The big picture

While US hospitalizations are falling, COVID-19 variants concern experts

The average daily death rate over the past week remains above 3,000.

Jan 31, 2021 - Health
2020 was bad — but not nearly the worst

As bad as this year was, humanity is still far better off than it has been for nearly all of our history.

Dec 24, 2020 - Health
The states where face coverings are mandatory

More than 35 states across the country have mandated facial coverings.

Updated Dec 8, 2020 - Health
Key information about the effective COVID-19 vaccines

Three major candidates now reporting efficacy rates of more than 90%.

Updated Nov 30, 2020 - Health
U.S. coronavirus updates

See where the virus has spread.

Updated Oct 16, 2020 - Health
Better testing can fight more than the pandemic

New technologies like saliva-based diagnostics and CRISPR have opened the door to rapid COVID-19 tests

Aug 22, 2020 - Health

All Coronavirus stories

13 hours ago - Health

U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan on lockdown amid surge in COVID-19 cases

Medical staff members prepare to assist a suspected COVID-19 coronavirus patient in Kabul. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images.

More than 100 people at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul have been diagnosed with COVID-19, at least one person has died and several others have been medically evacuated out of the country, CNN reports.

State of play: Effective immediately, all embassy personnel will be placed on lockdown and only permitted to leave their quarters to get food or to exercise outdoors, according to CNBC.

14 hours ago - Health

U.K. coronavirus infections climb to 4-month high

Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The United Kingdom recorded 11,007 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, government figures revealed.

Why it matters: COVID-19 cases across the U.K. are on the rise amid the spread of the highly transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant. The B.1.617.2 variant, first detected in India, is expected to become the dominant strain in the U.S. in three to four weeks, some researchers say.

New coronavirus variant gains foothold in the U.S.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Public health officials are renewing calls for COVID-19 vaccinations, as a more infectious variant that can be thwarted with available vaccines is spreading rapidly in the United States.

Why it matters: The B.1.617.2 (or Delta) variant was first detected in India and is expected to become the dominant strain in the U.S. in three to four weeks, some researchers say. If vaccination rates continue to slow, the variant could fuel surges in pockets of the country this fall.

17 hours ago - Health

HHS to invest $3 billion for antiviral pills against COVID-19

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Biden administration will invest $3.2 billion to foster the development of antiviral pills to help fight against COVID-19, the Health and Human Services department announced Thursday, with hopes the medication becomes available to the public as soon as the end of this year.

The big picture: Researchers had tested existing antivirals like remdesivir in hospitals on patients with severe COVID-19, but they produced underwhelming results and little to no benefit.

19 hours ago - World

Japan eases COVID restrictions ahead of Tokyo Olympics

Photo: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images

Japan announced Thursday it is easing the pandemic-related state of emergency in Tokyo and six other areas starting next week, citing the decline of daily coronavirus cases, AP reports.

Why it matters: The announcement comes a month before the Summer Olympics, which will be held in Tokyo in July. Doctors and prominent executives had called for the games to be canceled during an uptick in cases at the time.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
23 hours ago - Health

Top physician's group wants long-COVID research

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The nation's top physician's group on Wednesday called for policies to better diagnose and treat long-haul COVID-19 and endorsed guidelines for guiding any future vaccine mandates and credentials.

Driving the news: The American Medical Association's House of Delegates, which represent the nation's doctors, called for tools to improve the assessment, diagnosis, and awareness of post-viral syndromes.

What happens now that emergency orders are lifting

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Data: National Academy for State Health Policy and various governor declarations; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Soon, more than half the states will have ended their formal emergency declarations for the pandemic — which could have ripple effects across the economy.

Why it matters: Lifting those orders will allow businesses to serve more customers, but will also end certain safety nets, including expanded food and housing assistance, as well as eviction protections.

Jun 16, 2021 - Health

Royal Caribbean delays cruise launch after 8 positive COVID cases

Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Ovation of the Seas, berthed in Sydney Harbour. Photo: James D. Morgan/via Getty Images.

Royal Caribbean International will postpone its first scheduled trip from the United States in more than a year following eight new positive COVID-19 cases among crew members, CEO Michael Bayley announced.

Why it matters: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a No Sail Order in March 2020 amid the spread of the coronavirus. "The debut of the Odyssey of the Seas was highly anticipated as cruise lines attempt a comeback after more than 15 months of not sailing from the U.S. because of the pandemic," AP writes.

Jun 16, 2021 - Health

U.S. buys 200 million additional doses of Moderna’s COVID vaccine

Vials of Moderna vaccine. Photo: Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Biden administration has purchased an additional 200 million doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, the biotech company announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: Moderna and the Biden administration say the additional doses could be used to vaccinate children or — if necessary — as a booster shot.

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