N.Y. COVID positivity rate ticks up slightly


New York Daily News 05 July, 2021 - 03:04pm 55 views

According to data from the state Health Department, 0.76% of coronavirus tests administered Sunday came back positive. That’s the highest such rate in at least a month and comes as some local officials are troubled by the delta variant accounting for a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases.

Manhattan Councilman Mark Levine, who is chairman of the Health Committee, noted last week that 44.4% of New York City’s COVID-19 cases are attributable to the delta strain, which was first detected in India last year and has proven far more contagious than other versions of the virus.

“We need to take this seriously. If you are unvaccinated, the time to get your shot is NOW,” Levine tweeted.

Despite the positivity rate increase, most other coronavirus statistics in New York are trending in the right direction.

Only two coronavirus deaths were reported statewide Monday, and the number of New Yorkers hospitalized with COVID-19 dropped to 330.

Another 13,225 coronavirus vaccine doses were injected during the latest reporting window, according to the Health Department data, meaning 72.6% of adult New Yorkers have now received at least one shot.

“We’re working to beat back COVID-19 on all fronts, and with more New Yorkers getting vaccinated every day, our future looks bright,” Gov. Cuomo said.

With pandemic restrictions like face mask mandates and capacity limits easing across the country, public health experts stress that vaccinations are tantamount to defeating COVID-19, especially as mutations like the delta variant continue to emerge.

The three vaccines authorized in the U.S. — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — have proven effective in protecting against the delta variant, according to researchers, though some studies suggest the level of protection is slightly lower than against more common COVID-19 strains.

Read full article at New York Daily News

Should fully vaccinated people continue to wear masks? Experts weigh in.

NBC News 05 July, 2021 - 08:00pm

On Thursday, the St. Louis County and city public health departments issued a warning about the spread of the delta variant and advised a return to masks indoors, even if vaccinated. Earlier in the week, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced it "strongly recommends" that everyone wear a mask indoors after an increase in cases.

But despite a slowdown in the rate of vaccinations and the recent uptick in Covid-19 cases in the U.S., there is no indication the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will once again recommend masks for fully vaccinated individuals for the country as a whole.

"If you're vaccinated, you have a very high degree of protection from all of the variants that we are aware of circulating in the United States," Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, told NBC News.

In areas with low vaccine uptake, a return to masks indoors, even for vaccinated people, may be appropriate, Walensky said. Nationwide, just over 55 percent of Americans eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine have been fully vaccinated.

Do whatever it takes for Covid to go away.

"If you're in a community that has a high amount of disease and less than a third of your population is vaccinated, one should consider whether the policy should be to mask," Walensky said. Masking is "more about protecting the two-thirds of the community that are not vaccinated."

Currently, approximately 1,000 counties in the U.S. have vaccination coverage of less than 30 percent, she said.

"These variants are going to find a way" to survive, Dunn said.

"Do whatever it takes for Covid to go away," he added. "If I had to jump on my left foot five times a day, I would do it."

No vaccine stops all transmission of a virus. While rare, it is possible that fully vaccinated people can become infected with Covid-19. A recent outbreak of Covid-19 cases associated with the delta variant in Israel included many who had been fully vaccinated, for example.

Those are called breakthrough infections, and they are typically mild.

Science's best guess right now is "maybe."

"There is no study that looks at vaccinated people and their asymptomatic carry rate with the delta variant," said Dr. Hugh Cassiere, director of critical care services at the Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital at North Shore University Hospital, on Long Island, New York.

"That's the scary part," Cassiere said. "Delta has such a high infectivity rate."

While vaccinated individuals may be protected personally, a mask protects people who are vulnerable, including those who are unvaccinated, people with compromised immune systems and children under age 12.

"A mask reduces your infectivity to me, and mine to you. It's bi-directional," said Cameron Wolfe, an infectious diseases expert and an associate professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine.

Masks were considered highly effective in slowing the spread of the virus last fall, but that was before widespread access to vaccines.

Still, "if we're dealing with something that is more transmissible," Wolfe said, referring to the delta variant, "I think you'd want a little more protection."

Experts say perhaps it is time to re-normalize mask-wearing for the benefit of all.

"The critical people to have masks are the unvaccinated," said Dr. Marybeth Sexton, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine. "But sometimes I think it's probably necessary for everybody to mask in order to accomplish that."

Some doctors treating severe Covid-19 cases are also encouraging universal mask use not necessarily for less risky outdoor gatherings, such as Fourth of July barbecues and pool parties, but for more crowded, indoor areas, where patrons probably don't know with whom they're sharing a space, such as a movie theater.

Those are "higher-risk situations," said Dr. Russell Vinik, chief medical operations officer at the University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City. "With so many unknowns now, it is prudent to wear a mask. I certainly do."

There is also no indication that wearing a mask causes physical harm.

"We've been doing it for 12 months pretty solidly," Wolfe said. "It's not that hard."

The fast-spreading Delta virus is now dominant in California and at least 4 other states, data indicates

Yahoo News 05 July, 2021 - 08:00pm

Data from California officials suggests Delta is already dominant there.

Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri and Utah also published data indicating the variant is dominant.

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Data indicates the Delta variant of the coronavirus is already dominant in five US states.

The variant, which is more transmissible than previous ones, has reached all 50 states. It is widely expected to become dominant in the country over the next couple of weeks.

Some states are further along the curve than others. Data suggests it has already taken over in at least five. This includes California, the most populous state.

A variant is considered dominant once it causes a greater proportion of infections than any other. It can reach this level before accounting for 50% of cases, though nations where Delta has existed the longest are registering close to 100% dominance.

The Delta variant made up 35.6% of sequenced cases submitted to the international GISAID database during the most recent available period, according to the California Department of Public Health. That was higher than the previously dominant variant, Alpha, which made up 34.3% of cases.

In the week of June 21, the Iowa State Hygienic lab sequenced 47 cases of the virus, 53% of which involved the Delta variant, according to KWWL.

Fifty-six percent of sequenced Arkansas cases were due to Delta as of June 24, according to Action 5 news.

St. Louis Public Radio cited Dr. George Turabelidze, an epidemiologist at the state Department of Health and Senior Services as saying that of Wednesday the variant made up about half of the cases in Missouri caused by variants.

Seventy percent, or 334, of the 447 cases sequenced on the week of June 13 involved the Delta variant, according to Utah Department of Health data.

In the graph below, the variants are called by their scientific names. Delta, or B.1.617.2, is orange, while Alpha, or B.1.1.7, is green.

The variant is likely to be dominant in more states. Data reported here is from infections recorded a few weeks ago, a lag caused by the length of time taken to collect and analyze the data.

An analysis from the Financial Times published Saturday suggests the variant could already be dominant in 21 states.

These can be seen in the tweet below:

What is encouraging is that two doses of vaccine are highly protective against developing even mild symptoms after catching the Delta variant. On Sunday, President Joe Biden said during July Fourth celebrations that getting vaccinated was "the most patriotic thing you can do."

Data from the UK - where Delta is almost totally dominant - suggests that both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine offer 88% protection and that the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine offers 60% protection from symptomatic disease.

One dose of either is thought to be far less protective against developing mild symptoms of the disease but still quite effective at protecting people from developing a worse version of COVID-19.

The UK data indicates the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot offers 71% efficacy against hospitalization and the Pfizer-BioNTech shot offers 94% protection.

Johnson & Johnson and Moderna have also said their vaccines work well against the Delta variant.

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Iran announced Sunday it was reimposing coronavirus restrictions on major cities, as the spread of the highly contagious delta variant spurs fears of another devastating surge in the nation. After over a year battling the worst virus outbreak in the Middle East, Iran ordered the closures of non-essential businesses in 275 cities, including the capital of Tehran. Iran's new restrictions are designed to slow the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant first detected in India, which on Saturday President Hassan Rouhani warned was driving a potential “fifth wave" of infections in the country.

Mercy Springfield tweeted that all 47 of the hospital’s ventilators were in use, a situation public health officials say is avoidable if people would get vaccinated.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Monday (5 July) that it is investigating an incident involving a 16-year-old boy who suffered a cardiac arrest after lifting weights six days into receiving his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Airbnb blocked 5,000 bookings in Phoenix and 4,500 in both Las Vegas and Seattle, it said. It wants to stop young people gathering in large groups.

At least three people were injured in the explosion.

United just unveiled the new interiors that most of its narrow-body planes and one key feature is that there will be enough room for all carry-ons.

Tricia Jones from Missouri was "freaked out" by the possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, her mother told local media.

The driver told the California Highway Patrol (CHP) that the satellite dish only obstructed their view when turning right, CHP wrote on Facebook.

Nathan Howard/GettyDale Durran just endured a historic heatwave in Seattle, and perhaps more than most residents, he’s got good reason to be confident climate change had something to do with the regional madness that proved especially extreme next door, in Oregon, where dozens died.The professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington told The Daily Beast that this past week’s monstrous stretch—which topped out at a blistering 108 degrees on Monday—was “so outside the range of pr

Health experts say it’s a sign more adults and adolescents need to get vaccinated to avoid bringing the virus home and spreading to unvaccinated kids.

Officials had earlier said he died from a head injury trying to exit the hot tub after a fireworks mishap.

As the last major deployments of American and NATO troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, one of the most important milestones in their departure was the closing last week of Bagram Airfield, once the largest US base in the country.

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"The more unvaccinated people there are, the more opportunities for the virus to multiply," infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner said.

England sticks to plan for lifting restrictions on 'Freedom Day'; fake vaccines administered to thousands in India: Latest COVID-19 updates

USA TODAY 05 July, 2021 - 09:50am

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says England still plans to lift restrictions July 19, even though new cases may rise to 50,000 a day by then.

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A San Francisco Bay Area zoo is inoculating its big cats, bears and ferrets against the coronavirus as part of a national effort to protect animal species using an experimental vaccine. (July 3) AP Domestic

Residents of England got reassurances Monday that plans for the July 19 "Freedom Day'' remain in place, just as they were learning that Duchess Kate is self-isolating after coming in contact last week with a person who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The juxtaposition of the approaching end of COVID-19 restrictions in England with Prince William's wife being confined to home for 10 days underscores one of the key messages British Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered with Monday's announcement:

"I want to stress from the outset that this pandemic is far from over," he said in a news conference. "It certainly won't be over by the 19th."

Johnson pointed out there has been a marked increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations recently, and the number of new infections could rise to 50,000 per day by July 19.

Nevertheless, Johnson said he expects England's reopening — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own coronavirus rules — to remain on schedule. That would mean discarding mask and social distance requirements, along with most of the other measures imposed to limit spread of the virus.

The unlocking was initially slated for June 21 but got delayed because of the emergence of the delta variant. A final decision will be made next Monday after reviewing the data. 

"If we can't open in the next few weeks ... then when can we?" Johnson said.

►Some regions in Spain are imposing restrictions on nightlife to curb the soaring coronavirus infections among young people, who rank low on the priority list for vaccinations.

►Russia on Sunday reported more than 25,000 new coronavirus cases, the largest number since January, as the country faces a sharp surge over the past month. The national coronavirus task force said 663 patients died, down from the previous day’s 697, which was a record high.

►The number of travelers through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints Thursday and Friday exceeded travelers in 2019 and 2020, the agency reported. 

►Six people from a task force working at the scene of the Miami-area condo building collapse have tested positive for COVID-19, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky said. 

►Indonesian officials are scrambling to boost oxygen supplies, which have become scarce in parts of the country as the number of critically ill COVID-19 patients who need it increases. Dozens of sick people recently died at a public hospital after it ran out of its central supply of oxygen.

📈Today's numbers: The U.S. has more than 33.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 605,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 183.9 million cases and nearly 3.98 million deaths. More than 157 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – 47.4% of the population, according to the CDC.

📘What we're reading: The CDC is investigating the case of a 13-year-old Saginaw County boy who died in his sleep three days after getting his second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in mid-June. Read the full story.

Fourteen people have been arrested in Mumbai, India, in connection with a scheme to administer fake COVID-19 vaccines to thousands of people, who actually got injected with salt water.

Authorities said health care professionals, including doctors, participated in the extensive scam at no less than a dozen bogus vaccination sites. About 2,500 people appeared have been defrauded in a hoax that netted the perpetrators $28,000.

India is still bouncing back from a massive spring surge that sickened millions, claimed thousands of lives, and led to a shortage of hospital beds and oxygen. The country's government launched a mass vaccination drive with free shots, but less than 5% of the population has been fully inoculated.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden hosted a party Sunday on the South Lawn of the White House to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday and progress made during the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden highlighted in his remarks the country's falling coronavirus case numbers and widespread vaccination uptake, while taking time to recognize the more than 600,000 Americans who've died from COVID-19 during the pandemic.

“Today we’re closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus. That’s not to say the battle against COVID-19 is over. We’ve got a lot more work to do," he said.

The holiday came as the delta variant is overtaking much of the country. The highly infectious strain now accounts for 25% of cases in the U.S., according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccines have proven effective against the variant, but more than one-third of eligible Americans remain unvaccinated.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel remained hospitalized and under observation for a second day Monday because he has been unable to shake a bout of COVID-19 that developed over a week ago.

A government official who spoke on condition of anonymity said Bettel, 48, has coronavirus symptoms that include coughing, headaches and a slight fever, but has not developed a life-threatening condition.

About 99.2% of recent COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. involved unvaccinated people, a "tragic" situation that could easily be remedied, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday.

The top infectious disease expert said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he was frustrated at a situation in which "you have a formidable enemy”, and “yet we do have a countermeasure that’s highly, highly effective. And that’s the reason why it’s all the more sad and all the more tragic why it isn’t being completely implemented in this country.”

Fauci cited several reasons for opposition to the vaccine by some Americans: “ideological” or some people “are just fundamentally anti-vax or anti-science.”

The U.S. is “very fortunate” that it has “enough vaccines to vaccinate essentially everybody in the country," Fauci said. "And there are people throughout the world who would do anything to get vaccines.”

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