Students of the Joycelyn Liburd Primary School in Gingerland enjoying the national dish of Belize as part of the “Tour around the Caribbean” initiative introduced in the Department of Education’s School Meals Programme.

In the US, where cases have fallen by about 30% over the past two weeks (see previous write-up), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for schools to begin returning students to the classroom.

The decision cited accumulating evidence in districts where schools have opened that in-person learning has not contributed meaningfully to community spread of the virus, assuming mitigation measures were in place. See an overview of the data here.

However, January has already become the worst month for US Covid-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

As of Tuesday, there have been more than 79,000 coronavirus fatalities, topping the previous record set in December by more than a thousand, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The grim milestone underpins the growing demand from state officials for more vaccines so that Americans can be inoculated more quickly.

The total number of COVID-19 cases reported worldwide has surpassed 100 million, with more than 2.1 million deaths (see dashboard). Five countries—the US (25 million), India (11 million), Brazil (8.8 million), Russia (3.7 million), and the UK (3.7 million)—make up more than half of all reported cases.

Separately, Johnson & Johnson said it was on track to produce 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine by June, and would present efficacy data early next week. Pending approval, it would become the third available vaccine in the US. Unlike the existing two vaccines, it requires only one shot and can be stored at standard refrigerator temperatures for up to three months (how it works).

As of this morning, the US had distributed more than 44 million vaccine doses, with about 23.5 million administered. Roughly 4,100 COVID-19 deaths were reported yesterday, bringing the total in the US to just over 425,200. See rolling averages for cases and deaths.