US vaccination rates increase alongside spread of Delta variant

Health

Al Jazeera English 04 August, 2021 - 01:40pm 52 views

Chemist chain Walgreens said on Wednesday that it has seen a recent jump in inoculations in parts of the country that had previously lagged behind.

The number of jabs rose more than 30 percent in states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas, in the past few weeks, said the company, which now has administered more than 29 million COVID-19 jabs since the pandemic began.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said an average of about 600,000 doses were being administered daily across the country as of July 29, a 16 percent increase from a week prior.

As of August 2, the seven-day rolling average of new cases of the coronavirus stood at 84,389, according to the CDC.

The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, who also serves as the White House’s chief medical adviser, said he expects cases to continue to rise sharply in the coming weeks.

“Remember, just a couple of months ago, we were having about 10,000 cases a day,” he said in an interview with McClatchy published on Wednesday. “I think you’re likely going to wind up somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 cases,” he said.

The rise in infections led the CDC to recommend last week that even people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 resume wearing face masks in some public indoor settings.

In the US, 70 percent of adults have received at least one vaccine dose.

The Biden administration has blamed the latest surge in cases on the approximately 90 million people who remain unvaccinated.

On Tuesday, Biden called on resistant Republican governors to “get out of the way” of vaccine rules aimed at containing the more transmissible and dangerous COVID-19 variant.

Biden criticised Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and other officials who have moved to block the re-imposition of mask mandates to slow the Delta strain. Health officials said on Monday that one in three cases nationwide were reported in Florida and Texas during the past week.

On Wednesday, the office of former President Barack Obama announced that they would scale back his 60th birthday bash set for this weekend at his Martha’s Vineyard home off the Massachusetts coast due to the surge of infections.

Meanwhile, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa Etienne warned that cases were going up in North America, especially in southern and eastern parts of the US, as well as in parts of central Mexico.

She said the spread of the virus in the Americas has been particularly harmful for Indigenous communities in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru; at least 617,000 Indigenous people have been infected with COVID-19 and nearly 15,000 have died across the region.

“We’ve long said that the virus has exacerbated inequalities in our world,” Etienne told reporters during a weekly briefing on Wednesday. “And this is especially true for our Indigenous peoples, since most lack the financial and social safety nets to ensure they can continue to provide for their families and communities, even when they’re sick.”

On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that the Biden administration is preparing to offer coronavirus vaccines to migrants in US custody along the country’s border with Mexico.

Under the broad outlines of the new plan, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will vaccinate the migrants soon after they cross into the US and await processing by US Customs and Border Protection, according to the report, which cited two unnamed DHS officials.

The plan has not yet been finalised, the newspaper said.

Tyson is one of the first major employers of front-line workers to mandate jabs amid a resurgence of COVID-19.

US military headquarters temporarily placed on lockdown after gunshots were fired and people killed at outdoor bus stop.

Move sought by President Joe Biden after Congress fails to act on expired national ban of forced removals.

Read full article at Al Jazeera English

Latest on the Delta Variant

KPIX CBS SF Bay Area 05 August, 2021 - 12:11am

Here's how to keep your kids safe from the coronavirus Delta variant

WXYZ-TV Detroit | Channel 7 05 August, 2021 - 12:11am

If you're not protected against Covid-19, the virus 'will find you, it will infect you,' expert says

CNN 05 August, 2021 - 12:11am

As the highly transmissible delta variant sweeps across every state in the country as the dominant strain of Covid-19, public health experts warn now is not the time to ditch masks or forgo testing.

If anything, the United States, particularly in areas where vaccination rates have stalled and coronavirus cases are rising, is at an urgent juncture in the pandemic, in which continued mask-wearing and testing are pivotal because of how quickly the variant has been spreading, the experts say.

"I think it's critical to be masking indoors no matter where you live," said Susan Hassig, an epidemiologist at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, on Wednesday as her home state of Louisiana was poised to exceed the peak of hospitalized Covid-19 patients since the pandemic began.

Every parish in the state is at the highest risk level, of red, and Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, announced Wednesday an indoor mask mandate through at least Sept. 1 for anyone ages 5 and older who enter places like schools, businesses and churches, no matter their vaccination status.

"I can't tell you how different it feels than ever before," Hassig said. "This virus is moving so fast. More and more counties on the local levels are turning orange and red every day. It's critical to mask and test on suspicion of exposure."

Other parts of the South, including Florida and Tennessee, are also struggling with Covid-19 surges as their vaccination rates remain below 50 percent of their populations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending masks be worn indoors in places with substantial or high Covid-19 transmission or test positivity rates, which is currently about 80 percent of all U.S. counties.

Karl Minges, the interim dean of the school of health sciences at the University of New Haven, said it's time for the majority of Americans to get back to early pandemic basics, no matter their vaccination status: Wear a mask, especially indoors; socially distance; and hand-sanitize. He said to try to continue most activities outdoors, whether eating or attending a concert, and be aware of how crowded it may be and what the Covid-19 positivity rate is for the area.

"The goal is to not return to the precautions of 2020, and that is unlikely the more people who become vaccinated," Minges added.

On Tuesday, New York City became the first major city in the country to require proof of vaccination for indoor activities at restaurants, gyms and performance spaces, with full enforcement coming in September. While about 55 percent of the city's population is fully vaccinated, the rate of new vaccinations has leveled off in recent months, and about 72 percent of tested cases of the coronavirus have been attributed to the delta variant, city health data show.

While many Broadway shows are still eyeing returns in September, major events are being scrapped because of the delta variant's rise. The 2021 New York International Auto Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in midtown Manhattan, which can draw about 1 million people, was canceled Wednesday, just two weeks before it was scheduled to start.

Elsewhere, it's business as usual: Concerts are selling out at near-record levels, and major festivals like Lollapalooza, which was in Chicago over the weekend and attracted hundreds of thousands of attendees, are going on as planned.

Attending an outdoor concert in small social bubbles if you are vaccinated and unmasked is OK and should be up to a person's comfort level, said Dr. Emily Landon, executive medical director for infection prevention and control at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

But that social setting is not the same as attending a large-scale event like a music festival where people are smushed together. The problem, Landon said, is the delta variant is more contagious than earlier forms of Covid-19, and at outings where large groups of people are interacting within a 6-foot radius, the window of time needed to transmit the virus is smaller.

"Before you had to spend 15 minutes inside your 6-foot radius; now you only need to spend a couple of minutes in there" for exposure, she said.

However, sporting events like a baseball game are different, she said, because people are typically socially distanced, may be wearing masks and often face outward, and even if they're waiting in a line, they're not bunched up in crowds like at a music festival.

Experts say masks are especially important if you're going to be around people whose vaccination statuses are unclear and you can't keep your distance.

"You probably could have gotten away with not getting masked in a workplace if everyone was vaccinated pre-delta," Hassig said. "But delta is different."

Hassig also suggested that people consider enforcing masks again for weddings and parties, even if they're outdoors, if there are no vaccination requirements and people are socializing in close proximity.

"You may have medically vulnerable people coming, and it's only reasonable to think about what you need to do so that Granny doesn't catch coronavirus," she said.

Covid-19 testing also should be utilized if someone is feeling sick or may have been exposed, experts say. Some employers, like big tech companies and government agencies, will require Covid-19 vaccinations for employees if they want to return to the office following months of working from home, and in some cases, those who refuse will be subject to regular testing.

Landon said fully vaccinated people don't need to get tested regularly but should if they have symptoms of Covid-19 or were exposed to someone who tested positive.

The CDC suggests fully vaccinated people get tested three to five days after exposure, even if the vaccinated person has no symptoms because they could be asymptomatic. So-called breakthrough cases of Covid-19 in which vaccinated people can get infected remains extremely rare, health officials say, and is not a failure of vaccines.

The CDC's recently updated mask guidelines were devised "to ensure the vaccinated public would not unknowingly transmit virus to others, including their unvaccinated or immunocompromised loved ones," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said last week.

Hassig also suggested testing if you're going to be amid a large gathering where you don't know vaccination statuses — similar to what people were doing last summer when Covid-19 vaccines were unavailable.

Ultimately, because standard Covid-19 tests cannot specify whether someone has the delta variant, experts say it's safe to assume that if you test positive, you have the strain.

"That genie is out of the bottle," Hassig said, "and unfortunately, it's a really nasty one."

Erik Ortiz is a staff writer for NBC News focusing on racial injustice and social inequality.

we and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. by using the site, you consent to these cookies. for more information on cookies including how to manage your consent visit our cookie policy.

Fauci says he fears a COVID variant worse than Delta could be coming

Axios 04 August, 2021 - 02:17pm

If America's current COVID-19 surge continues unabated into the fall and winter, the country will likely face an even more deadly strain of the virus that could evade the current coronavirus vaccines, NIAID director Anthony Fauci told McClatchy Wednesday.

Why it matters: Fauci's comments underscore the importance of acting quickly to vaccinate the tens of millions of Americans who have not been inoculated against the virus.

The big picture: As the virus continues to spread due to insufficient vaccination rates, it is being given "ample" time to mutate into a more dangerous new variant in the fall and winter, Fauci said.

State of play: Other variants are already cropping up.

Why it matters: We took a brief hiatus from worrying about the pandemic, but the Delta variant and the response to it appear to have sent us back to a dark place.

The World Health Organization on Wednesday called for a moratorium of coronavirus vaccine booster shots through at least September to allow for poorer countries to have access to doses.

What they're saying: "We cannot and should not accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it while the world’s most vulnerable people remain unprotected," said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference.

Fauci says he fears a COVID variant worse than Delta could be coming

Detroit Free Press 04 August, 2021 - 02:17pm

If America's current COVID-19 surge continues unabated into the fall and winter, the country will likely face an even more deadly strain of the virus that could evade the current coronavirus vaccines, NIAID director Anthony Fauci told McClatchy Wednesday.

Why it matters: Fauci's comments underscore the importance of acting quickly to vaccinate the tens of millions of Americans who have not been inoculated against the virus.

The big picture: As the virus continues to spread due to insufficient vaccination rates, it is being given "ample" time to mutate into a more dangerous new variant in the fall and winter, Fauci said.

State of play: Other variants are already cropping up.

Why it matters: We took a brief hiatus from worrying about the pandemic, but the Delta variant and the response to it appear to have sent us back to a dark place.

The World Health Organization on Wednesday called for a moratorium of coronavirus vaccine booster shots through at least September to allow for poorer countries to have access to doses.

What they're saying: "We cannot and should not accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it while the world’s most vulnerable people remain unprotected," said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference.

Health Stories