Covid-19 Vaccine, Variants and Cases: Live Updates – The New York Times

Waiting to receive Covid-19 vaccinations in Mumbai, India, on Monday.
Credit…Divyakant Solanki/EPA, via Shutterstock

With India preparing to make residents 18 and older eligible for a coronavirus vaccine starting Saturday, Dr. Aqsa Shaikh emailed the country’s largest drug manufacturer this week asking for doses for the vaccination center she runs in New Delhi.

The response was not encouraging: The company, the Serum Institute of India, said it was so overwhelmed by demand that it could take five or six months for Dr. Shaikh to get the 3,000 doses per month she requested.

“When I read that email, images of mass burials appeared in front of my eyes,” she said. “We may have to shut down the center now if the government doesn’t chip in.”

Mass vaccinations could be the only way for India to curb its outbreak. The health ministry on Thursday reported more than 375,000 cases and more than 3,600 deaths, and hospitals warned of critical shortages of ventilator beds, medical oxygen, medicines and other lifesaving supplies.

On Wednesday, the U.S. government authorized families of diplomats to leave India and advised other Americans there to leave “as soon as it is safe to do so.”

As grim as India’s coronavirus numbers are — and experts warn that its reported death toll of more than 204,000 could be a significant undercount — its vaccination program was supposed to be a bright spot. Before the pandemic, India ran the world’s largest immunization program, delivering routine vaccinations to 55 million people a year. The Serum Institute aimed to become the vaccine manufacturer for the world, pumping out tens of millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine at its factories in the western city of Pune.

But after an initial fast rollout, averaging some three million injections a day, India’s vaccination drive is slowing. The health ministry said on Thursday that it had administered fewer than 2.2 million doses in the last 24 hours.

About 26 million people have been fully vaccinated, or 2 percent of the population, making it unlikely that India will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal of vaccinating 300 million people by the summer.

Despite cash infusions from Mr. Modi’s government, India’s major vaccine companies are struggling to increase production. The Serum Institute is producing about 60 million doses a month, and another Indian company, Bharat Biotech, is making about 10 million doses a month of its Covaxin shot. A third company has signed an agreement to produce Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine later this year.

But that is a fraction of what India needs to inoculate every adult, some 940 million people. Dr. Chandrakant Lahariya, an epidemiologist, tweeted: “It is like inviting 100 people at your home for lunch. You have resources to cook for 20.”

Already, hospitals say they are running out of vaccines. Many Indians who have received one shot say they are having trouble getting a second.

“You feel like you are being cheated,” said Aditya Kapoor, a New Delhi businessman who said he was turned away from two clinics when he went to get his second dose.

An online portal the government launched on Wednesday to register for shots crashed because of the demand; more than 13 million Indians eventually got appointments.

“We don’t know what to do from Saturday; the shortage is everywhere,” said Balbir Singh Sidhu, the health minister in Punjab State, which is struggling to obtain the three million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that it ordered.

The Indian health ministry denied there was a supply shortage and said that it had tried to speed up the rollout by allowing private facilities to purchase directly from manufacturers. But critics say the policy could lead to companies raising prices for private buyers.

In New Delhi, at the vaccination center at Jamia Hamdard, a medical college, Dr. Sheikh said that she would soon be unable to offer even the 150 doses she administers in an average day.

“Just thinking about not being able to help at our vaccination center makes me cry,” she added.

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De Blasio Says, ‘This Is Going to Be the Summer of New York City’

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York set a goal on Thursday for a full reopening of city businesses on July 1, but his authority to lift restrictions was somewhat limited. Capacity limits have been set by the state.

“We are ready to bring New York City back fully on July 1. What you have done is the reason I can make this announcement today, because you’ve gone out, you’ve gotten vaccinated, you’ve done so much to fight through this crisis. Now we can see that light at the end of the tunnel. This is going to be the summer of New York City. We’re all going to get to enjoy this city again. And people are going to flock here from all over the country to be a part of this amazing moment in New York City. It means going to stores and anyone who wants to shop at a store can go to a store again. It means bars and restaurants being able to come back, bring back. so many of their employees, serve so many more customers. It means so many of our cultural events being open again, theaters coming back, so many of the things that we cherish. And what it means for everyday working people, for all those cooks and waiters and bartenders and folks who work in the kitchen, for the small business owners, the folks who built up their businesses for years and years and have fought to survive, for everyday people, for our artists and our performers, it means a chance to do what you are so great at again.” Reporter: “What kind of conversations have you had with the governor about the city’s plans to fully reopen in July?” “I have not, and I think the best way to proceed here is to set out the city’s vision. We’re going to work with the federal government. We’re going to work with the state government. But it’s quite clear, you just saw the indicators, you’ve seen the numbers of vaccination. It’s quite clear it’s time to set a goal, and move on that goal. So we’ll work with all the other levels of government. But we’ve got to keep moving toward a goal at this point.”

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Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York set a goal on Thursday for a full reopening of city businesses on July 1, but his authority to lift restrictions was somewhat limited. Capacity limits have been set by the state.CreditCredit…Gabby Jones for The New York Times

New York City aims to fully reopen on July 1 and allow businesses including restaurants, shops and stadiums to operate at full capacity, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday, offering a tantalizing glimpse of normalcy even as his authority to actually lift restrictions on businesses was somewhat limited.

Mr. de Blasio, who made the remarks on MSNBC, said that gyms, hair salons, arenas, some theaters and museums should all expect to be open fully without capacity limits. Broadway, he said, was on track to open in September.

At his news conference later, the mayor added that he wanted the subways, which currently shut down for two hours overnight for cleaning and disinfecting, to run around the clock once more by July.

“We now have the confidence we can pull all these pieces together, and get life back together,” he said. “This is going to be the summer of New York City.”

Most of the restrictions placed on New York City during the pandemic have been set by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the state, and Mr. de Blasio has not had the authority to lift them.

The city and the state have not always agreed on the best path forward, and Mr. de Blasio said Thursday that he had not spoken to Mr. Cuomo about his reopening plan.

Mr. Cuomo emphasized during his own news conference that the state was in charge of managing the reopening and said that he was generally “reluctant to make projections” on a date, saying that doing so would be “irresponsible.”

Still, the governor, who has eased restrictions in recent weeks, said that he was also hopeful that a wider reopening was within sight, possibly sooner than the mayor’s goal. “I think that if we do what we have to do, we can be reopened earlier,” Mr. Cuomo said.

Mr. de Blasio has said that the city expects vaccinations to drive down new coronavirus cases over the next two months. From a second-wave peak of nearly 8,000 cases in a single day in January, New York City was averaging about 2,000 virus cases per day as of last week. Public health officials say that by July, if the city stays on its current trajectory, that number could drop to below 600 cases a day, perhaps lower.

“We laid out a plan, we will back it up with skyrocketing vaccination numbers and declining cases. If someone wants to deny that, let’s have that discussion in public,” said Bill Neidhardt, a spokesman for the mayor. “We feel strongly we’d win that debate.”

The state had already announced several changes this week. The State Legislature on Wednesday suspended an unpopular directive from Mr. Cuomo that required customers to order food when purchasing alcohol at bars and restaurants. And Mr. Cuomo said that a curfew that forced bars and restaurants to close early would end statewide on May 17 for outdoor dining areas and May 31 for indoor dining.

Mr. Cuomo also said that next month the state would raise the capacity limits on offices statewide to 75 percent from 50 percent, and on gyms outside New York City to 50 percent from 33 percent. Last month he raised the maximum capacity for indoor dining at city restaurants to 50 percent, up from 35 percent. Restaurant capacity elsewhere in the state can be at 75 percent.

The mayor’s announcement resonated with the restaurant, bar and hotel industries, though questions remained about how he planned to move forward.

“It’s excellent and very welcome news for New York City, but we need all the details of what fully reopen means,” said Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance.

Mr. Rigie said restaurants and bars would need a timeline of what would come next and which rules, like recording customers’ temperatures, would remain in place. The industry still employs about 140,000 fewer people in New York than before the pandemic, he said.

Even if a reopening is imminent, the hotel industry is years away from returning to normalcy, said Vijay Dandapani, the president of the Hotel Association of New York City. Many international borders remain closed and companies are still holding meetings and conferences over Zoom instead of traveling to hotels.

“It’s a very positive step, but you’ve just about begun to crawl when there’s a long way walking and running,” he said.

Luis Ferré-Sadurní contributed reporting.

Central Paris earlier this month. President Emmanuel Macron of France began mapping the nation’s exit from a web of lockdown restrictions.
Credit…Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

President Emmanuel Macron of France outlined plans on Thursday for the gradual reopening of the country, plotting a path out of the labyrinth of restrictions in place and fueling hope that life might finally return to normal after waves of infections forced the country into three national lockdowns.

Mr. Macron said schools would reopen next week, followed by the return of museums, cinemas, shops and outdoor service at cafes on May 19. The 7 p.m. curfew will be pushed back to 9 p.m., he told French newspapers.

“We must recover our French art of living, while remaining prudent and responsible: our conviviality, our culture, sports,” Mr. Macron said, though he added that the reopening in some regions might be delayed if cases rise.

Cafes and restaurants will be allowed to serve patrons inside starting the second week of June, and gyms will also reopen then under certain conditions such as limited number of people. The nighttime curfew and most restrictions on gatherings will be lifted on June 30.

Mr. Macron’s announcement came as the coronavirus situation appears to be improving in France, with the average number of new daily cases falling to 27,000 from 35,000 over the past two weeks and as the vaccination campaign is finally gathering speed after months of hurdles.

The decision to gradually reopen was also a way to respond to the deep sense of fatigue and frustration that has taken root in France over an endless cycle of coronavirus restrictions enshrouding cities like Paris in deep gloom, as cafes, restaurants and cultural venues — the very heart of the capital — have been closed since the fall.

Europe has experienced a significant downturn in coronavirus cases after two months of surging infections, and other governments are rolling back restrictions. Britain, which has led the region’s vaccine rollout, has allowed pubs, bars and restaurants to reopen outdoors and is progressively lifting limits on the size of social gatherings. Switzerland adopted similar measures in mid-April and Italy started easing some rules this week.

The World Health Organization’s chief European official on Thursday cautioned, however, that infection rates across the region remained high.The official, Hans Kluge, said that public health controls and individual measures like mask-wearing would determine if cases would continue to fall. Half of all of Europe’s reported cases have occurred since January, Dr. Kluge said, as the continent has struggled against the rapid spread of B.1.1.7, the more infectious virus variant first identified in Britain.

“The virus still carries the potential to inflict devastating effects,” Dr. Kluge said. “It’s very important to realize the situation in India can happen anywhere.”

B.1.617, the variant now common in India, has been found in 10 countries in Europe, according to Ihor Perehinets, a senior official in the W.H.O. Europe emergency program. There was no evidence that Covid-19 vaccines were not effective against this variant, Oleg Benes, a W.H.O. Europe vaccine specialist, told reporters.

Ohio Wesleyan University is among the colleges requiring students to be fully vaccinated in order to attend in-person classes.
Credit…Andrew Spear for The New York Times

More than 100 colleges across the country have said they will require students to receive coronavirus vaccines in order to attend in-person classes in the fall, according to a New York Times survey.

Those requirements come as Covid-19 cases have continued to climb steadily this spring at colleges and universities across the United States. More than 660,000 cases have been linked to the institutions since the start of the pandemic, with one-third of those since Jan. 1.

Major outbreaks continue on some campuses, even as students have become eligible for vaccines. Salve Regina University in Rhode Island canceled all in-person events for at least a week after more than 30 students tested positive in seven days. Wayne State University in Detroit, a city that has been one of the worst U.S. coronavirus hot spots, suspended in-person classes and on-campus activities in early April.

Schools including DePaul University, Emory University and Wesleyan University are requiring all students to be vaccinated. Others have said they are requiring athletes or those who live on campus to get a shot. Most are allowing medical, religious and other exemptions.

Although private colleges make up the bulk of the schools with vaccine mandates, some public universities have also moved to require the shots.

Students and employees of the University System of Maryland will be required to get vaccinated before returning to campus in the fall, said the chancellor, Jay A. Perman. He said he was particularly concerned about the B.1.1.7 variant, which he described in his announcement last week as more contagious.

“That’s what we’re preparing for,” he said, “more infectious, more harmful variants that we think could be circulating on our campuses come fall.”

At least two dozen colleges have said that they will not require shots while the vaccines have only emergency authorization. California’s public university systems announced that they would require shots after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration grants full approval for the vaccines.

Some colleges with mandates may face challenges. At Manhattanville College in New York, where students will need to provide proof of their shots before returning to campus, one student started a petition to reverse the policy, saying that the decision to get vaccinated was deeply personal. At Stanford University, the College Republicans, a student group, condemned the administration’s plans to require vaccinations for the fall.

Numerous colleges that are not requiring vaccinations are offering incentives to encourage them. Baylor University in Texas and Calvin University in Michigan have both announced that students who have been inoculated can skip mandatory testing.

The University of Wyoming is offering vaccinated students and staff members a chance to participate in a weekly drawing for prizes such as tickets to football or basketball games and Apple products. Employees who are fully vaccinated are eligible for a personal day off.

Cierra S. Queen and

The Pakistani government has called out troops to help enforce Covid safety regulations. Soldiers watched a street in Peshawar from the back of a military vehicle.
Credit…Fayaz Aziz/Reuters

With Covid-19 deaths surging to records in Pakistan this week, the government has sent troops to the streets to help enforce coronavirus precautions, and is warning it may turn to a lockdown if the spread is not controlled.

Pakistan reported 201 deaths on Tuesday, the most in a single day so far, and has counted a total of 17,680 Covid deaths since the pandemic began. More than 5,200 patients are receiving critical care in the country’s hospitals. And there are fears that the virus could rampage through Pakistan the way it is doing in neighboring India if immediate steps are not taken to curb its spread. All travel to India has been banned.

Fawad Chaudhry, the minister for information, said on Thursday that the government will be forced to impose a strict nationwide lockdown if the situation continues to deteriorate.

“Right now, the national positivity rate is 11 percent,” he told reporters in Islamabad, referring to the share of virus tests that are coming back positive. “If it goes up to 14 or 15 percent, we will have no choice but to move toward a lockdown.”

Soldiers are now patrolling streets and markets in more than a dozen cities, telling people to keep wearing masks and making sure mandatory closing times and other safety protocols are followed. Only essential food items and medicines may be sold after 6 p.m.

The approach of the Eid al-Fitr holiday next month, when people typically do more shopping and socializing, has raised concerns.

The government has urged caution and simpler festivities this year. Travel between cities and between provinces will be banned from May 8 until May 16, and hotels, public parks and tourist facilities will be closed.

Vaccination efforts in Pakistan, with a population of more than 200 million, are progressing slowly. Health officials say 2 million vaccine doses have been administered so far, initially focused on people over 60 and health care workers. Eligibility will expand on Monday to include anyone over 40. By June, the country expects to have received 18.7 million doses, most of them to be distributed free by the government, though the private sector has been allowed to obtain some doses for sale to affluent patients.

Mariam Chaudhry, an Islamabad resident, is waiting her turn under the government program. She said she wanted to be vaccinated so she could move around and travel safely, but others were being prompted more by the recent dire news from across the border.

“People were reluctant to inject new vaccines with unknown side effects,” Ms. Chaudhry said. “But the situation in India has delivered a powerful wake-up call. With catastrophe at the doorsteps, rising numbers of people are now rushing to inoculate.”

Skiers at Breckenridge Ski Resort in Breckenridge, Colo., on Sunday.
Credit…Stephen Speranza for The New York Times

More than half of U.S. states have seen a significant decline in new coronavirus cases over the past two weeks, as federal health officials have begun to suggest that the virus’s trajectory is improving. Still, the uneven levels of vaccination across the country point to the challenge of reaching those people who have not gotten shots.

As of Wednesday, the United States was averaging about 52,600 new cases a day, a 26 percent decline from two weeks ago, and a number comparable to the level of cases reported in mid-October before the deadly winter surge, according to a New York Times database. Since peaking in January, cases, hospitalizations and deaths nationwide have drastically declined.

While addressing a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night, President Biden touted the nation’s progress on vaccinations since he took office, calling it one of the country’s “greatest logistical achievements.” He also highlighted the passage of the American Rescue Plan, an ambitious relief package to address the economic toll of the pandemic.

Despite the successes, Mr. Biden implored the public to remain on guard.

Over the past two weeks, case numbers have fallen by 15 percent or more in 28 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, with drops of 30 percent or more in 14 states and the District of Columbia. As of Wednesday, Vermont reported a 54 percent decline in the average number of new cases a day, while Michigan, which had one of the nation’s most severe recent outbreaks, is now seeing rapid improvement with cases there down 40 percent.

In New York City, which had seen stubbornly high caseloads for months, the second wave is receding a half-year after it started, the city’s health commissioner said.

Federal health officials have taken note. After expressing a recurring sense of “impending doom” last month, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Wednesday that she was beginning to see signs of progress.

“Cases are starting to come down. We think that this is related to increased vaccination, increased people taking caution, and so I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re turning the corner,” she said on “Good Morning America.”

But she warned that “the virus is an opportunist” and could strike in communities with low vaccination rates. Persistent vaccine hesitancy remains a challenge, and the pace of vaccination will ebb, officials have acknowledged, amid issues of supply and demand.

About 43 percent of people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and 30 percent have been fully vaccinated. Providers are administering about 2.67 million doses per day on average, as of Wednesday, about a 21 percent decrease from the peak of 3.38 million reported on April 13.

The C.D.C.’s move to relax mask guidance outdoors this week is a reflection of the rise in the total number of vaccinations — and an incentive to get a shot, experts said.

“It’s another demonstration of what science has been telling us over the last many months, which is that vaccines are effective in preventing the Covid-19 virus from infecting us. And the more people who get vaccinated, the more quickly we can resume our activities,” Dr. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general, said in a Tuesday interview on CNN.

Mr. Biden has set a target date of July 4 for the country “to get life in America closer to normal.” But public health experts have emphasized that the experience of the pandemic across the world is not universal. India, for example, is experiencing a catastrophic second wave that could have global implications.

“Pandemics require global cooperation and mutual support,” Dr. Murthy said. “When there’s uncontrolled spread of the virus in any part of the world, that means that variants can arise, variants which may over time become resistant to the protection that we get from vaccines, which could mean a real problem for us here in the United States.”

Allyson Waller and Kevin Draper contributed reporting.

Travelers wait to board buses at the Esenler Coach Terminal in Istanbul Thursday, hours before a new new national lockdown was due to take effect.
Credit…Ozan Kose/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The streets of Istanbul were abuzz, the grocery stores packed, the seaside promenades crowded — but it was not the bustle of an ordinary spring Thursday. People were flocking to take advantage of the last day before a new lockdown takes hold, the strictest in Turkey since the pandemic began.

Daily reports of new coronavirus cases rose swiftly in the country after the government started lifting earlier safety strictures in March, and are now generally around 40,000 a day, according to official figures, with some days reaching 60,000 or more. The health care system is swamped with patients, and the country set a grim record last week with 362 Covid deaths reported in a single day.

The country’s heath minister, Fahrettin Koca, has said that more contagious variants of the virus are partly to blame for the accelerating spread. Critics say the government relaxed too soon in March, before the country had made much progress with vaccination.

Turkey has fully vaccinated only about 11 percent of its people so far — 8.8 million out of a population of 83 million — using mainly the CoronaVac vaccine developed in China and the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine. It has had a hard time securing more doses, and has resorted to postponing second doses to stretch its supply. But Mr. Koca said he expects 30 million more doses of the Pfizer vaccine in June, and to soon add the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia to its effort.

“Vaccine procurement will be difficult in the next two months,” Mr. Koca said in a video statement on Thursday. ‘’But then we expect to have abundance of vaccines.’’

For weeks, scientists have been calling for a total lockdown to stem the surge, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held off, mainly for economic reasons. He changed course after a cabinet meeting on Monday, and announced a new three-week lockdown to take effect Thursday evening and last through the end of Ramadan.

Many people will be required to stay home except for essential errands or to go to certain jobs. Schools, kindergartens and day care centers will be closed. Grocery stores will be open, but only for customers who live within walking distance. Even solitary outdoor exercise will be banned.

The announcement prompted a rush to stock up on groceries, alcohol and other supplies for the lockdown, which will include Eid al-Fitr, the three-day festival to mark the end of Ramadan. And many city dwellers hurried to reach rural hometowns or holiday resorts while travel was still allowed.

Though Mr. Erdogan billed the new restrictions as “a full lockdown,” an association of labor unions known as DISK estimated that 61 percent of all workers in Turkey are employed in sectors that are exempt from the lockdown, including manufacturing, construction, agriculture and transportation.

Gokhan Aydin, 45, who works in a cable factory in Bursa, said he and his coworkers “would have loved to be part of the full lockdown, without loss of income, as the virus peaked.” Though his factory has good Covid precautions, he said, he is still worried because the virus is everywhere.

The lockdown will land hardest on the many Turks who depend on informal day work. A single mother with five small children in Istanbul who collects and sells paper said her family can eat only on days when she can work.

“I really don’t know what to do,” she said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid jeopardizing her welfare payments from the government. “I wish the state would give me a job.”

GLOBAL ROUNDUP

A customer scanning the QR code for the government’s contact tracing app at the entrance of a restaurant in Hong Kong in February.
Credit…Tyrone Siu/Reuters

Hong Kong eased restrictions on Thursday at restaurants and bars where staff and customers have begun receiving coronavirus vaccinations, part of an effort to help businesses hurt by the pandemic while attempting to boost an anemic inoculation drive.

Under a complex set of new rules, establishments that were ordered closed for much of the past year — including bars, nightclubs and karaoke parlors — will be allowed to reopen until 2 a.m. if staff and customers have had their first shot.

Restaurants where all employees have had at least one shot can stay open for dining until midnight with up to six diners at a table. Those where staff have had both shots and customers have had at least one can stay open until 2 a.m., with up to eight people per table.

Any establishment that wants to take advantage of the measures must use the government’s contact tracing app. Under previous regulations, residents could forgo the app and fill out their details on paper, an option that has been popular among people worried about what data the app collects and how it might be used.

Hong Kong has kept coronavirus outbreaks largely under control, recording just 209 deaths in a population of 7.5 million, but its vaccination effort has languished. As of Thursday, slightly more than 13 percent of people in the Chinese territory had received a dose of the Sinovac or Pfizer vaccine, with 7 percent having received both doses.

Hong Kong is also requiring residents who want to go to Singapore under a new quarantine-free travel bubble to be fully vaccinated. Officials have said that such a requirement is likely to be enforced under any subsequent travel bubbles with other destinations.

In other news around the world:

  • Nepal imposed a two-week lockdown in the capital, Kathmandu, and several other cities amid a rise in coronavirus cases nationwide, including among climbers at Mount Everest Base Camp. The authorities barred nearly all vehicles from the roads and ordered people to stay indoors except for emergencies. Hospitals are filling up in the small Himalayan nation as large numbers of migrant workers return home from India, site of what is currently the world’s worst outbreak, without being tested for the virus. Nepal reported nearly 5,000 new daily cases on Wednesday, the most since last October, after recording fewer than 100 for most of March.

  • At first, the vaccine itself was the prize for older people in Russia. But as vaccination rates have slowed in Moscow, the city government this week began a program to encourage turnout with gift certificates. Residents of the capital older than 60 will now receive a certificate for 1,000 rubles, or about $13, redeemable at stores or restaurants. The Russian government has blamed widespread vaccine hesitancy for a slow start to its vaccination campaign. A shortage of vaccine has also slowed the rollout, as Russia is exporting doses despite a still low vaccination rate at home. About 5 percent of Russians are now fully vaccinated compared with 29 percent in the United States.

  • Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech are expected to apply for European Union approval of their vaccine for 12-to-15-year-olds. They made a similar application to the F.D.A. in the United States earlier this month. Ugur Sahin, the head of BioNTech, expects some children in Europe to be vaccinated as early as June, according to a report by Der Spiegel. According to the Spiegel report, BioNTech aims for E.U.-wide approval for children younger than 12 by September. As of Thursday, 25 percent of Germans had received at least one dose of a vaccine.

Aurora Duran, 86, with her great-grandson, Kason Driver, at a long-term-care facility in Fort Stockton, Texas, this month. Around the country, nursing homes are beginning to allow family members to visit for the first time since the pandemic began.
Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

A daughter holding her mother’s hand. A son overcome that his 95-year-old mother had survived the pandemic. A stoic family patriarch, suddenly in tears.

After a year of excruciating lockdowns, these were the scenes at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities as they began to open up this spring. Before the arrival of vaccines, one in three coronavirus deaths in the United States had ties to nursing homes or similar facilities.

The New York Times sent photographers across the country to document reunions. For many family members, it was the first time they were able to be together, hold hands and hug in more than a year.

In interviews, which have been edited and condensed for clarity, families recalled a deep fear that they would never see their loved ones again. When the time finally came, they were flooded with a year’s worth of emotion in a single instant: joy, relief, love — and grief for all the time that had been lost.

Credit…Rachel Bujalski for The New York Times

Con Yan Muy, 93, has been a resident at the San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living nursing home since 2019. Anita Li, 24, grew up with her grandmother and previously visited daily. For a year during the pandemic, she saw her grandmother only a handful of times through a window or at a distance. Even now, her visits remain limited, as is the case at many facilities.

ANITA LI: I was hiding in the bathroom when she came in. It was a surprise. She didn’t recognize me initially because I had my mask on. I am going to be honest, I was kind of sad. I am one of the most involved persons in her life, and she couldn’t recognize me. I immediately just started patting her legs and her arms for better blood circulation. I had brought some dumplings and also brought her some sesame balls that she really enjoys. We made a video for the rest of the family for her to say hi.

It’s like a sigh of relief that we could finally be together, but also knowing that this was a one-time thing, and not really sure what the future holds. Am I going to see her every week face to face? Can I eventually take her out on walks where she can get some sun? What is the new normal, and how much can we be involved in her life postquarantine?

Increased supply-chain and freight costs for cereal makers could translate into higher retail prices for customers.
Credit…Sara Hylton for The New York Times

Before the pandemic, when suppliers raised the cost of diapers, cereal and other everyday goods, retailers often absorbed the increase because stiff competition forced them to keep prices stable.

Now, with Americans’ shopping habits having shifted rapidly — with people spending more on treadmills and office furniture and less at restaurants and movie theaters — retailers are also adjusting, Gillian Friedman reports for The New York Times.

The Consumer Price Index, the measure of the average change in the prices paid by U.S. shoppers for consumer goods, increased 0.6 percent in March, the largest rise since August 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Procter & Gamble is raising prices on items like Pampers and Tampax in September. General Mills, which makes cereal brands including Cheerios, is facing increased supply-chain and freight costs that could translate into higher retail prices for customers.

At the beginning of the pandemic, companies were focused on fulfilling demand for toilet paper, cleaning supplies, canned food and masks, said Greg Portell, a partner at Kearney, a consulting firm. The government was watching for price-gouging, and customers were wary of being taken advantage of.

Now that the economy is beginning to stabilize, companies are starting to rebalance pricing so that it better fits their profit expectations and takes into account inflation. “This isn’t an opportunistic profit-taking by companies,” Mr. Portell said. “This is a reset of the market.”

Larry Schwartz, one of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s most trusted advisers, stepped down from his role as New York State’s vaccine czar.
Credit…John Lamparski/NurPhoto, via Getty Images

Larry Schwartz, one of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s most trusted advisers, has unexpectedly stepped down from his role as New York State’s vaccine czar, about five months after he was recruited by the governor to take the post.

He submitted his resignation on Wednesday, just as the State Legislature restored provisions to the state public officers law that would have affected Mr. Schwartz, had he remained in the position.

Mr. Schwartz was not paid for his service in the post. But the changes to the law would have made him subject to rules requiring him to file financial disclosure forms, as well as a two-year lobbying ban after his service, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Cuomo waived those requirements at the beginning of the pandemic so that he could attract a broader pool of volunteers to assist at the highest levels of government.

Mr. Schwartz, who served as Mr. Cuomo’s top aide from 2011 to 2015 and is now the chief strategy officer at OTG, an airport concessions company, decided to step down to avoid the lobbying ban, the two people said. OTG operates in airports run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, whose executive director is appointed by Mr. Cuomo.

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Covid-19 Vaccine, Variants and Cases: Live Updates – The New York Times

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