Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), urged Americans to carry on taking precautions against spreading coronavirus, and to get vaccinated when available because the US is “at a critical point” in the pandemic.
At the White House coronavirus response team briefing earlier today, Walensky said: “We are at a critical point in this pandemic and on the cusp of having enough vaccine to protect every adult in the United States. We ask for your patience in practicing proven prevention measures for just a little longer.”
She added that earlier this week, the US saw the number of daily deaths from coronavirus drop below 1,000 for the first time since November.
There are indications that cases are starting to trend downwards on a national basis again because people are taking the right precautions, she added.
This despite Texas, for example, ending its state mask mandate from today and allowing businesses to open at 100% normal operation.
Dr Anthony Fauci expressed concern about Texas relaxing its coronavirus-related restrictions in a CNN interview earlier today.
“We understand people’s need to get back to normal, and we’re going in that direction. But when you start doing things like completely putting aside all public health measures as if you’re turning a light switch off, that’s quite risky,” Fauci said. “We don’t want to see another surge, and that’s inviting one when you do that.”
Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are decreasing at the moment. Walensky warned, however, that relaxing and traveling more could just lead to another surge in disease.
The government announced an increase in supplies of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and plans to double its order for the single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, procuring an additional 100 million doses.
Vaccinations are being administered at the rate of around two million a day, with a record three million shots given last Saturday.
Meanwhile, Alaska has become the first US state to make Covid-19 vaccines available to anyone there aged 16 or older.
Arkansas passed a sweeping ban on abortion yesterday, but as Michelle Broder Van Dyke in Honolulu reports for us, Guam is moving closer to restoring abortion access after an ACLU lawsuit:
Guam has taken a significant step toward restoring abortion access, after the ACLU scored a victory in a lawsuit that seeks to ensure residents of the US territory can turn to remote healthcare providers for abortion medication.
Getting an abortion on Guam has been impossible since 2018, when the last abortion doctor retired and moved off the island. Before then, at least 200 abortions occurred on Guam every year. Today, accessing the closest legal abortion clinic requires a flight to Hawaiʻi, an expensive and difficult undertaking especially during a pandemic.
Telemedicine medication abortions, which allow doctors to remotely prescribe the abortion drugs mifepristone and misoprostol to patients up to 10 weeks pregnant, would be an obvious solution, if it were not for a 1978 Guam law that says abortions must be “performed” in a “medical clinic or hospital”. The ACLU lawsuit is fighting, in part, to block that law from being enforced.
“We know that many people have reached out to physicians in Hawaiʻi about accessing abortions and that not all of them have been able to overcome the enormous financial and logistical obstacles to traveling several thousand miles,” said Vanessa Williams, a Guam lawyer working with the ACLU.
Historically, it has not been easy to access abortions on Guam despite them being legal, due to stigma and past restrictive laws. In the 1990s, the mostly Catholic US territory, where 165,000 people live, passed a law that prohibited abortion except when the mother’s life was endangered. Eventually, the US ninth district court of appeals struck down the law, citing Roe v Wade.
“There are very polarizing points of view within our small community on this emotionally charged issue,” said Williams.
Read more here: Guam moves closer to restoring abortion access after ACLU lawsuit