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In Long Beach, Calif., the mayor is promoting free aquarium tickets for those who get vaccinated.

In New York, the immunized can grab free fries at Shake Shack — an effort that Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday while digging into his own meal.

Leaders nationwide are increasingly turning to incentives as demand for coronavirus vaccines slows. In the most dramatic offer so far, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said this week that vaccinated residents would be eligible for $1 million lottery prizes and full-ride college scholarships.

“I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar-drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,’" the governor said as he explained the headline-grabbing initiative funded with federal coronavirus relief money. “But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — is a life lost to covid-19.”

Here are some significant developments:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fully vaccinated people can go without masks or physical distancing in most cases, even when they are indoors or in large groups.
  • The White House said Thursday that it is investing $7.4 billion to hire more public health workers to deal with the pandemic and future health crises.
  • The president of the nation’s second-largest teachers union is calling for full-time school this fall, a move that could smooth the way back after a year in which teachers often resisted a return to classrooms.
  • The CDC approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in children as young as 12 on Wednesday, expanding access to millions of adolescents. D.C.’s first group of 12- to 15-year-olds got their initial vaccine doses Thursday.
  • The number of new cases, deaths and hospitalizations continued to fall in the United States, with new infections decreasing by almost 22 percent in the past week. More than 582,000 people have died in the country as a result of the coronavirus.

Experts tackle lingering coronavirus vaccine fears

6:36 p.m.
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When the coronavirus vaccines first started rolling out in December, LisaRose Blanchette had doubts. To her, it felt like the shots, particularly the messenger RNA vaccines, had been “rushed through production,” and she did not trust that they would be safe or effective.

“At the time, I was feeling very insecure about them,” said Blanchette, 56, a teacher in Phoenix. But she started doing her own research and soon realized her initial concerns had been misconceptions.

“I needed to understand the mRNA vaccine. I needed to understand how long scientists had been working on it. I needed to understand that it was divorced from the politics that I had been reading about,” she said. She got vaccinated as soon as she was eligible.

Even with new CDC guidance, many retailers will still require masks

4:51 p.m.
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Many of the country’s largest retailers will keep requiring masks in their stores despite eased national restrictions, though industry groups and workers’ advocates fear enforcement will become increasingly difficult and contentious.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks in most situations. Workers unions blasted the policy change, saying it creates confusion and puts store employees at increased risk of getting sick.

Target, Home Depot, CVS and Harris Teeter are among the chains that will continue to require masks in stores, though they are reviewing new CDC guidance and reevaluating store policies.

Multigenerational living rises in pandemic

3:42 p.m.
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Like many families who experienced the severe disruption of the coronavirus pandemic, Janice and Don Markell made a major life change by asking Janice’s mother to live with them, accelerating their plan for an eventual move to Florida.

“We were living in Montvale, New Jersey, and my mother was in assisted living nearby, but she wasn’t able to leave, and we couldn’t visit her,” says Janice, 61. “Our son has lived in Lakewood Ranch near Sarasota for a few years, and we planned to move there eventually ourselves.”

The solution for the family is a newly built home in the Lake Club section of Lakewood Ranch designed specifically for multigenerational living.

The upheaval created by the coronavirus pandemic led to an increase in the number of homes purchased for multigenerational households, which rose to 15 percent between April and June 2020, according to the National Association of Realtors. That represents the highest percentage of multigenerational homes since NAR began tracking the trend in 2012 after the Great Recession and was up from 11 percent between July 2019 and March 2020.

WHO chief urges wealthy countries to share doses before vaccinating kids

2:22 p.m.
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The director general of the World Health Organization on Friday called for rich countries to share doses with countries in need before moving ahead with plans to inoculate young people.

“I understand why some countries want to vaccinate their children and adolescents, but right now I urge them to reconsider and to instead donate vaccines to Covax,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a new conference, referencing a WHO-backed push to equitably distribute doses.

The comment came not long after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that 12-to-15-year-olds get Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine.

For months, Tedros and other officials have warned that the vast global gap in vaccine access is not only a “catastrophic moral failure” but a threat to public health that could extend the pandemic by giving the virus new places to spread and mutate.

As of Thursday, 35.8 percent of the total U.S. population, or 45.6 percent of the population over 18, is fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. At the same time, many countries are struggling to obtain and deliver enough doses for those at highest risk, including front-line medical workers. Tedros said the raging outbreak in India was particularly worrying.

“We’re on track for the second year of this pandemic to be far more deadly than the first,” he said.

Reinventing the Kennedy Center Honors for the coronavirus era

1:28 a.m.
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Faced with an extended closure because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Kennedy Center reinvented its annual celebration and largest fundraiser, the Kennedy Center Honors, to adapt to the changing conditions.

And then it adapted it again — and again and again, right up until the clock ran out, officials say — as it designed a part-live, part-recorded show celebrating the lifetime achievements of singer Joan Baez, country musician Garth Brooks, dancer-choreographer Debbie Allen, violinist Midori and actor Dick Van Dyke.

Rather than an early December weekend celebration with a three-hour Opera House performance as its centerpiece, the 43rd Honors will be filmed Tuesday through Saturday in multiple Kennedy Center spaces, including its stages, its roof and the Reach, an expansion that opened in 2019.

Some of the tributes to the five honorees — performed by a roster of A-list artists that remains top secret — will be filmed individually without audiences. The live segments will be presented in two parts for crowds of up to 250 people each: the first on Thursday in the 2,465-seat Concert Hall and the second Saturday on an outdoor stage. The show — hosted by 2017 honoree Gloria Estefan — will air June 6 on CBS.

How covid has changed honeymoons

12:36 a.m.
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Since Zoie Diana and her fiance, Jake Ford, got engaged in Turin, Italy, in 2018, they had spent a year planning their May 2020 wedding and their honeymoon in Croatia and Italy. Then the pandemic gave the couple even more time to plan.

The wedding industry estimates it lost about a million ceremonies in the United States because of the pandemic. With many rescheduled for 2021, plus new ones on the books from pandemic proposals, this year is projected to be big for weddings — and with that, honeymoons.

But even as more than 116 million people are fully vaccinated in the United States, and with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledging vaccinated people can travel with less risk, planning honeymoon travel is far from back to normal. Some of the world’s most popular honeymoon destinations remain closed to tourism, and not all have plans to reopen anytime soon.

Israel’s military assault on Gaza threatens to worsen pandemic in the enclave

11:14 p.m.
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It was just a week ago that a surge in coronavirus cases in the Gaza Strip, the worst there since the pandemic began, appeared to be finally waning.

Confirmed infections and deaths, at record levels in April, had declined. And Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that rules Gaza, had eased public health restrictions, even as some coronavirus hospital wards remained stubbornly crowded.

But Israel’s military assault on Gaza — launched Monday in response to rocket fire from the territory as wider tensions flared in Jerusalem — is threatening to undo those fragile gains against the virus. The fighting could cripple the enclave’s overstretched health-care system, aid agencies warn, helping seed new coronavirus outbreaks amid the chaos of war.

Virus strain fueling crisis in India is spreading globally

10:19 p.m.
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The coronavirus variant that has spread catastrophically in India has seeded itself in dozens of countries, and the World Health Organization has declared it a “variant of concern,” citing preliminary evidence that it is more transmissible than some earlier strains of the virus.

It is not clear to what degree the crisis in India — which reported 4,200 deaths on Wednesday alone — has been accelerated by the emergence of this variant, known as B. 1.617. It is possible the main driver of the outbreak has been mass gatherings in a densely populated nation that still has low levels of vaccination.

But the WHO, which previously categorized the variant as being “of interest,” Monday elevated it to the status “of concern.” WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove noted that any of the strains of the virus, SARS-CoV-2, are infectious, “and everything in that sense is of concern.”

Experts are cautious — but see the beginning of the end for covid in the D.C. region

9:14 p.m.
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Public health experts are still cautious, but they say this could be the beginning of the end.

Fourteen months after the Washington region’s first reported case of the coronavirus, daily infections and deaths are trending down as vaccinations take hold. Hospitals are seeing far fewer critically ill patients, and funeral homes are receiving fewer covid-19 victims. A union chief in D.C. says it has been two months since he has had to call a bereaved family to brief them on their loved one’s life insurance policy.

“The most difficult moments for me personally were those 25 calls,” said Jaime Contreras, vice president of the Service Employees International Union in the capital area. “They were draining and devastating. But they’ve — thank God — they’ve stopped.”

White House will no longer require vaccinated staff to wear masks

8:10 p.m.
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The White House will no longer require staff members who are fully vaccinated to wear masks after revised guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In an email sent Thursday afternoon and obtained by The Washington Post, Anne Filipic, the director of management and administration, said the change was effective immediately.

“We are excited to be taking this step towards a return to normal operations and are grateful to the efforts of health-care workers, first responders and countless others across the country who have helped to make this possible,” she wrote.

Filipic said that mask-wearing was the only policy change but that other changes would follow per CDC guidance.

President of second-largest U.S. teachers union calls for full return to school in fall

7:54 p.m.
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The president of the nation’s second-largest teachers union is calling for full-time school this fall, a move that could smooth the way back after a year in which teachers often resisted a return to classrooms.

“There is no doubt: Schools must be open. In person. Five days a week,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a speech Thursday delivered via YouTube and other streaming services. “Given current circumstances, nothing should stand in the way of fully reopening our public schools this fall and keeping them open.”

Weingarten has long said that she wants schools to operate with in-person learning, though many of her union’s members have resisted. Her call was greeted with skepticism by some who see unions as having been overly cautious or outright obstinate, to the detriment of children.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine shipments to states dry up as production freeze continues

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The Biden administration will stop shipping doses of Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine to states next week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as a contamination incident two months ago at a Baltimore subcontractor continues to disrupt domestic production.

No new shipments for the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine were included Thursday in the CDC’s weekly update on expected vaccine shipments. Shipments of the first and second doses of the two-shot Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines will continue next week uninterrupted, according to the CDC shipment schedules.

The last federal allocation of Johnson & Johnson vaccine for states was for this week. That was a relatively small 600,000 doses. Weekly allocations have been running at more than 10 million for Pfizer shots and nearly 8 million for Moderna.

The lack of new shipments of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine may not have an immediate impact on individual states, which have some stockpiles, Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said Thursday. But it could cause concern if the shortage continues, he said.

CDC says fully vaccinated Americans no longer need masks indoors or outdoors in most cases

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Americans who are fully vaccinated can go without masks or physical distancing in most cases, even when they are indoors or in large groups, federal officials said Thursday, paving the way for a full reopening of society.

The change represents a huge shift symbolically and practically for pandemic-weary Americans, millions of whom have lived with the restrictions for more than a year. A growing number have complained about having to endure restrictions even after being fully vaccinated, and have accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of being overly cautious. More than 117 million Americans are now fully vaccinated, or about 35 percent of the population.

CDC officials cited a growing body of real-world evidence demonstrating the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines and noted that the shots offer protection even against more-contagious virus variants circulating in the United States. They said they also factored in the country’s declining case numbers and the rarity of breakthrough infections in people who have been fully vaccinated. Nonetheless, officials cautioned that the guidelines could change again if the pandemic should worsen.

Vaccinated cruise passengers can take off their masks in some cases, says CDC

5:16 p.m.
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Cruise ship passengers who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to take their masks off outdoors as long as they aren’t in crowds, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The agency included the new guidance in an update to its operations manual for cruise lines to follow when they eventually restart sailing under new coronavirus-era rules.

“Cruise ship operators, at their discretion, may advise passengers and crew that — if they are fully vaccinated — they may gather or conduct activities outdoors, including engaging in extended meal service or beverage consumption, without wearing a mask except in crowded settings,” the manual says.

Spokeswoman Caitlin Shockey said the revision was made to “align with the CDC’s current guidance for fully vaccinated people.” More updates are coming soon, she added.