Hawaii to expand vaccine eligibility to all adults; Michigan should implement restrictions, CDC says. Latest COVID-19 updates

As baseball fans head to San Francisco for the Giants opening game Friday, they will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test result in order to be admitted, the San Jose Mercury News reported Wednesday.

That requirement, implemented by city health officials, may be “more of a one-off,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, a professor of medicine at UC San Francisco.

“I think San Francisco is being very cautious right now, but the requirement is probably going to go away,” she told the Mercury News. “Requiring masking and seating people in small groups is enough. The testing adds little to that.”

The idea of a so-called “vaccine passport” has generated controversy in recent weeks, with multiple states already outlawing them. Wednesday, Idaho Gov. Brad Little issued an executive order banning the state government from adopting one. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banned them in the state Tuesday.

Other states have embraced the vaccine passport. New York rolled out the “Excelsior Pass” in late March, and Hawaii is currently testing technology needed for a vaccine passport when interisland travel reopens.

President Joe Biden has said he will not require proof of vaccination for people to attend gatherings.

Also in the news:

►Hawaii announced this week that the state will expand vaccine eligibility to all adults by April 19, becoming the final state to commit to Biden’s call to lift eligibility requirements by the end of the month.

►Nearly half of new coronavirus infections nationwide are in just five states – a situation that is putting pressure on the federal government to consider changing how it distributes vaccines by sending more doses to hot spots. New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey together reported 44% of the nation’s new COVID-19 infections, according to state health agency data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

►Idaho Gov. Brad Little has issued an executive order banning the state government from requiring or issuing COVID-19 “vaccine passports.”

►Carmen Hernandez, 104, was met with a standing ovation from health care workers while being wheeled out of a Colombian hospital. The reason for the celebration? She defeated COVID-19 for a second time.

►The European Union’s drug regulator says it has found a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine and a rare clotting disorder but said the benefits of the shot still outweigh risks. In a statement released Wednesday, the European Medicines Agency placed no new restrictions on using the vaccine in people 18 and over, although several countries have imposed them on their own.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 30.9 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 559,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 132.94 million cases and 2.88 million deaths. At least 225.2 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 171.4 million have been administered, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: A brief COVID-19 scare created an unexpected opportunity for a rural New Mexico town to come together for the first time in a year. Read the full story.

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.

Sharis Carr, a nurse at the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Service Center in Clarksdale, Mississippi, holds a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday.

Michigan should restrict indoor youth sports now to slow COVID-19 spread, CDC says

The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that Michigan and other states with high rates of coronavirus transmission should restrict indoor youth sports and consider other steps now, such as a potential pause on indoor dining, to rein in the spread of the virus.

“I would advocate for sort of stronger mitigation strategies … to sort of decrease the community activity and shore up mask wearing,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House COVID-19 Response Team news briefing.

Walensky’s comments came one day after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer attributed rising cases in the state to pandemic fatigue and variants.

“It’s not a policy problem. It sounds like, you know, maybe we could do a little tweaking around the edges, but taking steps back isn’t going to fix the issue. What we have to do is really put our foot down on the pedal on vaccines, and implore people to do what we know keeps us safe: masking, distancing, hand washing.”

Michigan’s case rate is currently leading the nation, with 452.5 cases per 100,000 people.

– Kristen Jordan Shamus and Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press

Variant found in UK is now the dominant lineage in US

The CDC has been warning since January that the highly contagious coronavirus variant first detected in Britain would become the dominant strain in the U.S., and that time has arrived.

On Wednesday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the variant, formally known as B.1.1.7, is “now the most common lineage circulating in United States.”

Though not surprising, the acknowledgement is significant because B.1.1.7 is considered at least 50% more transmissible, and it’s also more virulent, than the virus’ original strain. The variant is believed to be a major factor in the current surge of infections in Europe as well as the recent increase in U.S. cases after an extended decline. Of the 17,017 variant cases reported in this country, 16,275 are of the U.K. lineage.

The three vaccines authorized in the U.S. have proved effective against the variant, adding further urgency to the nation’s inoculation program.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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