By GILLIAN FLACCUS, CHRISTOPHER WEBER and TERRY TANG
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — On the two-year anniversary of the start of the pandemic, people are shedding their masks and getting back to normal as COVID-19 deaths and cases plummet. Hospitalizations from COVID-19 in the U.S. have plunged 80% in the last six weeks across the U.S. since a mid-January pandemic peak down to the lowest levels since July 2021, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Case counts have followed the same trend line and even the death tally, which typically lags, has slowed significantly in last month. People are headed back to gyms, bars and restaurants and even crowded concerts — things that seemed too risky just last month.