium Prepares to Open as COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Site
Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, home of the San Francisco 49ers, will become the Bay Area’s next COVID-19 mass vaccination site, with preparations ramping up for a Tuesday opening, NBC Bay Area reports.
Levi’s was one of the first NFL stadiums to be approved as a mass vaccination site before the league stepped up last week to offer up all 30 of its venues in the effort to get millions of Americans vaccinated.
The announcement by the 49ers and Santa Clara County on Friday called it California’s largest vaccination site, scheduled to serve county residents 65 and older, with an initial capacity to vaccinate 5,000 people a day and plans to increase that to as many as 15,000 as vaccine supplies increase.
Read the full story here
California Uses ZIP Codes, Outreach to Boost Vaccine Equity
Targeting vulnerable ZIP codes is one way San Francisco and other U.S. cities and counties are trying to ensure they vaccinate people in largely Black, Latino and working-class communities that have borne the brunt of the pandemic. In Dallas, authorities tried to prioritize such ZIP codes, which tended to be communities of color, but backtracked after the state threatened to reduce the city’s vaccine supply.
Nationwide, states are struggling to distribute vaccines equitably even as officials try to define what equity means. They’re debating what risk factors gets someone to the head of the line: those in poverty, communities of color, their job or if they have a disability. Others simply want to vaccinate as many people as possible, as soon as possible.
In California, which has prioritized seniors and health care workers, Gov. Gavin Newsom last week announced a federal partnership for mass vaccination sites in Oakland and east Los Angeles, saying the locations were chosen to target working-class “communities that are often left behind.”
“Not only do we want fast and efficient, but we want equitable distribution of the vaccine,” he told reporters Monday in San Diego, where he hinted that a mass vaccination site would be announced soon for farm and food workers in central California.
Newsom also says a new state vaccine distribution system will pay providers to offer shots in vulnerable neighborhoods and communities of color. Insurer Blue Shield of California will run the program and collect demographics on who’s getting the shots.