AstraZeneca vaccine 79% effective; Miami spring break

AstraZeneca said Monday that advanced study data from a U.S. study on its vaccine shows it is 79% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and 100% effective at halting serious illness and hospitalization.

The first results are among the information AstraZeneca is required to provide to the Food and Drug Administration. An FDA advisory committee will publicly discuss the evidence for the vaccine before deciding whether to allow emergency use. The US study included 30,000 volunteers, 20,000 of whom received the vaccine while the rest were given dummy shots.

The use of the AstraZeneca vaccine was suspended in several European countries last week due to reports of blood clots in a small number of patients. However, the European Medicines Agency later stated that the vaccine was safe and effective.

Scientists have waited for the results of the US study in hopes that it will remove confusion about how well the recordings really work. Investigators said the vaccine was effective in all age groups, including the elderly – which previous studies in other countries failed to show.

Also in the news:

► On Sunday, Florida became the first state to have more than 1,000 known cases of coronavirus variants. The US has reported an additional 834 cases since Thursday alone and now has 6,638 known cases, of which nearly 6,400 are of type B.1.1.7, which was first found in the UK, according to CDC data.

►Students in California classrooms can sit three feet apart instead of six under the state’s new guidelines, following Friday’s recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

► 1 in 4 Americans have seen in the past few weeks someone blamed Asian Americans for the coronavirus epidemic, according to a new survey by USA TODAY / Ipsos Poll. The nationwide poll was conducted among eight people, including six women of Asian origin, on Thursday and Friday following the mass shootings in Georgia last week.

►Indianapolis celebrated the city’s biggest event since the pandemic began when the opening round of the NCAA tournament took place this weekend.

► Republican Julia Letlow won the 5th Congressional District election in Louisiana on Saturday in a landslide less than three months after her husband, Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, died of COVID complications before taking office.

►Cancun’s Tourism Association is forecasting 300,000 U.S. visitors in March based on past results and reservations for the next two weeks. That’s more than 222,731 visitors in March 2020 when the pandemic hit, but fewer than 464,569 visitors before the March 2019 pandemic.

📈 Today’s numbers: In the United States, over 29.8 million coronavirus cases and more than 542,300 deaths have been confirmed, according to Johns Hopkins University. The global total: 123.1 million cases and 2.71 million deaths. More than 156.7 million vaccine doses have been distributed and 124.4 million administered in the United States, according to the CDC.

📘 What we read: From elementary school to graduate school, the development of young minds in the immediate physical vicinity ceased abruptly in mid-March 2020. Here’s what happened next.

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

Miami Beach declares a state of emergency due to spring breakers

Miami Beach declared a state of emergency in its entertainment district on Saturday over the influx of spring breakers that flooded the city.

A curfew went into effect on Saturday at 8 p.m. and will last at least until the same time on Tuesday, said Raul Aguila, Miami Beach interim city manager. All restaurants, bars and shops must be closed until 8 p.m.

“At the height of the spring break, we’re just overwhelmed in the entertainment district,” said Aguila. “Folks, this is not an easy decision. We are doing this to protect public health and safety.”

After a year of closing the Canada-Mexico borders, pressure is mounting on the White House to issue guidelines for reopening

On the anniversary of the closing of the United States’ borders with its north and south neighbors, lawmakers and families across the country separated by the border continue to suffer with no clear end in sight.

“This has been a year of struggle for binational families,” said Devon Weber, founder of Let Us Reunite, a campaign of 2,200 families advocating greater exemptions for communities separated by border closings.

“Your life is in limbo and it’s extremely frustrating. Heartbreak is the word that comes to mind,” Weber said of the situation that affects families on both sides of the border. During the pandemic, border restrictions were re-approved every month with no clear ending.

– Matthew Brown

Schools Already Testing Students and Staff for Coronavirus Say It Is Critical For In-Person Classes: “It’s Worth It”

As part of President Joe Biden’s efforts to reopen schools, the government announced last week that it would allocate $ 10 billion to K-12 schools to expand coronavirus screening of staff and students. Fast, rapid antigen tests that give results in 15 minutes, such as those used at McSwain Union Elementary School in Northern California, are likely to be more commonly used.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new recommendations this week along with Biden’s initiative for school tests. Biden government officials say more details are coming, but the lack of national coordination so far has resulted in states and districts going their own way.

Schools that have already set up testing programs have used different practices. Medical device companies have struggled to meet their needs by testing products and services. Health professionals disagree on which tests are best. And some staff and student families have resisted testing.

Public health experts are optimistic that widespread vaccination will reduce the number of cases, but testing remains crucial in tracking new cases and variants that could make the virus more contagious or deadly.

“It’s something that would have made a huge difference months ago,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “And it will make a huge difference if we can do it today.”

– Erin Richards, Ken Alltucker

The telemedicine boom may not end in a pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has changed many aspects of the American healthcare system, but nothing has changed as drastically as the rise of telemedicine. While virtual care existed prior to COVID-19, the practice of state-mandated stay-at-home orders boomed and has remained strong since then.

Prior to the pandemic, Massachusetts’ Blue Cross Blue Shield was receiving around 200 telemedicine claims per day. That number reached up to 40,000 claims per day from April to May 2020, and the insurer is still receiving around 30,000 claims per day almost a year later, according to spokeswoman Amy McHugh. Athenahealth, a healthcare technology company, released an interactive dashboard that provided insights into telemedicine trends from 18.4 million virtual appointments from 60,000 vendors.

“The pandemic has created a new era in medicine in which telemedicine appointments are central to the patient-provider relationship,” said Jessica Sweeney-Platt, vice president of research and editorial strategy for the company.

– Adrianna Rodriguez

Featuring: Morgan Hines and Mike Stucka, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

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