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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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States that are relaxing coronavirus restrictions are making "a big mistake," President Biden told reporters on Wednesday, adding: "The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking."

Driving the news: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Wednesday he will end all coronavirus restrictions via executive order, although some businesses are continuing to ask patrons to wear face masks. Mississippi is lifting its mask mandate for all counties Wednesday, per Gov. Tate Reeves (R).

The big picture: Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to fall across much of the U.S. and the Biden administration expects to produce enough vaccines for 300 million adults by the end of May.

  • But CDC director Rochelle Walensky warned states on Monday that "now is not the time" to lift public health restrictions.
  • While the average of 70,000 new infections and 2,000 daily deaths is nowhere near the extremely high levels recorded at the start of 2021, the figures are still a poor baseline to "stop a potential fourth surge" — especially with the threat posed by more contagious new variants, Walensky warned.

What they're saying: "I hope everybody realizes by now, these masks make a difference. We're on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we're able to get vaccines in people's arms," Biden said.

Video courtesy of NBC

Go deeper

The U.S. coronavirus vaccines aren't all the same

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The U.S. now has three COVID-19 vaccines, and public health officials are quick — and careful — to say there’s no bad option. But their effectiveness, manufacturing and distribution vary.

Why it matters: Any of the authorized vaccines are much better than no vaccine, especially for people at high risk of severe coronavirus infections. But their differences may fuel perceptions of inequity, and raise legitimate questions about the best way to use each one.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Mar 3, 2021 - Health

Biden sends teachers to front of vaccine line

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

President Biden on Wednesday used the federal government to prioritize vaccinating teachers and child care workers, an effort to get kids back in schools, WashPost reports.

What he's saying: "My challenge to all states, territories and the District of Columbia is this: We want every educator, school staff member, child care worker to receive at least one shot by the end of the month of March," Biden said.

Fauci donates personal COVID-19 model to Smithsonian

Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the White House, with the model, which shows the "components of the SARS-CoV-2 virion (the complete, infectious form of the virus), including the spike protein," per a statement. Photo: Smithsonian/National Museum of American History

NIAID director Anthony Fauci gave the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History his personal COVID-19 model Tuesday, as he was honored with the institution's Great Americans Medal.

The big picture: Fauci virtually presented the educational tool, made with a 3D printer, to museum director Anthea Hartig. She praised him in a statement for his "humanitarianism" and "dedication," helping to "save millions of lives" and advance the treatment and understanding of infectious and immunologic diseases. Fauci said in a video the medal was a "humbling honor."

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