J&J vaccine trial; Canada tightens travel restrictions


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Despite COVID vaccine rollout, long lines persist.

USA TODAY

COVID-19 has killed more than 435,000 Americans, and infections have continued to mount despite the introduction of a pair of vaccines late in 2020. USA TODAY is tracking the news. Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates. Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates to your inbox, join our Facebook group or scroll through our in-depth answers to reader questions.

The Biden administration on Friday announced it is running ahead of its initial vaccination goal, with an average of 1.2 million shots a day administered over the previous seven days. Biden said earlier in the week he’s hoping to get to 1.5 million vaccinations a day. 

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson said Friday data from its late-stage trial in the U.S. and seven other countries showed its one-shot vaccine had an overall 66% effectiveness in preventing moderate to severe illness.

Because of its single dose regimen, the J&J vaccine has been described as a “game-changer” in the campaign against the coronavirus pandemic. And the vaccine doesn’t need to be kept frozen, allowing it to be distributed through normal vaccine supply chains without the need for new, expensive equipment.

The European Union’s drug regulator on Friday authorized AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in all adults despite concerns that not enough data exist to prove it works in older people. On Thursday, Germany’s vaccination advisory committee said in a draft recommendation that the vaccine should only be given to people aged 18-64 for now.

In the headlines:

►Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is calling on the state to stop hospital systems from giving special COVID-19 vaccine access to donors, board members or other connected community members following reports of several area hospital systems doing so. She also called for the state to reallocate vaccines to community health clinics that serve low-income communities of color

►This Kentucky couple did everything together for 56 years. Then one of them died alone of COVID-19.

►Arizona’s Department of Health Services reported the United Kingdom strain was confirmed in COVID-19 tests from three people. The agency is working with other public health agencies, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to monitor the situation.

►Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced stricter restrictions on travelers in response to new, likely more contagious variants of the novel coronavirus — including making it mandatory for travelers to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense when they arrive in Canada and suspending airline service to Mexico and all Caribbean destinations until April 30.

►’I have cried. I have begged. I have yelled’: Couples clash over COVID-19 as men do not take the virus as seriously as women and are less likely to follow safety measures, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 25.9 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 436,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 102 million cases and 2.2 million deaths. About 48.4 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 26.2 million have been administered, according to the CDC. 

📘 What we’re reading: COVID-19 side effects? Pain relievers like Tylenol and Advil are “perfectly fine” – but only after vaccination, experts say. Read the full story.

Vaccinated US Rep. Stephen Lynch tests positive for COVID-19

A Massachusetts congressman who has received both doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine has tested positive for the virus.

The office of U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch said Friday that the lawmaker had had a negative test result before attending President Joe Biden’s inauguration. The office says Lynch’s positive test result came after a staff member in his Boston office tested positive earlier this week.

A statement says Lynch isn’t displaying any symptoms of COVID-19. Lynch will self-quarantine and vote by proxy in Congress in the coming week.

Lynch is the second member of the state’s congressional delegation to test positive in as many days. On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan announced she had tested positive after repeatedly testing negative.

Colorado mayor compares COVID restrictions to George Floyd’s death

The mayor of a Colorado village compared county COVID-19 restrictions to the death of George Floyd in a statement he later said was a “poor choice,” according a local outlet. 

Snowmass Village Mayor Bill Madsen was advocating for lighter COVID-related restrictions during a meeting of the Pitkin County Board of Health on Thursday when he drew a comparison to the death of Floyd, a Black man who died after a police officer in Minneapolis held his knee to Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. 

“We are creating a tremendous amount of ill will in the community,” Madsen said, according to the Aspen Daily News. “To hearken back to the George Floyd scenario, we have put our foot on the throat of the restaurant industry and they can’t breathe.”

He later walked back his comments: “I was just trying to make the point that the restaurant industry is suffering, and that was probably a bad choice of words,” Madsen said. “It was a poor choice. … I just wanted to make sure the restaurant industry is being heard, and I think throughout this whole process they haven’t felt that way.”

Iowa county leaders beg for patience amid COVID vaccine shortages

Leaders in some Iowa counties warned Friday that their supply of COVID-19 vaccine will remain far below demand for at least several more weeks. At the same time, the state is on track to expand vaccine eligibility to Iowans age 65 or older as well as people in certain high-risk professions.

“We are begging you to be patient as we continue to navigate this impossible situation,” Polk County Supervisor Angela Connolly said at a news conference. “It is a tough, difficult time. People want to be vaccinated, and we want to get that vaccine in their arms.”

Helen Eddy, director of the Polk County Health Department, said her agency will have only enough vaccine to offer first doses to 2,575 county residents next week, plus second doses to 4,500 people who already received initial shots.

County health officials throughout Iowa face challenges similar to Polk’s

– Tony Leys, Des Moines Register

Mexican president says he’s recovering from COVID-19

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador posted a video of himself walking slowly through his offices Friday and talking for about 13 minutes straight, saying he is recovering from COVID-19.

López Obrador has not been holding his famous, hours-long daily press conferences for the first time since he took office on Dec. 1, 2018, and he evidently misses the opportunity to talk.

The president, who has been in isolation since testing positive for the coronavirus over the weekend, said: “The doctors tell me I am getting through the critical stage. I am doing well.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

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