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Hugs, at last: Nursing homes across US easing rules on visitors; plus, the latest virus news

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on Monday described the latest results from drug maker AstraZeneca on their COVID-19 vaccine as "good news."

An 88-year-old woman in Ohio broke down in tears as her son hugged her for the first time in a year. Nursing home residents and staff in California sang “Over the Rainbow” as they resumed group activities and allowed visitors back in. A 5-year-old dove into the lap of her 94-year-old great-great-aunt for a long embrace in Rhode Island.

Nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other kinds of elderly residences battered by COVID-19 are easing restrictions and opening their doors for the first time since the start of the pandemic, leading to joyous reunions around the country after a painful year of isolation, Zoom calls and greetings through windows.

The vaccination drive, improved conditions inside nursing homes, and relaxed federal guidelines have paved the way for the reunions.

There have been welcome-back parties, birthday celebrations, coffee hours on the patio and more in recent days, giving older Americans and their families a glimpse into what life may look like in a post-vaccine world.

In other developments:

  • A top World Health Organization expert on the coronavirus pandemic says the weekly global death toll from COVID-19 is rising again.
  • More than 1.5 million people streamed through U.S. airport security checkpoints on Sunday, the largest number since the middle of March last year, when the pandemic was just beginning to hit hard in the United States.
  • It was one year ago that the terrifying free fall for the stock market suddenly ended, ushering in one of its greatest runs.
  • Two Chicago hospital executives have been reprimanded for COVID-19 vaccine events that improperly gave shots to people far from the facility, including one held for workers at Trump Tower.
  • AstraZeneca reported Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine provided strong protection among adults of all ages in a long-anticipated U.S. study, a finding that could help rebuild public confidence in the shot around the world and move it a step closer to clearance in the U.S.
  • President Vladimir Putin says he will get a coronavirus vaccine shot on Tuesday, several months after widespread vaccination has started in Russia.
  • A year after a three-day stop in Las Vegas was scrapped and one of its signature events had to go virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL announced Monday initial plans for this year's draft in Cleveland, where thousands of fans will be safely welcomed in a step toward normalcy.

For more summaries and full reports, select from the articles below. Scroll further for trending questions and the latest virus numbers.

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