Pandemic’s Deadliest Month In US Ends With Signs Of Progress

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The deadliest month of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. ended with some encouraging signs of progress: new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations were plummeting, while vaccinations were picking up speed.  The critical question remains whether America can stay ahead of the fast-spreading mutations of the virus, report Michael Kunzelman and Michelle Smith.

The U.S. death toll has climbed past 443,000, with over 95,000 lives lost in January alone. Deaths are running at about 3,150 per day on average, down slightly, by about 200, from their peak in mid-January.

U.S. Teachers: The pandemic has cut instruction time in America’s schools by as much as half, and many middle school and high school teachers have given up on covering all the material they normally do. Instead, they are cutting lessons. English teachers are deciding which books to skip. History teachers are condensing units. Science teachers are often doing without experiments. Certain topics must be taught because they will appear on important exams. But teachers are largely on their own to make difficult choices on what to prioritize and what to sacrifice, Michael Melia reports.

Italy Reopening: Much of Italy is gingerly reopening from pre-Christmas closures. The Vatican Museums welcomed a trickle of visitors to the Sistine Chapel and locals ordered their cappuccinos at outdoor tables for the first time in weeks. While many European countries remain in hard lockdowns amid surging infections and virus variants, most Italian regions graduated to the coveted “yellow” category of risk.

But Italy is by no means out of the woods. The country is averaging around 12,000-15,000 new confirmed cases and 300-600 COVID-19 deaths each day. But it appears to have avoided the severe post-Christmas surges in Britain and elsewhere thanks to tightened restrictions over the holidays. Trisha Thomas and Elisa Colella report from Rome.

Tanzania’s health ministry says it has no plans to accept COVID-19 vaccines, just days after the president of the country of 60 million people expressed doubts about the vaccines without offering evidence. The East African government has been widely criticized for its approach to the pandemic.

World Health Organization experts have visited an animal disease center in the Chinese city of Wuhan as part of their investigation into the origins of the pandemic.

(Picture: AP News)

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