While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for May 21


INDIANAPOLIS — There were several developments in the coronavirus pandemic you may have missed overnight.

Here’s a look:

Vaccine gaps most prevalent in Southern states. A month after every adult in the U.S. became eligible for the vaccine, a distinct geographic pattern has emerged: The highest vaccination rates are concentrated in the Northeast, while the lowest ones are mostly in the South.

Experts say the gap reflects a multitude of factors, including political leanings, religious beliefs, and education and income levels.

Close to 160 million Americans — 48% of the population — have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 125 million are fully vaccinated against the virus.

New England and Northeastern states account for eight of the top 10 in vaccination rates, with Vermont No. 1 as of last Friday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 64% of its population has received as least one dose.

Following right behind are Massachusetts, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New Mexico, all of them at 54% or higher.

Eight Southern states are in the bottom 10, all of which are under 40%. Mississippi was dead last at 32%, followed by Louisiana, Alabama, Wyoming, Idaho, Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia, West Virginia and South Carolina.

Mask wearing guidelines. When do I still need to wear a mask?

It depends, mostly on whether or not you’re vaccinated.

If you’re fully vaccinated, the latest guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in most situations. That includes when you’re outside and in many indoor spaces like restaurants, though you still need to follow any local or business rules.

Americans also still need a mask when traveling, including on buses, subways and planes and at airports. The guidance on masks will differ by country.

Some experts say the CDC is relaxing its recommendations too soon. Part of the concern is that there’s no way to tell who’s vaccinated, so unvaccinated people could claim they got the shots and go maskless, said David Holtgrave, dean of the School of Public Health at University at Albany. That could cause cases to rise.

Meijer coupon. Meijer is offering customers a $10 coupon for getting vaccinated.

The retailer said people who schedule and finish their vaccine shots at Meijer will receive a $10 coupon to use on their next purchase of $50 or more.

If you received the COVID-19 vaccine somewhere else, simply bring your immunization card to your Meijer pharmacy to get the coupon.

From Meijer’s website:

For those who are already vaccinated, thank you for keeping your neighbors safe. No matter where you were vaccinated, you are eligible for $10 off your next purchase of $50 or more. Bring your completed vaccination card to your local Meijer Pharmacy to receive your coupon.

The coupons are good through July 15. Learn more at Meijer’s website.

Hoosiers can book a vaccination appointment at ourshot.in.gov.

Free Shake Shack. Shake Shack announced a special offer Thursday for its vaccinated customers across the country.

Starting Friday, anyone who has had the single shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine or at least one Moderna or Pfizer shot can show their vaccination card to receive a free side of fries.

There is a little fine print, however – to cash in on the deal you have to buy a burger or chicken sandwich, and the offer isn’t good at airports, stadiums and ballparks. And no, “I got my COVID-19 vaccine” stickers don’t count as proof of vaccination.

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