100 Million Vaccines, New School Guidelines, and More Coronavirus News

Biden meets his vaccination target, the CDC says students can be 3 feet apart, and cases surge in Europe. Here’s what you should know:

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Headlines

Biden meets target of 100 million vaccinations 58 days into his term

President Biden announced that today, 58 days into his presidency, his administration will meet its goal of doling out 100 million coronavirus vaccines within its first 100 days. Yesterday the White House also announced that it plans to “loan” a combined 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico and Canada. The vaccine has been authorized for use by the WHO but not yet by regulators in the States, and the US has stockpiled tens of millions of doses while awaiting emergency use authorization.

Individual states have also made good progress. After President Biden announced last week that he aims to make vaccines available to all adults by May 1, at least 17 states have moved even more quickly. In Mississippi and Alaska, appointments are already open to anyone age 16 and older. In Ohio, all adults will be able to sign up for shots starting March 29, and a number of other states have outlined plans for expanding eligibility in April. However, there is concern about who an age-based system leaves behind. Disability rights advocates have expressed anger at the way vulnerable populations are being forgotten. And in some places, vaccinating incarcerated people continues to be a struggle.

CDC amends school guidelines, paving the way for more classrooms to reopen

On Friday morning the CDC updated its guidelines for schools, saying that with universal masking, students should stay 3 feet apart from one another, rather than 6. This change is expected to allow many more schools to resume in-person classes. Earlier this week, the Biden administration also said it would put $10 billion toward screening students and teachers so that more schools can reopen.

Outside of the classroom, many states have inched closer to reopening this week: New Jersey is increasing indoor capacity for gyms and restaurants, and New York announced that Yankees and Mets games will be open to fans this season. Still, experts warn that accelerating reopening now would be a mistake. While the national daily case average continues to fall, as do hospitalization rates nationwide, the average number of cases has gone up at least 10 percent in 15 states. And worryingly, Michigan in particular is seeing a dramatic increase in hospitalizations.

Cases surge in Europe as regulators affirm AstraZeneca’s safety

The European Medicines Agency asserted that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe after more than a dozen countries paused their rollout of the shot amid concerns that it could cause blood clots. The EMA did add that a new warning label will be appended to the vaccine so professionals are on guard for a potential rare complication that could lead to blood clots and bleeding in the brain; however, experts remain staunch in their insistence that the science proves the vaccine is safe. Overall, they say, the shot will prevent much more illness and death than it could cause.