The appearance of Covid-19 variants makes reopening in the United States a dodgier proposition; experts call it an infectious disease.

The director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, Michael Osterholm, at the University of Minnesota, said the B.1.1.7 variant has led to an increase in transmission in countries with vaccination efforts alike to the United States.

“Our only hope right now is that we as a country take this seriously and do whatever we can to limit transmission, as these other countries tried to do,” he said while in an event hosted by Axios.

“And, yet, at the same time I sit here and tell you we’ve never been more open as a country since the very first days of the pandemic.”

Osterholm mentioned struggles to reopen schools are “frustrating,” as are fresh guidelines that schools can preserve three feet of social distance as opposed to six feet.

“The transmission dynamics are going to change, and it won’t be quite the same way that it was.” Osterholm remarked. “We don’t seem to care, in the sense that we’re opening up everything at local, state, and even federal levels.”

Restrictions relaxation by governors

Since the beginning of the month, almost a dozen state leaders have eased Covid-19 restrictions.

On Tuesday, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb declared that starting April 6, the state’s face-covering order will become a state mask advisory. Masks will remain compulsory in state buildings and facilities apart from Covid-19 testing and vaccination sites, the governor mentioned.

Holcomb further mentioned that from April 6, verdicts about venue capacity will be in the hands of local officials, and customers in restaurants, bars and nightclubs will no longer be needed to be seated. Six feet of spacing between tables is however still suggested, he added.

In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam declared on Tuesday that from April 1, both indoor and outdoor gathering limits will increase and certain sports and entertainment venues will be able to function with additional capacity.

Pace of vaccination doubled in less than two months

The pace of vaccination in the US has doubled in less than two months.

About 130.5 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered, as per data reported on Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC described that 130,473,853 total doses have been administered — about 77% of the 169,223,125 doses given.

That’s approximately 2.3 million more doses stated as administered since Tuesday, for a seven-day average of about 2.5 million doses per day.

Vaccine eligibility across the US

Almst 26% of the population – nearly 85.5 million people — has received at least one dose of vaccine, and 14% of the population – which is more than 46 million people – are fully vaccinated, as shown by CDC data. One third of adults and about 70% of seniors have got at least one dose.

Another highlight comes from Philadelphia that canceled thousands of Covid-19 vaccine appointments at its FEMA-run vaccination site. This happened after some residents used QR codes distributed online to schedule invalid appointments, as per the city’s Department of Public Health.

The vaccination site had been scheduled to offer first doses for the first three weeks, followed by only second doses for the following three. The city was cautioned to the invalid appointments after the site moved to its second-dose stage. Staff tested a vaccine database and “saw that names didn’t match up,” Garrow shared with CNN.

“We are going through the appointment database and matching it up with the vaccine database to see who is eligible for a second dose and then canceling all of the rest of the appointments,” shared Garrow further.