COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
Ontario shuts down for at least a month as ICU admissions jump
Canada's most populous province of Ontario announced a new "emergency brake" shutdown beginning this weekend as it struggles to cope with a surge in intensive care admissions caused by the new, more infectious strains of the virus.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the new virus strains are causing the disease to spread faster and do more harm. "This is a new pandemic. We're fighting a new enemy,” he said.
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Extreme policies, average statistics raise questions around Florida's Covid-19 data
"If you had done this analysis in any state in the United States, you would have found a difference," between total excess deaths and total Covid-19 deaths, Jason Salemi, an epidemiologist who publishes his own dashboard of Florida Covid-19 data, told CNN.

"I could be fooled at the end of day, but nothing stands out to me in the publicly available information I have that Florida is an anomaly."

Mortality data collected by the CDC is a highly standardized process that has been refined over a century, Bob Anderson, chief mortality statistician for the CDC, told CNN.

"It's not a new system that arrived with the virus," he said. The CDC codes each death according to an international classification standard, based on information provided on each death certificate.

"Some states are more timely than others in reporting death certificates, but that's the only difference."

... This isn't the first time Florida's official Covid-19 data has faced scrutiny.

... In October, Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees announced that the state health department would perform additional reviews of all deaths. A recent review of deaths reported to the state had found that many had occurred more than a month earlier or had a significant lag between the time the individual tested positive for Covid-19 and when they died.

"Fatality data reported to the state consistently presents confusion and warrants a more rigorous review," according to a statement from the Florida Department of Health.

... For Florida state Rep. Anna Eskamani, transparency is a more pressing matter than accuracy.

"In my experience, there have been more occasions of holding back data than misleading data," she told CNN. "The governor does have a habit of picking the most positive numbers and ignoring the bad numbers. He hand-selects data to fit a narrative rather than acknowledge the reality for people."

"Access to even the basic tools to make decisions doesn't seem like a priority for the governor," she said.

An investigation by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel published in December found that the DeSantis administration worked to minimize bad news about the pandemic and spread misinformation, with some officials withholding crucial data about the spread of the virus.

... "It makes it hard to maintain order and trust with the public, and to help reassure people that the government is making decisions with their best interests in mind," she said.
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Fauci Expects Surge In Vaccinations To Keep A 4th Coronavirus Wave At Bay
More than 56 million people in the U.S. have now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Yet cases are rising again in some parts of the country, notably in Michigan and states in the Northeast.

But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Biden administration's chief medical adviser, predicts that the U.S. won't see a fourth wave of the coronavirus as severe as the previous three, thanks to the uptick in vaccinations.

"It's kind of like a race between the potential for a surge and our ability to vaccinate as many people as we possibly can," he said in an interview Friday with NPR's Morning Edition. "And hopefully, if you want to make this a metaphorical race, the vaccine is going to win this one."

But he cautioned against prematurely pulling back on measures such as mask-wearing and physical distancing.

"I believe strongly that every day that goes by, we get closer and closer to getting an advantage," he said.
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Vaccinated Americans Are at Low Risk While Traveling, C.D.C. Says

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Friday that Americans who were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 could travel “at low risk to themselves,” but should still wear masks.

Fully vaccinated people can resume travel to low, at low risk to themselves. For domestic travel, fully vaccinated people do not need to get a Covid-19 test before or after travel, and do not need to self-quarantine after travel. For example, fully vaccinated. grandparents can fly to visit their healthy grandkids without getting a Covid-19 test or self-quarantining, provided they follow the other recommended prevention measures while traveling. For international travel, fully vaccinated people do not need to get a Covid-19 test before they leave the United States, unless it is required by their international destination. However, fully vaccinated people should get tested and have a negative test result before they board an international flight back into the United States. But they do not need to quarantine when they arrive here. However, fully vaccinated people who do international travel should still be tested three to five days after arrival in the United States on an international flight. Our guidance reiterates that all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, should continue to wear masks on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation while traveling.
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Brussels Police Disperse April Fool’s Music Festival Crowd

The police used water cannons and pepper spray to disperse a crowd of hundreds that had gathered in a park for a hoax April Fool’s Day music festival on Thursday, defying Covid-19 restrictions.
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis bans state agencies from issuing 'vaccine passports' and says businesses can't require them
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order banning "vaccine passports."
  • The ban applies to state agencies and local businesses.
  • The order comes after DeSantis vowed to oppose efforts for vaccine documentation on Monday.
On Monday, DeSantis said he opposed the idea as President Joe Biden reportedly pushes for vaccine documentation.

The order requires businesses to comply if they intend to seek state grants and contracts.

"We are not supporting doing any vaccine passports in the state of Florida," he said.
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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