Children and teens are starting to make up a larger proportion of coronavirus cases now than earlier in the epidemic, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is holding a public meeting to discuss whether to recommend Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for use in youth as young as 12. The US Food and Drug Administration extended its emergency use authorization for the vaccine in 12-15-year-olds Monday.
The CDC’s Dr. Sara Oliver said children and teens are starting to account for a larger share of new coronavirus infections. “In April, 9% of cases were aged 12-17 years, which actually represents a larger proportion of cases than adults 65 and older,” she told the ACIP meeting.
“However, we note that diagnosed and reported cases are an underestimate,” she added. Adjusted estimates, she said, showed 22 million children ages 5-17 had been infected with coronavirus, accounting for 19% of all infections. The CDC has said the official count of diagnosed coronavirus cases underestimates the true count.
Early in the pandemic, older adults accounted for more cases, Oliver said. Now, as more adults are vaccinated, children and teens are making up a larger share of infections.
The committee is scheduled to vote at 2:45 p.m. ET.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday the state had a positivity rate of 1.1%, calling it “great news”
“Yes, we are doing great, no we have not fully conquered the Covid beast,” Cuomo said.
He said that the state recorded 26 new deaths from Covid-19.
The state has administered 17 million vaccine shots statewide, with 50% of New Yorkers being fully vaccinated, according to the governor.
The governor announced from Friday to Wednesday the state will be offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) hubs. Each person who receives a shot will get a seven-day NFTA Metro pass ticket.
“We have to get on with life, we have to reopen but we have to do it smart,” Cuomo said.
On Memorial Day, beaches and pools statewide will be open with 6-foot social distancing, the goal is to have 100% capacity at beaches and pools by the Fourth of July, the governor said.
Note: These numbers were released by the city’s public health agency and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services.
California will effectively end its mask mandate next month when it fully reopens its economy after more than a year of Covid-19 restrictions, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.
In an on-camera interview with KTTV Los Angeles reporter Elex Michaelson posted on Twitter, the governor was asked, “Are we looking at masks after June 15?”
“No. Only in those settings that are indoor – only in those massively large settings where people around the world, not just around the country, are convening, and when people are mixing in real dense spaces,” Newsom replied. “Otherwise, we’ll make guidance recommendations, but no mandates and no restrictions on businesses large and small.”
California currently requires the use of masks in indoor settings outside of one’s home, including on public transportation, regardless of vaccination status. However, fully vaccinated people are not required to wear masks outdoors, except when attending crowded events.
Last month, state health officials announced the June 15 target date to fully reopen the state amid falling Covid-19 infection rates and low hospitalizations, shelving its color-coded tier system that dictates reopening by county based on infection rates.
California’s mask mandate, however, would remain in place at least “in the short run,” Newsom said at the time.
Spokespersons for the governor’s office and California Department of Public Health did not respond to CNN requests for comment Wednesday.
Federal officials from the US Secret Service have helped recover around $2 billion in fraudulently obtained Covid-19 relief funds, and seized more than $640 million from accused fraudsters, the agency said Wednesday.
One year into the pandemic, the Secret Service has opened 690 cases regarding unemployment insurance fraud, on top of another 720 Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Paycheck Protection Program fraud investigations and inquiries.
“The amount of unemployment insurance benefits provided in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in the history of the nation’s unemployment insurance system,” said Larry Turner, the acting inspector general for the Labor Department. “Unfortunately, the significant increase in benefits made the program a target for those seeking to defraud government programs.”
In a recent hearing in front of House lawmakers, Secret Service Director James Murray said the agency’s approach to recovering stolen funds has evolved over the last year from stopping scams to building robust prosecutions. Murray also noted the size of the Covid-relief packages from Congress is extraordinary and the work to root out fraud will continue long after the virus slows.
“We’ve probably made more than 120 arrests specific only to Covid fraud,” Murray said. “This is not something that is going to go away. The size of these packages are so notable and the opportunities that exist are going to be persistent, we’re going to be addressing Covid fraud for many years to come.”
In March, the Justice Department announced federal investigators identified more than $500 million in fraud and charged 474 people with crimes related to stealing from Covid-relief designated funding.
Among the top targets by prosecutors were fraudsters trying to steal from the Paycheck Protection Program, with people running schemes ranging from exaggerating their business expenses to concocting fake companies to get funding. In one Texas case, a man pleaded guilty to seeking $24.8 million in PPP Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans using the names of 11 different companies to make loan applications to 11 lenders.
He managed to obtain $17.3 million in forgivable loans and used the money to buy homes, jewelry and luxury cars.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has begun meeting to decide the question of whether it should recommend the use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine in 12- to 15-year-olds. It’s expected to vote to recommend, and the CDC is expected to accept the recommendation.
A vote is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. ET after public comments.
After that, the committee will hear the latest on a rare blood clotting condition linked with the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine.
You can see the full agenda of their meeting here.
Ensemble forecasts published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention project that the number of newly reported Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths will decrease over the next four weeks.
The forecast predicts a total of 591,000 to 602,000 deaths reported by June 5.
The previous ensemble forecast, published May 5, projected up to 600,000 deaths would be reported by May 29.
Following concerns regarding vaccine hesitancy in the US, White House Covid-19 senior adviser Andy Slavitt told people who may be uncertain about getting vaccinated to talk to their doctors and people they know who are vaccinated. He also told them to compare the downward trends in the virus here to what’s happening in India, where there is less vaccine availability and a massive, ongoing public health crisis.
“We know that some people make very quick decisions about whether to get a vaccine or not and some people want a little more time to consider whether they should or not. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. If you have a question you want answered, ask your doctor. If you want to talk to one of the 150 million people who have been vaccinated and see the experience, do that,” he said during an appearance on MSNBC.
“Look at the data, look at India, and see the results of what happens when you can’t get vaccinated. So we’re going to just continue to make it easier and easier for people to one, get the questions answered, and two, take away every inconvenience that would possibly get in the way,” he continued.
He touted progress in vaccinations, which he said has happened more quickly than expected, and pointed to new resources announced Tuesday, including Lyft and Uber rides to vaccination sites.
Slavitt declined to project a total percentage of Americans that the administration believes can and will be vaccinated.
He did not otherwise preview the President’s 3:30 p.m. ET remarks, when Biden is set to provide an update on Covid-19 response and vaccinations.
Switzerland hopes to allow restaurants to open their indoor spaces as of May 31, a Swiss government news release says. This can happen if infection numbers allow for it, the statement says.
The Swiss government says the epidemiological situation is getting better, regarding Covid-19 numbers, hospitalization as well as stress on intensive care units.
As of May 31, indoor events can hold 100 instead of 50 people, and outside the numbers can go from 100 now to 300 people.
But, the Swiss government says, dancing events remain off-limits.
Regarding working from home, from May 31, there is no longer an obligation to work from home if employees get tested regularly.
The Swiss branches of government, the cantons, the parliamentary commission in charge, amongst them, will decide on May 26 if the situation is good enough to go ahead with these changes.
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona is pushing school districts to reopen for students this spring, before the school year ends, recognizing that some areas have just weeks left in the school year.
“Every day that passes is a wasted opportunity,” Cardona told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on Wednesday. “Even two to three weeks being with your classmates, being with your teacher helps students be prepared for summer learning experiences and the fall. There’s no reason to wait any longer.”
Cardona acknowledged that the disproportionate access to in-person school is widening the achievement gap amongst students, where remote school is the only option, or where Black and Brown students are not going in-person due to school hesitancy.
Addressing the question of whether some school district may not even fully reopen by the fall, Cardona said “the science is there” to show that schools can reopen safely.
“We really need to work with our partners at the state and local level to make sure we’re helping address whatever issues are preventing [reopening],” Cardona said.
In some areas, teachers’ unions have pushed back against reopening, threatening to strike, or refusing to come back to the classrooms that they said were not safe. Cardona said while he cannot mandate schools to reopen, he can offer support.
“At this point, this is about students. This is not about you know, whatever challenges folks are having, adults are having. This is about getting students into school. I can tell you unequivocally, I’ve had conversations with the American Federation of Teachers and the NEA, they want students safely in school too,” Cardona told Keilar.
In regards to whether schools should start to eliminate mask mandates for students, as is being done in some districts, Cardona said school officials need to recognize that while going back to school is safe, the pandemic is not yet over.