Family wearing face masks shopping at grocery store during coronavirus pandemic

COVID-19 Updates: California Keeps Indoor Mask Mandate, Early Vaccine Evidence Against India Variant Promising, Florida Sees Post-Spring Break Surge

Family wearing face masks shopping at grocery store during coronavirus pandemic

At least 163 million cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) have been diagnosed worldwide as of Monday evening, May 17, 2021, including at least 3.38 million deaths. Healthcare officials in the United States have reported at least 33 million positive COVID-19 cases and at least 586,000 deaths. Source: Johns Hopkins University & Medicine

At least 1.47 billion individual doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered worldwide as of Monday evening, including at least 274 million in the United States. Source: GitHub

California keeps mask mandate despite CDC’s new guidance

Those people who are fully vaccinated in the state of California will be required to wear face coverings in most indoor settings at least until June 15, as state officials have announced pressing pause on the latest guidance on masks by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In a recently released statement, the state’s Health & Human Services Agency stated that the four-week period will give Californians time to prepare for the eventual masking change while focusing on the delivering of vaccines, particularly in underserved communities.

As of May 3, face coverings are no longer required outdoors, except at crowded events, and for unvaccinated people, when physical distancing cannot be maintained, according to the agency. The state has among the lowest case and positivity rates in the nation.

“In indoor settings outside of one’s home, including public transportation and schools, face coverings continue to be required regardless of vaccination status,” the statement reads.

The CDC’s most recent guidelines suggest that fully vaccinated people are at minimal risk for infection in both indoor and outdoor settings. Guidelines also suggest that fully vaccinated people are at reduced risk of passing along the virus to unvaccinated people.

Early vaccine evidence against India coronavirus variant promising

The coronavirus variant called B.1.617.2, which was first identified in India and could be more transmissible than the original strain, is covered by the current vaccines, according to a new report by CNN.

Matt Hancock, health secretary for the United Kingdom, is quoted as saying that “new, very early data from Oxford University provides a degree of confidence that the vaccines will work against the new strain.”

Tests done using plasma serum from vaccinated people showed the vaccine had the ability to neutralize the virus. However, the university has cautioned that the data is preliminary. There is reportedly no evidence that the India strain is causing more serious illness, but its higher transmissibility means the number of infections is increasing more quickly, according to the report.

Booster shots to be expected?

Repeat booster shots for the COVID-19 vaccines might be necessary moving forward to keep people protected from the virus on a regular basis. According to a recent report by WHYY, Pfizer’s chief executive Albert Bourla and Stephane Bancel, chief executive officer at Moderna, claim it’s “likely” that people will need a booster shot once every 12 months.

Some scientists say that it’s still too soon to know whether or not people will need boosters, however, according to the report. Determining factors will include how long the vaccines maintain an immune response and how effective they are against multiple variants of the virus ongoing.

Florida sees post-spring break surge

Variant COVID-19 infections have dramatically increased in the state of Florida following spring break season. According to a recent report by the South Florida Sun Sentinel, there have been more than 10,000 variant COVID-19 cases reported throughout the state based on data from the Florida Department of Health.

A total of 753 variant cases from three strains (B.1.1.7, P.1, and B. were reported on March 14, before jumping to 5,177 cases from five types of variants one month later, the report claims. By the end of April, the number of variant infections had reached 9,248.

Florida has reportedly seen the most variant COVID-19 cases in the country, according to the report.

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