What We’re Reading: States Ease COVID-19 Guidelines; Vaccines Widely Available by May; Rise in Younger, Middle Age Mortality Rates

States lift some COVID-19 restrictions despite warnings from top health officials; President Biden says all American adults should be able to receive a vaccine by the end of May; report highlights decline in young, middle age adult life expectancy.

States Roll Back COVID-19 Restrictions

Texas became the biggest state to lift its mask mandate Tuesday, despite warnings from health officials that a fourth wave may occur due to virus mutations circulating the country, The Associated Press reports. Governor Greg Abbott (R) also lifted restrictions on the number of diners allowed to be served indoors, and he was joined by the governors of Michigan, Mississippi, and Louisiana who eased occupation limits on bars, restaurants, and other businesses. Although cases have dropped over 70% in the past 2 months, curves of deaths and new cases have leveled off in the last several days and have even begun to rise slightly. Currently, 2000 Americans die each day of the virus while there are 68,000 confirmed cases.

Biden: Vaccine Will be Available to All US Adults by the End of May

President Joe Biden announced that the United States will produce enough vaccines for every American adult by the end of May—up from his previous aim of July—and will prioritize vaccinating school staff over the next month, according to NPR. The adjusted timeline comes as a new partnership between competitors Merck and Johnson & Johnson was formed in an effort to produce more doses of the company’s approved COVID-19 vaccine. The administration plans to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase supply of the J&J vaccine, and it is calling on states to ensure every grade-school employee and childcare provider receives at least 1 dose of a vaccine by April.

Report Highlights Roots of Life Expectancy Declines

Over the past 3 decades, young and middle-aged Americans have been dying at higher rates due to drug overdose, alcohol use, and suicides, according to a new report released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Cardiometabolic conditions such as diabetes and heart diseases are also driving mortality trends among Americans younger than 65, CNN reports. For individuals between the ages 25 and 44, growing up in an obesity epidemic with unhealthy diets and a lack of open spaces to exercise has exacerbated the conditions. Although progress in life expectancy stalled in 2010 in the United States, the country saw a 3-year drop between 2014 and 2017, marking the largest sustained decline since the 1918 flu pandemic.