The coronavirus is still spreading across the US, infection levels remain high and new variants are putting the progress made so far at risk. “When you see a plateau at a level as high as 60,000 cases a day, that is a very vulnerable time to have a surge, to go back up. That’s what exactly happened in Europe,” Fauci told CNN yesterday.
Europe is struggling to contain the third wave of the epidemic, which appears to have been caused by the new, more infectious and deadlier variant of the virus first identified in the UK. At the same time, the continent has been lagging behind the UK and the US in vaccination rates.
In Germany, officials warned yesterday there is a “very high” risk of a further increase in infections. In France, hospitalizations are again on the rise, with Paris beginning to evacuate around 100 Covid-19 patients from the region over the weekend.
Fauci has warned that the variants threatening Europe right now are present in the US. He said there are ways to prevent the country from finding itself in a similar place in a few weeks’ time.
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Q: Can I hug my vaccinated grandma?
But the new CMS guidelines offer many other new freedoms. Visitors don’t need a negative? Covid-19 test result, nor do they need to show proof of vaccination. The guidelines strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated though.
“There is no substitute for physical contact, such as the warm embrace between a resident and their loved one. Therefore, if the resident is fully vaccinated, they can choose to have close contact (including touch) with their visitor while wearing a well-fitting facemask,” CMS says on its website.
Visits should be restricted, if the Covid-19 county positivity rate is more than 10% and if less than 70% of the residents in the facility are fully vaccinated.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
More European countries halt AstraZeneca vaccinations
At least six European countries have temporarily halted the use of the shot, while seven others suspended vaccination for certain groups or with certain batches of the vaccine. The European Medicines Agency said there was “no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine.” The agency said “the vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks” and the vaccine can continue to be administered while investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing.
The chief investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial, Andrew Pollard, told the BBC this morning there was “very rich, reassuring evidence that there is no increase in a blood clot phenomenon here in the UK, where most of the doses [of the AstraZenecavaccine] in Europe have been given so far.”
Patients’ cough poses serious risk to medical workers
Since the start of the pandemic, the most terrifying task in health care has been thought to bethe insertion of breathing tube down the trachea of a critically ill Covid patient. But a new wave of research now shows that a basic cough produces about 20 times more particles than intubation.
New studies show that patients with Covid-19 simply talking or breathing, even in a well-ventilated room, could make workers sick — even if the workers are wearing CDC-sanctioned surgical masks.
The defining photos of the pandemic — and the stories behind them
ON OUR RADAR
- Covid-19 vaccines have the potential to end the worst pandemic in a century — and bring hundreds of billions of dollars in sales for the pharmaceutical companies that make them.
- London police have been criticized for being heavy-handed after officers broke up a vigil for a murdered woman citing breaches of Covid-19 restrictions on protests.
- Childhood vaccinations are seeing “substantial” and “historic” declines amid the pandemic, the CDC director said, urging parents to make sure their children are up to date on their vaccines.
- Those getting their Covid-19 vaccine at Berkshire Community College in Pittsville, Massachusetts, on Saturday were serenaded by famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
- Facebook is rolling out a handful of new tools on its platforms to help people get vaccinated against Covid-19.
- Duke University officials issued a stay-in-place order for all undergraduate students as it tries to combat a rapidly escalating epidemic.
- Tanzania’s Prime Minister has dispelled rumors about President John Magufuli’s health after days of wide speculation that he was ill with Covid-19.
- A Stanford scientist’s quest to cure his son could help unravel the mystery of Covid-19 long-haulers.
Covid-19 has spawned another global health crisis that some have dubbed “coronasomnia” — an inability to fall asleep or get good quality slumber during the pandemic.
“We are not going to open doors until we honestly believe we’re ready. And so that’s what happened: we believed that we were ready, and we opened the doors.” — Lisa Herring, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent