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Fireworks near the Statue of Liberty in New York City marking the end of New York State's pandemic restrictions in New York state and honoring frontline workers. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

New Yorkers and Californians celebrated most COVID-19 restrictions lifting on Tuesday, as the two states became the latest to move toward fully reopening their economies.

The big picture: The pandemic has now claimed over 600,000 lives in the U.S., but vaccines have helped drive down the seven-day average to roughly 14,000 new cases and fewer than 400 deaths per day, helping most states to ease restrictions.

Guests ride a roller coaster inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park near Los Angeles, following California's full reopening on June 15. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images
A restaurant in Washington, D.C., on June 11, when capacity restrictions enacted during the pandemic on bars and nightclubs were fully lifted. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Pike Place in Seattle, as it becomes the first major city to reach a 70% COVID-19 vaccination rate on June 10. Washington state is due to fully reopen on June 30 or earlier if it meets its goal of vaccinating 70% of the state's population. Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images
A restaurant in Chicago on June 11, as the state of Illinois lifted nearly all COVID-19 restrictions. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
People enjoy the opening of the salad bar at Lambert's Market outside of Boston after the easing of coronavirus restrictions in Massachusetts on June 14. Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Fans watching the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Race 2 on June 13 at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park in Detroit. Michigan is due to ease a range of restrictions on July 1. Photo: Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
A cafe in Denver on June 15. Colorado ended most pandemic restrictions and lifted its face mask order in May. Photo: Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images
T.J. Osborne performs with the Osborn Bothers during the Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam on June 6 in Panama City Beach, Florida. In May, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) ended the state's health restrictions. Photo: Michael Chang/Getty Images

Flashback ... In photos: How COVID-19 changed daily life in 2020

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more photos.

Go deeper

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker
Sep 23, 2021 - Health

Howard Zucker resigns as New York health commissioner

Howard Zucker, commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, speaks during a news conference. Photo: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New York State health commissioner Howard Zucker resigned on Thursday following pressure for his role in withholding nursing home COVID-19 death numbers under former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Why it matters: Zucker led New York's response to COVID-19 last year but came under fire for reportedly undercounting the death toll in nursing homes by as much as 50%.

Sep 23, 2021 - World

Bolsonaro isolating after health minister tests positive for COVID at UN summit

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Timothy A. Clary-Pool/Getty Images

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro and members of his delegation that were in New York for the UN General Assembly were put in isolation after the country's health minister tested positive for coronavirus, according to the state health regulator.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro, who tested positive for COVID-19 back in July and has regularly railed against pandemic measures, has not been vaccinated against the virus.