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The expected COVID baby boom may be a baby bust; plus the latest virus news

The expected COVID baby boom may be a baby bust; plus the latest virus news

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Americans vaccinated against the coronavirus will no longer need to wear masks outdoors, except at crowded events, US government health authorities said Tuesday. Under the newly released guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, fully vaccinated people can eat, walk or attend small gatherings outside without a mask.

When most of the U.S. went into lockdown over a year ago, some speculated that confining couples to their homes — with little to entertain them beyond Netflix — would lead to a lot of baby-making. But the statistics suggest the opposite happened.

Births have fallen dramatically in many states during the coronavirus outbreak, according to an Associated Press analysis of preliminary data from half the country.

The COVID-19 baby boom appears to be a baby bust.

Nationally, even before the epidemic, the number of babies born in the U.S. was falling, dropping by less than 1% a year over the past decade as many women postponed motherhood and had smaller families.

But data from 25 states suggests a much steeper decline in 2020 and into 2021, as the virus upended society and killed over a half-million Americans.

In other developments:

  • Stories of deaths tangled in bureaucracy and breakdowns have become dismally common in India, where deaths on Wednesday officially surged past 200,000. But the true death toll is believed to be far higher.
  • A new European Union report says Russia has launched a massive campaign to promote the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine while spreading false news that the West is trying to undermine the shot.
  • Governors in Oregon and Washington quickly reacted with shutdowns when the coronavirus pandemic hit the Pacific Northwest. Now they are about to impose new restrictions again as infections and hospitalizations rise.
  • South Africa has resumed giving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to health care workers after a more than two-week pause in the use of the only vaccine in the country.
  • The Tokyo Olympics open in under three months and there are still more questions than answers despite the rollout of new rule books to explain how the games will take place in the middle of a surging pandemic in Japan.

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