A version of this story appeared in the May 31 edition of CNN’s Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction newsletter. Sign up here to receive the need-to-know headlines every weekday.

CNN  — 

So far, 62% of US adults have gotten at least one Covid-19 shot and 50% are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data. And about 50% of the total US population, including children over the age of 12, has received at least one Covid-19 shot and 40% of the population – nearly 133 million people – is fully vaccinated, the data shows.

As the pandemic begins to recede in the United States, its financial toll on Americans such as Schulz is beginning to emerge.

While federal law has ensured that Covid-19 tests and vaccines are free, that protection does not extend to Covid-19 treatment, meaning that people with private insurance who got sick and had to be treated for the virus, may still face large bills, Keri Enriquez reports.

Democratic Senator Tina Smith of Minnesota wants to fix that. She has a piece of legislation – the Covid-19 Treatment Coverage Act – that has been awaiting review by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions since August 2020.

But many Americans, like Schulz, won’t be able to wait for Washington to work through its legislative gridlock.

Schulz, a Covid long-hauler, has seen her family’s finances and emergency funds depleted due to her serious coronavirus infection last summer. She says it left her suffering from chronic exhaustion and a weakened immune system, but says she hasn’t seen a doctor in a year, as she can’t afford it.

For more than six months, Schulz has been battling with her insurance company to cover 60% of the cost of her $5,400 hearing aids – a claim they continue to deny, and have refused to reimburse her for, she says. Schulz also says she thought her trip to the emergency room and other bills would be covered by the medical insurance she gets through her husband’s employer. That insurance company opted not to waive Covid-19 treatment fees, leaving her responsible for the payments, she says.

Coronavirus variants will now be referred to by letters of the Greek alphabet instead of where they were first discovered, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday, in a bid to prevent the stigmatization of entire communities.

YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.

Q: When will you need to get a vaccine booster?

A: The short answer: Experts still don’t know.

Physical distancing is also no longer necessary for those who are fully vaccinated, the agency said.

Camps with unvaccinated campers or staff should use multiple prevention strategies to protect those who aren’t vaccinated, the agency said, adding that in those cases physical distancing will be one of the important tools to help stop the spread of Covid-19.

In its guidance, the CDC encouraged everyone 12 years and older to get vaccinated against the virus and underscored the vaccines are safe and effective.

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WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY

“I think it’s very important to make a distinction between having an antibody doesn’t mean you’re completely protected, that’s very different,” he said. “But what we should be excited about and encouraged about is you have these memory cells that are ready to jump into action once we have the virus or once we get exposed to the virus again.”

Vietnam’s health ministry has detected a suspected new coronavirus variant which it said appears to be a hybrid of two highly transmissible strains first identified in the UK and India respectively.

The Southeast Asian country was held up as a leading example in containing the virus thanks to an aggressive strategy of early screening of passengers at airports and a strict quarantine and monitoring program. It has reported a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases since late April. It is not clear if the suspected new variant is behind the sudden rise in infections. If it is, it could suggest that it is more transmissible.

Brazilian protesters demand Bolsonaro’s impeachment and better vaccine access 

Tens of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets Saturday to voice their frustrations with President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis, in what appeared to be the largest protests the country has seen since the pandemic began last year, Marcia Reverdosa and Rodrigo Pedroso report.

Demonstrators in some of the country’s largest cities, including Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia, called for the president’s impeachment and for better access to Covid-19 vaccines. Many protesters did not appear to be practicing social distancing, although most wore masks. The demonstrations come as the country faces a possible third wave of the virus. Less than 10% of Brazil’s population has been fully vaccinated.

New push for intelligence on Covid-19’s origins aimed at elevating scientific analysis

The intelligence community’s push to uncover the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic has largely relied on traditional intelligence-gathering tools until now, but President Joe Biden’s “redoubled” effort is intended in part to elevate scientific analysis, Katie Bo Williams and Natasha Bertrand report.

Peru more than doubles its official Covid-19 death toll

ON OUR RADAR

  • Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline have started conducting Phase 3 clinical trials of their Covid-19 vaccine. It will include 35,000 participants from around the world.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union urged the Biden administration to provide Covid-19 vaccine access to immigrants in detention, citing the rapid spread of coronavirus in congregate settings, according to a letter sent to the Department of Homeland Security secretary and obtained by CNN.
  • Coronavirus is the top concern for Hispanic and Asian people in the US, according to an Axios Ipsos poll released Thursday.
  • The COVAX initiative is calling on rich nations to share 1 billion vaccine doses before the end of 2021, so vaccines can be supplied to the poorest nations on the planet.
  • Covid-19 has claimed more than 450,000 lives in Brazil and wrecked the livelihoods of so many more. Now Brazilians are facing one of the worst economic recessions in the country’s history.
  • Up to 75% of all newly diagnosed Covid-19 cases in the United Kingdom are attributed to the variant first identified in India, health officials said, adding they are focusing on testing and vaccinating people in certain “hotspots.”

TOP TIPS

CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen has this advice for people who might be feeling anxious about social interactions over the long weekend: Take things at your own pace. Don’t feel pressured to do something that you’re not ready for yet. Decide what your comfort level is. Maybe you’re comfortable with only seeing those who are fully vaccinated, or only outdoors. That’s OK. Work your way up from a small gathering first. And enjoy!

Amid the collective fear and suffering of the pandemic, there are some lessons learned from our time under lockdown that we should keep, such as slowing down and spending more time with family. As the US returns to some form of normality, here are five ways the pandemic can improve how we live on the other side of it.