Monday's health stories

Dave Lawler, author of World
May 3, 2021 - World

Pandemic's global toll rises even as rich world starts to move on

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Axios Visuals

We seem to have arrived at a fork in the pandemic: Pockets of the rich world are beginning to move past COVID-19, while some less-fortunate countries are facing greater danger than ever.

Consider this: The World Health Organization said today that more cases had been recorded globally over the last two weeks than in the first six months of the pandemic, driven largely by an unprecedented surge in India and the ongoing onslaught in Brazil.

NYC to resume 24-hour subway service, businesses to fully reopen

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo: Mike Segar/Pool/Getty Images

New York City will resume its 24-hour subway service on May 17, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday, along with fast-tracking the city's plans to fully reopen businesses.

The big picture: The return is a key part of the tri-state area's efforts to increase economic activity and bring back crowds.

May 3, 2021 - Health

Maryland offers $100 to state employees who get vaccinated

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Maryland will offer a $100 incentive to any state employee who gets vaccinated for COVID-19, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday.

Why it matters: The incentive comes as vaccine demand is hitting a wall well before the U.S. has reached herd immunity. State employees in Maryland who have already been vaccinated will also get a retroactive $100 payment.

May 3, 2021 - World

WHO: More COVID-19 cases reported in last 2 weeks than in first 6 months of pandemic

Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The number of global coronavirus cases reported in the last two weeks eclipses the first six months of the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday.

Why it matters: It underscores the severity of the current wave of infections in India, which surpassed 400,000 cases for the first time over the weekend, as well as a record-high number of deaths, per data from Johns Hopkins University.

May 3, 2021 - Health

DeSantis signs order ending all local COVID-19 restrictions in Florida

DeSantis looks on during the third round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10 in Augusta, Georgia. Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday signed an executive order to end all local emergency orders relating to COVID-19, effectively halting enforcement of restrictions across the state, the Miami Herald reports.

Why it matters: DeSantis argued that continuing to mandate restrictions would undermine confidence in the vaccines, which he stressed are effective and have been administered to much of the state's elderly population.

May 3, 2021 - Health

Some experts now say U.S. unlikely to reach herd immunity

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Some public health experts and scientists now believe that the U.S. is unlikely to reach herd immunity, and that the coronavirus will instead become "a manageable threat" that circulates for years, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Many emerging viruses become part of the viral ecology. The number of hospitalizations and deaths that endemic COVID-19 causes could depend on several factors, including how often people are reinfected, vaccine effectiveness and adoption, and virus mutations.

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

What COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy looks like around the world

Expand chart
Data: Gallup; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

More than 1 billion adults around the world said in 2020 that they wouldn't agree to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, per new Gallup polling released Monday.

Why it matters: Only slightly more than two-thirds — 68% — of adults worldwide said they would agree to be vaccinated if a shot was available to them at no cost.

May 3, 2021 - Health

CVS launches $100 million venture capital fund

Photo: Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

CVS Health launched a new $100 million venture fund called CVS Health Ventures with plans to invest in digital health startups.

Why it matters: With nearly 10,000 retail locations around the U.S. and its Aetna subsidiary serving more than 22 million members, any investment by CVS Health has some serious potential for scale.

John Frank, author of Denver
May 3, 2021 - Axios Denver

Colorado battles COVID vaccine hesitancy with get-out-the-vote tactics

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Colorado is using tried-and-true get-out-the-vote tactics to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates across the state.

Why it matters: The novel approach is part of a broader effort by state public health officials to reach herd immunity by targeting populations that are hesitant or too busy to get vaccinated.

May 3, 2021 - World

EU proposes lifting non-essential travel restrictions for fully vaccinated

Eiffel Tower. Photo: Xinhua/Gao Jing via Getty Images

The European Commission on Monday proposed easing restrictions on non-essential travel for visitors who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Why it matters: The recommendation could be adopted by the European Union's 27 member states as early as May 5, paving the way for the return of summer travel to one of the world's most popular tourism destinations.

Pfizer to offer smaller shipments of COVID vaccine

Pfizer is preparing distribution with the federal government for a smaller 3-tray, 25-vial pack size for COVID-19 vaccines. Photo: by Patrick Pleul-picture alliance/Getty Images

Pfizer will begin distributing smaller packages of COVID-19 vaccine to states by the end of May to reduce potential waste.

Why it matters: As public demand for vaccine teeters, health officials see smaller clinical settings as the next step in vaccinating Americans who haven’t sought out a shot already.

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

There's not just one kind of vaccine hesitancy

Expand chart
Data: The Harris Poll; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Around 10% of Americans aren't very eager to get the vaccine, but they're not really hesitant either — they're just waiting to get it until they get around to it, according to new Harris polling.

Why it matters: Making vaccination more convenient will be a big part of the difficult process of getting more shots in arms, now that many of the most eager Americans have gotten their shots.

May 3, 2021 - World

Rome's Colosseum to get $22M makeover

The Colosseum in Rome, Italy, completed under Emperor Titus in 80 A.D. Photo: Cheng Tingting/Xinhua via Getty Images

Rome's ancient Colosseum will have a floor with a gladiator's view once again in a construction project costing 18.5 million euros ($22 million), per a statement from Italy's Culture Minister Dario Franceschini Sunday.

Details: Archaeologists removed the last floor in the 19th century to examine the "labyrinth of rooms and corridors" that lay beneath the arena, Al Jazeera notes. The new floor will be sustainable and can be removed if required, per Franceschini's statement.

May 3, 2021 - World

Argentina surges past 3 million COVID cases

A health worker walks past a COVID-19 testing center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in April. Photo: Florencia Martin/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Argentina surpassed 3 million COVID-19 cases since the pandemic's start Sunday amid reports of hospitals operating at capacity.

The big picture: Argentina's government last week imposed new restrictions following new national records for cases and deaths in April. Argentine health workers told Reuters hospitals are "full" and the "stalled" vaccine rollout needed to be stepped up to curb the spread. "The health system does not support one more patient," one health worker said.

May 3, 2021 - World

Narendra Modi's party loses key election as India's COVID cases surge

Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures while addressing his supporters during an election campaign rally ahead of the national elections in Chanditala Hooghly District, West Bengal, India on Thursday. Photo: Debajyoti Chakraborty/NurPhoto via Getty Images

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost an election in the key state of West Bengal on Sunday.

Why it matters: Modi has been criticized for his handling of the pandemic amid a widespread oxygen shortage, record daily cases and a surging death toll, with accusations that the real numbers are much higher.

May 3, 2021 - Health

Colorado extends mask mandate while easing restrictions for vaccinated

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. Photo: Chet Strange/Getty Images

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) on Sunday extended the state's face mask mandate for another 30 days but loosened restrictions for groups of people vaccinated against COVID-19.

Details: Under Colorado's new order, people gathering indoors in groups of 10 or more are no longer required to wear masks if at least 80% of them is vaccinated against the virus, per a statement from Polis.