Woman Afraid of Vaccine Side Effects Dies From Delta Variant: 'I Couldn't Convince Her'

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Newsweek 04 July, 2021 - 04:47pm 59 views

Missouri State Epidemiologist: Vaccines Alone May Not Stop Delta Variant

St. Louis Public Radio 03 July, 2021 - 02:18pm

Disease experts from the state Department of Health and Senior Services say the variant, which is easier to catch and transmit, now accounts for close to one-third of variant cases of the coronavirus in the Midwest.

Faced with a 25% rise in the number of new cases statewide since last week, St. Louis, St. Louis County and Jefferson County health officials announced this week that even vaccinated people should wear masks indoors if they don’t know if others have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

St. Louis Public Radio's Sarah Fentem asked Dr. George Turabelidze, Missouri state epidemiologist, about how residents can stay safe from the new variant:

Sarah Fentem: Do people in Missouri need to worry about wearing masks now that the Delta variant is such a big problem here?

Dr. George Turabelidze: Regarding masking at this point, there is not enough data or even direct recommendation from CDC for everybody to revert back to universal mask wearing anytime, anywhere.

But what would make sense is to constantly assess your risk. We have to be, all of us, a little bit of an epidemiologist. … You have to constantly assess your risk: Am I among people in a place that is very crowded, and I don't know how many people could be infected there? Am I entering a building that has bad ventilation and a lot of people? Am I among somebody sneezing and coughing? Then I don't care if I’m vaccinated or not, I may still pull my mask out and put it on.

Fentem: Do we know the extent that this delta variant is spreading in Missouri in particular?

Turabelidze: We have increased transmission rates. We have temporarily, for a little while now, the highest rates [in the country], and this is coupled with an increasing proportion of the delta variant. So it is obvious this increase in cases has to do with increasing presence over the delta variant.

The consensus among experts is that we will see outbreaks ... not sweeping entire states, but it will be pockets in different places, very localized, where the virus manages to find those pockets of unvaccinated people, pockets where the mitigation is nonexistent. And that's where the outbreaks will thrive.

And we can say that happened in Missouri as well. Those counties and parts of Missouri that are experiencing a rise in cases right now, they do lag behind in their vaccination rates.

Fentem: So are we seeing the delta variant in Missouri hit places that have lower vaccination rates as a whole?

Turabelidze: Most people who blame the low vaccination rates are probably correct. But I don't want to convey the impression that this is the only thing, if we can fix the vaccinations everything will be just fine. It is a major component, but it's not the only component. My concern is that in parts of Missouri, [there’s] kind of complacency setting in. And the complacency is making people completely abandon mitigation, social distancing, masking.

Fentem: And I'm so happy you brought that up, because I was going to bring up Joplin, which has a pretty high vaccination rate. And yet that's around where you're seeing some of these big outbreaks. What do you think is going on there? Does that indicate that vaccinations aren't enough to keep this particular wave from spreading?

Fentem: And so the question that obviously follows from that is, if vaccinations are only one part of the puzzle here, what are the other things that residents should be doing to keep this particular variant in particular from spreading?

Turabelidze: As I said, we have to maintain our guard and not subject ourselves to unnecessary risk. If you're around someone who has a sore throat and coughing, or runny nose, don't assume they don't have coronavirus. Assume that everybody has coronavirus who has some kind of respiratory symptoms.

Fentem: Missouri’s vaccination rate is about 40% right now, which you said is lower than you'd like to see. Is the emergence of this variant a sign that the state needs to redouble its vaccination efforts?

Turabelidze: Yes. Even before we realized the increase in the delta variant in Missouri … we were alarmed by a sharp drop in our daily vaccination rates, from over 50,000 a day back in April to, you know, to a quarter of that number in June.

This virus showed the unique ability to reinvent itself and come up with new mutations that keep it going. And there are other mutations and other variants already on the horizon. If we are all in this fight, we have to vaccinate as much as we can our cells to not allow this virus to circulate and then develop new variants, and then having more and more outbreaks.

We need as a society to think that we are all in on this. It's not like “you guys vaccinate, I just sit around and wait.” If everybody thinks like that, we will never reach the vaccination levels, we need to stop this epidemic.

St. Louis area health officials urge all residents to wear masks indoors as delta variant takes hold

STLtoday.com 03 July, 2021 - 02:18pm

St. Louis fire Capt. Frank Florence with Hook & Ladder Fire Company No. 1 fits a custom-made fleur-de-lis mask on the Apotheosis of St. Louis, the King Louis IX statue, atop Art Hill in Forest Park on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. The St. Louis Arts Chamber of Commerce partnered with more than 10 organizations to mask over 35 statues and sculptures throughout St. Louis city and county to promote public health during the coronavirus pandemic. 

ST. LOUIS — Health officials for St. Louis, St. Louis County and Jefferson County are recommending that all residents, regardless of vaccine status, wear a mask during indoor gatherings as the more infectious and dangerous delta variant takes hold across Missouri.

“For vaccinated individuals, the health departments advise residents to wear masks or other face coverings whenever they are indoors with other people whose vaccination status is unknown,” the St. Louis and St. Louis County health departments said Thursday about their joint health advisory.

Jefferson County also on Thursday released a similar advisory.

Even though vaccines are highly effective against COVID-19, some who are vaccinated may still contract the disease, health officials said: “Those people may unknowingly spread the disease to children younger than 12, who are not yet eligible to receive vaccinations, as well as to unvaccinated adults.”

CoxHealth Hospital in Springfield, at the center of Missouri’s surge in cases, reported that four pediatric COVID-19 patients younger than 18 were in the hospital Wednesday. Statewide, the average number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has gone from 662 to 879 in one month.

Until more people are vaccinated, individuals should use other tools to protect themselves against transmission of the virus, including wearing a mask and social distancing, St. Louis-area health officials urged. Just 39% of the population has completed vaccination in Missouri.

On Thursday, Gov. Mike Parson’s administration confirmed it has asked the federal government for help from new “surge response teams” to address the rise in COVID-19 cases as the contagious delta variant spreads.

Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 Response coordinator, said during a briefing Thursday the teams “will focus on increasing shots in arms in communities with low vaccination rates who are fighting outbreaks, including through targeted, paid media into these areas.”

The new mask advisory and the state’s request for federal help reflect a significant shift in the public health response to the pandemic. In May, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was safe for vaccinated people to go without masks in most settings. St. Louis and St. Louis County governments quickly followed by lifting mask mandates that had been in place for months. Many businesses followed.

At the time, cases and hospitalizations had been dwindling since the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines. Soon after, however, the more infectious and dangerous delta variant began causing an increase in numbers in Missouri, starting in northern counties and spreading to the entire southwest corner of the state.

For much of June, Missouri had the highest number of new cases per capita in country. It continues to hold the No. 2 spot, according the New York Times data tracker.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Wednesday that the agency is leaving it up to local health officials to set guidelines around mask-wearing, taking into account their local vaccination rates and numbers of new cases.

The World Health Organization on June 25 urged fully vaccinated people to continue to wear masks and practice others safety measures as the highly contagious delta variant spreads rapidly across the globe.

The number of new COVID-19 cases has topped 1,000 for two days in a row in Missouri, driven mainly by surges in rural counties, but the St. Louis area also is seeing troublesome increases.

A total of 1,313 and 1,291 new cases were reported in Missouri on Wednesday and Thursday, data shows. Missouri topped 1,000 once last week — with 1,232 on June 24 — reaching levels not seen regularly since early February.

Cases in the St. Louis area have also started to trend upward over the past two weeks. St. Louis County has seen an 88% increase in cases over the past two weeks, and Jefferson County has seen a 64% increase, according to the New York Times tracker.

The city of St. Louis and and St. Charles County have seen increases of 27% and 14%, respectively.

St. Louis area hospitals reported on Thursday that 31 patients with COVID-19 were admitted, a number not seen since May 22, according to the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force. The daily average of new admissions has increased to 24 after reaching a low this year of 16 on June 18.

The Jefferson County Health Department’s advisory revealed that the increase in new cases there is largely a result of children exposed to the coronavirus as they resume activities without masks.

Local health officials asked residents to assume, based on vaccination rates, that 1 in 3 people in any crowd or gathering may be unvaccinated.

“Be aware that all children under 12 will be unvaccinated and vulnerable in crowds to being exposed to COVID-19. We do not advise children or unvaccinated residents engage in large crowds and gatherings,” the advisory stated.

Officials also urged all eligible residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“The pandemic is not over,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, acting director of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health. “The virus and its variants present a real and imminent danger to the health of the people in the St. Louis region. We must encourage vaccination and continued precautions.”

Jack Suntrup of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

NOTE: On Saturday, April 17, 2021, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) noted on its dashboard that it discovered a database error that was causing individuals with both a positive PCR and antigen result to be counted as both a probable and confirmed case. This correction removed 11,454 cases that were counted twice in previous probable antigen cases, according the notation.

NOTE: Beginning Monday, March 8, 2021, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) began posting county-level data showing "probable" COVID-19 cases detected by antigen testing. Using the historical data from the DHSS dashboard, we reconfigured this graph to include that number in the total.

NOTE: Missouri updated its data dashboard on Sept. 28. 2020, to delete duplicate cases. This resulted in a decrease of total cases which caused the daily count to reflect a negative number.

NOTE: On Saturday, April 17, 2021, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) noted on its dashboard that it discovered a database error that was causing individuals with both a positive PCR and antigen result to be counted as both a probable and confirmed case. This correction removed 11,454 cases that were counted twice in previous probable antigen cases, according the notation.

NOTE: Beginning Monday, March 8, 2021, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) began posting county-level data showing “probable” COVID-19 cases detected by antigen testing. Using historical data from the DHSS dashboard, we reconfigured this graph to include that number.

NOTE: On Oct. 11, Missouri announced that a database error had resulted in an “incorrect inflation” of cases in its October 10 report

Note from St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force regarding the numbers for July 20: There was a delay in reporting some test results leading to the increase in reported hospital admissions.

Editor's note: This chart has been adjusted to reflect suspected and confirmed cases in hospitalized patients in early June. Previous updates only had confirmed case numbers.

Note from Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: Note: Due to an abrupt change in data measures and the reporting platform issued by the White House on Monday, July 13, and effective Wednesday, July 15, Missouri Hospital Association (MHA) and the State of Missouri were unable to access hospitalization data during the transition. .

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St. Louis fire Capt. Frank Florence with Hook & Ladder Fire Company No. 1 fits a custom-made fleur-de-lis mask on the Apotheosis of St. Louis, the King Louis IX statue, atop Art Hill in Forest Park on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. The St. Louis Arts Chamber of Commerce partnered with more than 10 organizations to mask over 35 statues and sculptures throughout St. Louis city and county to promote public health during the coronavirus pandemic. 

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Missouri family mourns 45-year-old mother who died from Delta variant after refusing vaccine

WGN TV Chicago 02 July, 2021 - 12:36pm

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. (WDAF) – A Missouri family is mourning the loss of their loved one to the Delta variant of COVID-19.

They said 45-year-old Tricia Jones, a Grain Valley mother of two, was hesitant about getting the vaccine, and then she became ill. Her health quickly went downhill, and she died on June 9.

Her mother, Deborah Carmichael, said Jones was hesitant to get the vaccine because she saw Carmichael get sick after her first shot of the vaccine. Now, Carmichael hopes Jones’s death will convince at least one person to get the vaccine.

“I never would have thought I would lose my daughter at 45,” she said.

Carmichael said her daughter was a light in everyone’s life. She was fun, and when she walked into a room, everyone knew it. Now, she keeps her light alive in her memories.

In the spring, Carmichael got her vaccine, but Jones wasn’t so sure and decided to wait.

“She was afraid of the side effects, I think. You hear a lot of horror stories. I, myself, when I had the shot, it was rough, so it scared her and freaked her out. So she didn’t want to do it. I couldn’t convince her,” Carmichael said.

Carmichael said by April, Jones’s son had caught the Delta variant at his junior high school, and both Jones and her husband got sick, too.

“After she got it, she said, ‘Mom, you were right about the shot, about masks, being diligent and all that.’ I was like, ‘I don’t want to be right. I want you to be well. That’s all that matters,'” Carmichael said.

Jones was hospitalized, and on May 13, she was put on a ventilator. She died less than a month later.

“I felt like, as her mom, I brought her into this world, and the most loving thing I could do if it had to come to this is usher her into the arms of the Lord. It wasn’t my choice. It wasn’t what I wanted. Everything in me was screaming, ‘No, this can’t be right. She’s only 45,'” Carmichael said.

She leaves behind two children, including 18-year-old Adriana Jones, who has autism.

“She was my best friend. She was my best friend,” Adriana said.

Adriana said her mom was her greatest supporter. In high school, she said she was bullied a lot because of her diagnosis, and her mom was her biggest advocate. She would come to the school and work with her counselors on how to help her.

This year, Adriana graduated high school without her mom by her side. They planned to take classes together at a community college. She was going to take psychology classes, and her mom planned to study business.

“She was actually in the middle of helping me figure it all out for it, and now, I feel lost because I don’t understand none of it,” Adriana said.

When her mom was in the hospital, her COVID subsided, but she wasn’t able to get off the ventilator and wasn’t awake. Adriana said she would sit by her mother’s bed, and she would talk and read to her. They would read her daily devotionals, psalms, and even play some of her favorite music hoping to connect with her.

“There were so many days where I would just stand there next to my mom and say, ‘Wake up, Mama. Wake up.’ She would never wake up, and I just wish that she would. I don’t think anyone should have to go through what we went through. Especially with the variant,” Adriana said.

Her family is praying people will see Jones’s story as a call to action to get their vaccine — if not for themselves, for the ones they love.

“Please take this seriously. You don’t want to see a family member you love go through this,” Carmichael said. “You have a way better chance of coming out OK than if you don’t.”

“I really miss you. I miss you a lot,” Adriana said.

Carmichael said the variant can be very hard on people’s bodies. She said she watched her daughter get sick very quickly.

She said nurses told her they were seeing more young people who are unvaccinated coming into the hospital. Some metro health departments said they are seeing younger patients getting sick as well, some of them 30 years old and younger.

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MORTON GROVE, Ill. — A 41-year-old man was killed in a traffic collision in Morton Grove on Friday night, according to police.

Police said officers responded to a crash at the intersection of Oakton Street and Gross Point Road at approximately 10:30 p.m. and discovered a motorcycle and a car had been involved in a crash.

Here is a list of tips to help keep your pet calm and safe during the holiday:

Rylee Linkous, 17, is raising money to buy the van for her brother, 9-year-old Xander Linkous.

St. Louis health officials advise wearing mask indoors regardless of vaccination status

Fox News 02 July, 2021 - 07:14am

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Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel reacts to the World Health Organization recommending face masks again as the Delta coronavirus variant spreads

Health officials in the St. Louis area are now advising residents, regardless of vaccination status, to mask up while indoors amid rapid spread of the Delta COVID-19 variant. In an advisory posted Thursday, the St. Louis County Department of Public Health and the City of St. Louis Department of Health cited new cases rising among the unvaccinated and children. 

The advisory called for face coverings in indoor public settings where other people are present, and only removing masks when eating, drinking or "when you know that others around you have been fully vaccinated."

Officials advised assuming that "1 in 3 people in any crowd or gathering may be unvaccinated," and to be aware that kids under 12 "will be unvaccinated and vulnerable in crowds to being exposed to COVID-19." 

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also said about 1,000 counties in the U.S. have vaccination rates below 30%, with all officials on the call stating that vaccinations are the most effective method of protection against these variants. She said the majority of low vaccination rates are occurring in the Midwest and Southeast. Missouri is one of 14 states on the lower end of vaccination rates in the U.S. 

Just shy of 5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the state, translating to roughly 39.1% of the population who are fully vaccinated. The daily average of shots given has seen drastic declines from peaks seen in the spring, with 3,770 recorded on June 30, compared to 84,367 given out April 9. 

"There are communities that are vulnerable and where we are now seeing surges in cases, and indeed also hospitalizations, due to what could be the spread of the Delta variant and low vaccination rates in these communities," Walensky said.  

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also recently advised returning to mask requirements while indoors due to the rise of the Delta variant. Los Angeles is recommending returning to masks indoors as well.  

But on Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci reiterated during a White House COVID-19 Response Team press briefing that the CDC guidance for vaccinated people, which states that they do not need a mask while indoors or outdoors, "remains unchanged." However, he called it a "broad recommendation" and said "you can make general guidelines, but you also have to be flexible enough at various levels – be it a country level, or within a country at local levels." 

Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, also said the government is sending "surge response teams" to areas considered hotspots. 

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3 St. Louis area health departments issue public advisories as delta variant spreads among young people

KSDK.com 01 July, 2021 - 04:12pm

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. — COVID-19 cases are increasing among kids and teens in the St. Louis area, prompting health departments in St. Louis, St. Louis County and Jefferson County to issue public health advisories Thursday.

St. Louis and St. Louis County also revised their masking recommendations, saying people should wear their masks indoors with people whose vaccination status is unknown.

The highly contagious delta variant could be contributing to "significant" community transmission among those who are not vaccinated in Jefferson County, health officials said.

Cases there have gone up from 59 to 84 over the last two weeks — an increase of 42%. Kids and teens ages 10-19 accounted for the highest number of cases. 

"This is concerning since most of that age group is eligible for the vaccine, but only 10.82% have completed the full series of vaccination," the Jefferson County Health Department said in a news release.

St. Louis and St. Louis County health departments issued a joint health advisory, also noting the increase of cases among young, unvaccinated people.

In its advisory it says, assume 1 in 3 people in any crowd or gathering may be unvaccinated.

“As we monitor the delta variant, we are seeing that it’s spreading fast, and data shows it is more infectious and impacting younger segments of the population,” said Dr. Fredrick Echols, acting director of the City of St. Louis Department of Health.

Vaccines have shown to be effective against the delta variant, but it is still possible for vaccinated people to spread the virus to those who are not vaccinated, health officials said.

They urged those who are 12 years and older to get vaccinated, and reiterated that younger people should continue to wear masks when around others.

The City of St. Louis and St. Louis County further updated their mask guidance to say:

"Wear a face covering in indoor public places when other people are present, even if you are vaccinated. We only recommend removing masks when eating and drinking and when you know that others around you are fully vaccinated."

Dr. Faisal Khan, Director of St. Louis County Department of Health adds, "If you're outdoors, the only risk to you is if you're in close proximity with others. If you're in a crowded place outdoors, you need to be masked, if you're not at least 6 feet away from them because you're not sure you can't be sure about their vaccination status."

This guidance comes as Missouri ranks No. 2 in the nation in number of new cases of the delta variant.

St. Louis County announced Wednesday that it will soon launch a back-to-school vaccination initiative, aimed at increasing vaccination rates among school-age children.

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