Here’s what’s happening Wednesday with the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.:
The majority of U.S. small businesses aren’t requiring COVID-19 tests for employees, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Two sectors, health care and hospitality, had higher rates of requiring employees to test negative before working than the national average.
Cities and states are rapidly expanding access to vaccines as the U.S. races to head off a resurgence in coronavirus infections and to reopen schools and businesses.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says the state’s mask mandate will continue until a “critical mass” of people have received a COVID-19 vaccine.
CASES: The seven-day rolling average for daily new cases in the U.S. decreased from 81,142 on Feb. 16 to 65,666 on Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
DEATHS: The seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths in the U.S. decreased from 2,170 on Feb. 16 to 1,986 on Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
POSITIVITY RATE: The seven-day rolling test positivity rate in the U.S. decreased from 5.5 on Feb. 16 to 4.2 on Tuesday, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project. The top three states with the highest coronavirus positivity rate: Idaho (23.9%), South Dakota (23.6%) and Iowa (20%).
VACCINES: 51.7 million people, or 15.6% of the U.S. population, have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the CDC, while 26.1 million people have completed their vaccination, or 7.9% of the population.
QUOTABLE: “Fatigue is winning, and the exact measures we have taken to stop the pandemic are now too often being flagrantly ignored.” — Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, on some states ending mandatory mask rules.
ON THE HORIZON: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and 16 state governors are looking for ways to balance concern about the more contagious coronavirus variants with a growing clamor for a return to more normal life. They are expected to extend the country’s shutdown by three weeks until March 28 while also relaxing some restrictions.