The White House announced that cases of coronavirus infections and deaths in the United States are at the lowest levels since the start of the pandemic.

“Instead of heading into a summer, like last summer — of isolation, uncertainty, and loss — we’re headed into a summer of joy, celebration, and increasing freedom from the virus,” COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said at a routine news conference Thursday.

He told reporters that as a result of the success vaccinating Americans, cases and deaths are down more than 90 percent since President Joe Biden took office.

The United States on Thursday reported 11230 new coronavirus infections, taking the national total to 33,509,772. This is lower than the 7-day average of 12294.

This represents a decrease of about 16 percent from the prior seven-day average and is the lowest seven-day average since March 27, 2020.

291 new deaths reported on the same day took the total COVID death toll in the country to 600,935, as per the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. The 7-day average of COVID deaths has declined to 286 per day, the first time that average falling below 300 since March 27, 2020.

California reported the most number of cases – 985, while Texas recorded most deaths – 34 Thursday.

California is the worst affected state in terms of both the COVID metrics – 3,806,739 cases and 63,256 deaths.

The seven-day average of hospitalizations is about 2,000 per day, a decrease of about 10 percent from the prior seven-day period.

A total of 28,641,439 people have so far recovered from coronavirus infection in the country.

The coronavirus test positivity rate across the nation has fallen to 2.4 percent.

A total of 314,969,386 vaccine doses have been administered so far nationally.

More than 147.8 million people, or 44.5 percent of the US population, are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

86 percent of K-through-12 educators and school staff had already been vaccinated by the end of May.

Thursday, the Biden administration announced an initiative called the Antiviral Program for Pandemics, which aims to catalyze the development of new medicines to combat COVID-19, and to prepare for other pandemic threats.

Towards this end, the government has allocated an investment of $3.2 billion from the American Rescue Plan as part of the COVID-19 Antiviral Development Strategy.

Out of this, $500 million has been earmarked for fundamental research and laboratory support; a billion for preclinical and clinical evaluation; $700 million for the development and manufacturing through NIH; and $1 billion to establish the Antiviral Drug Discovery Centers for Pathogens of Pandemic Concern.

CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, will meet on Friday to review data on reports of myocarditis and pericarditis, or inflammation of the heart and surrounding tissue, reported among adolescents and young adults vaccinated in the United States.

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