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The US is taking a major step toward resuming normal life


The travel industry is gearing up for a big summer season. This week, Delta will resume filling the middle seat on flights while Disneyland in California is opening its park gates for the first time in more than a year at around 25% attendance capacity.

In sports, the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta United are among the first teams in their leagues to return to 100% capacity for games starting in May, with the condition that fans wear face coverings. The Kentucky Derby will have thousands of spectators Saturday, although attendees will also have to wear masks, following a state requirement for outdoor events with more than 1,000 people.

State leaders and experts, however, note that more needs to be done before the nation fully returns to normalcy.

In Washington state, health officials announced Wednesday that more than one out of every 100 people in rural Ferry County was infected with Covid-19 in the past two weeks, following what was described as a superspreader event in the town of Republic.

“They flouted public health guidelines. They ignored clear science,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a briefing.

The race to vaccinate as many Americans as possible is running alongside a push to get society back to a pre-coronavirus state of affairs.

Younger Americans are least likely to vaccinate

The latest data is offering hope as the seven-day average Covid-19 death rate is at its lowest point of the year, according to a CNN analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. The April daily average of deaths was 684, down from the January average of 3,431 deaths per day. It’s the lowest point since October.

On Thursday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said about 35% of the US population has been infected with the virus. The agency estimates the virus has led to 114.6 million infections, 97.1 million symptomatic illnesses and 5.6 million hospitalizations from February 2020 to March 2021.

Health officials say the progress made lowering the death rate can continue only with increased vaccination efforts. The latest ensemble forecast from the CDC estimates up to 6,600 new deaths reported each week through May 22, and vaccine hesitancy among citizens will challenge any further decrease of these figures.

“It is a terrible thing to think we would have vaccines that could save people’s lives, and not see it in people’s arms,” Gov. Inslee said.

People stand on the Bow Bridge at Central Park on April 13 in New York City. The city is targeting a July 1 reopening.

Mayors are hopeful

Two major cities announced Thursday that they are relaxing restrictions.

Among them, New Orleans said that the city would keep a mask mandate in place for now. “We know this hasn’t been easy, but it has been paying off and we’re almost there. Getting vaccinated will help us continue to reopen New Orleans to the world as the safest destination city we can be,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

In New York City, the Covid-19 positivity rate has been steadily decreasing for the past few weeks, according to city statistics, aligning with a July 1 targeted reopening date when restaurants, bars, hair salons, gyms, stadiums, theaters, museums and other venues will return to 100% capacity.

New York City’s subway system, which has been operating on a truncated schedule for much of the pandemic to allow for proper cleaning, will also be a part of the city’s reopening, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday, adding that he believes a true New York City reopening would include the subway system returning to its normal 24/7 operations.

“This is going to be the summer of New York City,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio expanded on his vision Friday on CNN, saying the “stunning progress” in reducing the level of Covid-19 “directly correlates” to the number of vaccinations administered.

“What we’ve seen in the last weeks has been stunning progress in terms of reducing the levels of Covid — greatly increasing the numbers of vaccinations,” he told CNN’s Brianna Keilar.

Adapting to inoculation slowdowns

Almost 44% of the population — nearly 144 million people — have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the latest numbers from the CDC. Around 30%…



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