Should People Who Took The Covid-19 Vaccine Start Wearing Masks Again?


The New York Times 22 July, 2021 - 06:58pm 47 views

Kent County reports first case of highly contagious coronavirus delta variant 22 July, 2021 - 06:10pm

KENT COUNTY, MI – Kent County has its first case of the highly transmissible coronavirus delta variant.

Kent County Health Director Adam London on Wednesday, July 21, confirmed that the new, infectious variant is here in the community. The delta variant now accounts for 83 percent of new COVID-19 infections in the United States.

The variant has not surged across Michigan as it has other states, but London said that it was expected to show up.

“It is concerning to us that we continue to see these variants developing,” he said recently.

“It’s not a surprise. That’s what viruses do.”

The concern with the delta variant is that it is the most contagious variant so far, two to three times more contagious than the original virus, he said.

Ottawa County and Kalamazoo County reported their first cases of delta variants late last month. Barry County reported its first delta variant earlier this week involving a patient who tested positive July 5 for the coronavirus.

Michigan has not been hit hard by the variant. State health officials said this week that only 71 cases of the delta variant have been found across 21 counties.

Health officials are concerned, however, that the infectious variant could spread quickly through the unvaccinated population.

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Delta variant: 7 things to know about the highly contagious coronavirus strain

Yahoo News 22 July, 2021 - 12:55pm

Since the COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the variant — especially when it comes to preventing serious illness — health experts say the recent uptick in cases and hospitalizations is primarily due to localized outbreaks in areas of the country with low vaccination rates. Currently, some of the most concerning hot spots are in Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida. In these areas, where infection levels have soared, some hospitals are struggling to keep pace as the Delta variant spreads.

However, an uptick in cases has now been reported in all 50 states, including areas of the country with a comparatively higher percentage of the population vaccinated.

Yahoo News Medical Contributor Dr. Kavita Patel told Yahoo News that in the next six to eight weeks it is likely that cases will continue to rise — even in the Northeast, where infection levels have remained quite low. However, this surge, she said, is different from previous ones in that new cases “are almost all exclusively in people who are unvaccinated.”

Here's what to know about the fast-spreading variant and how to stay safe and protect others.

Some experts have called Delta “the most troubling variant by far” due to its high transmissibility. According to the World Health Organization, the strain is about 60 percent more transmissible than B.1.1.7 — the U.K. variant that was recently renamed Alpha, which was the dominant strain of new cases in the United States until about a month ago.

The Delta variant first surged across India in March and April 2021, and pushed the country’s COVID-19 death toll past 400,000, according to the Indian government. But researchers from Brown, Harvard and the Center for Global Development believe the number is much higher (up to 5 million deaths).

In the United States, in just three weeks Delta progressed to dominance and now makes up approximately 83 percent of new cases in the country. Patel said this is just an estimate, and experts believe that number may be higher due to Delta’s ability to replicate faster. “We now have mounting evidence that the Delta strain itself reproduces in people's nasal passages, mouth and body faster, up to 1,200 times higher than previous coronavirus strains,” she told Yahoo News.

This knowledge comes from a recent preprint study — a scientific paper that hasn’t been peer-reviewed yet — from China where scientists examined 62 cases of the Delta variant and found viral loads about 1,260 times higher than those found in 63 cases from when the virus was first detected in 2020. Based on this research, Delta also appears to be more infectious earlier in the course of illness, with an average of about four days for it to reach detectable levels inside a person, compared with six days for the original coronavirus variant.

Although Delta appears to be more contagious than other variants, it does not appear to be more severe. One recent study from Scotland suggests the Delta variant is about twice as likely as Alpha to result in hospitalization in unvaccinated individuals, but other data has shown no significant difference.

Patel said research is ongoing to determine whether the strain leads to higher-than-expected deaths or hospitalizations.

Unvaccinated people are at risk. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a COVID-19 briefing on Friday that “this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

Walensky said that more than 97 percent of people hospitalized with COVID-19 today are unvaccinated. Dr. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general, said on Sunday that 99.5 percent of Americans who are dying are those who didn’t get the jab.

While nearly half of the entire U.S. population (48 percent) is fully vaccinated, the level of protection varies widely across and within states. Areas where vaccination rates are low are the most vulnerable at the moment. To know how your county ranks, the CDC just released a new tool that maps vaccination rates along with what it calls the Social Vulnerability Index (SVI). The SVI uses data on housing, transportation and poverty to estimate which communities are most vulnerable to disasters or disease outbreaks.

Counties with low vaccination rates and higher social vulnerability scores (red on the map) have more reasons to worry about Delta’s impact on their communities than counties with higher vaccination rates and lower social vulnerability scores (blue on the map).

Hospitals across the country are also reporting that those who are hospitalized with the Delta variant tend to be younger than in previous COVID-19 waves.

“I’m admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections,” wrote Dr. Brytney Cobia, a doctor at Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham, Ala., in a poignant Facebook post Sunday. “One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late.”

Erik Frederick, chief administrative officer of Missouri’s Mercy Hospital Springfield, told Yahoo News that his hospital is also seeing younger patients who are sicker.

“Now we're seeing patients that are really in a younger category, and when we think of our most critically ill patients, those that are on ECMO, which is a really high level of intensive care, all those patients right now are in their mid- to younger 50s, and that's really unusual. We've also had patients on ECMO and in the ICU in their 20s, and even expire in their 20s,” Frederick said.

Kids are a concern as well. Even though Delta doesn’t appear to be a greater threat to children, there have been recent reports of hospitals treating critically ill kids with COVID-19. “We're seeing also with new cases a number of pediatric infections,” said Patel. “We're only seeing about 1 percent of COVID cases leading to hospitalization, compared to 15 to 20 percent of adult cases leading to hospitalization. It's not at a higher rate than adult infections, but a great number of infections are in children.”

The reason we're seeing cases in younger people, Patel said, is simply that almost 90 percent of older Americans, especially those over the age of 65, have had at least one dose of the vaccine. “In essence, they are no longer kind of easy for the virus to infect, so the virus just goes to a population that it can, then it's infecting people who are not vaccinated, which tend to be younger people in general,” Patel said.

Patel said some of the symptoms being reported are classic COVID-19 symptoms, such as loss of smell, loss of taste, fever and a cough. However, Patel — who is a primary care physician — said doctors are also seeing symptoms they would normally see in a common cold and allergies, such as runny nose, headaches, sore throat and itchy eyes.

“Sometimes people think that they are allergies, and in many cases they might be, but they're not necessarily those classic symptoms of a fever and loss of smell or taste. So I'm encouraging anybody who has had symptoms of any kind that they do not normally experience, that they should go to a doctor or somewhere where they can get a rapid test to find out within minutes if they might have COVID,” Patel said.

Those who are vaccinated might still catch Delta, but there’s no reason to panic, because most people who do will experience fewer symptoms with less severity. There have been a number of recent reports of fully vaccinated people testing positive for COVID-19. However, these breakthrough cases do not surprise or alarm doctors since they’re not occurring at concerning levels and the vaccines available continue to hold up well against the Delta variant.

“If you are vaccinated, remember you are safe from death and hospitalization,” said Patel.

“What we don't have data on is whether you get vaccinated, get a breakthrough infection, maybe have no symptoms, but you might pass it to someone who's unvaccinated. We are waiting to kind of have the clinical data to confirm if that might be the case, which is why we're telling everyone if ... you've got unvaccinated people in your household, then you should make sure you take precautions,” she added.

Bottom line: Vaccines continue to be the strongest weapon against the virus. The most important thing you can do to protect yourself and loved ones from Delta is to get fully vaccinated, doctors say. That means two doses of the mRNA vaccines such as Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

All of the vaccine manufacturers have conducted studies to assess whether their shots are still effective against the Delta variant, and they are. Although in these analyses a small drop in potency compared with the vaccines’ effectiveness against the original strain of the virus has been observed, especially in the Johnson & Johnson shot, all three still offer substantial protection against the virus. A Public Health England analysis showed that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, for example, is 88 percent effective against symptomatic disease and 96 percent effective against hospitalization from Delta.

To further protect their citizens, some areas of the country where cases are rising, such as L.A. County, have reimposed mask mandates for both unvaccinated and vaccinated people when indoors. These are measures that have been taken to mitigate the spread of Delta. However, some experts note that the quality of those masks will matter.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration, told CBS News on Sunday that "trying to get N95 masks into the hands of vulnerable individuals in places where this is really epidemic” is going to be important, “even in cases where they're vaccinated, if they want to add another layer of protection."

Children under age 12 are not yet eligible for any COVID-19 vaccine. Emergency use authorization of these shots for children may not come until midwinter, an FDA official said recently. Patel said the best thing you can do is “create a line of defense” for your children “by getting vaccinated yourself.” Additionally, she recommends treating them as if they are extremely vulnerable to getting infected and avoiding congested areas, especially indoor spaces.

“Choose outdoor spaces [and other places] with great air ventilation, and then the quality of your masks matter for kids. You really want to try to just protect and cover their nose and mouth as efficiently as possible,” Patel said.

Until there are widespread pediatric vaccinations, these tips will be important to keep children safe, especially going into the school year this fall. It is why, Patel said, the American Academy of Pediatrics made a very bold statement that any child over the age of 2, even those who are immunized over the age of 12, should be wearing a mask in school this fall.

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U.S. health officials said Thursday they now have evidence of an untreatable fungus spreading in two hospitals and a nursing home. The “superbug” outbreaks were reported in a Washington, D.C, nursing home and at two Dallas-area hospitals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. A handful of the patients had invasive fungal infections that were impervious to all three major classes of medications.

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Just three states are now driving the pandemic in the United States, as the divide between vaccinated and unvaccinated regions of the country becomes ever more stark, as the more transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus spreads.

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Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Note: Rhode Island and Iowa data is from CDC and from July 12-July 19; Map: Axios VisualsCoronavirus infections are rising dramatically all over the U.S. as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads.The big picture: Some “breakthrough” infections are happening to vaccinated people, but this rising tide of cases and hospitalizations is mainly a threat to those who aren’t vaccinated. And in some parts of the country, most people aren’t vaccinated — so the vir

More and more hospitals and major health systems are requiring employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine, citing rising caseloads fueled by the delta variant and stubbornly low vaccination rates in their communities and even within their workforce. Many hospitals say their efforts to immunize their employees have stalled, in much the same way the nation’s overall vaccination rates are stuck under 60%, behind many European countries and Canada. While more than 96% of doctors say they are fully vaccin

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The Delta variant of the coronavirus has become the dominant strain in the U.S. and many other parts of the world.

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Breakthrough infections of Covid involving fully vaccinated people are rising, but experts say there is little reason to worry about Covid vaccine effectiveness

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Delta Variant Can Still Clip U.S. Economy’s Wings

The Wall Street Journal 22 July, 2021 - 08:04am

For a while, America’s progress against the Covid-19 pandemic looked very good. Millions of people were getting vaccinated each day, Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths were falling, and a return to something like normal beckoned. But then the vaccine rollout slowed markedly just as the far more contagious Delta variant took hold. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths have begun to rise.

It is tempting to imagine the Delta variant won’t dent the economy at all.

Across the board, state and local officials seem far less apt to dial up restrictions in response to rising Covid-19 cases than they were a year ago, while the places with low vaccine uptake also happen to be the places that are most resistant to restrictions. Moreover, many people are vaccinated—particularly the elderly—and with the apparent efficacy of current vaccines against the Delta variant, the U.S. seems unlikely to revisit the staggering mortality statistics of the sort it experienced before vaccines became widely available. Finally, the savings many Americans built up over the past year left them with ample money to throw around, while businesses’ scramble for workers points to a labor market that should keep generating income gains.

Those are all things that should ensure the economy continues to grow, but it probably won’t grow as swiftly as it otherwise could have. Worries about the Delta variant will lead some people to refrain from entering crowded settings, such as restaurants or airplanes, while also making them more cautious about spending down any savings. Some companies will delay their return to the office, as Apple just did, and that will hurt downtown restaurants and the like that depend on office workers’ business.

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Mailbag: Orange County, as always, will go its own way on Delta variant

Los Angeles Times 21 July, 2021 - 07:15pm

With its reputation of resistance to official mandates, I don’t see the county, particularly the areas of most resistance to government mandates, accepting the news calmly in the case that mandates are required here.

In Los Angeles County, the largest county by population in the country, the infection rate on the day that the county was reopened, June 15, went from an average of 173 new coronaviruses a day to the most recent seven-day period that ended this week with 1,077 new cases — a dramatic increase.

In Orange County the daily case average has more than doubled. Those against mandating face masks will argue that individuals who have been vaccinated deserve the right to be mask-free. And they will say, rightly so, that it is the unvaccinated who are driving up the statistics.

Three things to keep in mind, however, are:

Let’s hope that Orange County learned something this year about more-effective COVID management, and will comply with any new mandates devised to save lives.

Odds are if people haven’t been vaccinated against COVID yet, and they live in a red state, then these Trump supporters probably will end up sick, hospitalized or worse before September. Many, if not most, of these outcomes can be avoided, but only if people are willing to roll up their sleeves and take the shots.

Unlike Mother Nature’s hurricanes or lightning-induced forest fires, it is clear we can prevent the spread of the Delta variant, which, from this day forward, I am going to call the Trump variant.

Why? Because, in my opinion, the former president, who once championed Operation Warp Speed, has done next to nothing since leaving office to encourage millions of his GOP supporters to get vaccinated. He hasn’t followed science or looked to the stars for inspiration. Worse, he has acted more like an ostrich with its head in the sand than any mallard or wigeon I ever have seen.

The Trump variant is killing Republicans living in states like Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. Considering he once said he never would shake their hands, I’d like to know why these people are willing to die for Donald Trump now?

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