US draws close to 100 million vaccinations; Biden, McConnell urge Americans to get vaccine

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The U.S. moved closer Thursday toward vaccinating 100 million Americans in a race against an uptick in COVID-19 cases that is fueling fears of another nationwide surge just as the major league baseball season starts and thousands of fans return to stadiums.

More than 99 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and more than 56 million people — 17% of the nation’s population — have been fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A total of 154 million vaccines had been administered as of Thursday. President Joe Biden’s new goal is to give 200 million vaccine doses during his first 100 days in office.

But coronavirus infections are inching up again, and officials have warned that they could ban fans from ballparks if the numbers continue to rise. Even before the baseball season got underway, an opening game was postponed after a player tested positive for the coronavirus.

In other developments:

  • The Biden administration is unveiling a coalition of community, religious and celebrity partners to promote COVID-19 shots as it seeks to overcome vaccine hesitancy. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also is encouraging fellow Republicans to get the vaccine.
  • Views of the nation’s economy are the rosiest they’ve been since the pandemic began more than a year ago, buoyed by Democrats feeling increasingly optimistic as Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package is distributed across the country.
  • The company at the center of quality problems that led Johnson & Johnson to discard 15 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine has a string of citations from U.S. health officials for quality control problems.
  • A senior World Health Organization official says immunization campaigns against COVID-19 across Europe are “unacceptably slow” and risk prolonging the pandemic.
  • U.S. health officials have authorized two more over-the-counter COVID-19 tests that can be used at home to get quick results. The decision is expected to vastly expand the availability of inexpensive home tests.
  • U.S. manufacturers expanded in March at the fastest pace in 37 years, a sign of strengthening demand as the pandemic wanes and government emergency aid flows through the economy.
  • With hopes rising for a powerful rebound in hiring this year, Friday’s jobs report for March will provide crucial insight into whether those rosy expectations may prove true.
  • The opening day baseball game between the Washington Nationals and New York Mets has been postponed because of coronavirus concerns.

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