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Coronavirus vaccine and COVID variant updates for 03-04-2022

Hope you didn’t sell everything you own to go into the mask business. Data released by the CDC shows Covid levels have dropped enough that more than 90% of Americans can go without masks. The data shows nearly everyone in the country lives in an area with low to medium risk, though that data came out after the CDC tweaked how it measures risk. The new CDC guidance applies to everyone — including school kids and the unvaccinated. It does not, for whatever reason, apply to air travel, trains, or public transit.


Yes, Omicron was reported as milder than the Delta variant, but that doesn’t mean it’s no big deal. Japanese scientists say it’s at least 40% more lethal than seasonal flu. The case fatality rate of Omicron in Japan was about 0.13%, while the flu typically has a 0.006% to 0.09% death rate. They say more study is needed once all the restrictions are lifted. 


If you have arthritis, it’s rare you feel lucky but when it comes to the pandemic, you may have been. Baricitinib is an oral drug commonly taken for rheumatoid arthritis, and an expansive study out of Oxford shows it reduced hospitalized COVID-19 patients’ risk of dying by 13%. Scientists and doctors welcomed the addition of the pill to the few treatments already shown to help treat severe COVID, especially since the drug comes in generic versions low- and middle-income countries can afford.


A couple of good news items for kids. The European Medicines Agency has authorized Moderna's vaccine for children aged six to 11, in addition to recommending boosters of Pfizer's vaccine for those aged 12 and up. And a new study has found Pfizer’s vaccine is 91% effective at protecting young people ages 12 to 18 against infection for at least four months after their second shot.


You may want to dust off the luggage as well. Rules requiring people to show a Covid-19 vaccine passport to access venues will be lifted in France March 14 and face masks will no longer be needed indoors except for on public transport. And vaccinated travelers to Italy will no longer have to test before entering the country. Unvaccinated travelers must still show proof of a negative test before entering. And once in country everyone must still get a “Super Green Pass” to stay at hotels, take trains, or eat at restaurants. 


In the United States, cases were down 55%, deaths are down 26%, and hospitalizations are down 43% over 14 days. The 7-day average of new cases has been trending down since January 14.  


The five areas that had the most daily deaths per 100,000 are Arkansas, Maine, West Virginia, Tennessee, and the Northern Mariana Islands. 


There are 25,724,877 active cases in the United States.


The top 10 areas with the highest number of recent cases per capita according to The New York Times: Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands. Nome Census Area, AK. Bennington, VT. Linn, MO. Roanoke, VA. Pike, KY. Twin Falls, ID. Perry, KY. Fayette, AL. and Jerome, ID.


There have been 956,262 deaths in the U.S. recorded as COVID-related.


The top 3 vaccinating states by percentage of population that’s been fully vaccinated: Rhode Island at 80.7%, Vermont at 80.1%, and Maine at 78.4%. The bottom 3 vaccinating states are Alabama at 50.3%, Wyoming at 50.6%, and Mississippi at 51%. The percentage of the U.S. that’s been fully vaccinated is 65%.


Globally, cases were down 25% and deaths down 27% over 14 days, with the 7-day average trending down since January 25. 


There are 61,379,411 active cases around the world.


The five countries with the most new cases: Germany 202,338. South Korea 198,802. Vietnam 118,790. Russia 93,026. And Japan 71,570. 


There have been 5,982,566 deaths reported as Covid-related worldwide. 


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3/2/2022

Coronavirus vaccine and COVID variant updates for 03-02-2022

The CDC estimates there have been 140 million Covid-19 infections in the US, that’s almost double the 74.3 million cases that have been reported as of January 31 and 43% of the country. The new number comes from antibody seroprevalence surveys, in which blood samples submitted to labs for unrelated reasons are tested for antibodies triggered by infection, not by vaccination. Wisconsin has the highest seroprevalence, with an estimated 56.1% of its population infected. A tragic statistic from an updated modeling study in The Lancet shows that the number of children around the world affected by COVID-associated orphanhood and caregiver death is estimated to have gone up dramatically. From around 2.7 million in April 2021 to 5.2 million in October 2021. That’s the equivalent of one child orphaned every six seconds. The loss of a parent is linked to greater risk of dropping out of school, lower self-esteem, suicide, violence, sexual abuse, and developing anxiety, depression, and substance abuse problems. In England, one less thing to argue about. Mandatory Covid vaccinations for health and social care workers will be scrapped March 15. That policy met fierce resistance from some workers, and critics warned firing those not in compliance would worsen the serious staffing crisis in health and care services. But the damage is done; many have left their jobs, and some left the field altogether. If you want to go to Hawaii, you can say aloha unmasked and you don’t have to hula six feet apart anymore. The state is lifting its strict entry requirements March 26. Travelers won’t have to show proof of a vaccine or negative test to bypass a mandatory quarantine. And that five-day quarantine is going away, too. However, for now, Hawaii is keeping its indoor mask mandate. But it’s Hawaii…go outside. We’ve heard there wasn’t much risk of this, but researchers now think they’ve documented the first deer-to-human transmission of COVID. The culprit was a white-tailed deer in Ontario. It was found to have a new and highly divergent lineage of the coronavirus, and they found a person that had similar samples. Available data indicates it's unlikely the variant doesn’t respond to vaccines, but maybe don’t take any white-tailed deer onto public transportation or a cruise.  In the United States, cases were down 59%, deaths are down 23%, and hospitalizations are down 44% over 14 days. The 7-day average of new cases has been trending down since January 14.  The five areas that had the most daily deaths per 100,000 are Ohio, Maine, Tennessee, West Virginia, and the Northern Mariana Islands.  There are 25,989,717 active cases in the United States.The top 10 areas with the highest number of recent cases per capita according to The New York Times: Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands. Manassas Park, VA. Nome Census Area, AK. Fayette, AL. Perry, KY. Morgan, KY. Elmore, ID. Aroostook, ME. Bennington, VT. And Ada, ID.There have been 952,629 deaths in the U.S. recorded as COVID-related.The top 3 vaccinating states by percentage of population that’s been fully vaccinated: Rhode Island at 80.7%, Vermont at 80.1%, and Maine at 78.3%. The bottom 3 vaccinating states are Alabama at 50.2%, Wyoming at 50.6%, and Mississippi at 50.9%. The percentage of the U.S. that’s been fully vaccinated is 64.9%.Globally, cases were down 30% and deaths down 20% over 14 days, with the 7-day average trending down since January 25. There are 61,832,820 active cases around the world.The five countries with the most new cases: Germany 150,565. South Korea 138,993. Vietnam 98,762. Russia 97,333. And France 79,794. There have been 5,964,226 deaths reported as Covid-related worldwide. 
3/1/2022

Coronavirus vaccine and COVID variant updates for 03-01-2022

Looks like Americans were definitely ready for the pandemic to be done. A new AP poll shows fewer people now than in January are worried they’ll get infected, only 24%. Of those who say they still worry, about two-thirds are fully vaccinated while only 40% are unvaccinated. Most Americans think the virus will stick around as a mild illness. Public support for masking requirements has also gone down, but Americans are still more likely to favor than oppose mask mandates, 50% to 28%. They’re still worrying in Hong Kong after another record 34,466 new infections yesterday and deaths continuing to climb. Now, authorities have begun assessing the possibility of locking down the entire city. It remains to be seen whether that would be done through legislation or some other way, but just the rumor of a lockdown sent shoppers racing to supermarket shelves to stock up.Pfizer’s had a pretty good effectiveness record, but it turns out in kids, not so much. Data from the NY State Department of Health shows for kids 5 to 11, effectiveness waned quickly during the Omicron surge. It still protected against severe disease, though. Within one month, effectiveness against infection fell from 68% to 12% in that young age group.Schoolkids in California, Oregon and Washington won’t have to wear masks anymore. The three Democratic governors of those states made a joint announcement to that effect yesterday. Those states have had some of the strictest safety measures during the pandemic and that included masking up 7.5 million school-age children. The change begins March 12 and applies to all kids regardless of vaccination status. COVID not scary enough for you? How about learning COVID tests can kill you? Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centers Drug and Poison Information Center say those home test kits contain sodium azide. And they’re getting a surge of calls about poisonings from it. New York and Texas are also sounding the alarm. The chemical is mainly used in car airbags and to kill bugs. Ingesting it can cause low blood pressure, dizziness, headaches, and heart palpitations. Large amounts of it can lead to respiratory failure and death. Of course, you’re not supposed to ingest anything from COVID tests but somehow people manage to do so. In the United States, cases were down 62%, deaths are down 24%, and hospitalizations are down 44% over 14 days. The 7-day average of new cases has been trending down since January 14.  The five areas that had the most daily deaths per 100,000 are Ohio, West Virginia, Maine, Tennessee, and the Northern Mariana Islands.  There are 26,171,931 active cases in the United States.The top 10 areas with the highest number of recent cases per capita according to The New York Times: Manassas Park, VA. Nome Census Area, AK. Perry, KY. Elmore, ID. Fayette, AL. Linn, MO. Morgan, KY. Ada, ID. Aroostook, ME. And Gooding, ID. There have been 950,472 deaths in the U.S. recorded as COVID-related.The top 3 vaccinating states by percentage of population that’s been fully vaccinated: Rhode Island at 80.8%, Vermont at 80%, and Maine at 78.9%. The bottom 3 vaccinating states are Wyoming at 50.4%, Alabama at 50.5%, and Mississippi at 50.8%. The percentage of the U.S. that’s been fully vaccinated is 64.9%.Globally, cases were down 34% and deaths down 19% over 14 days, with the 7-day average trending down since January 25. There are 62,674,400 active cases around the world.The five countries with the most new cases: South Korea 139,615. Russia 106,920. Germany 95,396. Turkey 64,275. And Japan 63,703. There have been 5,955,552 deaths reported as Covid-related worldwide. 
2/28/2022

Coronavirus vaccine and COVID variant updates for 02-28-2022

Here’s how we’re doing. COVID is continuing to subside around the world with a weekly 16% decrease in deaths and 15% decrease in cases since Omicron first showed up. However, Asia's infections rose 4% and deaths were only down 0.9% with South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam and Hong Kong setting daily records last week. In fact, Hong Kong recorded 26,026 cases after never going above 100 every day until this year. New Zealand is also hitting five digits in cases for the first time.The FDA revised the emergency use authorization for Evusheld, a monoclonal antibody against Covid for immunocompromised people and those who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons. They now say you need twice the dose that’s been being given. Those who already got the drug are being told to go back and get another injection as soon as possible. The agency said protection against symptomatic disease may not last as long as was shown in clinical trials since that was before the Omicron sub-variants emerged.What perfect timing! Face coverings are now optional for the US President's State of the Union address tomorrow. Congress is lifting its mask requirement on the House floor after the CDC eased guidelines last week. DC is now considered low risk based on the new metrics of what’s happening in area hospitals. Of course, anyone who wants to can still mask up while listening to the speech.Things continue to loosen up in New York too. The statewide masking requirement in schools will be lifted by March 2. And New York City’s Mayor is thinking about lifting vaccine mandates on restaurants, bars, and theaters by early next week. A mask mandate on the city's approximately 1 million schoolchildren could also be lifted. Again, any parent who wants to keep their kid masked can keep them masked. Oh boy, free (meaning paid for by taxpayers) COVID tests for everyone! But it’s turning out to be one of the few free things that isn’t wanted. Nearly half of the 500 million free tests still haven’t been claimed. On day one there were over 45 million orders. After that, not so much. Less than 100,000 orders a day are coming in. Critics say the program would have been immensely helpful before the pandemic was largely over. In the United States, cases were down 63%, deaths are down 24%, and hospitalizations are down 44% over 14 days. The 7-day average of new cases has been trending down since January 14.  The five states that had the most daily deaths per 100,000 are Ohio, West Virginia, Maine, Tennessee, and Missouri.  There are 26,401,648 active cases in the United States.The top 10 areas with the highest number of recent cases per capita according to The New York Times: Manassas Park, VA. Nome Census Area, AK. Perry, KY. Elmore, ID. Fayette, AL. Linn, MO. Morgan, KY. Aroostook, ME. Ada, ID. And Gooding, ID. There have been 948,398 deaths in the U.S. recorded as COVID-related.The top 3 vaccinating states by percentage of population that’s been fully vaccinated: Rhode Island at 80.6%, Vermont at 80.1%, and Maine at 78.3%. The bottom 3 vaccinating states are Alabama at 50.2%, Wyoming at 50.6%, and Mississippi at 50.9%. The percentage of the U.S. that’s been fully vaccinated is 64.9%.Globally, cases were down 36% and deaths down 20% over 14 days, with the 7-day average trending down since January 25. There are 63,676,869 active cases around the world.The five countries with the most new cases: South Korea 163,558. Russia 116,093. Germany 95,241. Vietnam 86,990. And Japan 69,661. There have been 5,948,460 deaths reported as Covid-related worldwide.