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President Hassan Rouhani of Iran on Saturday warned that the country could see a fifth wave of coronavirus infections as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads.
“There are concerns that the whole country may enter a fifth wave if enough care is not taken in following health protocols,” Mr. Rouhani said in remarks broadcast on state TV. “The Delta variant entered the country from the south and southeast, and we should have been careful to prevent its spread in the country.”
Iran borders Afghanistan and Pakistan, which have had recent outbreaks.
Over the past two weeks, average daily reports of new cases in Iran have risen by 21 percent, according to a New York Times database. Since the pandemic began, the country has reported more than 3.2 million cases and more than 84,000 deaths.
During a meeting with members of Iran’s coronavirus task force on Thursday, Mr. Rouhani said that people needed to fully observe safety protocols “so that we do not have to impose severe restrictions again.”
Alireza Raeesi, a spokesman for the task force, said on Saturday that officials estimate fewer than 70 percent of Iranians are currently adhering to health and safety rules aimed at curbing the virus.
In April, the country, facing a fourth wave, imposed a lockdown in some areas.
Early in the pandemic, Iran scrambled to control one of the worst outbreaks in the world after officials played down the severity of the virus. A power struggle also complicated the country’s pandemic response.
The country’s lagging vaccination campaign has not helped. Only about 2 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to data compiled from government sources by the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. Iran has administered about 5.7 million coronavirus vaccines, accounting for about 5 percent of the population, according to a New York Times tracker.
Mr. Rouhani addressed Iran’s vaccine shortage on Thursday, saying that it would be eliminated by importing foreign vaccines and using domestically produced vaccines. Among imported vaccines, Iran had received more than 2.1 million AstraZeneca vaccines by May through Covax, the global vaccine-sharing program.
Officials said on Thursday that they expected the country’s vaccine distribution effort to expand in the coming weeks.
At the same time, the president said that being fully vaccinated was not an excuse for skirting Covid mitigation measures, that Iranians should postpone travel, and that “foreign nationals who are infected with this virus” should not enter Iran.
Farnaz Fassihi contributed reporting.
Credit…Scott McIntyre for The New York Times
Six emergency medical workers helping with rescue efforts at the site of a collapsed condo in Surfside, Fla., have tested positive for the coronavirus, Alan R. Cominsky, the chief of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, said at a news conference on Saturday.
The workers, who were all part of the same task force, were no longer at the site, Chief Cominsky said, adding that contact tracing had been performed and that 424 members of other Florida task force teams responding to the site had been tested.
Chief Cominsky did not address the conditions of the six workers in his comments. It was unclear whether they had been vaccinated.
The chief told The Miami Herald on Friday that the six emergency medical workers were firefighters from Florida, but that they were not from Miami-Dade.
“We do have our medical procedures in place,” he told the newspaper. “Unfortunately, this is another challenge, but something we’ve been dealing with for over the past year.”
Average daily reports of new cases in Florida have risen by 55 percent in the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database. Across the state, 65 percent of residents 18 and older have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and 56 percent are fully vaccinated.
At the news conference on Saturday, Chief Cominsky said the rescue effort would continue with teams from Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey and Indiana in addition to those from Florida.
Credit…Zac Goodwin/Press Association, via Associated Press
LONDON — A week from now, more than 60,000 soccer fans will pack Wembley Stadium in London for the European Championship final. British travelers with two vaccine shots will soon be welcomed back to Germany, which had banned them. And Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was on track to lift most remaining coronavirus restrictions on July 19 — or, as the British news media has dubbed it, “Freedom Day.”
All this in a country that, despite having a population that is almost 50 percent fully vaccinated, reported 27,125 new cases of the virus on Friday, a 52 percent jump from just a week earlier.
Britain’s determination to reopen amid that steep rise in cases amounts to a bold experiment, one that will be closely watched in the United States and across Europe: Can a country with a largely vaccinated adult population learn to live with the coronavirus?
“The world is watching the U.K. to see what living with Covid and high vaccine uptake looks like,” said Devi Sridhar, head of the global public health program at the University of Edinburgh. “The next few weeks will reveal if they’ve gambled correctly, or we end up having another wave of high hospitalizations.”
Britain has gone from one of the longest stretches under lockdown of any advanced economy to one of the swiftest vaccine rollouts and now, to a reopening. Scientists say it is time to test whether the nation can reach a coveted goal: population immunity through inoculation rather than infection.
There are some promising early signs. Britain’s recent rise in cases, most of which are also attributed to the highly transmissible Delta variant, has yet to be followed by a commensurate rise in hospital admissions or deaths.
That could be because of more testing or a greater number of cases among younger, unvaccinated people. But some scientists say it also suggests that the widespread deployment of vaccines — particularly among the most vulnerable populations — has weakened the link between infection and serious illness.
Credit…Dado Galdieri for The New York Times
RIO DE JANEIRO — The plot twists of a coronavirus vaccine kickback scandal that has rattled Brazil’s capital have been worthy of a reality TV show.
The main stage has been a congressional hearing room, where scores of witnesses have been shedding light on the government’s chaotic response to the pandemic, which has killed more than 520,000 in the country.
There has been plenty of yelling, a bit of crying and a fair amount of pearl clutching as the audacity and scope of a scheme by health ministry officials to solicit bribes from vaccine dealers have come into focus.
And public rage is growing. On Saturday, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in a third round of demonstrations in recent weeks against the government of President Jair Bolsonaro. In downtown Rio de Janeiro, thousands marched to the beat of drums and chanted “Out with Bolsonaro!” as activists delivered fiery speeches from sound trucks. A man held a large cardboard sign that said: “The people only take to the streets in the middle of a pandemic when the government is more dangerous than the virus.”
At the urging of a Supreme Court justice, the attorney general’s office on Friday opened an investigation into Mr. Bolsonaro’s role in the vaccine corruption scheme. He is under scrutiny in a deal to secure 20 million doses of a vaccine that had not yet completed clinical trials or been approved by regulators. He is accused of overlooking a warning that there were some irregularities in the deal.
Mr. Bolsonaro has not disputed that senior officials in his government may have acted unlawfully in vaccine negotiations. But he called efforts to pin the wrongdoing on him unfair.
“I have no way of knowing what’s happening in the ministries,” he told supporters on Monday. “We did nothing wrong.”
Adding to Mr. Bolsonaro’s troubles, a group of 100 legislators from a broad range of parties presented draft impeachment articles earlier in the week outlining scores of alleged crimes, ranging from the president’s actions to weaken democratic institutions to accounts of negligence and malfeasance that have stymied Brazil’s Covid vaccine campaign.
The widening inquiry is likely to pose a major threat to Mr. Bolsonaro’s re-election bid next year — and perhaps even to his ability to serve out the remainder of his term.
“Every crime committed by the president is serious, but this one is even more serious because it involves lives,” said Joice Hasselmann, a member of Congress from São Paulo who was among Mr. Bolsonaro’s fiercest defenders until a falling out in 2019. “Brazil can’t stand another year with Bolsonaro.”
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As India intensifies its vaccination effort amid fears of another wave of the coronavirus, officials are investigating allegations that perhaps thousands of people were injected with fake vaccines in the financial capital, Mumbai.
The police have arrested 14 people on suspicion of involvement in a scheme that administered injections of salt water instead of vaccine doses at nearly a dozen private vaccination sites in Mumbai over the past two months. The organizers, including medical professionals, allegedly charged between $10 and $17 per dose, according to the authorities, who said they had confiscated more than $20,000 from the suspects.
“Those arrested are charged under criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery,” said Vishal Thakur, a police officer in Mumbai.
More than 2,600 people came to the camps to receive shots of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, manufactured and marketed in India as Covishield. Some said that they became suspicious when their shots did not show up in the Indian government’s online portal tracking vaccinations, and when the hospitals that the organizers had claimed to be affiliated with did not match the names on the vaccination certificates they received.
“There are doubts about whether we were actually given Covishield or was it just glucose or expired/waste vaccines,” Neha Alshi, who said she was a victim of the scam, wrote on Twitter.
Siddharth Chandrashekhar, a lawyer who has filed a public interest lawsuit in Mumbai’s high court, described the scenario as “heartbreaking.” The court said it was “really shocking that incidents of fake vaccination are on the rise.”
Medical scams are nothing new in India, where, during the country’s mammoth outbreak this spring, profiteers targeted vulnerable Covid patients with fake drugs and oxygen. The police in West Bengal state are also investigating whether hundreds of people, including a local lawmaker, received fake vaccines there.
India has administered more than 340 million vaccine doses, but less than 5 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. The country is reporting nearly 50,000 new cases daily and nearly 1,000 Covid deaths, numbers that are far lower than two months ago, although experts have always believed India’s official tallies to be vastly undercounted.
On Saturday, the pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech reported that its Covaxin shot — the other vaccine in wide use in India — was 77.8 percent effective in preventing symptomatic illness, according to the results of a late-stage trial. Those results were published online but have not been peer-reviewed.
The report said that the vaccine prevented severe Covid in 93.4 percent of cases and was also effective against the Delta variant, preventing infection in 65.2 percent of cases.
There have been lingering doubts about the vaccine, which was approved by the Indian government in January and administered to millions before it had been publicly proved to be safe or effective.
Readers of The Times may have noted a peculiar data point this morning: The total number of new Covid-19 deaths recorded in the United States was minus 127. The number was just a reflection of how the data The Times collects can sometimes be revised.
The negative death toll came about because officials in Santa Clara County, Calif., conducted a review of the county’s death records and revised its tally of roughly 2,200 deaths tied to the coronavirus at the end of June down to just under 1,700.
Santa Clara County officials attributed the decrease to a change in the county’s criteria for deaths being linked to the virus. Previously, the county included any resident who died while infected with the virus; now, in keeping with state guidance, it includes only those for whom Covid-19 was identified, or not ruled out, as a cause of death.
There were 376 new reported deaths recorded for Friday in the United States, but the roughly 500 subtracted by Santa Clara’s new count yielded a negative number for the country’s daily death count.
Revisions like Santa Clara’s are routine. Last month, officials in Alameda County, Calif., conducted a similar review of records and revised their total death toll downward by about 400. And in other counties, health departments regularly add or subtract deaths as more information about a patient’s residence or the circumstances of their death becomes available. Many experts also say they believe the national total to be an undercount given data on excess deaths, the number of deaths beyond what would be expected based on historical trends.
As counties continue to revisit their death totals, decreases in the national death count may reappear if the number of newly reported deaths in the United States continues to decline.
As of Friday, public health officials across the United States had identified more than 604,600 coronavirus deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to a New York Times database — a tally that remains painful regardless of the small corrections made as officials review and adjust their records.
Massachusetts and Michigan this week joined the parade of U.S. states that have introduced lotteries for residents who get Covid-19 shots, seeking to bolster vaccinations with titles like “Shot of a Lifetime,” “Vax for the Win,” “Comeback Cash” and even “Do It for Babydog” (thanks, West Virginia).
In Massachusetts, the 73 percent of adults who are fully vaccinated can enroll for a chance to win one of five $1 million cash prizes. Residents ages 12 to 17, more than 60 percent of whom have received at least one shot, can, on full vaccination, have a chance at one of five $300,000 scholarship grants.
In Michigan, the lottery allows residents with only a single shot to register. So the 58 percent of adults who are fully immunized and an additional 4 percent with partial protection can register — once — for a drawing of $50,000 on any of 30 days, or the opportunity to win a single $1 million drawing or one $2 million drawing. The more than 32 percent of the state’s 12- to 17-year-olds who have received at least one shot can register for one of nine chances to win a four-year grant valued at $55,000.
Whether the lotteries work is another question. Some states have reported boosts in vaccinations after starting their lottery programs. But Ohio, the first state to offer a lottery, saw an early bump evaporate and has given up the program. In Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said last week that the incentives the state had tried were “no longer getting the results that we want” and would end.
Here’s what other states have done:
Many states offer incentives, but Ohio was the first state to announce a cash lottery, on May 12, and a $1 million prize winner. (It ended the program last week.)
California, Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, and West Virginia have also awarded, or will award, seven-figure prizes.
In Alabama — where only one-third of all eligible residents are fully immunized — the Talladega Superspeedway offered free tests and vaccine shots, and offered everyone 16 and older a chance to drive their car or truck on the track if they participated.
Cash prizes are common, but some states have gotten imaginative. Delaware’s incentives include free tolls within the state. In Indiana, there is a box of Girl Scout cookies for those who get a shot at designated sites. In Maine, one vaccinated person will get $1 for every person vaccinated in the state by July 4, a total that’s nearing 900,000. And New Jersey awarded a dinner at the governor’s mansion.
Incentives from private companies
Many companies, including dating apps, restaurants, grocery stores and pharmacies, are continuing to offer incentives to vaccine holdouts. Krispy Kreme, famously, is handing out a free doughnut to customers who show their vaccination card.
United Airlines just closed a sweepstakes for free travel around the world for one year; Kroger is giving $1 million and free groceries for a year to one lucky customer; and CVS is offering free cruises, tickets to Super Bowl LVI and cash among its prizes.
VideoA black bear received a vaccine at the Oakland Zoo.CreditCredit…Zoetis/Oakland Zoo
The Oakland Zoo in California started this week with bears, mountain lions, tigers and ferrets, the first of about 100 animals at the zoo that were set to receive an experimental vaccine against the coronavirus over the summer.
Zoetis, a veterinary pharmaceutical company, has donated 11,000 doses of the vaccine, which it first developed for mink, to about 70 zoos across the United States, as well as to sanctuaries, universities and other animal conservation sites.
The Oakland Zoo was one of the first to benefit. The vaccine is solely for animals, goes through a different approval process than for people and cannot be used to protect humans.
“It means a lot more safety for our beautiful animals,” said Dr. Alex Herman, vice president of veterinary services at the Oakland Zoo. “Our very first animals to get vaccinated at the zoo were two of our beautiful and elderly tigers.”
The Oakland Zoo has not had any cases of animals infected with the coronavirus. But the zoo has taken extraordinary precautions, Dr. Herman said, by requiring that keepers maintain a safe distance from the animals and wear protective equipment.
Big cats and other vulnerable animals like gorillas have, however, been infected at zoos in the United States and elsewhere. The San Diego Zoo in February vaccinated apes with the Zoetis vaccine, first tested in mink.
The company, based in New Jersey, has also provided the same experimental vaccine to mink farmers in Oregon after the state ruled this spring that all farmed mink had to be vaccinated. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved the vaccine for experimental use “on a case-by-case basis,” according to Christina Lood, a senior communications director for Zoetis.
Credit…Shafkat Anowar/Associated Press
A year ago, the United States celebrated Independence Day largely by staying home. The country staggered into that Fourth of July holiday weekend, having set records for new coronavirus cases in six out of the nine previous days.
About 600 people were dying with the virus each day. On July 2, the country set what was then a record: 53,000 new reported cases. Governors were forced to slow their reopening plans — and in the months that followed, the pandemic grew much, much worse.
This year, reports of new cases are holding steady at 12,000 a day, the lowest since testing became widely available. The U.S. average of fewer than 300 daily deaths from Covid-19 is a decline of 23 percent over the past two weeks. Hospitalizations are also dropping.
Riding a wave of optimism, Americans are eagerly returning to their Fourth of July rituals, flocking to the roads and to the skies in the stiffest test yet for the nation’s travel infrastructure since the pandemic shut the nation down in March 2020.
About 48 million Americans are expected to travel from July 1 to 5, a 40 percent jump over last year, according to AAA, the automobile owners group. Of those, a record 43.6 million are predicted to travel by car, an 8 percent increase compared with 2019.
Another 3.5 million people are expected to fly, representing a 164 percent increase from 2020. United Airlines says that more than two million passengers have booked flights from July 1 to 6, five times the number that flew during the same weekend last year. (The airline announced this week that it would place the largest order for airplanes in its history, underscoring the bullish outlook for domestic travel.)
Ridership on Amtrak is at about 55 percent of prepandemic levels, the highest level so far this year. For the Fourth of July weekend, it’s at 80 percent of what it was over the 2019 holiday, Jason Abrams, a spokesman, said.
“Travel is in full swing this summer, as Americans eagerly pursue travel opportunities they’ve deferred for the last year and a half,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president at AAA Travel. “We saw strong demand for travel around Memorial Day and the kickoff of summer, and all indications now point to a busy Independence Day.”
Still, a precipitous drop in U.S. coronavirus cases through the spring has leveled off. About 100 million people in the country have yet to receive a single vaccine shot, and the supply of vaccines far outstrips the demand.
The spread of the Delta variant remains worrisome for the unvaccinated, and there are 1,000 counties in the country where fewer than 30 percent of residents are inoculated, said Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The White House plans to host 1,000 essential workers and military families on the South Lawn on Sunday, the largest gathering of President Biden’s tenure. The celebratory display is meant to signal that the president has delivered on his promise that Americans would return to some semblance of normal life by the holiday.
“This weekend, millions of Americans will be able to get together — back together, not just with their families and close friends for small backyard cookouts, but with their community for larger festivals, parades and fireworks, celebrating our country’s July Fourth Independence Day and the progress we have made against the virus together,” the White House coronavirus coordinator, Jeff Zients, said on Thursday.
While the country has fallen short of Mr. Biden’s goal of getting shots to at least 70 percent of adults by July 4, the White House has put a positive spin on the numbers. Mr. Zients noted last week that 70 percent of Americans ages 30 and up have received at least one shot.
Public health officials have been struggling to motivate the vaccine holdouts. A few airlines and airports are taking up the charge, trying to entice people to get the shots with sweepstakes. (The Transportation Safety Administration still requires masks in airports, on airplanes and on trains.)
While Americans are traveling again, many local officials are taking a cautious approach. Though New York City plans to revive its huge Macy’s fireworks show, some large celebrations, parades and fireworks extravaganzas have been pared back or canceled.
A few places, like Glencoe, Ill., have postponed their fireworks shows until Labor Day, though neighbors and community groups will be allowed to parade through the village’s downtown once again.
Credit…Tristram Kenton/Royal Opera House
LONDON — It’s an evening of drinking and revelry at Café Momus. A group of young men chatter away as a femme fatale tries to get their attention, jumping on tables and tossing undergarments. But the night spot is not as crowded as usual. There are few waiters, and by the windows in the back, three patrons dine alone.
It is Act II of a pared-down production of Puccini’s “La Bohème” at London’s Royal Opera House, which reopened in May after a difficult 14 months of closure. In light of pandemic restrictions, the orchestra has 47 players, down from the usual 74. The act opens with only 18 of 60 chorus members onstage, the rest singing from the wings, and 10 (not 20) children onstage. There are four, not 10, waiters in the cafe.
“The cafe scene feels less ‘bustling belle epoque cafe’ and more ‘lonely-hearts establishment’ at the moment,” Oliver Mears, the house’s director of opera, said before the June 19 premiere. “It’s just adapting to the circumstances that we were faced with.”
Opera is an art form that breaks every social-distancing rule, Mr. Mears said, relying on “crammed pits,” large onstage crowds, moments of intimacy between performers, singing (which can spread viral particles) and a sellout audience.
“If you were someone who hated opera and you wanted to devise a disease that hit opera particularly hard,” he added, “then you’d probably come up with something rather like Covid.”
In case you missed it
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Anxiety over the highly contagious Delta variant, which has been rapidly outpacing other versions of the coronavirus as it spreads around the world, has led several countries to return to a defensive stance on the pandemic.
Portugal reimposed a nighttime curfew. Indonesia announced new restrictions ordering places of worship closed and nonessential workers to stay home in parts of Java and Bali islands. And Australia, which had come close to an ambitious “Covid zero” target in recent months, has ordered lockdowns in several cities after outbreaks.
Even Israel, where the vaccination rate is among the highest in the world, is seeing new pockets of infections linked to the Delta variant, which scientists believe may be twice as transmissible as the original version of the coronavirus. Genome sequencing in the United States and elsewhere strongly suggests that Delta — which now accounts for one-quarter of U.S. cases — is poised to become the dominant version in many parts of the world over the coming months.
As concern about the variant grows, the World Health Organization split with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday in urging even vaccinated people to continue wearing masks to help stem the virus’s spread.
A recent analysis by New York City’s Health Department found that the variant has gained ground in the past few weeks, but overall case counts are low.
“The stability in terms of the daily numbers of cases is quite reassuring,” said Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, an epidemiology professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
However, state officials in Missouri, where vaccination rates are relatively low and the highly contagious Delta variant is more prevalent than in other states, asked the White House for help on Thursday in coping with a surge in coronavirus cases and deaths. In the past two weeks, the state’s daily number of reported cases has more than doubled, and hospitalizations have increased 20 percent, though the figures remain a fraction of their November peak.
The state reached out to the Biden administration only hours after the White House announced that it was creating “surge response teams” to help states contain outbreaks fueled by the new variant and low inoculation rates.
A number of vaccines seem to hold up against the Delta variant, including those made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Johnson & Johnson shared research this week indicating that its one-shot vaccine was also effective against the variant, a boost for health officials trying to contain its spread in communities with lower vaccine access.
But headed into the July Fourth weekend, the pace of vaccination in the United States has slowed significantly from its April peak, and the White House has acknowledged that the country will not meet President Biden’s goal of having 70 percent of adults at least partly vaccinated by the holiday.
Here’s what else happened this week:
In a 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court refused to lift a moratorium on evictions that the C.D.C. had kept in place since last year. The moratorium had been scheduled to expire at the end of July, and the court’s decision could cost the nation’s landlords up to $200 billion in unpaid rent, according to an emergency application filed with the court by landlords, real estate companies and trade associations.
A report published in the journal Nature Medicine found that the pandemic has reversed a steady rise in life expectancy in Brazil, which has seen an estimated decline of 1.3 years in 2020 and an even steeper drop so far this year. As of Friday, the country had reported more than 520,000 deaths from the virus.
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, said that missteps in the country’s public health efforts had caused a “great crisis,” with significant national security implications. It was unclear whether the statement amounted to an admission of a serious outbreak, as the country officially maintains that it has no active cases. But experts said that the acknowledgment could pave the way for North Korea to accept international assistance to fight the virus crisis, including vaccines.
U.S. regulators on Friday cleared a batch of Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine that could furnish up to 15 million doses. The doses were made at a troubled factory in Baltimore that ruined 75 million other doses.
A jobs report released by the U.S. Labor Department showed that employers added 850,000 workers in June, the largest monthly gain since August. Wages increased for the third consecutive month, a sign that employers are trying to attract applicants with higher pay and that workers are gaining bargaining power.
Credit…Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The New York Times
In the United States, a weekend of barbecues and Independence Day parades means that there will be many children under 12, who are sill not eligible to be vaccinated, mixing with people of all ages who may or may not be fully vaccinated.
Since the highly transmissible Delta variant is spreading, and only full vaccination offers significant protection from it, here is some basic advice for parents on how to navigate public areas with unvaccinated children, from The Morning Newsletter.
But first, some perspective. In England, where Delta is already widespread, Covid-related hospitalizations of children have risen from their lows of a few weeks ago, but the increases are not large. So the best assumption seems to be that Delta will be modestly worse for children than earlier versions of the virus. “I haven’t seen data to make me particularly worried about Delta in kids,” Jennifer Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins epidemiologist, said.
And Dr. Robert Wachter of the University of California, San Francisco, said this of the coronavirus and children: “The actual overall threat of death is minuscule, and the threat to health is quite low, but if I had young kids, I’d still really prefer they not get Covid.”
Unvaccinated children, like adults who are not fully vaccinated, should wear masks indoors and avoiding crowded places.
Take special care in areas with the lowest vaccination rates, which tend to be in the Southeast and the Mountain West. “If I were living in a place where cases were rising, I’d be more worried that my children could contract Covid,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins epidemiologist.
The biggest risk to your child’s health today almost certainly is not Covid. It’s more likely to be an activity that you have long decided is acceptable — like swimming, riding a bicycle or traveling in a car. So exercise caution.