China ‘didn’t do what it needed to do’ to halt pandemic, US official says; 40% of Marines decline vaccine: Latest COVID-19 updates

China’s failure to share information and provide access to international public health experts in the early stages of the pandemic fueled the global crisis, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday.

“I think China knows that in the early stages of COVID, it didn’t do what it needed to do,” Blinken said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And one result of that failure is that the (virus) got out of hand faster and with, I think, much more egregious results than it might otherwise.”

Blinken said the pandemic revealed the need for a “stronger global health security system to make sure that this doesn’t happen again” to ensure that the world can mitigate public health crises. Blinken said the World Health Organization must be strengthened and reformed, and that “China has to play a part in that.”

Also in the news:

►A mask mandate for the public in Tulsa is expected to end April 30, according to Mayor G.T. Bynum. Bynum said private businesses are allowed to require masks and restaurant and bar employees must also continue wearing a mask.

►New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu received his COVID-19 vaccine Saturday at the state’s mass vaccination site at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The Republican, driving an orange convertible, got the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine in his left arm. He never got out of the vehicle, and he gave a thumbs-up afterward.

►The Supreme Court on Friday shot down a California regulation limiting religious worship in a 5-4 vote. This is the latest in a series of rulings in which the justices have found pandemic regulations violate the First Amendment’s protections of religion.

►Iran began a 10-day lockdown Saturday amid a fourth wave of coronavirus infections. Shops are closed and offices are restricted to one-third capacity in its capital, Tehran, and 250 other cities and towns with the highest positivity rates.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 31 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 561,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 135 million cases and more than 2.9 million deaths. More than 230 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 183 million have been administered, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: Women report more side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine than men. Health experts explain why.

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.

Nearly 40% of Marines decline COVID vaccine

Nearly 40% of United States Marines who have been offered the COVID-19 vaccine have declined it, according to the Pentagon. Of the 123,500 Marines that have had access to the vaccine, 75,500 Marines are either fully vaccinated or have only received one dose while about 48,000 have declined it, Communication Strategy and Operations Officer Capt. Andrew Woods told USA TODAY.

“We fully understand that widespread acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine provides us with the best means to defeat this pandemic. The key to addressing this pandemic is building vaccine confidence,” he said, confirming a statistic first reported by CNN.

Woods said the Navy and Marine Corp were working to ensure that soldiers have accurate information about the safety of the vaccine and want to encourage people to get it.

Sarah Elbeshbishi

FEMA’s funeral assistance program launches Monday

Starting Monday, the the Federal Emergency Management Agency will accept applications for its funeral assistance program. The agency will offer a maximum of $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 per application. To be eligible for assistance, the death must have occurred in the U.S. and happened as a result of COVID-19. , The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, national or qualified resident.

– Ben Yoder, Des Moines Register

More colleges, universities say they will require COVID-19 vaccinations

First it was Rutgers and Cornell. Then Notre Dame. Now Duke. The list of colleges and universities that will require COVID-19 vaccinations for new and returning students to attend in-person classes continues to grow as Duke announced a policy that will cover all undergraduate, graduate and professional students.

“We know that widespread vaccination will be the only way to facilitate a return to normal and robust campus life,” Duke President Vincent Price said in a statement on the university’s website.

Brown in Rhode Island, Northeastern in Boston, Nova Southeastern University in Florida and Fort Lewis College in Colorado have also followed the precedent set by Rutgers in New Jersey and Cornell in New York.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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