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The European Union and Pfizer-BioNTech have signed a deal for up to 1.8 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The bloc's biggest contract to date would cover its entire population, marking a significant ramp up in its fight against the coronavirus.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the deal in a tweet, writing it is for a " for guaranteed 900 million doses (+900 million options)."

Updated May 7, 2021 at 1:18 PM ET

Hiring unexpectedly slowed last month as businesses struggled to keep pace with booming demand from newly vaccinated customers.

U.S. employers added just 266,000 jobs in April, according to a monthly snapshot from the Labor Department. It was the weakest month of job growth since January.

Looking for a nonstop flight between Appleton, Wis., and Savannah, Ga.? It'll soon be available. Or how about Austin, Texas, to Nashville, Tenn.? Louisville, Ky., to Los Angeles? Or from just about anywhere to Bozeman, Mont.?

Those are some of the new, unconventional domestic routes that airlines are now offering as they try to capitalize on the huge pent-up demand for leisure travel and inch back toward profitability while waiting for business travel to bounce back.

Laura Burns was thrilled when she got her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine three months ago. The 71-year-old thought that with vaccination, she might finally be closer to being able to see her family in Europe again.

"I have not seen them now for two years, and that's including my stepdaughter. It's very, very ... that's hard," says Burns, who lives in Austin, Texas.

It's been six months since the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered in the U.S. and now almost 40% of the country's population is fully vaccinated.

After more than a year of lockdown measures and quarantines, people are ready to get back to some sense of normal. With their vaccination cards in hand, they're ready to start traveling, go on vacations and see friends and family.

But how long that normalcy will be sustained depends on how long the vaccines offer protection from the coronavirus, and if people will need to receive booster shots in the future.

Pfizer and its partner, Germany's BioNTech, announced Thursday that they have agreed to donate vaccines to competitors and staff at the Tokyo Games, set to be held this summer despite ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Less than three weeks after launching a quarantine-free "travel bubble" between New Zealand and Australia, officials in Wellington, New Zealand's capital, announced Thursday that flights from Sydney would be temporarily suspended after new coronavirus cases were detected there.

Beverly Pickering says her neighbors in suburban Detroit are hitting the road. And that's good news for her pet sitting business.

"I have people going to California, Florida, the Carolinas — all over the country," she said. "It's travel, travel, travel. It's just exploded."

Updated May 6, 2021 at 10:20 AM ET

India has been setting daily records for positive coronavirus tests — more than 400,000 people on Wednesday alone.

In New Delhi, the Holy Family Hospital is at 140% capacity.

Kenneth Newton never imagined his mom would die alone. He lives in Petaluma, Calif. Last winter his mother developed a tumor while she was living in a nursing home in Tennessee. Her health declined quickly. Newton longed to visit, but it was against the rules.

His mom saw people who delivered food and those who made sure she took her medicine. But otherwise she was alone, though Newton and his four siblings talked with her regularly.

Then, last January, they received the dreaded call. His mom had died at age 92 without any family present.

Updated May 7, 2021 at 5:52 AM ET

In recent weeks, Dr. Kali Cyrus has struggled with periods of exhaustion.

"I am taking a nap in between patients," says Cyrus, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University. "I'm going to bed earlier. It's hard to even just get out of bed. I don't feel like being active again."

In Linn County, Ore., public health officials have worked tirelessly to build an efficient mass vaccination clinic at the County Fairgrounds. They have the ability to vaccinate eight people per minute, thousands each day.

Hundreds of volunteers work there. Some drive hours in order help direct the flow of traffic or give shots. One retired doctor even road-tripped from San Francisco to work his shift.

But now, officials are dealing with a new problem of efficiency: not enough people.

Updated May 5, 2021 at 6:43 PM ET

President Biden threw his support behind a World Trade Organization proposal on Wednesday to waive intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines, clearing a hurdle for vaccine-strapped countries to manufacture their own vaccines even though the patents are privately held.

Updated May 7, 2021 at 1:21 PM ET

Alejandro Tarre is Venezuelan writer and journalist.

Typically, if you get a COVID-19 vaccine that requires two doses, you should get two of the same vaccine. Two Pfizer shots, or two Moderna shots. Not one and then the other.

But in the future, that could change, either by necessity or by design.

This idea of using two types of vaccines isn't a new concept. It's known as heterologous vaccination, although there's a more colloquial term.

The coronavirus pandemic has reached the top of the world, where it has reportedly disrupted the annual climb up Mount Everest and other Himalayan peaks just as the window for summiting the mountains opens up.

In recent days, reports have emerged of an outbreak at Everest Base Camp in Nepal, at 17,597 feet (5,364 meters), where hundreds of climbers assemble each year to adjust to the oxygen-starved altitude as they prepare to ascend the 29,032-foot (8,849-meter) peak.

MUMBAI, India — India's top diplomat and his entourage have been forced to self-isolate, participating in a G-7 foreign ministers meeting only virtually — from hotel rooms near the venue in London — after at least two members of the Indian delegation tested positive for the coronavirus.

It's exactly what everyone's been waiting for.

"I'm very happy to get out," says one woman, sitting down to a view of the harbor, at the Pilot House restaurant in Sandwich, Mass., on Cape Cod.

"It's like we're free at last!" a friend laughs, joining her to celebrate a 70th birthday, albeit several months late.

They're as thrilled to be dining out again as restaurant owner Bob Jarvis is to see customers start pouring back in.

Updated May 5, 2021 at 10:25 AM ET

The pace of COVID-19 vaccinations is slowing down — not because of any vaccine shortage, but because some Americans don't want to get vaccinated.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children 12 to 15 years old, a decision that could come by some time early next week. The vaccine is currently authorized only for people age 16 and older.

A ruling should come "shortly," Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla told investors in a conference call Tuesday morning.

India has now reported more than 20 million coronavirus infections, including nearly 3.5 million people who are actively being treated for COVID-19. The country's health system is in a state of collapse as hospitals and clinics face dire shortages of beds and lifesaving supplies.

On a sloppy spring day in mid-March, hundreds of Kurdish Americans gathered in a field outside Nashville, Tenn., under a sea of black umbrellas. Some of the men carried a stretcher to an open grave, where a yellow backhoe waited.

In accordance with Muslim tradition, the body of Imad Doski — a prominent community leader — was buried within 24 hours of his death. He was another casualty of COVID-19.

President Biden on Tuesday is set to announce new steps to reach rural Americans in the push to get as many people as possible vaccinated for the coronavirus, a White House official tells NPR. This emphasis comes as rural hospitals are raising alarms about the pace of vaccination — even among their own employees.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo upstaged the Broadway League on Monday. Industry insiders expected the trade organization, which represents theater owners and producers, to say that some Broadway shows would reopen in September with more coming back during the fall. But at a press conference Cuomo beat them to it, lifting most capacity restrictions on restaurants, bars, museums, gyms, salons and retail shops by May 19. That list also included Broadway.

The number of children contracting COVID-19 in the U.S. is much lower than the record highs set at the start of the new year, but children now account for more than a fifth of new coronavirus cases in states that release data by age, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It's a statistic that may surprise many: Just one year ago, child COVID-19 cases made up only around 3% of the U.S. total.

The head of the European Commission said Monday that she is recommending that nonresident travelers vaccinated against COVID-19 and those from "countries with a good health situation" be allowed to travel to the European Union this summer.

However, von der Leyen cautioned in a tweet Monday that if variants of the coronavirus emerge, "we have to act fast: we propose an EU emergency brake mechanism."

Following days of deadly protests across Colombia against a planned nationwide tax increase, President Iván Duque has withdrawn the proposal that he insisted was needed to fix the country's pandemic-battered economy.

Protests that began last week have led to multiple deaths, and they continued over the weekend despite a promise by Duque on Friday to remove some of the bill's most controversial provisions. On Sunday, he announced the proposed overhaul would be shelved and replaced.

The mass inoculation of millions of American children against polio in 1955, like the vaccinations of millions of American adults against COVID-19 in 2021, was a triumph of science.

But the polio vaccine had overwhelming public acceptance, while stubborn pockets of vaccine hesitancy persist across the U.S. for the COVID-19 vaccine. Why the difference? One reason, historians say, is that in 1955, many Americans had an especially deep respect for science.

Wearing a face mask will continue to be a requirement at airports, aboard commercial flights and on other public transportation across the country through the summer.

The federal mask mandate, which was set to expire on May 11, will remain in effect through Sept. 13, according to updated guidance issued by the Transportation Security Administration on Friday.

After spending much of the past year tending to elderly patients, doctors are seeing a clear demographic shift: young and middle-aged adults make up a growing share of the patients in COVID-19 hospital wards.

It's both a sign of the country's success in protecting the elderly through vaccination and an urgent reminder that younger generations will pay a heavy price if the outbreak is allowed to simmer in communities across the country.

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