The Latest: Vaccination rates lowest in Southern states

NEW YORK — Vaccination rates for retirement-age Americans have been lowest in states in the South, according to a new government study.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers sought to figure out if places with lower vaccination rates for that age group had anything in common. They found lower vaccination rates in counties where fewer older adults have a computer or Internet access, and in counties where more people 65 and live alone or in poverty.

The CDC released the report Tuesday. CDC researchers looked at vaccination data from mid-December, when coronavirus vaccine first became available, through April 10.

The researchers found that, overall, 79% of people age 65 and older had received at least one dose of vaccine. But vaccination rates were more than 99% of seniors in New Hampshire, and as low as 69% in Alabama, Mississippi and West Virginia.

The percentage of people age 65 to 74 who were vaccinated was higher than the percentage of people 75 and older who got a shot. Also, vaccinations were a bit more common in men than in women.



— A jumbo pop-up hospital treating COVID-19 patients in hard-hit Mumbai has more than 2,000 beds, most of them full

— WHO official strongly denies making false statements to Italian prosecutors about U.N. report into Italy’s virus response

— Argentina’s doctors adapt, more learn intensive-care techniques as COVID-19 puts younger patients in hospitals

— Mexico says Russia is having production problems with its Sputnik V vaccine; Russia denies the report.

— Volunteers at Hindu temples, Muslim groups and Sikh relief organizations in US mobilize to support India during its virus surge

— Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at and



OTTAWA, Ontario — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says almost 50% of eligible adults in Canada have received at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine.

Trudeau says by the summer, Canada will have enough vaccines so that every eligible resident will have gotten their first dose, and by September, it will have enough doses for everyone to be fully vaccinated.

He says we can have a better, “one-dose” summer, as long as restrictions remain in place for case numbers to go down and more than 75% of Canadians get their first dose. He says a one-dose summer sets us up for a “two-dose fall,” when Canadians will be able to talk about going back to school, back to work, and back to more normality.


OMAHA, Neb. — The pace of coronavirus vaccinations in Nebraska has slowed significantly over the past month.

The state said 49,016 vaccine doses were administered in Nebraska last week. That continues the steady decline seen in recent weeks when roughly 70,000 and 93,000 doses were administered. The latest weekly total of vaccine doses is less than one-quarter of the mid-April peak of 211,057 doses in a single week.

Health officials said 49.9% of the state’s population over the age of 16 has now been vaccinated and 1.55 million doses have been administered statewide since December. But demand for the shots has weakened across the state.


PROVIDENCE, R.I. — State officials say Rhode Island expects to start offering Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to children ages 12 to 15 later this week now that the Food and Drug Administration has authorized its use for that age group.

Tuesday’s announcement came during a news conference at Rhode Island Hospital to celebrate the fact that more than 1 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in the state.

Officials said eligible children, with parental consent, would be able to sign up for a shot at the state’s current vaccination sites later Tuesday. There are also plans to bring vaccination clinics to schools, officials said.

“We are so excited that we can expand to this younger age,” said Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director of the state Department of Health.


SANTA FE, New Mexico — New Mexico is joining several other states that have reinstated the work search requirement for people who receive unemployment benefits.

Starting this week, state labor officials say people seeking the payments must verify that they have made at least two work search contacts per week in order to continue receiving the money.

The requirement was waived during the pandemic as unemployment rates surged due to businesses closures and cutbacks. The change comes as all but two New Mexico counties now operate in public health safety categories with the least COVID-19 restrictions.

The latest state data also shows 48% of residents over 16 are fully vaccinated.


DES MOINES, Iowa — Gov. Kim Reynolds has announced that Iowa will join a bevy of Republican-led states ending pandemic-related federal programs that give extra cash to unemployed workers.

Reynolds announced the change Tuesday in a news release, saying the state will end the federal boosts, including an additional $300-a-week unemployment payment.

Reynolds said in the announcement that the benefits are keeping people from returning the work and are hindering the state’s economy — a charge echoed by Republican governors in several other states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Montana and South Carolina.

Reynolds said the benefits will end June 12.


INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis will remain under a mask mandate and other COVID-19 restrictions as city officials endorsed those measures after the state Legislature nullified such orders previously issued by county health officers.

The new state law that took effect immediately on Monday allows local COVID-19 restrictions tougher than those issued statewide only upon approval of elected county commissioners or city councils.

The Democratic-controlled Indianapolis council voted 19-5 along party lines Monday night to keep the mask mandate and limits on restaurant and bar capacities. Republican legislators argue the new law provides a “check and balance” protecting the rights of business owners.


KATHMANDU, Nepal — Authorities extended lockdown in the capital Kathmandu and surrounding districts by another 15 days as the Himalayan nation recorded the highest daily new cases and highest daily deaths from coronavirus on Tuesday.

The last lockdown was scheduled to end on Wednesday but now has been extended until May 27.

According to the Ministry of Heath, there were 9,483 new cases on Tuesday while 225 died because of COVID-19.

Grocery stores will be allowed open an hour earlier in the morning to spread out shoppers and lessen the crowd.

Nepal so far has recorded 413,111 confirmed cases while 4,084 people have died.


COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan authorities have imposed restrictions on inter-provincial travels and cancelled all functions and gatherings until the end of May, in the latest move designed to contain the rapid spreading of the COVID-19 virus.

Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said the restrictions will be effective from Tuesday midnight and that military and police are now setting up special roadblocks at provincial borders to prevent people crossing into other provinces. Besides, travelling for holidays and leisure are also banned.

Also, the government has limited the number of people who could enter and stay in commercial establishments including supermarkets and shopping malls.

The latest restrictions come as Sri Lanka is grappling with a highly infectious variant which has surged the number of positive cases within the last two weeks.

Health officials warn that the confirmed cases could rise further in the next two weeks because of the last month’s celebrations and shopping by the people to mark the traditional new year.

The latest health statistics show that Sri Lanka’s total number of positive cases have reached 125,906 with 801 fatalities.


WASHINGTON — Colleges and universities across the nation can now start tapping into $36 billion in relief funding that Congress approved in March, the Biden administration announced Tuesday.

The U.S. Education Department said it’s starting to steer the funding to more than 5,000 public and private colleges. The funding was included in a $1.9 trillion relief package that also included $123 billion for K-12 schools.

The higher education aid is being allocated to public and private institutions using a formula that factors in the share of low-income students they enroll. Colleges must spend at least half the funding on direct relief for students. The other half can be used on a variety of expenses related to the pandemic.

In a reversal from Trump’s policy, the Biden administration said student grants can be given to international students and those who are in the U.S. illegally.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the funding makes sure the hardest hit students “have the opportunity to enroll, continue their education, graduate and pursue their careers.”

Broadly, the guidance says colleges should use the funding to support vulnerable students, reduce the spread of the coronavirus and retain students whose education was disrupted by the pandemic.


MEXICO CITY — Russia has been having so many problems producing second doses of its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine that it probably will be unable to supply enough to people who already got the first dose, Mexican officials said.

It’s the latest account of production problems for Sputnik V, which the Russian government has been promising to other countries but has not been able to supply in sufficient quantities.

Sputnik is unusual among coronavirus vaccines in that the two doses are different and not interchangeable.

Mexico’s assistant health secretary, Hugo López-Gatell, said the Russians have found that the first adenovirus grows much more quickly than the second.

López-Gatell said Russian scientists are now suggesting abandoning the idea of giving the two separate Sputnik V shots several weeks apart and instead giving a second booster shot six months later.

“Over the course of months, the quantity of first doses they managed to produce got out of alignment with the quantity of second doses they were able to produce,” López-Gatell said.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund which has bankrolled Sputnik V, denied the Mexican reports.

“The manufacturing of both components of Sputnik V is being upscaled in Russia and abroad to fully meet the rising demand for the vaccine internationally,” the fund said in a statement.


BERLIN — German investors are increasingly optimistic about the country’s economy as the latest surge of new coronavirus infections seems to be slowing, a closely-watched survey showed Tuesday.

The Mannheim-based ZEW institute said its indicator of economic expectations for Germany over the next six months increased 13.7 points in May over the previous month to a reading of 84.4, the highest value since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The last time the indicator was at a higher level was in February 2000.

The increase came after an unexpected drop in April when new daily cases of coronavirus infection were much higher.

Germany’s disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, reported 6,125 newly confirmed cases on Tuesday, compared to 17,855 new cases the same day a month ago.


BRUSSELS — As strict lockdowns are loosened across Europe and many EU citizens dream about holidays in the sun, the 27-nation bloc has yet to agree on how to quickly implement a virus certificate scheme to boost summer travel and tourism.

European affairs ministers gathered Tuesday in Brussels to assess progress in discussions with European lawmakers. A deal between the Parliament and EU countries is required in May to ensure the system will be up and running by the end of June, but several sticking points remain.

When it proposed the scheme in March, the EU Commission said coronavirus certificates would be given to EU residents who can prove they have been vaccinated or those who tested negative for the virus or have proof they recovered from it.

EU lawmakers and nations agree on that, but the Parliament insists that COVID-19 certificates should be enough to allow EU citizens to move about freely and that EU countries shouldn’t be allowed to impose extra restrictions on certificate holders such as quarantines, tests or self-isolation measures.

That’s a major roadblock, since border controls are a national responsibility.