NEW YORK (WABC) -- There are concerns about an increase of COVID cases in the United States as New York and Connecticut are among 22 states that have seen a more than 10% increase in the number of new cases week on week.
Meanwhile, New York and Connecticut are joined by New Jersey on the list of states with the highest case rates nationally (7 day daily average: 310, 225, and 321 per 100k population, respectively).
Connecticut's Department of Public Health is urging residents to keep wearing masks and practice social distancing after the state saw an increase in cases over the last two weeks.
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Here are more of today's headlines:
Virus fight stalls in early hot spots New York, New Jersey
A year after becoming a global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, New York and New Jersey are back atop the list of U.S. states with the highest rates of infection. Even as the vaccination campaign has ramped up, the number of new infections in New Jersey has crept up by 37% in a little more than a month, to about 23,600 every seven days. About 50,000 people per week in New York are testing positive for the virus, a number that hasn't much changed since mid-February.
1st U.S. priest to die of COVID-19 remembered in Brooklyn
A touching memorial mass was held to remember the first catholic priest to die of COVID-19 in the United States. Father Jorge Ortiz-Garay was a Mexican-born Brooklyn pastor, who died a year ago at the age of 49.
NYC bodega workers can get vaccinated
Starting Sunday, bodega workers in New York City can get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The state is setting aside 1,000 doses for workers.
One Union has already started scheduling appointments. Union leaders say bodega workers have risked their own health to serve New Yorkers during the pandemic.
Brazil's COVID crisis
For the second day in a row, more than 3,000 people have died of COVID in Brazil. It's the third time the country has surpassed the daily milestone.
Video from Brazil shows people ignoring social distancing guidelines as the nation deals with the catastrophic health crisis. COVID cases continue to spike as the country's variant spirals out of control and experts say the variant from Brazil is more contagious than other forms of the virus.
UK variant hunters lead global race to stay ahead of COVID-19
Even when there were just a few dozen confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.K., professor Sharon Peacock recognized that the country needed to expand its capacity to analyze the genetic makeup of the virus.
The Cambridge University microbiologist set about bringing scientists together to work on genomic sequencing. That has made Britain a world leader in finding new variants that are more dangerous or resistant to vaccines.
The work is part of a global effort, and scientists around the world are learning from Britain as they ramp up their work to respond to variants and stay ahead of COVID-19.
Did COVID-19 stress, uncertainty stall anti-smoking push?
A year after COVID-19 upended lives, there are troubling signs that the pandemic stalled efforts to get Americans to stop smoking. There were fewer calls made to quit-smoking hotlines last year.
Some people reported smoking more. And there was an unusual bump in cigarette sales. Experts say unemployment, delayed medical care and fewer anti-smoking announcements likely also played a role. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it's too early to gauge the pandemic's impact on smoking rates.
No crowds at Holy Week ceremonies amid pandemic
Pope Francis is celebrating solemn Holy Week ceremonies for a second straight year without the usual throngs of pilgrims and tourists, kept away by pandemic safety concerns and travel restrictions.
Francis traditionally leads a Palm Sunday procession through St. Peter's Square and then celebrates an outdoor Mass for tens of thousands of faithful.
But Francis led a Palm Sunday service this year inside St. Peter's Basilica just as he did last spring. That was just weeks after the COVID-19 outbreak erupted in Italy, which was the first country in the West to be hit by the pandemic.
Staten Island bar notorious for defying COVID restrictions is padlocked
The Staten Island bar notorious for defying COVID restrictions is now padlocked. Sheriff's deputies blocked entry to Mac's Public House following a judge's ruling on Thursday after she found that Mac's was serving alcohol without a license.
Increasing cases in Connecticut
The Connecticut State Department of Public Health is reminding residents to remain vigilant against COVID-19 as case rates have risen over the last two weeks.
DPH has moved several Connecticut towns that had been seeing falling or stable COVID-19 case rates back into Red Alert status, as the average daily case rate for COVID-19 has increased statewide to 25 cases/100,000 residents per day.
Over 90% of the Connecticut population lives in a town with an average daily case rate of over 15 cases per 100,000 residents. It is estimated that 40% of these new cases are the B.1.1.7 variant.
Fauci lays out scenario for when experts could loosen face mask recommendations
If a new study shows that vaccinations prevent COVID-19 transmission, inoculated Americans could be "much more liberal" in deciding whether or not to wear a face mask, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert.
But he also said that he cannot start recommending the removal of face masks until daily COVID infections reduce drastically.
When did you realize the COVID pandemic changed everything?
Many of us had a moment, most often occurring in March 2020, when we realized that COVID-19 had completely changed our lives forever. Even though we've managed to move forward and adapt to a new normal, that memory still sticks with us. Tell us: What was that moment to you?
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You had questions about COVID-19 vaccines and 7 On Your Side is getting you answers from doctors on the front line of the pandemic.
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