April 7, 2021

The coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom is now the most dominant strain in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday.

Scientists have found that the variant, known as B.1.1.7, is 50 percent more contagious than other strains. In January, 76 cases of the variant had been identified in 10 states; it now accounts for roughly 27 percent of U.S. cases, with Florida, Michigan, and Tennessee seeing some of the highest case totals, The Washington Post reports.

Even with the U.S. vaccinating an average of 3 million people a day, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said, hospitalizations are up 2.7 percent over the previous week, with hospitals "seeing more and more younger adults — those in their 30s and 40s — admitted with severe disease." The daily number of new COVID-19 cases is also ticking up, but deaths are down by nearly 20 percent over the previous week.

Some clusters of coronavirus cases have been linked to day care centers and youth sports, Walensky said, and she stressed the importance of people getting tested and going into isolation if infected. Catherine Garcia

April 6, 2021

With just five states reporting nearly half of all new U.S. coronavirus infections, some experts are calling on the Biden administration to send extra vaccine doses to the affected areas.

State health agency data pulled together by Johns Hopkins University shows that in the most recent seven-day period, there were more than 452,000 new COVID-19 cases reported in the U.S. Nearly 197,500 of those cases, or 44 percent, were reported in New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Those five states account for 22 percent of the country's population.

Michigan has the highest rate of new infections over the last two weeks; on Sunday, the state's seven-day average of new daily infections hit 6,719. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) says she believes this is being driven by the more contagious variants and people, tired of being at home, going more places. "What we have to do is really put our foot down on the pedal on vaccines," she said. Whitmer, who received her first vaccine dose on Tuesday, told The Associated Press she asked the White House last week if additional doses could be sent to states where coronavirus is on the rise, and she was told all options are on the table.

Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, chair of the University of California at San Francisco's department of epidemiology and biostatistics, told AP it's clear that "more vaccine needs to be where the virus is." It won't hurt people in other areas if places experiencing a surge get more vaccines, she added, and in fact it would help everyone because it will keep the virus from spreading. More than 40 percent of American adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, with roughly 23 percent fully vaccinated. Catherine Garcia

February 17, 2021

In the last week, the number of new COVID-19 cases has declined by 16 percent worldwide, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, with North America, South America, and Europe seeing the biggest drops in new infections. Additionally, there has been a 10 percent drop in the number of global deaths.

The United States has seen its number of new infections fall by 23.7 percent over the last week, with experts saying there are a few reasons why this is happening, including the fact that more people are receiving the coronavirus vaccine and the adoption of social distancing measures.

The Washington Post examined case data, and found that the rolling daily average of new coronavirus infections in the U.S. hit a record high of 248,200 on Jan. 12, and has steadily decreased ever since. On Sunday, the average was 91,000, the lowest number since November. Catherine Garcia

January 24, 2021

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced on Sunday he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Lopez Obrador tweeted that he is experiencing mild symptoms and has received medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he said. "We will move forward." The president added that he will continue to work through his illness, and a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled for Monday will still take place.

Mexico has been hit hard by the coronavirus, with the country recording more than 1.7 million cases and at least 149,084 deaths. Close to 30 public hospitals in Mexico City have reported they are at 100 percent capacity, and residents there have been encouraged by the mayor to stay home as much as possible. Lopez Obrador has been criticized throughout the pandemic for his slow response, the fact that he rarely wears a mask, and the scarcity of testing across the country. Catherine Garcia

December 24, 2020

More than one million Americans have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but the coronavirus fight remains dire as hospitalizations climb to their highest peak since the beginning of the pandemic.

By mid-week, more than 119,000 people were receiving in-patient treatment in the U.S., per The Washington Post. And while the start of immunizations has bolstered some spirits, the process has faced various challenges, with White House vaccine chief Moncef Slaoui saying Wednesday it likely won't be possible to hit the 20 million vaccination mark by the end of 2020. Dr. Anthony Fauci also revealed in an interview published Thursday that in order to achieve herd immunity, the vaccination rate may need to be as high as 90 percent. Currently, around 0.3 percent of the U.S. population has been vaccinated. Marianne Dodson

December 4, 2020

Juan Williams, one of the co-hosts of the Fox News talk show The Five, confirmed to The Hill on Thursday that he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Williams said he has been tested weekly, and on Thursday, he was notified that his Monday test came back positive. A second test conducted on Thursday also came back positive. Williams told The Hill he is experiencing flu-like symptoms, including chills and headaches, and is isolating at a hotel in Washington, D.C.

On Wednesday, Williams taped a live episode of The Five from the studio in New York, with the co-hosts all sitting about seven feet apart. A Fox News spokesperson told The Hill that the network "will continue to take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our staff, including broadcasting The Five via home studios for the foreseeable future."

The spokesperson added that Fox News has implemented "strict company-wide protocols adhering to all CDC and state guidelines, including regular testing of all in-studio, on-air personalities, mask mandates, and daily health assessments for all employees entering the building." Catherine Garcia

August 23, 2020

President Trump on Sunday announced that the Food and Drug Administration has issued an emergency use authorization for the use of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 patients.

The FDA said more than 70,000 patients have been treated with convalescent plasma, which is taken from people who have recovered from COVID-19, and the "known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks of the product." Trump called the move "historic" and claimed the treatment will "save countless lives."

There is no conclusive evidence that using convalescent plasma works, and Denise Hinton, the FDA's chief scientist, said this "should not be considered a new standard of care for the treatment of patients with COVID-19. Additional data will be forthcoming from other analyses and ongoing, well-controlled clinical trials in the coming months."

Trump, who has touted the use of everything from disinfectants to antimalarial drugs to treat COVID-19, recently accused the FDA of "making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics." Benjamin Corb of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology told The Associated Press Trump's Sunday announcement has "conspicuous timing. President Trump is once against putting his political goals ahead of the health and well-being of the American public." Catherine Garcia

July 30, 2020

Herman Cain, the former pizza mogul and brief frontrunner in the 2012 Republican presidential primary, has died of COVID-19. It is not known for sure where he contracted the virus, but he came down with symptoms nine days after attending President Trump's campaign rally in Tulsa on June 20, and posted a picture online of himself there in a group of people without masks.

In other news, Bill Montgomery, the 80-year-old co-founder of the conservative student group Turning Point USA, has also died of COVID-19. It has not been reported where he might have come down with the virus, but the other founder of TPUSA, Charlie Kirk, has repeatedly spread misinformation about the pandemic in general and masks in particular. On Kirk's podcast last weekend, he stated he refuses to wear a mask, and falsely suggested that doing so might make you sicker. The official TPUSA Twitter account deleted a tweet mocking mask-wearing after Montgomery's death.

The whole conservative movement has been trying to deny, downplay, and disregard this pandemic from the start. The resulting collateral damage now includes several prominent figures in their own ranks. But even that might not be enough to convince them to shift direction — 66-year-old Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Tex.) recently tested positive, but he suggested on TV that it might have been from wearing a mask. Ryan Cooper

See More Speed Reads