Puerto Rico lifts curfew, opens up to vaccinated visitors; lottery, cash incentives for vaccinations get federal OK

Author : jinmori212
Publish Date : 2021-05-26 02:12:32


Puerto Rico lifts curfew, opens up to vaccinated visitors; lottery, cash incentives for vaccinations get federal OK

One more encouraging sign about the pandemic for Americans: Puerto Rico, a popular travel destination that was the first U.S. state or territory to go into lockdown, has lifted its nightly curfew.

The island has seen a 58% decline in new infections over the last two weeks after enduring a dramatic spike in April. Besides ending the nightly curfew after more than a year, Puerto Rico will now allow admittance to vaccinated visitors without a negative coronavirus test result. Business capacity will also increase to 50%.

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Unvaccinated visitors to the U.S. commonwealth, where tourism is rising amid pent-up demand for travel, will still be required to present a negative coronavirus test or promise to offer a test result within 48 hours. Those who don't comply could face a $300 fine.

Puerto Rico had been under some form of nightly curfew – at least from midnight until 5 a.m. – since March 15, 2020, when its first coronavirus case was reported. But daily cases have plummeted from a weekly average of more than 1,000 at the height of the April surge to about 150.

According to CDC data, 40% of Puerto Rican adults are fully vaccinated and 56% have received at least one dose.

Also in the news:

►Even though the pandemic is waning in the U.S., there have already been more COVID-19 infections worldwide this year than in all of 2020. Here's a graphic look at how much the coronavirus has spread globally.

►School districts from California to Michigan are offering free prom tickets and deploying mobile vaccination teams to inoculate students 12 and older so everyone can return to classrooms in the fall. Officials are concerned that once school lets out, it will be tough to get enough teens vaccinated.

►Stephen Colbert’s late-night show will return on June 14 to episodes with a full studio audience, CBS said. Audience members must provide proof of vaccination to attend shows at New York’s Ed Sullivan Theater.

►Vermont is expected to reach 80% of eligible residents vaccinated within 10 days, then the remaining pandemic-related restrictions will be dropped, state officials said Tuesday. Vermont is a leader in vaccinations; the nationwide goal is 70% by July 4.

►San Diego County and private businesses have donated 10,000 coronavirus vaccines for workers at U.S.-owned border assembly plants in Tijuana, Mexican officials said.

📈 Today's numbers: The U.S. has more than 33.1 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 590,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 167.4 million cases and 3.47 million deaths. More than 359 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and more than 287.7 million administered, according to the CDC. More than 131 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – 39.5% of the population..

Those monetary incentives some states are using to encourage residents to get the COVID vaccine -- the source of much attention, some criticism and at times mockery -- are perfectly fine with the federal government.

The Treasury Department on Tuesday updated its guidance for how states and local governments can spend billions of dollars in aid included in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that passed in March. Lotteries, cash payments or other incentive programs are allowed as long as they are “reasonably expected” to increase vaccinations and the costs are “reasonably proportional” to the expected public health benefit.

“We encourage states to use their creativity to draw attention to vaccines and get their states and the country back to normal as quickly as possible,” said Andy Slavitt, the White House senior advisor on COVID-19 response.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine made national news when he announced the state would give away five $1 million prizes and five college scholarships to eligible state residents who got vaccinated. Since Vax-a-Million was unveiled, Ohio's vaccination rate among those ages 20 to 49 has increased by 55%, and New York, Maryland and Oregon have come up with similar programs.

On Tuesday, Colorado joined in with its own plan to award five $1 million prizes to vaccinated residents.

Moderna announced Tuesday that its vaccine was 93% effective after the first dose in children 12 to 17, and 100% effective two weeks after the second dose. 

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