As Virus Cases Rise, Another Contagion Spreads Among the Vaccinated: Anger

Health

The New York Times 29 July, 2021 - 06:47pm 87 views

Frustrated by the prospect of a new surge, many Americans are blaming the unvaccinated. A tougher stance may backfire, some experts warn.

As coronavirus cases resurge across the country, many inoculated Americans are losing patience with vaccine holdouts who, they say, are neglecting a civic duty or clinging to conspiracy theories and misinformation even as new patients arrive in emergency rooms and the nation renews mask advisories.

The country seemed to be exiting the pandemic; barely a month ago, a sense of celebration was palpable. Now many of the vaccinated fear for their unvaccinated children and worry that they are at risk themselves for breakthrough infections. Rising case rates are upending plans for school and workplace reopenings, and threatening another wave of infections that may overwhelm hospitals in many communities.

“It’s like the sun has come up in the morning and everyone is arguing about it,” said Jim Taylor, 66, a retired civil servant in Baton Rouge, La., a state in which fewer than half of adults are fully vaccinated.

“The virus is here and it’s killing people, and we have a time-tested way to stop it — and we won’t do it. It’s an outrage.”

The rising sentiment is contributing to support for more coercive measures. Scientists, business leaders and government officials are calling for vaccine mandates — if not by the federal government, then by local jurisdictions, schools, employers and businesses.

“I’ve become angrier as time has gone on,” said Doug Robertson, 39, a teacher who lives outside Portland, Ore., and has three children too young to be vaccinated, including a toddler with a serious health condition.

“Now there is a vaccine and a light at the end of the tunnel, and some people are choosing not to walk toward it,” he said. “You are making it darker for my family and others like mine by making that choice.”

On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City ordered that all municipal workers be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the time schools reopen in mid-September or face weekly testing. Officials in California followed suit hours later with a similar mandate covering all state employees and health care workers.

The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday required that 115,000 on-site health care workers be vaccinated in the next two months, the first federal agency to order a mandate. Nearly 60 major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association, on Monday called for mandatory vaccination of all health care workers.

“It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks,” a frustrated Gov. Kay Ivey, Republican of Alabama, told reporters last week. “It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”

There is little doubt that the United States has reached an inflection point. According to a database maintained by The New York Times, 57 percent of Americans ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated. Eligible Americans are receiving 537,000 doses per day on average, an 84 percent decrease from the peak of 3.38 million in early April.

As a result of lagging vaccination and lifted restrictions, infections are rising. As of Sunday, the country was seeing 52,000 new cases daily, on average, a 170 percent increase over the previous two weeks. Hospitalization and death rates are increasing, too, although not as quickly.

Communities from San Francisco to Austin, Texas, are recommending that vaccinated people wear masks again in public indoor settings. Citing the spread of the more contagious Delta variant of the virus, the counties of Los Angeles and St. Louis, Mo., have ordered indoor mask mandates.

For many Americans who were vaccinated months ago, the future is beginning to look grim. Frustration is straining relations even within closely knit families.

Josh Perldeiner, 36, a public defender in Connecticut who has a 2-year-old son, was fully vaccinated by mid-May. But a close relative, who visits frequently, has refused to get the shots, although he and other family members have urged her to do so.

She recently tested positive for the virus after traveling to Florida, where hospitals are filling with Covid-19 patients. Now Mr. Perldeiner worries that his son, too young for a vaccine, may have been exposed.

“It goes beyond just putting us at risk,” he said. “People with privilege are refusing the vaccine, and it’s affecting our economy and perpetuating the cycle.” As infections rise, he added, “I feel like we’re at that same precipice as just a year ago, where people don’t care if more people die.”

Hospitals have become a particular flash point. Vaccination remains voluntary in most settings, and it is not required for caregivers at most hospitals and nursing homes. Many large hospital chains are just beginning to require that employees be vaccinated.

Even though she is fully vaccinated, Aimee McLean, a nurse case manager at University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, worries about contracting the virus from a patient and inadvertently passing it to her father, who has a serious chronic lung disease. Less than half of Utah’s population is fully vaccinated.

“The longer that we’re not getting toward that number, the more it feels like there’s a decent percentage of the population that honestly doesn’t care about us as health care workers,” Ms. McLean, 46, said.

She suggested health insurers link coverage of hospital bills to immunization. “If you choose not to be part of the solution, then you should be accountable for the consequences,” she said.

Many schools and universities are set to resume in-person classes as early as next month. As the number of infections increases, these settings, too, have seen tension rise between the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on K-12 school reopening are tied to rates of community virus transmission. In communities where vaccination lags, those rates are rising, and vaccinated parents must worry anew about outbreaks at schools. The vaccines are not yet authorized for children under 12.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has advised that children wear masks in class when schools reopen. On Friday, school districts from Chicago to Washington began putting mandates into effect.

Universities, on the other hand, often can require vaccinations of students and staff members. But many have not, frustrating the vaccinated.

“If we’re respecting the rights and liberties of the unvaccinated, what’s happening to the rights and liberties of the vaccinated?” said Elif Akcali, 49, who teaches engineering at the University of Florida, in Gainesville. The university is not requiring students to be vaccinated, and with rates climbing in Florida, she is worried about exposure to the virus.

Some are even wondering how much sympathy they should have for fellow citizens who are not acting in their own best interest. “I feel like if you chose not to get vaccinated, and now you get sick, it’s kind of your bad,” said Lia Hockett, 21, the manager of Thunderbolt Spiritual Books in Santa Monica, Calif.

As the virus begins to spread again, some vaccinated people believe the federal government should start using sticks rather than carrots, like lottery tickets.

Carol Meyer, 65, of Ulster County, N.Y., suggested withholding stimulus payments or tax credits from vaccine refusers. “I feel we have a social contract in this country with our neighbors, and people who can get vaccinated and choose not to get vaccinated are breaking it,” Ms. Meyer said.

Bill Alstrom, 74, a retired innkeeper in Acton, Mass., said he would not support measures that would directly affect individual families and children, but asked whether federal government funding should be withheld from states that don’t meet vaccination targets.

Maybe the federal government should require employees and contractors to be vaccinated, he mused. Why shouldn’t federal funding be withheld from states that don’t meet vaccination targets?

Though often seen as a conservative phenomenon, vaccine hesitancy and refusal occur across the political and cultural spectrum in the United States, and for a variety of reasons. No single argument can address all of these concerns, and changing minds is often a slow, individualized process.

Pastor Shon Neyland, who regularly implores members of his church in Portland, Ore., to get the Covid-19 vaccines, estimated that only about half of the members of the Highland Christian Center church have gotten shots. There have been tensions within the congregation over vaccination.

“It’s disappointing, because I’ve tried to help them to see that their lives are in jeopardy and this is a serious threat to humanity,” he said.

Shareese Harris, 26, who works in the office of Grace Cathedral International in Uniondale, N.Y., has not been vaccinated and is “taking my time with it.” She worries that there may be long-term side effects from the vaccines and that they were rushed to market.

“I shouldn’t be judged or forced to make a decision,” Ms. Harris said. “Society will just have to wait for us.”

Rising resentment among the vaccinated may well lead to public support for more coercive requirements, including mandates, but experts warn that punitive measures and social ostracism can backfire, shutting down dialogue and outreach efforts.

Elected officials in several Los Angeles County communities, for example, are already refusing to enforce the county’s new mask mandate.

“Anything that reduces the opportunity for honest dialogue and an opportunity for persuasion is not a good thing,” said Stephen Thomas, a professor of health policy and management at University of Maryland School of Public Health. “We are already in isolated, siloed information systems, where people are in their own echo chambers.”

Gentle persuasion and persistent prodding convinced Dorrett Denton, a 62-year-old home health aide in Queens, to be vaccinated in February. Her employer urged Ms. Denton repeatedly to be immunized, but in the end it was her doctor who persuaded her.

“She says to me: ‘You’ve been coming to me from 1999. How many times did I do surgery on you, and your life was in my hands? You trust me with your life, don’t you?’” Ms. Denton recalled.

“I said, ‘Yes, doctor.’ She said, ‘Well, trust me on this one.’”

Giulia Heyward contributed reporting from Miami, Sophie Kasakove from New York and Livia Albeck-Ripka from Los Angeles.

Read full article at The New York Times

SF bars could require COVID-19 vax or negative test to enter starting Thursday

msnNOW 27 July, 2021 - 09:10am

You might want to bring your COVID-19 vaccination card with you if you’re planning a night on the town in San Francisco.

A group representing over 300 city bars and more than 500 owners has decided to require proof of vaccination – either a QR code or vaccination card – or a 72-hour negative COVID-19 test from customers who want to drink indoors. The San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance had previously said the group was considering the policy.

Things had been going well in general for San Francisco bars over the last couple of months, but a disturbing trend has developed recently.

"We started to notice that staff members at different bars around town…who were vaccinated were coming down with the delta variant of the coronavirus," Ben Bleiman, owner of Tonic and founder of the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance, told KCBS Radio on Monday.

Bleiman said cases have been mild, but they were concerning enough to prompt the alliance to take an official stance on potential customers’ vaccination status.

Each establishment is free to choose whether it wants to adopt this policy when it takes effect on Thursday.

Nikki DeWald, owner of Blondie’s in the Mission District, started only allowing vaccinated customers inside a week before the alliance’s policy is set to be implemented. Unvaccinated patrons were allowed to sit outside in a parklet.

"At first, it looked like were losing a lot of business because people were walking away," DeWald told KCBS Radio. "But that was the worst of it. I think a lot of people felt a second layer of protection knowing that everybody inside was vaccinated."

Other bar owners are more hesitant.

Michael "Spike" Krouse, owner of Madrone Art Bar north of the Panhandle, said in a statement to KCBS Radio he will require proof of vaccination, but he worries about pushback. Krouse said he has seen other bars inundated with bad Yelp reviews for requiring proof of vaccination.

Frank Rossi co-owns Gino and Carlo in North Beach, and he told KCBS Radio the bar will wait and see before requiring proof of vaccination.

"We have to wait and see," Rossi told KCBS Radio when asked if he was worried customers would push back. "But we have some people in here that have strong opinions, so I would anticipate there’d be a few."

Bars that already require indoor customers to be vaccinated include Vesuvio, which is a few blocks away from Gino and Carlo, as well as the Make Out Room in the Mission.

It’s not clear if restaurants will pursue a similar path.

While San Francisco boasts a very high vaccination rate at 76% of those eligible having both doses, the rest of California lags behind at 60% of eligible residents. Many Bay Area counties and the City of Berkeley have already moved to recommend masks indoors, but stopped short of mandating the move.

Other California cities like Los Angeles have reinstated indoor masking mandates.

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What you need to know about the new COVID-19 surge

ArkLaTex Homepage 27 July, 2021 - 05:00am

“What I would really like to see is more and more of the leaders in those areas that are not vaccinating to get out and speak out and encourage people to get vaccinated,” he told CNN. 

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As Virus Cases Rise, Another Contagion Spreads Among the Vaccinated: Anger

CNN 27 July, 2021 - 02:00am

Frustrated by the prospect of a new surge, many Americans are blaming the unvaccinated. A tougher stance may backfire, some experts warn.

As coronavirus cases resurge across the country, many inoculated Americans are losing patience with vaccine holdouts who, they say, are neglecting a civic duty or clinging to conspiracy theories and misinformation even as new patients arrive in emergency rooms and the nation renews mask advisories.

The country seemed to be exiting the pandemic; barely a month ago, a sense of celebration was palpable. Now many of the vaccinated fear for their unvaccinated children and worry that they are at risk themselves for breakthrough infections. Rising case rates are upending plans for school and workplace reopenings, and threatening another wave of infections that may overwhelm hospitals in many communities.

“It’s like the sun has come up in the morning and everyone is arguing about it,” said Jim Taylor, 66, a retired civil servant in Baton Rouge, La., a state in which fewer than half of adults are fully vaccinated.

“The virus is here and it’s killing people, and we have a time-tested way to stop it — and we won’t do it. It’s an outrage.”

The rising sentiment is contributing to support for more coercive measures. Scientists, business leaders and government officials are calling for vaccine mandates — if not by the federal government, then by local jurisdictions, schools, employers and businesses.

“I’ve become angrier as time has gone on,” said Doug Robertson, 39, a teacher who lives outside Portland, Ore., and has three children too young to be vaccinated, including a toddler with a serious health condition.

“Now there is a vaccine and a light at the end of the tunnel, and some people are choosing not to walk toward it,” he said. “You are making it darker for my family and others like mine by making that choice.”

On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City ordered that all municipal workers be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the time schools reopen in mid-September or face weekly testing. Officials in California followed suit hours later with a similar mandate covering all state employees and health care workers.

The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday required that 115,000 on-site health care workers be vaccinated in the next two months, the first federal agency to order a mandate. Nearly 60 major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association, on Monday called for mandatory vaccination of all health care workers.

“It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks,” a frustrated Gov. Kay Ivey, Republican of Alabama, told reporters last week. “It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”

There is little doubt that the United States has reached an inflection point. According to a database maintained by The New York Times, 57 percent of Americans ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated. Eligible Americans are receiving 537,000 doses per day on average, an 84 percent decrease from the peak of 3.38 million in early April.

As a result of lagging vaccination and lifted restrictions, infections are rising. As of Sunday, the country was seeing 52,000 new cases daily, on average, a 170 percent increase over the previous two weeks. Hospitalization and death rates are increasing, too, although not as quickly.

Communities from San Francisco to Austin, Texas, are recommending that vaccinated people wear masks again in public indoor settings. Citing the spread of the more contagious Delta variant of the virus, the counties of Los Angeles and St. Louis, Mo., have ordered indoor mask mandates.

For many Americans who were vaccinated months ago, the future is beginning to look grim. Frustration is straining relations even within closely knit families.

Josh Perldeiner, 36, a public defender in Connecticut who has a 2-year-old son, was fully vaccinated by mid-May. But a close relative, who visits frequently, has refused to get the shots, although he and other family members have urged her to do so.

She recently tested positive for the virus after traveling to Florida, where hospitals are filling with Covid-19 patients. Now Mr. Perldeiner worries that his son, too young for a vaccine, may have been exposed.

“It goes beyond just putting us at risk,” he said. “People with privilege are refusing the vaccine, and it’s affecting our economy and perpetuating the cycle.” As infections rise, he added, “I feel like we’re at that same precipice as just a year ago, where people don’t care if more people die.”

Hospitals have become a particular flash point. Vaccination remains voluntary in most settings, and it is not required for caregivers at most hospitals and nursing homes. Many large hospital chains are just beginning to require that employees be vaccinated.

Even though she is fully vaccinated, Aimee McLean, a nurse case manager at University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, worries about contracting the virus from a patient and inadvertently passing it to her father, who has a serious chronic lung disease. Less than half of Utah’s population is fully vaccinated.

“The longer that we’re not getting toward that number, the more it feels like there’s a decent percentage of the population that honestly doesn’t care about us as health care workers,” Ms. McLean, 46, said.

She suggested health insurers link coverage of hospital bills to immunization. “If you choose not to be part of the solution, then you should be accountable for the consequences,” she said.

Many schools and universities are set to resume in-person classes as early as next month. As the number of infections increases, these settings, too, have seen tension rise between the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on K-12 school reopening are tied to rates of community virus transmission. In communities where vaccination lags, those rates are rising, and vaccinated parents must worry anew about outbreaks at schools. The vaccines are not yet authorized for children under 12.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has advised that children wear masks in class when schools reopen. On Friday, school districts from Chicago to Washington began putting mandates into effect.

Universities, on the other hand, often can require vaccinations of students and staff members. But many have not, frustrating the vaccinated.

“If we’re respecting the rights and liberties of the unvaccinated, what’s happening to the rights and liberties of the vaccinated?” said Elif Akcali, 49, who teaches engineering at the University of Florida, in Gainesville. The university is not requiring students to be vaccinated, and with rates climbing in Florida, she is worried about exposure to the virus.

Some are even wondering how much sympathy they should have for fellow citizens who are not acting in their own best interest. “I feel like if you chose not to get vaccinated, and now you get sick, it’s kind of your bad,” said Lia Hockett, 21, the manager of Thunderbolt Spiritual Books in Santa Monica, Calif.

As the virus begins to spread again, some vaccinated people believe the federal government should start using sticks rather than carrots, like lottery tickets.

Carol Meyer, 65, of Ulster County, N.Y., suggested withholding stimulus payments or tax credits from vaccine refusers. “I feel we have a social contract in this country with our neighbors, and people who can get vaccinated and choose not to get vaccinated are breaking it,” Ms. Meyer said.

Bill Alstrom, 74, a retired innkeeper in Acton, Mass., said he would not support measures that would directly affect individual families and children, but asked whether federal government funding should be withheld from states that don’t meet vaccination targets.

Maybe the federal government should require employees and contractors to be vaccinated, he mused. Why shouldn’t federal funding be withheld from states that don’t meet vaccination targets?

Though often seen as a conservative phenomenon, vaccine hesitancy and refusal occur across the political and cultural spectrum in the United States, and for a variety of reasons. No single argument can address all of these concerns, and changing minds is often a slow, individualized process.

Pastor Shon Neyland, who regularly implores members of his church in Portland, Ore., to get the Covid-19 vaccines, estimated that only about half of the members of the Highland Christian Center church have gotten shots. There have been tensions within the congregation over vaccination.

“It’s disappointing, because I’ve tried to help them to see that their lives are in jeopardy and this is a serious threat to humanity,” he said.

Shareese Harris, 26, who works in the office of Grace Cathedral International in Uniondale, N.Y., has not been vaccinated and is “taking my time with it.” She worries that there may be long-term side effects from the vaccines and that they were rushed to market.

“I shouldn’t be judged or forced to make a decision,” Ms. Harris said. “Society will just have to wait for us.”

Rising resentment among the vaccinated may well lead to public support for more coercive requirements, including mandates, but experts warn that punitive measures and social ostracism can backfire, shutting down dialogue and outreach efforts.

Elected officials in several Los Angeles County communities, for example, are already refusing to enforce the county’s new mask mandate.

“Anything that reduces the opportunity for honest dialogue and an opportunity for persuasion is not a good thing,” said Stephen Thomas, a professor of health policy and management at University of Maryland School of Public Health. “We are already in isolated, siloed information systems, where people are in their own echo chambers.”

Gentle persuasion and persistent prodding convinced Dorrett Denton, a 62-year-old home health aide in Queens, to be vaccinated in February. Her employer urged Ms. Denton repeatedly to be immunized, but in the end it was her doctor who persuaded her.

“She says to me: ‘You’ve been coming to me from 1999. How many times did I do surgery on you, and your life was in my hands? You trust me with your life, don’t you?’” Ms. Denton recalled.

“I said, ‘Yes, doctor.’ She said, ‘Well, trust me on this one.’”

Giulia Heyward contributed reporting from Miami, Sophie Kasakove from New York and Livia Albeck-Ripka from Los Angeles.

There are two states with 'high transmission' of COVID-19 in every county

WESH Orlando 26 July, 2021 - 04:13pm

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Florida and Arkansas currently share a grim distinction when it comes to the spread of the coronavirus.

Every one of the two state's counties is now listed as having "high" levels of community transmission, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC lists high transmission in nearly every county in several other states, including Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

The CDC considers a county to have high transmission if there have been 100 or more cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents or a test positivity rate of 10% or higher in the past seven days.

Nearly 44% of U.S. counties fall into this category, according to the latest CDC county-level update.

Over the past week, Florida accounted for nearly a quarter of all cases in the United States — more than any other state.

Florida, with 67 counties, reported an average of 10,452 new cases each day over the past week — more than triple the daily average from two weeks ago, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The case rate in Florida over the past week — about 49 new cases per 100,000 people each day — is more than three times the U.S. rate of about 16 new cases per 100,000 people each day. Only Arkansas and Louisiana had higher case rates over the past week.

Florida hospitals are grappling with a surge of COVID-19 patients.

"We could be an entire hospital full of COVID in a matter of a month if things don't begin to slow down or vaccinations don't increase," Chad Neilsen, the director of infection prevention at the University of Florida Health Jacksonville, told CNN last week. Neilsen added that 90% of COVID-19 patients at the hospital are not vaccinated.

Florida also reported more COVID-19 deaths than any other state over the past week — a total of 282 over the past week — the sixth-highest per capita rate of deaths in the country.

The state has fully vaccinated 48.5% of its residents, according to data from the CDC — below the U.S. rate of 49.1%.

Arkansas, with 75 counties, reported 11,748 new cases and 56 new deaths this past week with a positivity rating of 19.3% according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

About 36% of Arkansas residents are fully vaccinated, the site reported.

The GOP governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, says COVID-19 infections are soaring because of the low vaccination rate.

"This is a pivotal moment in our race against the COVID virus. We have school coming up. We have a lot of sports activities that people are expecting and anxious about," Hutchinson told CNN on Sunday.

"And what's holding us back is a low vaccination rate," said Hutchinson.

But, the governor said, a push to get people vaccinated is working, with a 40% increase in vaccinations since he's been holding Town Hall meetings promoting vaccination.

"We're seeing people that were previously resistant or hesitant about it coming in and getting the vaccination," he said.

The most populous county in the U.S. is also recording a high transmission rate.

Los Angeles County — with a population of about 10 million — reported 3,058 new COVID-19 cases Friday, the third day in a row that the county reported more than 2,500 cases, county health officials said in a news release.

"As transmission accelerates in L.A. County, Public Health cautions that unvaccinated people are becoming infected at 2.7 times the rate of transmission of just one month ago," the department said in the release.

More than 10,000 cases were reported over the last four days, health officials said, warning about the accelerating transmission in the county.

Hospitalizations are also increasing countywide, the department said. A total of 655 people in Los Angeles are currently hospitalized, an increase of more than 200 people since last week.

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