As more states open vaccines to all, others lift masking restrictions; California to resume in-person prison visits: Live COVID-19 updates

More states are lifting eligibility requirements for Americans to receive the coveted coronavirus vaccine, and COVID-19 cases are declining throughout the country, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

Indiana, Texas and Georgia Tuesday joined the majority of states in allowing all adults to receive coronavirus vaccines late this week or next week. Utah will open all eligibility on Wednesday.

However, with the lifting of eligibility requirements comes a lifting of business and masking restrictions. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb plans to lift the statewide mask mandate and remaining COVID-19 business restrictions in two weeks. And many other states have already lifted states have already lifted restrictions.

It all comes as experts warn of a fourth surge as new variants spread rapidly through the United States.

In the last week alone, the U.S. has reported 2,926 new variant cases — more than the country reported in December, January and February combined, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Centers for Disease Control data shows.

Also in the news:

►California state prisons will resume limited in-person visits with inmates April 10, more than a year after they were halted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

►Hours after COVID-19 vaccine collaborators AstraZeneca and Oxford University released data on their large clinical trial, federal officials said that information may have been missing a month’s worth of data.

►The White House said 27 million doses of coronavirus vaccines will be distributed next week, more than three times the number when President Joe Biden took office just over two months ago. The U.S. is currently administering 17.5 million shots a week.

► People who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks at work in Anchorage, Alaska, when they are in their own workspace away from the public and unvaccinated colleagues, under an updated emergency order that took effect Tuesday.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has over 29.92 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 543,700 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 124.1 million cases and 2.73 million deaths. More than 164.3 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 128.2 million have been administered, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: The pandemic ushered in “a new era of medicine.” These telehealth trends are likely here to stay.

USA TODAY is tracking COVID-19 news. Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates. Want more? Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Regeneron’s COVID treatment cuts risk of death by 70%

A large new study found Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody cocktail reduces the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 in high-risk patients, the pharmaceutical company announced in a statement Tuesday.

Researchers looked at more than 4,000 recently diagnosed patients and found the two-antibody combo drug, called REGEN-COV, cut the risk of hospitalization or death by 70%, and also reduced the median recovery time from 14 days to 10.

“This is a landmark moment in the fight against COVID-19,” said Dr. Suraj Saggar, trial investigator and chief of infectious disease at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey. “With so many people will getting infected… these data underscore the need to rapidly adopt REGEN-COV as standard-of-care to offer high-risk patients their best chance to reduce serious consequences.”

The results haven’t yet been published or reviewed by independent scientists. Previously, Eli Lilly announced that its two-antibody treatment also reduced the risk of hospitalization or death in similar patients.

US adds nearly 3,000 new variant cases in last week, CDC data shows

In the last week alone, the United States has reported 2,926 new variant cases — more than the country reported in December, January and February combined, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Centers for Disease Control data shows.

Tuesday’s report included another 1,143 new variant cases just since Sunday’s report, bringing the country to 7,781 cases of coronavirus that can spread more easily, dodge treatments and immunities, or both.

Some of the biggest increases now are in Michigan’s communities, rather than its prisons. The CDC reported another 371 variant cases for the state, though many of them appear to be delayed reporting from last week. The variant cases are surging in a state where the pace of new coronavirus cases has tripled in the last month, even as case counts in much of the country have declined.

Other states with high increases include New Jersey, where known variant cases more than doubled as 230 new cases were added to reach 393. New Jersey’s coronavirus case counts on a per-person basis have been the highest in the nation, and have been climbing.

Massachusetts added 190 variant cases to reach 454. North Carolina more than doubled its case count after adding 101 cases to reach 186.

Nearly all of the new variant cases are of B.1.1.7, which was first found in the United Kingdom.

Kristi Tanner and Mike Stucka

Contributing: The Associated Press

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