Do you need to keep disinfecting everything?

Around half of all US adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while a quarter of the population has been fully inoculated. While that’s an impressive number, it’s not enough to achieve herd immunity and suppress the virus.

The White House has ramped up its role in distributing and administering coronavirus vaccines and administration officials said they estimate that 90% of Americans now live within five miles of a vaccination site as a result of the expanded federal channels.

But Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said the country remains in a “complicated stage.”

“Cases among younger people who have not yet been vaccinated are also increasing,” she told a White House briefing yesterday.

Experts say there are several reasons behind the rise in Covid-19 numbers, including coronavirus variants — such as the more contagious B.1.1.7 strain that has helped fuel another surge in Michigan. Pandemic fatigue and more Americans moving around have also likely contributed to the rise.

The worrying surge in cases isn’t unique to the US. The World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday that the global number of new infections has been rising for eight weeks. More than 5.2 million cases were reported last week — the highest weekly figure so far. The number of deaths has also increased for the fifth straight week, surpassing 3 million over the weekend.

“It took nine months to reach 1 million deaths, four months to reach 2 million and three months to reach 3 million deaths,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Big numbers can make us numb, but each one of these deaths is a tragedy for families, communities and nations.”

YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.

Q. Should I be disinfecting surfaces to prevent Covid-19?

A: The risk of surface transmission of Covid-19 is low, the CDC said yesterday. Far more important is airborne transmission.

Vincent Hill, chief of the CDC’s Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch, said the risk of transmission from touching a surface, while small, is elevated indoors. Outdoors, the sun and other factors can destroy viruses, Hill said in a telephone briefing. The virus dies “rapidly” on porous surfaces but can persist longer on hard, indoor surfaces.

Research also suggested that surface transmission was more likely in the first 24 hours after a person is infected, and that households where one person had Covid-19 did have lower transmission rates when surfaces were cleaned and disinfected.

So while keeping surfaces clean is not a waste of time, it’s not the only way or even the most important way to reduce risks, the CDC said. The agency has updated its guidance for disinfecting surfaces in community settings and Hill added that cleaning should be focused on high-contact areas such as doorknobs and light switches.

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WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY

India will offer Covid-19 vaccines to all adults in May

As India struggles to contain the latest pandemic surge, its government has made a bold promise, saying all Indian citizens 18 or older will be eligible for Covid-19 vaccines starting May 1.

It is unclear whether the world’s second most populous country, with nearly 1.4 billion people, has enough vaccines to meet this expanded demand. Currently, only healthcare workers, frontline workers or people 45 years and older are eligible to be vaccinated in India, and vaccine supplies have already dried up in some places, with at least five states reporting severe shortages.

Germany’s Chancellor must beat the pandemic to save her legacy. Time is running out

Angela Merkel is racing against the clock to defeat the coronavirus before stepping down in September. She has a lot going against her. Germany is struggling to contain the latest wave of the pandemic and an influential medical association has warned that most of the country’s intensive care units are running at or close to full capacity. The number of Germans lost to the virus surpassed 80,000 yesterday.

Why many in Colombia’s migrant community want to skip the vaccine

Most of the 2 million Venezuelans living in Colombia arrived in recent years after fleeing the economic crisis in their home country. They are not fully integrated within Colombian society, which can make keeping track and getting in touch with them for programs like the vaccine rollout difficult.

Many don’t have ID cards or health insurance; others live in Colombia without the proper documentation or work informally. Several Venezuelan migrants told CNN that the precariousness of their existence is a factor in concern about the Covid-19 vaccine. But it’s not the only one.

ON OUR RADAR

  • Johnson & Johnson said blood clots have been reported with all Covid-19 vaccines — but the author of the study they cited says they’re wrong.
  • The Biden administration will allocate $150 million from the American Rescue Plan to boost Covid response in underserved and vulnerable areas.
  • Greece has lifted quarantine requirements for vaccinated travelers and those testing negative for Covid-19 coming from Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • A two-way travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand opened Monday. But Australia says it’s in “no hurry” to unlock borders to other visitors.
  • Seven otters at Georgia Aquarium have tested positive for coronavirus after showing “mild respiratory symptoms including sneezing, runny noses, mild lethargy, and coughing.” Despite being geriatric, they are improving and expected to make a full recovery, the aquarium said.
The Georgia Aquarium said it tested its Asian small-clawed otters after they showed symptoms.

TODAY’S TOP TIP

As more people get Covid-19 vaccines, you may be wondering whether hearing live music in person again is safe.

The risk of transmission increases when people are near crowds or indoors and when those places are poorly ventilated, the CDC has said. If you decide to attend a concert, here’s what you should know.

TODAY’S PODCAST

“On every level, this is unprecedented. The packaging of 1,170 doses, the dry ice, the ultra-cold storage, the mixing with the diluent, the three different vaccine regimens with different days apart.” — Claire Hannan, Association of Immunization Managers

CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta speaks with Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, about how the United States turned its vaccine rollout around. Listen now.

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