Coronavirus Vaccine Updates: US could be on cusp of another COVID surge, experts say

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- Optimism is spreading in the U.S. as COVID-19 deaths plummet and states ease restrictions and open vaccinations to younger adults. But across Europe, dread is setting in with another wave of infections that is closing schools and cafes and bringing new lockdowns.

The pandemic's diverging paths on the two continents can be linked in part to the much more successful vaccine rollout in the U.S. and the spread of more contagious variants in Europe.

Health experts in the U.S., though, say what's happening in Europe should serve as a warning against ignoring social distancing or dropping other safeguards too early.

"Each of these countries has had nadirs like we are having now, and each took an upward trend after they disregarded known mitigation strategies," said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "They simply took their eye off the ball."

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Here are more of today's headlines:



Indoor dining restrictions eased across Tri-State
Big changes are coming to indoor dining restrictions at restaurants across the Tri-State Friday including in Connecticut where capacity limits are being lifted completely. Meanwhile, indoor dining capacity at New York City and New Jersey restaurants will be expanded to 50% while the rest of New York will move to 75%.

Yankees, Mets to allow fans as more COVID restrictions ease
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced some long-awaited news for sports fans in New York on Thursday, as coronavirus restrictions continue to ease. Starting April 1, sports venues with indoor capacities of 1,500 or outdoor capacities of 2,500 can reopen -- meaning it's time to play ball. Indoor capacity will be capped at 10% and outdoor at 20%, so 8,384 fans can attend games at Citi Field and 10,850 at Yankee Stadium.

Mayor Bill de Blasio vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson shot
Mayor Bill de Blasio got his COVID-19 vaccination during his morning news conference on Thursday. The mayor received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and New York City Health Commissioner Dr. David Chokshi administered the shot. The mayor came out this morning to his press conference in a collared short-sleeve mayor's office summer shirt, ready to get his dose. De Blasio said the city had administered 3,077,587 doses as of Thursday.

Biden speech on COVID-19 vaccination progress comes at a critical juncture
President Joe Biden on Thursday will address the progress his administration has made to reach his goal of getting 100 million coronavirus vaccines into the arms of Americans within his first 100 days in office, a White House official tells CNN. The US is on the cusp of reaching that 100 million vaccine milestone before Biden hits 60 days in office -- which the President set as the new goal during a national primetime address last week. More than 113 million coronavirus doses have been administered in the US to date, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those doses, more than 96 million have been administered since Biden took office on January 20.

US unemployment claims rise to 770,000 with layoffs still high
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose last week to 770,000, a sign that layoffs remain high even as much of the U.S. economy is steadily recovering from the coronavirus recession. Thursday's report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims climbed from 725,000 the week before. The numbers have dropped sharply since the depths of the recession last spring but still show that employers in some industries continue to lay off workers. Before the pandemic struck, applications for unemployment aid had never topped 700,000 in any one week. The four-week average of claims, which smooths out weekly variations, dropped to 746,000, the lowest since late November.

Indoor fitness classes to resume, curfews lifted for some businesses
Gov. Cuomo announced indoor fitness classes, primarily in New York City, can reopen on Monday, March 22. He also announced the 11 p.m. curfew for casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys, billiard halls, gyms, and fitness centers have been lifted. Curfew for restaurants and bars remains in place, and will be reevaluated "in April."

NY cluster zones to be lifted
Starting Monday, March 22, the final five yellow zone clusters in New York will be lifted, Gov. Cuomo says. The remaining clusters are in East Bronx, West Bronx, Manhattan, Newburgh, New Windsor, Queens Kew Gardens and Forest Hills.

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?

Top 7 COVID vaccine questions answered
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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