ORLANDO, Fla. — The number of Floridians eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine expanded on Monday as the state
allowed anybody age 50 and up to get the shot, and the county that is home to the state’s biggest theme
parks set the bar even lower by allowing anyone age 40 and up to get an injection.
With the loosening of the statewide qualifications, more than a third of Floridians were now eligible to
get a vaccine solely based on age at all vaccination sites in the state.
Starting Monday, Orange County expanded the age eligibility a decade lower than the statewide requirement
at its county-run facility at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Reservations were required
for the drive-thru site at the convention center, and 7,000 appointments were filled within 13 minutes,
In expanding the eligibility, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said last week there has been decreasing
demand at the convention center site. He said he had notified the state and felt he had the authority to
expand eligibility in the county.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of a mega-sized rest stop in Daytona Beach, DeSantis said he
had concerns about Orange County "choosing to prioritize a healthy 40-year-old" over older
residents. "It’s not authorized," said DeSantis.
But Demings, a Democrat, said Monday that his goal was to get as many people in Orange County vaccinated,
and he wasn’t intending to take a political or partisan position against the Republican governor.
"My goal here is not to make this a personal issue," Demings said. "This is about the
safety of the people in this community."
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— AstraZeneca: US data shows vaccine effective for all ages
— Analysis finds faster is not necessarily better in US COVID-19 vaccine rollout
— Germany looks set to extend lockdown measures again
— Taiwan gives health workers island’s first AstraZeneca doses
— Teachers lament ‘chaotic’ virus rules in German schools
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic,
https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas legislators have approved a measure that would give judges and prosecutors a little
more than two years to clear a backlog of criminal cases that built up during the coronavirus pandemic.
The House voted 114-7 to pass a bill that would suspend until May 1, 2023, legal deadlines for criminal
cases meant to protect defendants’ constitutional right to speedy trials. The bill goes next to Gov.
Laura Kelly because the Senate approved it last week.
The law requires trials for jailed defendants to start within five months of them entering a plea, or six
months if they are free on bond. Prosecutors fear that if the deadlines remain in effect with a backlog
of some 5,000 cases, judges will be forced to release some defendants accused of violent crimes.
The House vote came just before the state health department reported that more than 1 million COVID-19
vaccine shots have been administered within the state.
DENVER — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Monday announced a statewide tour to hear from residents and
gather ideas on how to spend the state’s portion of the federal government’s $1.9 trillion plan to
support the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Polis and bipartisan leaders from the state Legislature will be part of the Democrat called a "Build
Back Stronger Statewide Listening Tour."
They will hold in-person and virtual sessions in seven different parts of the state to hear from small
business owners, local elected officials and sectors that have been disproportionately impacted by the
Under the economic stimulus plan signed by President Joseph Biden this month, Colorado will receive about
$3.9 billion in state funds, said Sen. Dominick Moreno, a Democrat who is a member of the Legislature’s
Joint Budget Committee.
LANSING, Mich. — Starting Monday, hundreds of Michigan school districts had to offer at least 20 hours a
week of in-person instruction to receive all of a minimum $450-per-student increase in emergency
The provision affects 206, or 38%, of the state’s 537 traditional K-12 districts — those with higher
numbers or percentages of children from middle-class and wealthy families.
Under federal law, the districts are due to receive a smaller share of nearly $1.5 billion in COVID-19
aid than are districts and charter schools with higher numbers or portions of poor students. The
Republican-led Legislature allocated $136 million in state money to ensure hundreds of districts still
get at least $450 more per pupil, but it added a string.
Those with five-day schedules must provide at least 20 hours of weekly face-to-face instruction to
qualify for the supplemental dollars.
"It’s important for kids to be in school academically, socially and emotionally," said House
Appropriations Committee Chairman Thomas Albert, a Lowell Republican.
Districts that were not already providing 20 hours had less than two weeks to alter their schedules after
the law was signed by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on March 9, frustrating school officials who had
unsuccessfully asked GOP lawmakers for more time.
MADRID — Spain’s health minister said the country will resume use of the AstraZeneca vaccine against
COVID-19 by extending it to adults up to 65 years of age and that authorities will consider vaccinating
older people with the shot after new studies revealed Monday that it provides strong protection to all.
AstraZeneca said Monday in a long-anticipated study that its vaccine was 79% effective overall at
preventing symptomatic cases of COVID-19, including in older people, and that none of the more than
30,000 volunteers in the study were hospitalized or developed severe disease.
Health Minister Carolina Darias said that officials needed time to analyze the study before broadening
use of the vaccine, which several regions and doctors had for weeks demanded.
Spain, like many European countries, halted administration of the AstraZeneca shot last week, but
European drug regulators later declared the vaccine safe and with no obvious links to a few dozen cases
of rare blood clots.
PHOENIX — Arizona is opening coronavirus vaccine appointments to everyone 16 and older.
Gov. Doug Ducey said Monday that appointments will be available at state-run mass vaccination sites in
Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma starting 8 a.m. on Wednesday. Ducey said the decision was made based on an
anticipated increase in vaccine supply.
Arizona is among the first states to allow anyone to sign up for vaccine appointments. President Joe
Biden has said he wants states to take that step by May 1 and seek to vaccinate everyone who wants a
shot by the end of May.
State officials say about 2.9 million vaccine doses have been given to about 1.1 million people so far in
The change applies only to state-run vaccination sites, which have distributed the bulk of the vaccines.
GENEVA — A top U.N. health expert says the weekly global count of COVID-19 deaths is rising again,
calling it a "worrying sign" after about six weeks of declines.
Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on COVID-19 at the World Health Organization, says cases are rising in
four of the WHO’s five regions worldwide.
Cases in Europe have increased by 12 percent in the last week, Van Kerkhove told a press conference. The
rise was driven by the spread of a variant that first emerged in Britain and has spread to many other
places including eastern Europe.
Southeast Asia tallied a 49 percent jump over the last week, and WHO’s Western Pacific region tallied a
29 percent rise, she said.
Meantime, the Americas and Africa registered declines.
NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that the state is expanding eligibility for the coronavirus
vaccine to everyone ages 50 and above.
The governor said newly eligible people can start signing up for vaccines on 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Previously, everyone ages 60 and older could get vaccinated, as well as certain essential workers and
people with select health conditions.
Cuomo said the state can expand eligibility because of promises from the federal government that vaccine
supplies will continue increasing. It’s unclear how many people are now eligible for vaccines in New
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota health officials reported no new deaths due to COVID-19 for the first time in
nearly a year.
The Minnesota Department of Health also reported 1,152 new cases, putting the state at 506,376 cases and
6,782 deaths since the start of the pandemic a year ago. The Star Tribune reported that while Mondays
tend to feature fewer deaths reported than average, the figure is the first time the state has reported
no new deaths in a daily situation update since April 13.
Despite the good news on deaths, health officials have said in recent weeks they’re worried about the
spread of coronavirus mutations — called variants — in different parts of Minnesota, which they say
could derail the state’s progress in fighting the pandemic.
Officials said the state is in a race against the spread of the variants and reaching Democratic Gov. Tim
Walz’s goal of 80% of the state’s population being fully vaccinated.
GENEVA — The World Health Organization has a message for any countries that have stocks of AstraZeneca
vaccines against COVID but are hesitant about using it: Give it to us, we have a lot of would-be takers.
Dr. Bruce Aylward, a special adviser to the WHO director-general, acknowledged the U.N. health agency
received "a lot of questions" from AstraZeneca’s vaccine amid early concerns whether it might
be linked to cases of a severe, rare blood clotting in some patients who received it.
Aylward told reporters that countries pressing ahead with a rollout of the AstraZeneca are "very
keen" to receive it, including participants in the U.N.-backed COVAX program that aims to get
vaccines to countries where they are most needed, whether rich or poor.
"The problem is not a lack of demand. It’s quite the contrary," he said. "If there are any
countries that do have concerns or are not fully utilizing a vaccine … make it available to the COVAX
facility because we have a long list of countries that are very, very keen to use the AstraZeneca
"We simply cannot get enough of it," he said. Positive results from clinical trials of the
vaccine in the United States, Chile and Peru have "really given a new confidence and demand for
MADISON, Wis. — The governor of Wisconsin has signed a bill that allows dentists to administer COVID-19
vaccinations. The bill was signed the same day more than 2 million more people became eligible for
The Republican-authored bill allows dentists who complete eight hours of training on vaccine protocols
and record keeping to administer shots. Dentists in neighboring Minnesota and Illinois are already
permitted to give the vaccine. About 3,500 dentists in Wisconsin could be enlisted to help vaccinate.
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ administration announced earlier this month that people age 16 and up with
certain pre-existing conditions would be eligible on Monday, a week earlier than previously announced.
State Department of Health Services Secretary Karen Timberlake urged people to be patient as they try to
book vaccination appointments, warning some vaccinators may have waiting lists.
PRAGUE — The Czech Republic is expanding its program of mandatory mass testing of employees to include
the smallest companies.
Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlicek says the firms with less than 10 people have to start to test
them on a weekly basis. The non-governmental organizations will also have to do so as well self-employed
people who are in personal contacts with their customers.
The minister says that with the inclusion of the new categories, a total of 500,000 tests of employees
will be conducted daily.
The government has also decided to ask the Parliament to approve its plan to extend a state of emergency
by another 30 days. The current state of emergency will expire on March 28. It would enable the
government to keep in place a strict lockdown till at least April 5, the last day of Easter.
The nation of 10.7 million has almost 1.5 million confirmed cases with 24,810 deaths.
SKOPJE, North Macedonia — Authorities in North Macedonia are extending a nationwide curfew for another
two weeks. The 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew was first imposed March 10.
The Balkan country of 2.1 million recorded last week a 50% increase in infections over the previous two
weeks. Hospitals are filling and most new patients have the U.K. virus variant.
Inoculations started among medical workers in mid-February from a batch of 4,680 doses of Pfizer vaccines
donated by neighboring Serbia.
So far North Macedonia has recorded nearly 120,000 confirmed infections and more than 3,400 deaths.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The governor of West Virginia announced the state will immediately open coronavirus
vaccine eligibility to all residents aged 16 and older.
Republican Gov. Jim Justice said the state will continue prioritizing doses for residents 65 and over.
The state becomes one of the few in the nation to lift virtually all eligibility requirements way ahead
of President Joe Biden’s goal of allowing all adults to get shots starting on May 1.
There are about 1.43 million people 18 and older in the state, according to census data.
LISBON, Portugal — Portugal resumed administering AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, a week after
temporarily halting its use.
Portugal was one of the European countries which last week suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after
a few dozen people in other countries who had the jab developed blood clots. The European Union’s drug
regulatory agency concluded after a review it couldn’t rule out a direct link in those cases but said
the benefits of using the vaccine outweigh the possible risks.
Authorities say Portugal’s vaccination program is running late due to a shortage of supply, but officials
hope to speed up jabs in coming weeks by opening vaccination centers in large buildings, such as
Portugal, a country of 10.3 million people, had administered almost 1.35 million jabs by Sunday. The
health ministry does not publish a breakdown of which vaccines it is administering.
PRISTINA, Kosovo — Kosovo’s outgoing health minister sent a letter of complaint to the international
community for delaying delivery of the vaccine to the tiny Western Balkan country.
Minister Armend Zemaj said that "Unfortunately, despite our maximum commitment, we are the only
country in Europe that has not received a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine."
Kosovo’s only shots were made last weekend for a group of 500 medical personnel in neighboring Albania.
Kosovar doctors and nurses traveled to Albania’s northeastern city of Kukes to receive the AstraZeneca
Vaccination has yet to start in Kosovo, which is expecting the first batch of vaccines from the Covax
facility later this month. The government has ordered an overnight curfew and banned public gatherings
of over 50 people.
Kosovo has reported 83,012 total confirmed cases and 1,776 confirmed deaths as of Monday.