COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
CDC releases highly anticipated guidance for people fully vaccinated against Covid-19
The new CDC guidance says fully vaccinated people can:
  • Visit other vaccinated people indoors without masks or physical distancing.
  • Visit indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household without masks or physical distancing, if the unvaccinated people are at low risk for severe disease.
  • Skip quarantine and testing if exposed to someone who has Covid-19 but are asymptomatic, but should monitor for symptoms for 14 days.
But people who are fully vaccinated still need to take precautions in many scenarios:
  • Wear a mask and keep good physical distance around the unvaccinated who are at increased risk for severe Covid-19, or if the unvaccinated person has a household member who is at higher risk.
  • Wear masks and physically distance when visiting unvaccinated people who are from multiple households.
  • Keep physical distance in public.
  • Avoid medium- and large-sized crowds.
  • Avoid poorly ventilated public spaces.
  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Get tested for Covid-19 if you feel sick.
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A safer future is just months away. But Americans shouldn't give up on Covid-19 safety measures yet, former CDC director says
A safer future is just a few months away, but public health experts say it's crucial that Americans keep practicing Covid-19 safety precautions as the country works to vaccinate more people and new variants spread.

The highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the UK is now rapidly spreading across the US and, according to the CDC, will likely become the predominant variant this month and could fuel another dangerous spike in infections.

Dr. Chris Murray, director of the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), said his team's projections show the pandemic slowly improving, but in a “worst scenario, where people stop wearing masks faster, start having gatherings faster,” they predict an April surge.
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Airline industry pushes back on CDC guidance that vaccinated people still should avoid travel
The airline industry is pushing back against the guidance that fully vaccinated people should avoid travel.

Industry group Airlines For America insisted in a statement on Monday that being on a plane poses a low risk of infection because of heavily filtered air and federally mandated mask wearing. "We remain confident that this layered approach significantly reduces risk," the group said.

This is the second pandemic-related disagreement between the airline industry and the new Biden administration. The transportation industry pushed back hard earlier this year when the CDC was considering requiring that domestic travelers get tested for the coronavirus at the start of their trip. The White House met with airline CEOs, and the idea fell apart.
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Spring break could be a perfect storm for spreading coronavirus variants. Don't let that happen
Spring break starts for hundreds of universities this month. And the typical revelry could lead to countless more Americans getting infected as coronavirus variants threaten to outpace vaccinations.

"It's the perfect storm," Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. "You've got the B.1.1.7 variant accelerating in Florida. You've got all these 20-year-old kids. None of them are going to have masks. They're all going to be drinking. They're having pretty close, intimate contact. And then, after that's all done, they're going to go back to their home states and spread the B.1.1.7 variant."
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Why you should wear a face mask even if your state doesn't require it
Last week, President Joe Biden criticized states, including Texas and Mississippi, for lifting Covid-19 restrictions, including mask mandates. He accused governors in those states of "Neanderthal thinking." At least fifteen states -- representing 30% of the country -- don't require face masks.

With more than 500,000 Americans dead and new emerging variants of the virus, health experts warn that such policies could prolong the pandemic and result in more lives lost.

These are five reasons why experts say you should wear a face mask, even if your state doesn't require it.

  • Masks save lives
  • Masks can help protect pandemic gains
  • Masks safeguard even the vaccinated
  • Masks are a sign of respect
  • Masks will help the US return to normal
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Breaking From Trump, Biden Opts Against Branding Stimulus Checks
The next round of stimulus checks that Congress is expected to approve this week will not include President Biden’s name, a White House official said on Tuesday, a decision that breaks with the practice of his predecessor, President Donald J. Trump, who sought to take credit for the payments by personally branding them.

... The last two rounds of checks included Mr. Trump’s name, along with a signed letter accompanying the funds, prompting criticism from Democrats and watchdog groups that he was politicizing the relief money, which passed on a bipartisan basis.

The initial $1,200 checks that were included in the first round of stimulus legislation were also delayed because Mr. Trump decided to add his name to the memo line of the checks. That slowed the design process as Internal Revenue Service officials scrambled to confirm that Mr. Trump’s Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, had actually ordered the change to the checks. Mr. Trump also sent a signed letter to accompany the payments.
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White House ‘Aware’ of Russian Vaccine Disinformation Efforts

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said on Monday that “we will fight with every tool” to combat Russia’s efforts to spread disinformation about the Moderna and Pfizer coronavirus vaccines.

The U.S. has identified three online publications directed by Russia’s intelligence services aimed at undermining the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.” “Yeah —” ”What can you do about this to counteract?” “Well, first, we can reiterate that we will fight with every tool we have. Disinformation, we are certainly not new to or we or we’re certainly familiar with, I should say, the approach and tactics of Russian disinformation efforts. And we will reiterate that at every opportunity these vaccines are safe. They’ve been approved by the F.D.A. We will have, of course, health and medical experts conveying that at every turn. And we will look for ways to combat disinformation. But we are aware of it. We are monitoring it, and we are taking steps to address.
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House Democrat says his party is 'crushing the coronavirus' while the GOP is tied up with 'fake outrage' over Dr. Seuss
  • Rep. Hakeem Jeffries criticized the GOP for paying more attention to Dr. Seuss than COVID-19.
  • Democrats are working to aid people's recovery while the GOP focuses on culture wars, he said.
  • The House is preparing to vote on Biden's COVID-19 package this week.
"House Democrats are the party of crushing the coronavirus and providing relief to everyday Americans," the New York lawmaker said during a House Democratic Caucus news conference. "House Republicans are the party of fake outrage as it relates to Dr. Seuss."

... But Jeffries expressed uncertainty over whether any GOP House members will vote "yes" on the bill.

"The question is not whether we're going to pass the American Rescue plan — we will," he said. "The question is whether Republicans are going to step up on behalf of their constituents and support this effort to decisively crush the virus."
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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first case was identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It has since spread worldwide, leading to an ongoing pandemic.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are variable, but often include fever, cough, fatigue, breathing difficulties, and loss of smell and taste. Symptoms begin one to fourteen days after exposure to the virus. Most people (81%) develop mild to moderate symptoms (up to mild pneumonia), while 14% develop severe symptoms (dyspnea, hypoxia, or more than 50% lung involvement on imaging) and 5% of patients suffer critical symptoms (respiratory failure, shock, or multiorgan dysfunction). At least a third of the people who are infected with the virus remain asymptomatic and do not develop noticeable symptoms at any point in time, but can spread the disease. Some patients continue to experience a range of effects—known as long COVID—for months after recovery and damage to organs has been observed. Multi-year studies are underway to further investigate the long term effects of the disease.

Source: Coronavirus disease 2019 - Wikipedia