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Alaska Becomes First State To Give COVID Jab To Teenagers As More States Prepare To Reopen

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Alaska has become the first US state to allow teenagers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine after removing eligibility requirements for receiving a jab. The state’s Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced the move in a news release published late Tuesday, deeming the decision a “historic step”, and “another nationwide first for Alaska.”

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According to the Washington Post, the decision marks a “turning point in the nation’s immunization campaign, and also a reminder that access to the shots has been highly uneven throughout the country.” In New York, by comparison, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has only just lowered the minimum age eligibility for the general public to 60. Most states are still reserving shots for patients 65 years old and older.

Effective immediately, Alaska will become the 1st state in the nation to allow anyone over the age of 16 to get the COVID-19 vaccine. This marks a significant step forward in our efforts to put the virus behind us. #akgov #CovidVaccine

— Governor Mike Dunleavy (@GovDunleavy) March 10, 2021

Nearly one year ago the first positive COVID-19 case arrived in Alaska. Today, our state – because of the undaunted efforts of Alaskans – is leading the nation in vaccinations efforts. #akgov #CovidVaccine

— Governor Mike Dunleavy (@GovDunleavy) March 10, 2021

As I’ve said from the beginning, the good people of Alaska – not government – would get us through this pandemic. Keep up the incredible work Alaska!

Go to https://t.co/eA6iCJdvNl or Call 907-646-3322 to set up an appointment. #akgov #CovidVaccine

— Governor Mike Dunleavy (@GovDunleavy) March 10, 2021

About a quarter of Alaska’s residents have received at least one dose of vaccine, making the state a leader in quickly carrying out inoculations. It shares that distinction with several rural states including West Virginia – an early leader in the vaccine race – and the Dakotas, as the map below shows.

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Source: USA Facts

Children and teenagers are believed to be the most resistant to COVID and its most dangerous symptoms. Minors are considered especially low risk, and it’s still unclear whether they contribute to community spread. 

Alaska’s decision comes as the seven-day average for daily COVID jab doses distributed in the US – between the three approved vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and J&J – has reached a new high shy of 2.2MM. New daily cases, meanwhile, have fallen below 58K on average over the past week, the lowest level since mid-October. This follows weeks during which the decline in newly diagnosed cases appeared to plateau, stoking fears that mutant COVID strains might catalyze a “fourth wave” of the pandemic.

While cases have declined substantially alongside hospitalizations, daily death rates have been more stubborn. Although the US reported fewer than 1K deaths over the last 24 hours, the 7-day average is 1,645.

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Source: mSightly

In other news, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday evening that the state would ease restrictions on restaurants, retailers and other businesses beginning Friday at 1700ET. Capacity limits also will be lifted for retail businesses, religious facilities, nail salons, indoor recreation establishments like casinos and bowling alleys etc.

While restaurant patrons will still need to wear masks and social distance as the state’s mask mandate will remain in effect. The governor said “[w]ith the pace of vaccinations rapidly rising and our health metrics steadily improving, the lifting of these restrictions is a prudent positive step in the right direction and an important part of our economic recovery.”

— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) March 9, 2021

Capacity limits will be lifted on outdoor and indoor dining at restaurants and food service establishments. Bars and restaurants will be open for seated and distanced service only.

— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) March 9, 2021

Capacity limits will also be lifted on retail businesses, religious facilities, fitness centers, casinos, personal services, and indoor recreational establishments. Larger outdoor and indoor venues may begin operating at 50% capacity.

— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) March 9, 2021

Capacity limits will also be lifted on retail businesses, religious facilities, fitness centers, casinos, personal services, and indoor recreational establishments. Larger outdoor and indoor venues may begin operating at 50% capacity.

— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) March 9, 2021

We need to continue doing the things that can keep us safe, but there can be no doubt that we are closer to the light at the end of the tunnel and a return to some sense of normalcy in our lives. Spring will soon be upon us, and sunnier days are ahead.

— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) March 9, 2021

President Joe Biden is reportedly planning to order another 100MM doses of the Johnson & Johnson jab after he tried to take credit for brokering a deal between JNJ and rival Merck to collaborate and ramp up production of the former’s single-dose COVID jab.

Finally, in other COVID news, Eli Lilly revealed Wednesday morning that its combination antibody therapy cocktail, created from antibodies gleaned from multiple patients, has been found to be successful in reducing the risk of COVID hospitalization and death by 87% in a study that involved more than 750 high-risk COVID-19 patients. The news is a departure from results published last year, which suggested that single-antibody therapeutics developed by Eli Lilly and Regeneron – which President Trump infamously credited with helping him recover so quickly from the virus – weren’t as effective as their creators had hoped.