Find an updated count of COVID-19 cases in California and by county on our tracker here.
California restaurant rebound is expected to take years
Unions demand jobs back over hiring new workers as Nevada reopens
Do I still have to wear a mask? What about my kids? CDC scientists say it depends.
Five California counties sliding into less-restrictive reopening tiers
Las Vegas planning to fully open starting June 1
COVID-19 By The Numbers
Wednesday, May 19
10:40 a.m.: California restaurant rebound is expected to take years
A legislative committee says nearly a third of California’s restaurants permanently closed and two-thirds of workers at least temporarily lost their jobs as the pandemic set in, according to the Associated Press.
On Tuesday, the California Restaurant Association said that the industry once included more than 76,000 eating and drinking establishments employing 1.8 million people. But with the pandemic, millions of workers were furloughed or laid off.
The state Senate’s Special Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response says restaurant employment is still down one-quarter from before the pandemic. Industry leaders are worried that a lack of labor may shutter more establishments, but they’re still expecting an eventual rebound.
10:25 a.m.: Unions demand jobs back over hiring new workers as Nevada reopens
Laid-off casino and hotel workers picketed at the Nevada statehouse to demand that state lawmakers pass a bill to require their former employers to bring them back at pre-pandemic wages rather than hire new workers.
According to the Associated Press, a proposal to mandate workers be given the “right to return” and receive priority in the re-hiring process has pitted the Culinary Union against powerful industry groups that may want to hire additional workers as resorts and casinos return to full capacity.
State Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro told demonstrators on Tuesday that she intended to ensure the bill moved forward.
9:46 a.m.: Do I still have to wear a mask? What about my kids? CDC scientists say it depends.
The government’s new guidance on masks for vaccinated people has left some Americans confused and some businesses and states scrambling, according to the Associated Press.
Target and CVS on Monday became the latest retailers to say vaccinated shoppers and workers don’t have to wear masks in stores. While New York is adopting the CDC’s latest guidance for residents to go sans-masks, California has decided to wait a month.
Last week, the CDC said that fully vaccinated people — meaning two weeks post-last vaccination — no longer need to wear a mask indoors or outdoors and can stop social distancing in most situations and places. However, unvaccinated children and adults should continue wearing masks.
“If you are vaccinated, we’re saying you’re safe, you can take off your mask, and you are not at severe risk of disease or hospitalization from COVID-19,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on “Fox News Sunday.” “If you are not vaccinated, you are not safe. Please go get vaccinated or continue to wear your mask.”
Vaccinated people can’t go totally unmasked just yet, says the CDC. Regardless of vaccination status, masks are still required on public transportation — buses, trains, and planes — and other settings like hospitals, prisons, and homeless shelters.
While some states are dropping their masking rules, there will still be some businesses that will keep masking rules for customers and employees.
Unvaccinated children should still wear masks and keep 6 feet apart. The CDC also recommends masks for children age 2 and older in public settings and when with people outside their households. Masks are also advised in schools and are expected to continue mask wearing for the rest of the school year.
By fall, guidance may be updated for schools, child care, and camps, Walensky said. Children may also not understand why they have to wear masks while other family members don’t, so parents and guardians should model masking behavior.
Tuesday, May 18
3:34 p.m: Five California counties sliding into less-restrictive reopening tiers
Five counties are moving into a less-restrictive coronavirus reopening tier, although local public health departments may implement more stringent policies than the state’s policies.
The state Department of Public Health announced that Orange, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, and Amador counties are moving from the orange (moderate) tier to yellow (minimal). Tehama County is moving from the Red (substantial) tier to Orange.
No counties remain in the purple (widespread) tier, and none moved backward into a most restrictive tier. Here are the number of counties currently in each tier:
- Red tier – 10 counties
- Orange tier – 35 counties
- Yellow tier – 13 counties
Sacramento County is still in the red tier and may not move into a lower tier before the state’s June 15 reopening date.
3:07 p.m.: Las Vegas planning to fully open starting June 1
Las Vegas will fully reopen to vaccinated diners, dancers, business owners and bodybuilders beginning June 1.
According to the Associated Press, county lawmakers on Tuesday followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and dropped their original plans to tie business occupancy to COVID-19 vaccination rates.
The unanimous vote came after public speakers expressed anger and frustration with pandemic restrictions. The CDC says fully vaccinated people can stop person-to-person distancing and mask-wearing outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.
Most Las Vegas casinos have already returned to 100% occupancy and without social distancing anyway, thanks to the oversight of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
2:34 p.m.: Many fully vaccinated people aren’t ready to give up masks
Not everyone is giving up wearing a face mask despite the latest government guidance suggesting that fully vaccinated Americans can uncover their faces in many cases.
According to the Associated Press, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fully vaccinated people can quit mask-wearing outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings. They can also ditch social distancing.
With COVID-19 cases on the decline in the U.S. after more than 580,000 deaths and with more than a third of the population fully vaccinated, millions are now left with the choice about whether to continue wearing face masks or not. Over the past year, masks were not only a shield against infection, they were also a point of heated political debate over the last year. People have a myriad of reasons for deciding to stop or continue wearing their masks.
10:30 a.m.: Nevada GOP candidate tests positive for COVID-19
Republican candidate for governor John Lee has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.
The North Las Vegas mayor announced his positive test result in a Facebook post on Monday evening. He had just announced his campaign for Nevada governor earlier in the day.
The 65-year-old Lee said in a statement that he learned Monday afternoon that he came in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and then quickly got tested himself.
The mayor says he has no symptoms but will quarantine. Lee said he had not yet gotten the COVID-19 vaccine. His campaign also declined to answer why he didn’t get vaccinated yet.
10:12 p.m.: Biden to expand legal services after pandemic ‘exacerbated inequities’
President Joe Biden plans to take executive action to ensure minorities, low-income Americans, and others have better access to quality legal representation after services dwindled during the Trump administration.
According to the Associated Press, Biden is set to sign a memo on Tuesday to direct the Department of Justice to expand access to justice and reestablish a White House roundtable on improving legal aid.
The plans are laid out in a presidential memo first shared with the Associated Press. Biden’s memo says the coronavirus pandemic “exacerbated inequities” in legal services, and those problems have significantly affected low-income people and people of color.
9:44 a.m.: For many workers, after the pandemic is no return to ‘normal’
Many workers emerging from the pandemic don’t want to return to the jobs they once had, according to the Associated Press.
Layoffs and lockdowns combined with enhanced unemployment benefits and stimulus checks gave many Americans the time and the financial cushion to rethink their careers. Some employers and business groups are calling for an end to the $300-per-week federal unemployment supplement, claiming it’s giving recipients less incentive to look for work.
But Heidi Shierholz, a senior economist who researches low- and middle-income workers with the Economic Policy Institute, says the supplement is not the reason why many aren’t going back to work — it’s health concerns and child care responsibilities.
In April, she said, at least 25% of U.S. schools weren’t offering in-person learning, forcing many parents to stay home. Health concerns could also become more urgent for some workers now that the CDC has said fully vaccinated people can stop masking in most settings.
“We want people well-matched to their skills and experience,” she said. “That’s what helps the economy run better.”
Monday, May 17
3:49 p.m.: California to keep mask rules until June 15
California will keep its existing mask requirements in place for another month, state health officials announced Monday.
While other states move to loosen or discard mask rules after the CDC announced that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear face coverings, the Golden State will stay its course until June 15, Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said in a media call.
“This four-week period will give Californians time to prepare for this change” while it continues to vaccinate as many residents as possible, he said.
The delay in mask lifting is “in no way saying the science of the direction by the CDC is wrong or there’s a challenge to it,” Ghaly said. “It’s really just giving ourselves across the state some additional time to have it implemented.”
More than 15.5 million Californians have been fully vaccinated, which is roughly half of the residents eligible for the shot. That’s about 39% of the state’s total population, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard. Another 4.7 million people are partially vaccinated.
The state is still on track to drop its color-tier system and many of the pandemic restrictions that come with it on June 15, Ghaly said.
3:45 p.m.: Burning Man cancellation causes fallout in northern Nevada
The cancellation of Burning Man for the second year is drawing mixed reactions in northern Nevada, according to the Associated Press.
Some businesses and tourism officials say they’ll miss the economic boost from festival-goers, but health officials are glad they won’t contribute to increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19.
The counter-culture festival in the desert north of Reno typically attracts nearly 80,000 people who spend an estimated $63 million in Nevada.
Officials at Reno Tahoe International Airport are among those hoping the event would return after last year’s cancellation due to the pandemic. Health officials’ concerns were based partly on the fact that the event attracts people worldwide.
3:15 p.m.: School districts vary wildly on testing students, staff
While children are having their noses swabbed or saliva sampled at school to test for the coronavirus in some parts of the county, else where school districts are reluctant to even check students showing signs of illness for COVID-19.
According to the Associated Press, education and health officials around the country have taken very different approaches to testing students and staff members — with many not testing them at all.
Officials in districts that have embraced testing say it’s a tool for making sure infections stay under control, but many school administrators see more hassle than benefit. Some states have even turned down millions in federal funding for school-based virus testing.
University of California, San Francisco Professor of Medicine Dr. Monica Gandhi says the nation’s vaccination program makes the COVID-19 tests less useful because immunized individuals are so much less likely to get infected.
At the same time, she explains that false positives in school settings carry significant consequences when they cause a return to online learning.
Screening tests have played a key role in reopening plans for school in New York City and other more liberal states like California and Massachusetts.
10:50 a.m.: Biden commits to sharing 80 million COVID-19 vaccine doses worldwide
President Joe Biden says the U.S. will share an additional 20 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine with the world in the coming six weeks, raising the U.S.’s total commitment to 80 million doses, according to the Associated Press.
The move comes as domestic demand for shots drops and global disparities in distribution have grown more evident.
On Monday, Biden said that “we know America will never be fully safe until the pandemic that’s raging globally is under control.”
The doses will come from existing U.S. production of Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine stocks. The administration previously committed to sharing about 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of June.
9:52 a.m.: Online misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines in the US continues to spread
Misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines continues to spread on social media, often consisting of widely shared misleading posts claiming the shots are ineffective or harmful.
One false statement from Instagram started with a Yale University professor who appeared on Steve Bannon’s podcast in April and made a false claim that 60% of new COVID-19 vases came from vaccinated people. This is entirely incorrect.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported what they call “breakthrough cases” where someone is fully vaccinated but still contracts the virus. But out of more than 100 million fully vaccinated people in the U.S., there have been only about 9,000 breakthrough infections — less than 0.01%.
PolitiFact rated this incorrect statement as Pants On Fire.
9:46 a.m.: Fauci says pandemic exposed ‘the undeniable effects of racism’ on health care
Top U.S. immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci says “the undeniable effects of racism” have led to unacceptable health disparities, according to the Associated Press.
Dr. Fauci said racism has especially hurt African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans during the pandemic in a webcast Sunday to a graduation ceremony for Emory University in Atlanta.
He says many people in minority groups face obstacles starting at birth, including lack of adequate diet and lack of access to health care. Fauci says correcting societal wrongs will take decades and urged the college graduates to be part of the solution.
Sunday, May 16
12:23 p.m.: Complaints about airlines refusing to pay refunds for canceled flights during pandemic soared more than 5,500%
Complaints against refunds for airlines’ canceled flights have skyrocketed in the past year.
Some customers are still trying to get refunds for flights canceled during the pandemic, while others who got credits or vouchers for canceled flights are now facing imminent expiration dates.
The Department of Transportation has issued two enforcement notices in the past year reminding airlines of their obligation to provide refunds for canceled flights.
Read more here.
Saturday, May 15
10:43 p.m.: New CDC mask guideline lacks advice for vaccinated parents with unvaccinated kids in household
The CDC’s new guidance doesn’t have specific advice for vaccinated parents with unvaccinated kids in their households. It says all unvaccinated people age 2 and older “should wear masks in public settings and when around people who don’t live in their household.”
Infection prevention expert Dr. Emily Landon says data supports the idea that fully vaccinated parents of unvaccinated children can safely take off their own masks—but might want to keep wearing a mask when they’re out with their kids to set a good example.
There aren’t currently any vaccines approved for kids under 12. The Pfizer vaccine is available to those age 12 and up, while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are currently approved only for 18 and older.
Read more here.
Friday, May 14
4:33 p.m.: California reviewing CDC mask mandate update
Gov. Gavin Newsom and his office is weighing issues of enforcement and workplace safety in considering whether and when to adopt the new CDC guidelines on masking, according to the Associated Press.
While the state is planning to relax outdoor mask mandates by June 15 when the state opens up, Newsom isn’t quite sure how far to go. Yesterday’s announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls for fully vaccinated people to stop wearing masks and social distancing in most situations if they want.
For now, Newsom said he doesn’t know how that would play out in classrooms and at workplaces. California is on track to reopen its economy broadly next month, signaling an end to most pandemic restrictions.
UC Berkeley Infectious Disease Professor Dr. Lee Riley the new CDC recommendations are a good sign.
“I think this is an indication of further confidence on the part of the CDC that the vaccination program is really working,” said Riley. “Close to, what, half the population in the U.S. has now received at least one dose of the vaccine.”
He adds that people should still consider wearing masks in confined spaces with minimal ventilation.
San Francisco, San Diego, and Riverside are among the counties saying they expect updated guidance from the state.
10:39 a.m.: Farm-to-Fork week will return later this year
One of Sacramento’s signature events is now scheduled to return later this year after getting canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Farm-to-Fork President and CEO Mike Testa says the events are a big deal because they celebrate the region and bring in more than 100,000 visitors.
“To be able to kind of put that party back on the calendar, to be able to look at an event that is not only outdoor food and music, and kind of the fun stuff that we all enjoy about a festival, I think offers that hope that there’s joy again around the corner for us,” Testa said.
The group began planning the events in January hoping that the pandemic would be under control by the fall, and he says the current outlook seems to be very encouraging.
10:20 a.m.: Tehama County vaccination demand is dropping
Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is diminishing in rural Tehama County, even though only 26% of the population is fully vaccinated.
Michelle Schmidt is a supervising public health nurse of the Tehama County Health Services Agency, and she said there’s a few reasons why demand is dipping. Access is one barrier for people looking to get vaccinated.
Another is the refocusing of efforts on those living in outlying communities away from vaccine locations in the city of Red Bluff.
“It’s difficult for them to try to get down — potentially two different times — just to come get a COVID shot,” Schmidt said. “And so, we’re in the process of really transitioning, kind of moving out of the community center and moving towards having more of a mobile format to trying to get vaccinations out within our community.”
More vaccinations could mean getting closer to herd immunity, or the point at which enough people are immune to disease to stop its spread. However, Schmidt is skeptical that mark can be met through vaccination.
“Reaching herd immunity is not only dependent upon access, it’s also dependent on people’s willingness to receive the vaccination. And because of that, I’m not sure that we will ever get to the 70% rate to get herd immunity,” she said.
For now, educating the public on the benefits of COVID vaccination and providing opportunities closer to home are the priorities, according to Schmidt.
Thursday, May 13
3:55 p.m.: California opens Pfizer vaccinations for those age 12 years and older
California parents and guardians can now schedule appointments for children aged 12 and up to receive the two-dose Pfizer vaccine by using the statewide MyTurn booking system starting today.
“The more Californians who are able to get vaccinated, the better we can protect our communities and slow the spread of COVID-19,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said. “Having vaccines expanded to teenagers is the next step in California’s path to safely reopening next month.”
The expanded eligibility comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention amended the Emergency Use Authorization to allow vaccination for 12- to 15-year olds after tests revealed non-serious side effects like fatigue and headache.
“Young people have shouldered a significant burden during this pandemic,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “We look forward to now providing protection for this group to return to activities, especially as we look forward to the state fully reopening on June 15.”
Opening up the inoculation for younger people means there are now about 2.1 million Californians who are eligible for this age group. California’s vaccine provider network can administer about 6.6 million doses a week overall.
“It’s important to remember that young people need protection against the severity and ongoing threat of COVID-19,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan. “California has more than 500 cases of serious health outcomes among young people resulting from the virus, and cases are increasing among younger Americans and Californians who have not yet had the opportunity to be vaccinated.”
3:46 p.m.: Nevada vaccine information website is full of trackers
The Nevada website the public uses to get information on coronavirus vaccines is packed with more ad trackers and third-party cookies than any state vaccination website in the country, according to the Associated Press.
An investigation by technology publication The Markup found Immunize Nevada’s website implants third-party cookies and trackers that can potentially be used to track how visitors navigate the internet, collect data on them and sell it for any number of purposes.
The state says most trackers are used to optimize user experience and evaluate their outreach efforts. Privacy experts say the number of trackers on Nevada’s site compared to other states goes beyond data-gathering applicable to outreach.
3:35 p.m.: Nurses, nonprofits, health workers reach out to homebound people for vaccinations
As interest dwindles in mass coronavirus vaccination sites across the U.S., local health officials and other providers are ramping up efforts to find and reach homebound people who can’t travel for a shot.
According to The Associated Press, while the effort is happening in many states, experts say California has one of the most robust at-home vaccination programs. Last week, state officials announced residents could go online or call a number to request a ride or an at-home vaccination appointment.
So far, there have been more than 5,000 requests for help in the state, according to California public health spokesperson Sami Gallegos.
National advocates for seniors and people with disabilities say there should be more robust plans to inoculate the millions of people in those groups.
11:39 a.m.: California to relax face masks rules by June 15
Gov. Gavin Newsom says California will likely relax face mask requirements in outdoor settings on June 15, when many business restrictions are set to be lifted.
Until then, indoor mask requirements are still active.
“For indoor activities, we will still have likely some mask guidelines and mandates,” Newsom said. “But we hope, sooner than later, that those will be lifted as well.”
The nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, says federal mask guidance may ease as more people are vaccinated. Newsom says California will continue to conform its mask rules with federal guidelines.
10:42 a.m.: When will COVID-19 vaccines be widely available around the world? Two years, at the earliest.
Experts say it could be 2023 or later before COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in some countries, according to the Associated Press.
The U.S. and Israel are among the nations where about half or more of the population have gotten at least one shot, but less than 1% of people have been vaccinated in countries such as Pakistan and Venezuela.
The differences reflect factors including purchasing power and domestic production capacity. COVAX, a coalition working to ensure global vaccine access is behind schedule due partly to export bans and stockpiling by some countries.
One Georgetown University policy expert says the U.S., E.U., and other wealthy nations had already pre-ordered nearly all of the vaccine doses from several companies, causing the stock to dwindle so much that even other countries with money to buy vaccines are at the back of the line waiting their turn.
China and Russia are among those committed to donating vaccines to other nations, while countries like the U.S. and U.K. aren’t yet sharing their stockpiles, though they’re committed to doing so.
In April, Duke University researchers said many countries would not reach 60% coverage until 2023 or later, meaning global scarcity is expected to continue for years to come.
9:07 a.m.: The vaccine disinformation merchants: how some are cashing out on spreading false claims
Ty and Charlene Bollinger are part of an ecosystem of for-profit companies, nonprofit groups, YouTube channels and other social media accounts that stoke fear and distrust of the COVID-19 vaccines.
Medical experts say the Bollingers are resorting to what is often misleading and false information. An investigation by The Associated Press has found that the couple works closely with others prominent in the anti-vaccine movement — including Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his Children’s Health Defense — to drive sales through affiliate marketing relationships.
University of California, Hastings College of Law professor Droit Reiss explains that unlike other multi-level marketing businesses, where products are sold through low-level sellers, the anti-vaccination industry is sustained by grassroots activists.
“This is a disinformation industry,” Reiss said.
The Bollingers have said that they have sold tens of millions of dollars worth of products through various ventures and paid out $12 million to affiliates.
“They have many, many passionate believers that serve as sales people of the misinformation on the ground,” Reiss said. “For the top, it’s a product. For the people below, they passionately believe it. They’re very sincere. And it comes across.”
Wednesday, May 12
4:06 p.m.: California’s EDD still facing problems with unemployment claims
Problems continue to plague California’s Employment Development Department. The agency has been inundated with unemployment claims since the pandemic started.
More than a million people still have unresolved claims, and the EDD’s “work-sharing” layoff-prevention program is also running into some problems. It’s a program where employers reduce workers’ hours, and the state pays for some lost wages.
Some residents have been trying to get their claims resolved to no avail.
“These folks cannot get access to the program,” said employment lawyer Jennifer Shaw. “They register, they’re not getting the documentation, their employees are not getting their pay. It’s a significant failure of the system.”
Data from the EDD shows that in the last week of April, the agency answered less than 6% of the calls that ran through its call center.
“I tell our clients when they call, ‘tell your employees keep calling, use every system available. Fax, mail, phone, email, chat, you name it, you use it,'” Shaw said. “And you will eventually get through.”
3:51 p.m.: After extension due to pandemic, taxes are due next week
Tax filing day is coming up on May 17 after federal and California officials extended the deadline for the 2020 year because of the pandemic.
Lower-income Californians earning less than $30,000 — or in some cases, less than $75,000 — are eligible for new tax credits this year through the Golden State Stimulus program. United Way California advocate Mandy Irvine says the incoming stimulus can help some low-income families.
“We live in a very expensive state, and we’ve also been dealing with the pandemic the last year,” Irvine said. “We know it’s been really tough for families. So go claim that money, it belongs to you, you can use that money for whatever you want.”
Irvine said families could receive up to $1,200 through the return, and there are about a million families in California who have yet to claim the credit. In Sacramento County, it’s estimated 100,000 that still haven’t claimed their credit.
“This money, it belongs to families. They worked for it, they worked really hard for it,” Irvine said. “By not filing your taxes, you’re essentially leaving money sitting out on the table, unclaimed.”
Some California residents without a social security number may also be eligible.
3:48 p.m.: Vaccination locations are ramping up to inoculate children 12 – 15 years old
Now that children ages 12 and older can get COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S., parents and schools have a chance to relax their pandemic precautions.
According to the Associated Press, a government advisory committee recommended Pfizer’s vaccine for children 12 and older on Wednesday after the Food and Drug Administration expanded authorization of the shots to the age group earlier in the week.
Locations already offering the Pfizer vaccine should be able to give the shots to all authorized ages in most cases. School districts are also preparing to host vaccination clinics, and health officials are working to make the shots more widely available at the doctor’s offices.
10:37 a.m.: Pandemic may have caused consumer prices to jump in April
Consumer prices surged 4.2% in April from the depressed levels of a year earlier when the global economy was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Labor Department.
This was the most significant 12-month increase since a 4.9% jump in September 2008 in the depths of the global financial crisis.
The accelerating inflation comes as companies have been forced to pay more to secure critical materials such as lumber and steel amid continued disruptions to the global supply chain. The government has also pumped trillions of dollars into the economy to blunt the impact from the pandemic, contributing to inflation.
Price increases affected an extensive range of goods, from big-ticket items like cars to kitchen staples like bacon. Airfares and hotel prices also jumped as rapid vaccine rollouts are encouraging Americans to travel again.
“Everything you can think of is going up,” says William Lee, chief economist at the Milken Institute.
10:09 a.m.: Nine MGM Casinos get OK to open at 100% capacity
Gambling giant MGM Resorts International is opening nine more of its Las Vegas Strip casinos at 100% capacity with no person-to-person distancing requirement.
According to the Associated Press, the company said the Nevada Gaming Control Board approved the move at the Bellagio, ARIA, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Mirage, New York-New York, Luxor, Excalibur and Park MGM.
Three-foot distancing and 80% occupancy restrictions remain in effect at restaurants, swimming pools and other non-gambling areas. Masks are also still required.
Other Las Vegas casinos open at 100% capacity include Wynn Las Vegas, Encore, the Cosmopolitan and the Strat.
9:54 a.m.: US COVID-19 deaths drop to lowest in 10 months
COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have dropped to an average of about 600 per day — the lowest level in 10 months, according to the Associated Press.
The last time deaths were this low was in early July, nearly a year ago. COVID-19 deaths in the country topped out in mid-January, at an average of more than 3,400 a day, just a month into the biggest vaccination drive in the nation’s history.
The number of lives lost per day has now dropped to single digits on average in over half the states, and has even hit zero on some days.
Confirmed infections, meanwhile, have fallen to about 38,000 per day on average, their lowest mark since mid-September. While that is still cause for concern, they have plummeted 85% from a peak of more than a quarter-million cases per day in early January.
Tuesday, May 11
3:44 p.m.: Get a Shot, See a Shark: Long Beach offers tickets to aquarium for residents who get vaccinated
The city of Long Beach is offering tickets to the Aquarium of the Pacific as an incentive to overcome resistance to COVID-19 vaccinations, according to the Associated Press.
Long Beach will give two tickets to anyone receiving their first dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at city-run vaccination sites. The city said Tuesday that the offer runs through May 15.
Mayor Robert Garcia says Long Beach has vaccinated 60% of eligible residents, but the vaccine hesitancy is real for some people, and the city’s efforts will include incentives. The aquarium’s regular adult general admission ticket costs $36.95.
3:31 p.m.: Medicare to require nursing homes to report COVID-19 vaccinations
Medicare says it will require nursing homes to report COVID-19 vaccination rates for residents and staff, according to the Associated Press.
Officials hope it will be an incentive for facilities to keep giving shots even as the worst ravages of the pandemic ease. The agency expects to start receiving vaccination numbers from nursing homes in the coming weeks and plans to post the information on the internet so residents and families can easily access the details.
People living in long-term care facilities have borne a heavy toll from the pandemic, but cases and deaths plummeted after the government launched a concerted effort to vaccinate residents and staff.
3:14 p.m.: FDA expands emergency use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids 12 to 15 years old
On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration announced that children 12 to 15 years old are now eligible to receive a key COVID-19 vaccine as the agency expands its emergency use authorization for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Until now, the Pfizer vaccine had been authorized for only people ages 16 and older. Pfizer asked the FDA to broaden its emergency use authorization for the vaccine after announcing in late March that the clinical trials found “100% efficacy and robust antibody responses” in study participants who were 12 to 15.
The pharmaceutical giant got federal approval to include children as young as 12 in its vaccine trial in October of last year.
All three makers of U.S.-authorized vaccines — Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson — are studying the safety and effectiveness of their vaccines in children, including as young as 6 months.
10:50 a.m.: PolitiFact Fact-Check: The death rate for vaccinated people is not higher than unvaccinated people
A screenshot of a tweet by Chuck Callesto, a former candidate for Florida’s 3rd congressional district, was shared more than 42,000 times on Instagram, falsely claiming that the death rate for fully vaccinated people who contact COVID-19 is “significantly higher” compared to unvaccinated people. That’s false, according to a PolitiFact California fact-check.
The tweet reads, “Breaking report: according to the CDC 7,157 fully vaccinated Americans have contracted COVID-19, 88 have died.” It appears the incorrect and misleading tweet has been deleted from Callesto’s Twitter.
Public health experts agree that Callesto most likely miscalculated the death rate among fully vaccinated adults. Furthermore, experts say it’s flawed and misleading to use these figures to calculate a death rate and compare it to the unvaccinated population.
As of May 4, more than 105 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the CDC. Around that same time, the public health office received 9,245 reports of vaccine breakthrough infections. That’s less than .01% of fully vaccinated Americans.
Also, vaccine breakthrough cases are expected. None of the vaccines were 100% effective in the original clinical trials, nor have they ever claimed to be. No vaccine is 100% effective at preventing illness, according to public health experts and the CDC.
While there have been more than 7,000 cases where vaccinated people contacted COVID-19, resulting in 132 deaths, it is still widely misleading to use these numbers as evidence that vaccines are dangerous and ineffective, especially as the post leaves out crucial facts about breakthrough infections.
10:24 a.m.: Most remaining unvaccinated Americans need convincing to get COVID-19 inoculations, according to poll
Fewer Americans are reluctant to get a COVID-19 vaccine than just a few months ago, but questions about side effects and how the shots were tested still hold some people back.
That’s according to a new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The new data highlights the challenges at a pivotal moment in the U.S. vaccination campaign. Just 11% of people who remain unvaccinated say they definitely will get the shot, while 34% say they definitely won’t.
Getting as many people vaccinated as fast as possible is critical to protecting citizens. More than 150 million people — about 58% of all adults — have received at least one dose, according to the centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to a poll by CapRadio and Valley Vision, about 40% of people in the Greater Sacramento region say they won’t be getting vaccinated.
There’s a glimmer of hope, though. As that number grows, the reluctance is inching down. Overall, the AP-NORC poll found about 1 in 5 American adults say they probably or definitely won’t get vaccinated, compared to about a third in January, when the shots were just rolling out.
This leaves a large swath of Americans in the middle who might still roll up their sleeves, or maybe not.
10:03 a.m.: US job openings soar to highest level on record in over 20 years
U.S. employers posted a record number of available jobs in March, illustrating some industries’ desperation to find new workers as the economy expands and changes, according to the Associated Press.
Job postings rose in many industries, including restaurants, bars and hotels; manufacturing, construction and retail. However, they fell in health care, transportation and warehousing.
While job openings skyrocketed, the total job gains increased only modestly, according to a Labor Department report issued on Tuesday. The figures come after the April jobs report last week that fell far short of economist expectations, largely because companies appear unable to find the workers they need, despite the elevated unemployment rate at 6.1%.
Job openings rose nearly 8%, to 8.1 million in March, the most on records dating back to December 2000.
Monday, May 10
5:42 p.m.: Millions of Californians may see a state stimulus check this year
Millions of California workers and families may get another stimulus check this year — but this one is from the state.
Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed an expansion of his “Golden State Stimulus” plan on Monday. The program put $600 checks in the pockets of low-wage workers and undocumented families earlier this year.
Now, with a record budget surplus, Newsom wants to send stimulus checks to families with children and workers who earn up to $75,000 a year.
“That tax rebate will impact just shy of 80% of all tax filers — will get a direct stimulus check, will get a direct relief payment because of this announcement,” Newsom said.
The governor also wants to double the state’s rental assistance program and put up $2 billion to help people pay utility bills.
The spending proposal requires legislative approval.
5:30 p.m.: Around 40% of Sacramento region residents reported income loss during pandemic
About 4 in 10 people in the Sacramento region have experienced some level of income loss during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest COVID-19 Resilience Poll released today.
The poll is the third in a series that began in May of 2020. The CapRadio-Valley Vision project was done in partnership with the Institute for Social Research at Sacramento State. Valley Vision CEO Evan Schmidt says that the survey also found a spike in people working remotely from home.
“But then when we asked questions about ‘What do you want to do coming back from the pandemic,’ a lot of people would lie to stay remote,” Schmidt said. “So I think it’s going to be interesting to see what happens as we go back to normal and will workplaces stay more remote.”
The poll also finds about 40% of the respondents who have yet to be vaccinated said that they either will probably not or definitely not get a vaccine.
9:17 a.m. : California moving from mass vaccination sites to hyper-local approaches
California is shifting away from mass vaccination sites after administering more than 30 million doses.
Instead, the state will target hard-to-reach populations and people hesitant about the vaccine.
“We know when we stand up clinics in partnership with trusted locations in communities like churches and schools, we know that builds confidence in people to get vaccinated,” said Sami Gallegos, spokesperson for the state’s Vaccinate all 58 campaign.
“And we also know that there are access barriers to traveling to those large vaccination sites. So the state’s really been making this transition to community clinics over the last month or so,” Gallegos said.
California will spend more than $85 million on grants for community organizations to help with outreach. The state is also working on expanding at-home vaccination services for home-bound residents.
9:14 a.m.: Travis Air Force Base shipping medical supplies, COVID tests to India
Fairfield’s Travis Air Force Base is supporting the delivery of medical supplies to India where COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing.
California is donating more than a-thousand oxygen-related pieces of equipment. On CapRadio’s Insight, California’s Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis said the federal government is coordinating the operation.
“It includes not just the oxygen equipment that we are giving, but it includes 15 million N95 masks, one million rapid COVID tests, 20,000 treatments of Remdesivir and the actual airlift is coming out of Travis Air Force Base,” Kounalakis said.
The COVID-19 crisis is getting worse in India and hospitals are stretched beyond capacity. New cases are staying well over 300,000 every day.
9:10 a.m.: Why COVID-19 vaccine patents are so contentious
The Biden administration’s call to lift patent protections on COVID-19 vaccines to help distribute more globally has drawn praise from countries and health advocates.
But, according to the Associated Press, the plan has run into some resistance from the pharmaceutical industry and others who say that it will “hurt innovation.”
Patents are to prevent competitors from emulating a company’s discovery and launching a rival product. In the U.S., patents on medicines last about 20 years from when they are filed, which happens once a drugmaker thinks it has a lucrative drug. Since it takes about a decade to get a drug approved, companies enjoy nearly a dozen years of competition-free sales.
However, drugmakers often find ways to change the product or widen its use to secure additional patents to extend their monopoly for many more years.
Drugmakers and their trade groups spend millions every year lobbying governments to maintain the status quo on patents. Why? In a word, money. In the U.S., pharmaceutical companies can charge whatever they want for their medicines. They typically raise prices twice a year, often doubling or tripling them during a drug’s patent-protected years.
If the patents are lifted, there’s no precedent for vaccines. Two decades ago, World Trade organization members passed a temporary waiver allowing less wealthy countries to import affordable generic drugs for HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria amid health crises. Eventually, that waiver was made permanent.
Drugmakers say that waiving patents won’t get life-saving vaccines into developing countries faster since creating the vaccines is more complex than following a cooking recipe. There’s little specialized factory space, equipment, and highly trained employees to produce the inoculations in many of the countries asking for vaccine assistance.
Friday, May 7
6:32 p.m.: Sacramento County ‘hopeful’ about moving to orange tier in June, officials say
Sacramento is one of just a dozen California counties remaining in the red, or second-most restrictive, COVID-19 reopening tier. Health officials said Thursday that they’re hopeful the county can move up to the orange tier by June 15, the same day California is set to reopen and end the tier system.
Less restrictive tiers allow more businesses to open at greater capacity. But in Sacramento the case rate is still a concern — 7.5 cases per 100,000 people, as compared to 4.2 cases per 100,000 people statewide. To move to the orange tier, Sacramento County must bring its case rate down to somewhere between 2 and 6 cases per 100,000 people.
Dr. Olivia Kasirye, public health officer for Sacramento County, says new, more infectious variants “could be contributing to the stagnation in cases.”
She also says people are not getting tested for COVID-19 as often as they used to, which affects tier status.
Officials also said there are no Sacramento ZIP codes that are close to reaching herd immunity, or having about 70% of residents immunized. In certain north and south Sacramento neighborhoods, less than 20% of people have been fully vaccinated.
Thursday, May 6
6:52 p.m.: California State Fair postponed, Cal Expo to remain vaccination site
Cal Expo officials said Wednesday it’ll remain a mass vaccination site through the summer with the hope of allowing events to open with larger capacity later this year.
“The more people we can get vaccinated the more the event business can come back,” Cal Expo CEO Rick Pickering said. He said this year’s state fair will be delayed and likely slimmed down.
Since March 2020, health officials at the site have vaccinated a quarter-million people.
“That would be the equivalent of half of the population of Sacramento or 16% of the county of Sacramento,” Pickering said.
While demand for the vaccine is dropping across the country, Pickering said there is more work to be done as the county’s focus shifts to inoculating school-age children.
9:29 a.m.: From 3 feet of distance to 6 feet: How the pandemic might have affected our personal space bubbles
Face-to-face meetings are creeping back into our lives after more than a year of social-distancing. A steep decline in coronavirus transmission rates plus an increasing number of vaccinations are just two of the biggest reasons why.
But how comfortable will you or others be with this shift back to in-person social interaction?
Researchers say that the personal-space boundary in the U.S. before the pandemic was about 3 feet with strangers and a little more than 2 feet with an acquaintance. But now, a year of staying 6 feet apart could have you feeling crowded — even if others are maintaining what used to be considered an acceptable distance.
CapRadio’s Randol White spoke with Cal State Northridge Communications Studies Professor Kathryn Sorrells to see how the pandemic may have changed what we consider comfortable.
“I know a number of people I’ve talked to, even as we open up,” Sorrells said. “There’s a little hesitancy, like ‘Do I remember how to engage with people in that way?’ I think that probably if it’s a year or a year and half … we’ll shift back into the old patterns because those are much more deeply ingrained.”
9:14 a.m.: Can COVID-19 affect my period? Scientists are looking into it.
It’s not yet known if COVID-19 vaccines can affect your period, but researchers are starting to study the issue.
According to the Associated Press, vaccines are designed to activate your immune system, and some experts wonder if that could temporarily disrupt menstrual cycles. So far, reports of irregular bleeding have been anecdotal. It’s difficult to draw any links to the vaccines since anything from stress, diet and exercise could affect periods.
There’s also a lack of data tracking changes to menstrual cycles after vaccinations in general.
Dr. Jen Gunter, an obstetrician and gynecologist in the San Francisco Bay area, says a link is possible since the uterine lining, which is shed during a period, contains immune cells that help protect the uterus.
Even if scientists do eventually find a link between the COVID-19 vaccines and short-term changes in bleeding, experts say that would be no reason to avoid getting inoculated.
“The benefits of taking the vaccine certainly way outweigh putting up with one heavy period, if indeed they’re related,” said Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, a gynecologist and professor at the Yale University School of Medicine.
9:08 a.m.: US unemployment claims call to pandemic low of 498,000
The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell last week to 498,000, according to the Associated Press.
It’s at the lowest point since the pandemic struck 14 months ago and a sign of the job market’s growing strength as businesses reopen and consumers step up spending.
Applications declined 92,000 from a revised 590,000 a week earlier. The number of weekly jobless claims — a rough measure of the pace of layoffs — has declined significantly from a peak of 900,000 in January as employers have ramped up hiring.
However, the pace of applications is still well above the roughly 230,000 level that was common before the COVID-19 outbreak ran through the economy in March of last year.
Wednesday, May 5
5:45 p.m.: California appeals court upholds Newsom’s pandemic emergency powers
A California appeals court has upheld Gov. Gavin Newsom’s emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Three judges from the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento today overturned a lower court saying Newsom overstepped his authority. The case emerged from a lawsuit by two Northern California state lawmakers.
Republican Assemblymembers Kevin Kiley and James Gallager said Newsom issued emergency orders in what amounted to a one-man rule. Newsom did everything from halt evictions to allow marriages to be conducted by video or teleconference.
The appeals court agreed that the governor acted within the broad emergency authority granted him amid the crisis.
Kiley and Gallagher said they would appeal to the state Supreme Court.
5:42 p.m.: COVID-19’s U.S. toll expected to wane dramatically by end of July
Teams of experts are projecting that COVID-19′s toll on the U.S. will wane dramatically by the end of July, according to research released by the government today.
But they also warn a “substantial increase” in hospitalizations and deaths is possible if unvaccinated people do not follow basic public health guidelines such as wearing a mask and social distancing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paper included projections from six different research groups.
5:32 p.m.: US backs waiving COVID-19 vaccine intellectual property protections
The Biden administration is throwing its support behind efforts to waive intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines to speed up to the end of the pandemic.
According to the Associated Press, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced the government’s position in a Wednesday statement amid World Trade Organizations talks over easing global trade rules. This would enable more countries to produce more life-saving vaccines.
Tai says, “The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines.”
She cautions that it will take time to reach the required global “consensus” to waive the protections under WTO rules.
11:14 a.m.: Sacramento County stays in red tier
As state officials announced COVID-19 tier changes Tuesday, Sacramento County remained in the state’s red coronavirus risk tier.
Sacramento moved out of the state’s most restrictive purple tier into the red tier on March 16, where it has stayed since.
As of Tuesday, the county had 7.7 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, a 2.8% test positivity rate over the past 7 days and a 4% test positivity rate for the state’s health equity quartile. In order to move into the less restrictive orange tier, counties need to have less than 5.9 new cases a day per 100,000 residents, a test positivity rate below 4.9% for the whole county, and a test positivity rate below 5.3% for the health equity quartile.
Yolo and El Dorado counties are currently in the less restrictive orange tier, while Placer County is also in the red tier.
11:02 a.m.: Nearly one-third of Californians fully vaccinated
Nearly a third of Californians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of May 4, according to NPR’s state vaccine tracker.
In California, 32.1% of all residents have either received one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or both shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Additionally, 49.9% of the state’s population has received at least one dose of a vaccine.
Currently, not all Californians are eligible to get the vaccines, as the shots are not approved for people under age 16 yet. But that may change soon, as Pfizer expects the FDA to approve its vaccine for use in children ages 12-15, according to NPR.
According to the California Department of Public Health, 31,027,617 vaccines have been administered in the state.
Tuesday, May 4
6:40 p.m.: California urges people to vacation in state, boost tourism
California tourism leaders are urging residents to spend their pent-up travel dollars exploring their home state as coronavirus case numbers stay low.
The tourism industry is reeling from a steep decline in revenue, plummeting from $145 billion in 2019 to $65 billion last year.
The state of nearly 40 million people has been among the most conservative in the U.S. with strict restrictions in place to curb the pandemic. It’s gradually reopening but tourism revenue is not expected to top pre-pandemic levels until 2024.
Tourism officials are calling on Californians to do their patriotic duty and vacation within the state to bolster the industry.
6:34 p.m.: Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates launch Sac-Bike-Match
If you’re in the market for a new bike, you may have to wait a while. There’s a nationwide shortage because of the pandemic and predominantly shipping out of China and Asia.
The Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, or SABA, has launched a program called Sac-Bike-Match. They’re asking people to donate old bikes. SABA will then match those bikes with essential workers once they’ve been reconditioned at the Sacramento Bicycle Kitchen repair site in midtown.
“We’re in partnership with them and we wrench those bikes, make sure that they’re in great working order and then we match them up with somebody else and get them on the road,” said Debra Banks.
May is National Bike Month. It’s mostly virtual in Sacramento again this year because of the pandemic, but SABA is hoping to host a few rides in small groups.
6:30 p.m.: All Nevada counties granted local authority over COVID-19 restrictions
All of Nevada’s 17 counties have been granted local authority over COVID-19 restrictions.
The latest addition came yesterday when Washoe County commissioners approved a revised plan for the Reno-Sparks area and successfully submitted the necessary endorsements to the state’s mitigation task force.
Masks remain mandatory. Control over all other COVID-19 measures began May 1 in all of Nevada’s other counties under local plans.
Washoe County’s new plan eliminates capacity limits effective June 1, unless there’s a big spike in the new cases. In the meantime it allows full capacity in businesses with enough space to still comply with six-feet social-distancing.
9:25 a.m.: Pandemic led to 30% increase in worker deaths in certain California industries
During the first 10 months of the coronavirus pandemic, California saw a 30% increase in the deaths of essential workers in 10 industries, according to a new study by U.C. Merced’s Community and Labor Center.
The U.C. study found that overall deaths among Californians aged 18-65 increased by 25% in 2020. Workers accounted for 87% — or more than 14,000 — of those additional deaths.
Dr. Edward Flores, who helped direct the study, said that the pandemic just exposed previously existing inequalities in the workplace.
“There’s a need for better awareness for the rights that workers have, of their ability to take sick leave, to file a complaint in regards to health and safety conditions,” said Flores.
The most affected groups of workers came from industries such as warehouses, agriculture, restaurants and food services, and grocery stores. Among the 10 industries with the highest death increases were nursing care, landscaping, and building services like janitorial and security work.
9:07 a.m.: FDA could OK Pfizer vaccine for teens by next week
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 12 to 15 by next week, setting up shots for many before the start of the next school year.
According to the Associated Press, the update comes from a federal official and a person familiar with the vaccine approval process.
The FDA action would be followed by a federal vaccine advisory committee meeting to discuss whether to recommend the shot for 12- to 15-year olds. Then the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would act on the committee’s recommendation. Those steps could be completed in a matter of days.
Monday, May 3
3:30 p.m.: Children now account for 22% of new COVID-19 infections in US
The number of children contracting COVID-19 in the U.S. is much lower than the record highs set at the start of the new year, but children now account for more than a fifth of new coronavirus cases, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
This number is based on states that release their data by age, but still, it’s a statistic that’s surprised many — just one year ago, child COVID-19 cases only made up around 3% of the U.S. total.
Now, children represent 22.4% of the new cases reported in the past week as of this Monday. The cases account for 71,659 out of 319,691 cases. The latest report, drawn from data collected through April 29, illustrates how children’s share of coronavirus infections has grown in recent weeks.
There seems to be several factors why — particularly high vaccination rates among older Americans lowers the number of adults getting sick. But other dynamics are also in play, from new COVID-19 variants to the loosening of restrictions on school activities.
It’s also worth noting that for the vast majority of the pandemic, the age group with the highest case rates has been 18 to 24 year-olds in the U.S.
3:22 p.m.: Las Vegas convention center will transform into drive-thru vaccine clinic
Health officials say they hope to administer more than 1,000 doses a day of coronavirus vaccines to Las Vegas-area residents once the first big drive-thru COVID-19 shot clinic opens Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
According to the Associated Press, the Southern Nevada Health District on Monday said the goal is for 60% of the eligible population to receive at least one dose. If they reach that goal, that would meet a goal the Clark County Commission set for fully reopening casinos and businesses without social distancing rules. However, masks would still be required.
To date, the percentage of state residents who have gotten at least one shot is 47%.
3:10 p.m.: UN inks Moderna deal to provide 500 million doses globally
Moderna and vaccine promoter Gavi have announced a deal by which the pharmaceutical company will provide up to 500 million coronavirus vaccines, according to the Associated Press.
The U.N.-backed program will ship the doses to clinics and vaccination centers in low- and middle-income countries by the end of 2022.
The advance purchase agreement comes just days after the World Health Organization announced the emergency approval for the Moderna vaccine that will pave the way for its rollout in the U.N.-backed COVAX program.
However, deliveries of the vaccines are not set to begin until the fourth quarter of this year, and the vast majority of the doses in the deal — 466 million — are planned for only next year.
9:39 a.m.: Las Vegas hitting jackpot as pandemic-weary visitors return
Las Vegas has been jammed lately with pandemic-weary tourists looking for excitement and entertainment.
According to the Associated Press, on Saturday, casino capacity limits on the Strip increased again to 80%, while person-to-person distancing drops to 3 feet. However, masks are still required.
The boom began as casino occupancy went from 35% to 50% on March 15 under state health guidelines. Analysts point to pent-up demand, available rooms and federal coronavirus relief checks.
Economic markers are now ringing up a revival on the neon resort corridor that was ghostly quite a year ago. Casinos have also reported four slot jackpots worth upward of $1 million in the last week.
9:15 a.m.: Public transit tries to woo back riders
As President Joe Biden urges more federal spending on public transportation, transit agencies decimated by COVID-19 are struggling to figure out how to win back passengers.
According to the Associated Press, commuting patterns are changing as work-from-home arrangements show signs of becoming a longer-term trend, and riders are still hesitant to return to potentially crowded spaces on buses and trains.
Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan would provide $85 billion over eight years to update and replace subway cars and repair aging tracks and stations. Of that amount, $25 billion would go to expanding bus routes and rail lines. Another $25 billion would pay to convert gasoline- and diesel-powered mass transit buses to zero-emission electric vehicles.
Even with the country slowly opening up again, transportation officials say it could take years to get riders back. Transit agencies are trying different approaches to win over riders, from reduced fares to shiny new bus stops and even shifting transit schedules around to accommodate more passengers due to the pandemic shift away from 9-to-5 work.
9:07 a.m.: US to start global COVID-19 vaccine distribution talks
Two White House officials say the U.S. trade representative will begin talks on COVID-19 vaccine distribution around the world, according to The Associated Press.
The trade representative will begin talks in the world Trade Organization on ways to overcome intellectual property issues that are keeping poorer countries from making their own generic version of critically needed COVID-19 vaccines.
White House chief of staff Ron Klan said trade representative Katherine Tai will be starting talks with the trade organization to get the vaccine more widely distributed, licensed and shared.
Klain and national security advisor Jake Sullivan said the Biden administration will have more to say on the matter in the coming days.
Sunday, May 2
10:40 a.m.: Personal income jumped over 21% in March as the government sent out relief payments
Americans’ personal incomes jumped 21.1% in March, according to the Commerce Department. This is the biggest increase on record as the government sent out $1,400 relief payments as part of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue effort.
Personal spending also jumped by 4.2%, and wealthier Americans are also increasing spending.
Read more here.
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