U.S. Nears Return To Normalcy, as Cases Reach Lowest Point In a Year

The U.S. is making its trek back to pre-pandemic life, with almost every state dropping mask mandates and capacity limits.

U.S. Nears Return To Normalcy, as Cases Reach Lowest Point In a Year

Normalcy - a concept that once seemed far fetched - appears closer than ever. Crowds are back at restaurants. People are going out mask-less and travel is opening back up in some parts of the world. 

But there's still work to health experts try to figure out how to get shots in arms of people who are resistant to vaccination.

"We are absolutely heading in the right direction, we just can't take our foot off the accelerator," U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said.

Average daily COVID-19 cases are under 30,000 - the lowest in nearly a year. 

And with that, more states are fully reopening, lifting all pandemic restrictions. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says his state is 100 % open. California is planning for a full reopening on June 15. D.C. lifted most capacity limits, and Rhode Island dropped most of its remaining COVID restrictions on Friday. 

New Jersey is planning to lift the state's indoor mask mandate in public places for vaccinated people before the Memorial Day weekend. It was one of only two states, along with Hawaii, that hadn't set a date for lifting the mandate.  --

"We are winning the war on the pandemic and we need you to help us finish the job." 

More than 280 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and more than 127 million people - 38.5 percent of the population - is fully vaccinated. But the average daily pace of vaccinations is slowing... fast. It's down nearly 50% since last month's peak.

"It's going to be important that we have that widespread, that widespread uptake of the vaccine, then we can return to more and more of what we like to do," said New Jersey public health physician Dr. Chris T. Pernell.

On the bright side, more and more young people are getting shots. Those 12 to 15 years old are accounting for 25% of new vaccinations in the past week.

"This is their shot to being teenagers," said Dr. Jay Varkey, an associate professor of medicine at Emery University. By rolling up their sleeves, they actually help protect their parents, their teachers, their classmates and their communities."