• During a White House briefing Wednesday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the agency’s most recent data shows the seven-day average of new cases is just under 62,000 cases per day, which she said marked a nearly 12 percent spike from the prior seven-day period, and hospitalizations are also increasing, she said, with the seven-day average at 4,900 admissions per day, up from 4,600 a day in the previous seven-day period.
  • The B.1.1.7 variant, first uncovered in the United Kingdom, now makes up from 4% to 35% US cases depending on the region, and 26% of cases nationally, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with the mutation the predominant strain in at least five regions.
  • The White House's senior Covid-19 response adviser, Andy Slavitt, on Wednesday urged governors, mayors and local leaders to listen to President Biden and maintain or reinstate mask mandates to “save lives,” saying “We need to keep case numbers down so we can save lives and give people the chance to get vaccinated in April, May and June so we can enter the summer on the strongest footing possible.”
  • Workers at a Baltimore plant manufacturing two coronavirus vaccines accidentally conflated the vaccines’ ingredients several weeks ago, ruining about 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine and forcing regulators to delay authorization of the plant’s production lines, a mix-up that has halted future shipments of doses in the US while the Food and Drug Administration investigates, but the company said in a statement it remained on track to deliver "an additional 24 million doses through April.
  • US nursing homes have seen a 96% decline in new Covid-19 cases since vaccines started rolling out in late December, according to a new analysis from the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, and by March 7, the country saw the lowest number of weekly cases and deaths since Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has been tracking them, according to the report published Tuesday.
  • About 10 to 30% of all Covid patients will suffer from long-haul symptoms, according to the latest research from Mt. Sinai’s Center for Post-Covid Care, numbers which should be a “wake-up call” for young people and motivate them to avoid infection, Dr. Peter Hotez of Texas Children’s Hospital warned today, saying that patients with post-acute Covid syndrome typically experience serious fatigue, shortness of breath, digestive issues, “brain fog” and a racing heart, and some can even develop type 1 diabetes after an infection.
  • The director of the US Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, announced on Wednesday that the agency is releasing new Covid-19 guidance for adult day service centers, saying that ““These centers provide important social and health services to community-dwelling adults age 65 and older, as well as to adults any age living with disability.” 
  • The World Health Organization warned of a steady rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths in recent weeks, urging people Wednesday to stick with mask mandates and social distancing rules as the world enters a critical phase of the pandemic, with Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the agency’s Covid-19 technical lead, saying that cases climbed by 14% across the globe last week - the sixth-consecutive weekly increase - and deaths jumped for the third week in a row.
  • Unemployed Americans who filed their taxes early this season and may have overpaid can expect a refund starting in May, the government said Wednesday.
  • Companies have promoted fewer women into leadership roles over the past year, erasing years of gains for female professionals - and reflecting yet another adverse consequence of the pandemic on working women which has forced more than 2 million out of the workforce, according to data from professional networking site LinkedIn.
  • Amazon.com Inc. expects most of its US employees to return to the office “by early fall,” the company announced in an internal memo this week, with the note to employees saying “In the U.S., as vaccines become broadly available in the next few months, we expect more people will start coming into the office through the summer, with most back in the office by early fall.”
  • Delta Air Lines, the last major carrier to cap capacity on its flights, says it will offer for sale every seat on its flights starting May 1, an announcement that marks the end of pandemic-era social distancing precautions on board major US airlines.
  • Experts who treat eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder are reporting an overwhelming spike in the need for their services, with waiting lists growing at many practices and treatment centers across the US, and the National Eating Disorders Association finding a 41 percent increase in messages to its telephone and online help lines in January 2021, compared with January 2020.
  • As Major League Baseball opens its new season under a lingering coronavirus cloud and NBA and NHL teams begin a final push for the playoffs, less than half of Americans say they would feel comfortable attending a live sporting event, according to a new Washington Post-University of Maryland poll.

US Outbreak

  1. The US reported more than 61,000 new cases for Tuesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and published Wednesday, a figure that was down from 69,419 a day earlier but up from 53,587 a week earlier.
  2. An average of more than 63,000 daily new cases were reported in the US over the last seven days, according to Johns Hopkins University data, a figure that is up 16% from one week ago as of Wednesday.
  3. Twenty-six states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have seen an increase of over 10% in the number of new cases since last week, with New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Connecticut currently holding the highest case rates per 100,000 people over the last seven days, and hospital admissions also increasing in nearly a dozen states.
  4. Deaths, a lagging indicator, had been trending downward since March 2, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis, but on Monday, the seven-day average of 990 exceeded the 14-day average of 984 for the first time since then.
  5. For the first time, the majority of new hospitalizations has been younger adults in the past week, with cases among people ages 50-65 increasing more than those older than 65, who are more likely to have been vaccinated, and in some states, like Michigan and Massachusetts, the number of cases among older children, teenagers and young adults has also increased.
  6. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest ensemble forecast published today projects there will be 565,000 to 585,000 deaths in the US by April 24, with a current projection of up to 566,0000 deaths by April 10 – about 7,000 few than was expected by that date based on numbers two and a half weeks ago.
  7. Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death in the US last year, after heart disease and cancer, according to provisional data released on Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with the agency reporting the death rate increased by 15.9% between 2019 and 2020.
  8. Michigan leads the US with the highest number of cases per capita, and some experts say the rising case count in the state is a third surge, with Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, saying infections are increasing the most in people between the ages of 10 and 19 and attributing the rise in cases to a number of factors, including increased gatherings, re-openings and outbreaks in some prisons and schools.
  9. New Jersey presented moderate and high-case model scenarios for Covid-19, both of which predict cases will increase in April, and under the moderate scenario, cases and hospitalizations will reach a high in mid-April, cases wouldn’t drop below 3,000 until June, while hospitalizations wouldn’t be less than 1,000 until August.
  10. New York’s seven-day average fell to less than 5,000 cases on March 23, a level not seen since November 17, but in the last week, infections have risen significantly, with the latest average showing 10,925, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.
  11. New York City’s percentage of people testing positive over an average of seven days has plateaued for weeks now and remained in the 6% to 7% range, worrying some epidemiologists.
  12. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health announced a new initiative on Wednesday to help determine whether frequent, widespread use of rapid tests slows the spread of the virus, a program that will make rapid at-home tests freely available to every resident of two communities, Pitt County, N.C., and Hamilton County, Tenn., enough for a total of 160,000 people to test themselves three times a week for a month.

Diagnosis, Prevention and Treatment

  1. The first dose of the vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and from AstraZeneca produces only weak immune responses in patients being treated with the widely-used rheumatoid arthritis drug infliximab, researchers in a paper posted Monday on medRxiv ahead of peer review found.
  2. The World Health Organization on Wednesday recommended against using generic anti-parasite drug ivermectin in patients with COVID-19 except for clinical trials, because of a lack of data demonstrating its benefits.
  3. Most US adults with chronic medical conditions know they face higher odds of severe COVID-19 but that does not mean they avoid high-risk behaviors, including wearing masks, survey data published in Wednesday in JAMA Network Open suggests.
  4. Pfizer is planning to produce a new formulation of its vaccine that will no longer require a diluent in the second half of 2021, says Mike McDermott, Pfizer’s president of global supply.