US colleges tout hopes for return to new normal in fall; more states make vaccines available to all

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Colleges throughout the U.S. are assuring students that the fall semester will bring a return to in-person classes, intramural sports and mostly full dormitories. But those promises come with asterisks.

Administrators say how quickly campus life comes back will depend on the success of the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts and the ability to avoid widespread outbreaks.

Universities saw their budgets hammered during the coronavirus pandemic, which emptied dorms and led to declines in enrollment, and are facing pressure to reopen fully. A flood of announcements from schools describing their plans has begun as high school seniors and returning students are making decisions about where they will be next fall.

Some students are waiting to decide until they know what to expect on campus, and others are still worried about the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • AstraZeneca’s repeated missteps in reporting vaccine data coupled with a blood clot scare could do lasting damage to the credibility of a shot that is the linchpin in the global strategy to stop the coronavirus pandemic, potentially even undermining vaccine confidence more broadly, experts say.
  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told Congress on Tuesday that more must be done to limit the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic. Powell also reiterated that he does not expect programs aimed at reviving the economy will trigger unwanted inflation.
  • Millions of U.S. households are facing heavy past-due utility bills, which have escalated in the year since the pandemic forced Americans hunkered down at home to consume more power. And now, government moratoriums that for months had barred utilities from turning off the power of their delinquent customers are starting to expire in most states.
  • Texas is becoming the most populous state to make COVID-19 vaccines available to all adults. The announcement by state health officials Tuesday adds Texas to the rapidly growing list of states that are making the vaccine available to all adults.
  • Regal Cinemas, the second largest movie theater chain in the U.S., will reopen beginning April 2, its parent company, Cineworld Group, announced Tuesday. Regal had been one of most notable holdouts in the gradual reopening of cinemas nationwide.
  • The U.K. has a lot to reflect on a year after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson first announced that the country would go into lockdown to slow the fast-spreading coronavirus. A national day of reflection taking place on Tuesday will remember more than 126,000 people who died after contracting the virus.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin was vaccinated against COVID-19 Tuesday out of sight of the cameras, his spokesman said, prompting questions about whether the gesture will boost comparatively low immunization rates in Russia.
  • Authorities in Puerto Rico say too many tourists are flouting pandemic health measures, including the mask mandate, the nightly curfew and a requirement to stay in isolation pending coronavirus tests. So officials are cracking down, with nearly a dozen visitors arrested over the past six days.
  • Colleges throughout the U.S. are assuring students that the fall semester will bring a return to in-person classes, intramural sports and mostly full dormitories. But those promises come with asterisks.
  • The Preakness will be run in front of a limited capacity of 10,000 fans at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on May 15.

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