Growing number of states make vaccines more widely available; Navajo Nation reports zero cases and no recent deaths: Live COVID-19 updates

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that all state residents age 50 and above would be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine starting Tuesday.

The next day, Arizona will make vaccines available to anyone 16 and older at the sites it operates in Maricopa, Pima and Yuma counties, the state health department and Gov. Doug Ducey announced.

And in Florida, the state announced Monday it will allow anybody age 50 and up to get the shot. It’s a welcome sign in the state, which became the first state to have more than 1,000 known cases of coronavirus variants.

The federal government is now distributing an average of more than 3 million doses a day, and President Joe Biden has said he will direct all states to remove eligibility requirements for adults by May 1.

Alaska and Mississippi have already opened vaccinations to all adults, and several other states have said they will do so in the coming weeks. They include Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan, Massachusetts, Nevada, Connecticut, Iowa, Utah and Illinois.

Meanwhile, Miami Beach’s entertainment district will remain in a state of emergency with an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew four days a week possibly through April 13 as authorities try to manage an influx of unruly spring breakers who have inundated the city.

Also in the news:

►The Navajo Nation reported on Monday zero new COVID-19 positive cases and no recent deaths for the first time in over six months.

►Starting Monday, hundreds of Michigan school districts had to offer at least 20 hours a week of in-person instruction to receive all of a minimum $450-per-student increase in emergency pandemic funding. Meanwhile, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis Monday announced a statewide tour to hear from residents and gather ideas on how to spend the state’s portion of the federal government’s $1.9 trillion plan to support the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

►AstraZeneca said Monday that advanced trial data from a U.S. study on its vaccine shows it is 79% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and 100% effective in stopping severe disease and hospitalization. The U.S. study comprised 30,000 volunteers, 20,000 of whom were given the vaccine while the rest got dummy shots.

►Vice President Kamala Harris returned to Jacksonville, Florida, on Monday, the first time traveling to the state since she was on the campaign trail last October. She was in Jacksonville to spread President Joe Biden’s “Help is Here” message for the $1.9 trillion federal relief package that was his administration’s first major legislative victory.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has over 29.86 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 542,800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 123.6 million cases and 2.72 million deaths. More than 156.7 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 126.5 million have been administered, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: More stimulus checks are on the way through direct deposit and the mail and additional payments are expected to be released on a weekly basis going forward. Your questions answered here.

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Germany extends virus lockdown till mid-April as cases rise

Germany extended its lockdown measures by another month and imposed several new restrictions, including largely shutting down public life over Easter, in an effort to drive down the rate of coronavirus infections.

Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the measures early Tuesday after a lengthy video call with the country’s 16 state governors, nearly three weeks after the two sides last agreed on a plan paving the way to relax some rules.

Since then, infections have increased steadily as the more contagious variant first detected in Britain has become dominant. The restrictions previously set to run through March 28 will now remain in place until April 18.

Regions were the weekly number of new infections exceeds 100 per 100,000 residents on three consecutive days will face tougher rules, as agreed at the previous meeting.

“Unfortunately, we will have to make use of this emergency brake,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin.

Almost one-quarter of the entire U.S. population have received at least one dose

More than 3 million coronavirus vaccine doses were reported administered across the nation on back-to-back days for the first time as the pace of vaccinations continues to increase across the nation.

Almost one-quarter of the entire U.S. population – and almost one-third of adults – has received at least one dose, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, warned that data on new cases and hospitalizations indicates numbers are again rising in the Northeast and Upper Midwest.

“The apparent leveling off of cases and hospital admissions, after the consistent decline in early January through the end of February, I consider to be very concerning,” she said.

A surge could be coming if Americans do not continue wearing masks, socially distancing and adhering to other restrictions, she said.

“Believe me, I get it, we all want to return to our everyday activities and spend time with our family, friends and loved ones,” she said. “But we must find the fortitude to hang in there for just a little bit longer.”

Contributing: Associated Press

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