More than 100 million Americans have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, health officials announced over the weekend, representing about 40% of adults in the country. About 56% of adults have received at least one vaccination dose. More than 240 million doses have been administered overall in the US, representing about one-fifth of the global total.
The symbolic milestone comes as the pace of vaccinations in the US begins to slow. Surveys suggest vaccine hesitancy is trending downward, though about one-in-five Americans say they will not get vaccinated or will only do so if required. Experts have largely abandoned the goal of herd immunity, which would require about 70%-80% of the population to be inoculated (or higher in the presence of more transmissible variants).
In the US, the rolling average of new cases fell below 50,000 for the first time in seven months (see data), with the case incidence having fallen by almost 30% since mid-April. The death toll continues to gradually decline; the country is averaging around 675 reported COVID-19 deaths per day, with a total of 577,045.
Overseas, cases and deaths continue to
surge in India, where new cases passed 400,000 reported in a 24-hour period Saturday—significantly exceeding the single-day record of any country during the pandemic. Health officials have blamed both a new variant of the virus and widespread religious and political gatherings held in recent months.
An Epic Battle
A long-anticipated antitrust case between Apple and Epic Games begins today, in a legal battle with the potential to reshape the multibillion-dollar app industry.
At issue is whether Apple's App Store policies are anticompetitive, arguing Apple uses its iPhone market power to dominate a secondary market (app
downloads). The company, which has two-thirds of the US smartphone market, requires all financial transactions made by user-downloaded apps to be processed by Apple—from which it takes up to a 30% cut. Epic, the maker of the hugely popular Fortnite video game, encouraged users to purchase virtual currency directly, circumventing Apple's payment system and violating its policies. Apple booted the game from the App Store in August, to which Epic responded with a lawsuit.
A number of high-profile witnesses are expected to appear, including Apple CEO Tim Cook and Epic CEO Tim Sweeney. See an overview of the issue—including a similar case against Google—here.
Formal Withdrawal Begins
US and NATO troops stationed in Afghanistan formally began the withdrawal phase over the weekend, a process that is expected to last through the summer and officially end Sept. 11. Roughly 3,000 US troops and 7,000 coalition troops remain in the country, along with a reported 18,000 Pentagon-employed contractors. The exit has been framed as nonconditional—meaning ongoing attacks by the Taliban against the Afghan
government won't delay the withdrawal.
Many have questioned the ability of the Afghan National Army to provide security against the Taliban absent international forces. Despite assurances by Afghan officials, Taliban forces have established themselves across most of the country. Afghan forces control an estimated one-third of the country's districts, with the Taliban controlling about 10%, and nearly half—areas that include a total of roughly 14 million people—currently contested.
>Medina Spirit wins 147th Kentucky Derby, giving its trainer Bob Baffert a record seventh Kentucky Derby victory (More) | Seattle Kraken officially become NHL’s 32nd team after paying $650M franchise fee (More) | The2021 NFL draft wraps; see picks and grades for all teams (More)
>Disneyland reopens to California residents in limited numbers after being closed 13 months due to COVID-19 (More) | Grammy Awards to eliminate secret nomination committees after protest by music artist The Weeknd (More)
>Olympia Dukakis, actress best known for her Academy Award-winning performance in “Moonstruck,” dies at 89 (More) | “Star Trek” and “The A-Team” actor Nathan Jung dies at 74 (More) | Former
NASCAR driver Eric McClure dies at 42 (More)
Science & Technology
>SpaceX capsule departs the International Space Station and successfully returns with four astronauts in the Gulf of Mexico (More) | Watch the splashdown here (More)
>MIT researchers demonstrate how to use a conventional smartphone flashlight as a virus sensor (More)
>NASA's Ingenuity helicopter to shift from technology demonstration to aerial reconnaissance; the Mars copter will move on to scouting locations for the Curiosity rover (More)
Business & Markets
>Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway sees quarterly operating income increase 20% over last year; company has $145B in cash (More) | Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting, informally known as the "Woodstock of capitalism," held over the weekend (More)
>US consumer spending increases 4.2% in March; personal incomes rise at fastest monthly level ever to $4.2T (More)
>Apple charged with antitrust breach by European Commission over App Store pricing practices (More) | Eurozone falls back into recession as economy shrinks 0.6% in Q1 (More)
>US State Department denies reports it's considering a prisoner swap with Iran; Iranian media sources reported Biden administration agreed to release four prisoners and $7B in frozen assets in exchange for four jailed Americans (More)
>At least three killed, 27 injured after boat suspected in human smuggling operation breaks apart offshore
from San Diego (More)
>Letter from former associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R, FL-1) to political operative Roger Stone surfaces; letter reportedly includes an attempt to buy presidential pardons and implicates Gaetz in underage sex crimes (More) | Gaetz has repeatedly denied all charges (More)
Historybook: Philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli born (1469); Boxer Sugar Ray Robinson born (1921); Musician James Brown born (1933); Margaret Mitchell wins Pulitzer for "Gone with the Wind" (1937); First bulk spam email is sent (1978).
"Life's under no obligation to give us what we expect."
- Margaret Mitchell
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