More states and cities are opening up in the United States as coronavirus numbers decline and vaccinations increase. 

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Nearly one-third of Americans are fully vaccinated, and nearly half have received at least one shot. Health experts say that’s good news because the vaccines should protect from the new, highly transmissible Indian variant.

“Our vaccines are going to hold up against the variant from India,” said Dr. Ashish Jha of Brown University.

The “617 variant” has already been identified in three states and beginning today, the US will ban travel from India by non-US citizens. Meanwhile, the US and other countries are rushing in aid as hospitals in India continue to see staggering numbers. On Tuesday, India reported 357,229 new cases in the past 24 hours and 3,449 deaths from COVID-19.

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Back in the US, the demand for shots is way down, dropping 26 percent in the last three weeks to 2.4 million doses a day. That’s a cause for concern for health experts. 
“What we want is a level of herd immunity to go about your day-to-day life and not worry about exposure,” said Dr. Ryan Ribeira from Stanford Healthcare. 

Still, the average number of daily cases is steadily dropping, now under 50,000 for the first time since October.
 More cities and states are lifting restrictions. 

The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are allowing more businesses to fully open on May 19th. 
 “This means that the events that we all associate with summer…can all go forward,” said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.

With many people getting vaccinated, there’s an ongoing debate over mask mandates, especially outdoors. 

One Oregon high school adjusting its policy after a runner wearing a mask collapsed at the finish line. 

“I barely had anything left on the last 100 and then about 10 meters before I just felt my muscles start seizing up,” Maggie Williams told CBN News. “It was really weird. And then everything just went blurry and I passed out for a second. And luckily before the finish line so I crossed with my head.” 

 Florida is suspending all Covid-related public health orders statewide. And today, Oklahoma is expected to follow suit by withdrawing its state of emergency. 

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