U.S. health officials said Thursday that people who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus can go maskless and stop maintaining social distancing in most social settings.
However, masks will still be required on all forms of public transportation, plus hospitals, prisons, and homeless shelters.
"We have all longed for this moment — when we can get back to some sense of normalcy," said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control.
Calls to cancel Tokyo Olympics
In Japan, a petition with more than 350,000 signatures, calling for the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics, was submitted Friday to the Olympic and Paralympic committee chiefs, as well as Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.
Japan is experiencing a surge in cases in various locations, including Tokyo where the Olympics are scheduled to start on July 23.
"Precious medical resources would need to be diverted to the Olympics if it's held," said "Stop Tokyo Olympics" campaign organizer Kenji Utsunomiya.
Japanese officials seem determined to push ahead with plans to open the games which were cancelled last year because of the COVID outbreak. "Though there is a global pandemic, it is important to hold safe and secure Tokyo 2020 Games," Governor Koike said recently.
India cases mount
“We are facing invisible enemy, fighting it on war-footing mode,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Friday about the COVID contagion in India. On Friday, India reported 343,144 new cases in the last 24 –hour period. Last week, daily cases sometimes totaled more than 400,000.
Only the U.S. has more COVID-19 cases than India, but public health officials say India’s coronavirus numbers are likely undercounted.
According to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, India has 24 million COVID cases while the U.S. has 32.9 million. Brazil is in third place, according to Johns Hopkins, with 15.4 million infections.