Please Note

The Washington Post is providing this important information about the coronavirus for free. For more free coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, sign up for our Coronavirus Updates newsletter where all stories are free to read.

The wave of U.S. coronavirus cases that began in early spring is on the wane, with the daily average of new infections around the country falling to their lowest level since mid-October. The trend is not equal nationwide, with pockets of the country, including the Pacific Northwest, seeing a surge in outbreaks due to the emergency of new variant strains of the virus.

Meanwhile, India’s coronavirus catastrophe is worsening. The White House on Friday announced plans to restrict travel from India as the country reported another record number of new cases over the preceding 24 hours. The army opened its hospitals and patients struggled to access beds, oxygen and lifesaving treatment.

India’s crematoriums are overwhelmed, and the health system is crumbling. Anger toward Prime Minister Narendra Modi is growing, especially over his decision to hold huge election rallies as infections soared. India’s official death toll has passed 208,000.

The first batch of U.S. aid arrived in India on Friday. President Biden has promised more than $100 million in support, including 1,100 oxygen cylinders and 15 million N95 masks.

Here are some significant developments:

  • 100 million U.S. adults — nearly one-third of the total U.S. population — are fully vaccinated, the White House announced Friday.
  • India’s Health Ministry reported 386,452 new infections Friday — a global record — and 3,498 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s confirmed cases to more than 18.7 million.
  • Global cases of the coronavirus topped 150 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, with the death toll reaching 3.15 million.
  • Disneyland, California’s renowned theme park, will reopen to visitors on Friday after a shutdown of more than a year.
  • The Transportation Security Administration on Friday extended a federal mask-wearing requirement through Sept. 13 for travelers on buses, trains, commercial flights and at airports.
  • The rate of cases in the United States continues to fall, with the seven-day average estimated to be about 52,000 daily on Thursday. More than 574,000 people have died in the United States since the pandemic began.

TSA extends mask requirement for planes, buses and trains through mid-September

1:30 a.m.
Link copied

The Transportation Security Administration announced Friday it will extend a federal mandate that requires people to wear masks in transportation settings, including at airports, on commercial aircraft and on commuter bus and rail systems, through Sept. 13.

The initial requirement went into effect Feb. 1 and was set to expire May 11.

“The federal mask requirement throughout the transportation system seeks to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation,” Darby LaJoye, the senior official performing the duties of the TSA administrator, said in a statement. “About half of all adults have at least one vaccination shot and masks remain an important tool in defeating this pandemic.”

Rural Maryland and Virginia counties once led the pack in vaccinations. That’s changed.

12:20 a.m.
Link copied

The early leaders in the vaccination race have stumbled. And those who were lagging behind are surging ahead — for now.

What started as a trickle of coronavirus vaccine doses in Maryland, Virginia and the District four months ago has grown into a steady stream of 150,000 shots daily, administered at pharmacies, doctor’s offices and mass vaccination sites. Stark racial gaps have narrowed, though not consistently. And rural counties that once led the region in vaccination rates are starting to run out of willing customers, while demand continues in some of their more densely populated neighbors.

At the end of January, rural counties in Maryland were administering a daily average of about 455 shots per 100,000 adults, compared with about 360 shots in Baltimore County, Montgomery County and other populous jurisdictions. The strong start appeared to defy early polling suggesting that Republicans in rural areas would be among the least likely to get vaccinated.

Biden administration considers patent waivers for coronavirus vaccine

11:20 p.m.
Link copied

A high-stakes fight over drug companies’ response to the coronavirus pandemic has split the Biden administration, with activists and progressives urging the White House to back an international petition to waive the companies’ patents — and some senior officials privately signaling they’re open to the idea.

The debate has reignited decades-old tensions in global health, pitting such influential figures as Pope Francis, who backs the patent-waiver proposal, against philanthropist Bill Gates, who’s opposed. It has also challenged U.S. officials who have prioritized this nation’s coronavirus response but know that the virus’s continued spread and mutation overseas will eventually pose risks to Americans.

The proposal was discussed last week by Anthony S. Fauci, a top coronavirus adviser to President Biden, and Katherine Tai, the U.S. trade representative, who spoke about ways to help the developing world as it reels from a worsening crisis.

Britain’s Capt. Tom Moore, a pandemic hero, honored with sculpture

10:20 p.m.
Link copied

On what would have been Capt. Sir Tom Moore’s 101st birthday, a six-foot bronze sculpture of the war veteran who became an international celebrity and fundraising machine during the coronavirus pandemic has been unveiled in his honor.

Andrian Melka, who created the sculpture, said he had been “inspired” by Moore’s fundraising efforts that made headlines around the world. Melka confirmed that the statue would be donated to Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, where he hopes it will serve as a reminder that placing “one step in front of the other will get you somewhere.”

Moore shot to fame amid Britain’s first lockdown in March last year when the veteran, then age 99, decided to raise money for the country’s beloved National Health Service, which was beginning to crumble under pressure as coronavirus cases surged.

His mission? To complete 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday. An effort he hoped would raise a few thousand pounds for hospitals and staff across the country.

But as Moore walked, national and worldwide attention began to grow, along with a loyal fan base who donated and cheered him on from afar. With each step and each passing day, the money kept coming.

With the support of his walker, family and messages from politicians and celebrities inspired by his courage, Moore managed to complete 100 laps ahead of his 100th birthday, eventually raising millions of dollars for the NHS. In July 2020, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his efforts.

Moore, whose final fundraising total stood at almost $45 million, died earlier this year after receiving treatment for pneumonia and being diagnosed with covid-19.

Spring wave of infections is on the wane across most of the U.S.

Link copied

The spring wave of coronavirus infections that began in March is subsiding in most of the country, with 42 states and D.C. reporting lower caseloads for the past two weeks. Hospitals in hard-hit Michigan and other Upper Midwest states that were flooded with patients in mid-April are discharging more than they’re admitting.

The daily average of new infections nationwide has dropped to the lowest level since mid-October. Many cities are rapidly reopening after 14 months of restrictions. The mayor of virus-ravaged New York City, Bill de Blasio (D), said he plans to have the city fully open by July 1.

Biden administration to restrict travel from India in response to record coronavirus caseloads

6:51 p.m.
Link copied

The Biden administration will restrict travel from India because of spiking coronavirus caseloads and multiple variants circulating in the country, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.

Psaki said the policy will take effect Tuesday and is based on advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The policy will be implemented in light of extraordinarily high COVID-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in India,” Psaki said in a statement.

The policy is not expected to apply to American citizens or lawful permanent residents. As with other international travelers, however, they will still have to test negative for the coronavirus before travel and quarantine upon arrival if not fully vaccinated, according to an administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to comment before Psaki made the formal announcement.

India on Friday reported another record number of new cases over the preceding 24 hours as the army opened its hospitals and patients struggled to access beds, oxygen and lifesaving treatment.

100 million U.S. adults are fully vaccinated, says White House

5:12 p.m.
Link copied

One hundred million adults in the United States are now fully vaccinated, Jeff Zients, who coordinates the White House coronavirus response team, said Friday. The figure represents just under one-third of the total U.S. population.

“That’s a hundred million Americans with a sense of relief and peace of mind, knowing that after a long and hard year, they’re protected from the virus,” Zients told reporters during the Friday White House briefing.

“By the end of May, we’ll have enough vaccine supply for every adult American,” Zients said. All 50 states have opened eligibility for a vaccine to anyone 16 and older.

Zients noted that 220 million shots have been administered in the past 100 days, besting the Biden administration’s goal of 200 million shots in that period.

The announcement comes as President Biden just passed the threshold of his first 100 days in office. The unofficial milestone is often used as a temperature check on a new president’s administration.

Biden came into office with the coronavirus pandemic as chief among at least four major crises he vowed to tackle.

With the early vaccination goals met, the White House is now shifting toward closing the gap among those who are still hesitant about getting a shot.

Stampede at religious festival in Israel leaves at least 45 dead, dozens injured as PM is criticized for not enforcing pandemic crowd restrictions

3:41 p.m.
Link copied

JERUSALEM — At least 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured when a stampede broke out at a crowded Jewish festival in northern Israel on Thursday night, turning one of the first public celebrations in a country emerging from the coronavirus pandemic into a mass tragedy.

Police and military search-and-rescue units at the scene treated more than 150 injured at the base of Mount Meron, a peak in the Upper Galilee region in northwestern Israel. More than 100 were transported to hospitals in what emergency responders described as one of the most challenging civil catastrophes in the country’s history.

As some countries plan for international visitors, the U.S. travel industry fears that it will be left on the sidelines

2:17 p.m.
Link copied

Buoyed by robust passenger demand and concern that the United States is falling behind other countries in reopening to visitors, a coalition of travel industry organizations is renewing its push for the U.S. government to allow more international travelers.

The groups, including Airlines for America, the U.S. Travel Association and unions representing pilots and flight attendants, say the United States should have a “risk-based data-driven” plan to ensure that the industry isn’t caught off guard when restrictions are lifted. The travel industry is hoping for a departure from the Trump administration’s handling of such policies, in which abrupt changes often left officials scrambling to respond.

“The entire travel industry, and airlines in particular, like to plan,” said Sharon Pinkerton, senior vice president for legislative and regulatory policy for Airlines for America, which represents major U.S. airlines. “It takes time to pull planes out of storage. Several carriers have announced they’re bringing pilots back — and that takes time.”

Easing of outdoor mask mandate has some localities grappling with what the rules should be

12:46 p.m.
Link copied

A day after Gov. Larry Hogan (R) repealed Maryland’s universal outdoor masking order, some of the state’s biggest jurisdictions were grappling Thursday with what to do.

The repeal means many large gatherings may happen without face coverings: outdoor weddings, big neighborhood cookouts, festivals and parades — events at which federal health officials suggest everyone should still be masked.

And given that the state’s repeal order doesn’t distinguish between unvaccinated and vaccinated participants, some local governments that have the option of ignoring the repeal are trying to figure out how to send a stronger message that unvaccinated people should keep those masks on.

‘Magic is finally returning’: Disneyland to reopen after more than a year

10:35 a.m.
Link copied

Disneyland Park and Disneyland California Adventure Park are set to reopen to California residents on Friday, after more than a year of closure amid the global health crisis.

“Magic is finally returning,” Disneyland Resort said in a statement as it highlighted new health and safety measures visitors would have to comply with to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission.

The resorts will reopen in phases, with limited capacity, social distancing measures and stringent mask guidelines for visitors. There will also be temperature screenings.

Staff were welcomed back to the park ahead of guests this week, with cast members promising more fun and new surprises for returning visitors, although parades and late-night shows, which usually attract large crowds, will remain on hold until further notice.

According to officials, Disney characters will abide by social distancing measures. Hotels at the resort will reopen gradually.

From Paris to Florida, all Disney parks were closed early last year as countries grappled with climbing caseloads and death tolls. At the time, officials said the decision to close resorts was “in the best interest of our guests and employees.”

Kenyan doctor who opposed vaccinations dies of coronavirus infection

10:27 a.m.
Link copied

A Kenyan doctor who often spoke out against the use of coronavirus vaccines and championed unproven treatments has died of covid-19.

Stephen Karanja, chairman of the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association, died Thursday after being admitted to Nairobi’s Mater Hospital on April 20, local media reported.

In the months before his death, Karanja suggested he was against mass vaccinations and touted personal methods for those diagnosed with the virus such as inhaling steam and taking a cocktail of drugs each day for a week.

“It seems there is something Bill Gates has invested in that requires the whole world to be vaccinated. What that investment is, remains the million-dollar question,” he told local media.

The Catholic Doctors Association paid tribute to Karanja, describing him as a “true medical soldier,” adding that he had underlying health conditions that may have lowered his chance of survival after contracting the coronavirus.

Deaths in Brazil pass 401,000 amid slow vaccination effort

9:11 a.m.
Link copied

The number of covid-19 fatalities in Brazil has passed 401,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University — the world’s second-highest death toll after the United States.

Calls to impeach President Jair Bolsonaro are growing in a country that recorded as many as 4,200 deaths per day in April and over 14 million cases since the coronavirus pandemic began.

More than 100 impeachment requests have been filed again Bolsonaro, who has long played down the severity of the virus, referring to it as “just a little cold” in remarks last year and refusing to implement nationwide lockdowns, citing economic concerns. He has also expressed skepticism over vaccines and encouraged Brazilians to go about daily life as normal.

Experts and critics of the government say that Brazil’s vaccine rollout has been too slow, while some Brazilians are hesitant to receive China’s CoronaVac shot, which has been authorized for use in the country. George Gao, the head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, has admitted that the effectiveness of China’s vaccines is not high.

Earlier this month, health experts warned that the highly transmissible P.1 variant was becoming impossible to stop as it ravaged Brazil and crossed borders. They expressed alarm that the outbreak would soon become a problem for the entire world.

U.S. coronavirus aid arrives in India as vaccine shortages hinder response

8:17 a.m.
Link copied

Emergency medical aid from the United States and other nations began arriving in India on Friday as the South Asian country’s crushing coronavirus outbreak continued to spiral and vaccinations in multiple regions ground to a halt because of dwindling supplies.

A U.S. Air Force transport plane carrying oxygen cylinders, N95 masks and rapid diagnostic tests landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi on Friday morning, the first of several shipments the White House pledged to help India combat the pandemic.