COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
YouTubers face deportation from Bali over fake mask stunt
Two YouTubers are facing deportation from Bali after they made a prank video that depicted one of them breaking local mask laws.

Josh Paler Lin and Leia Se have reportedly had their passports seized by local government and risk being forced to leave Indonesia as a result of the video.

In the clip, Se attempts to enter a grocery store, only to be turned away because she isn't wearing a face mask. Lin then paints a fake mask on her face and she is able to go into the shop.

The video, which was posted on April 22, went viral. Lin has 3.4 million subscribers on YouTube.

Indonesia has been strictly enforcing its mask mandates. Police are allowed to issue fines on the first offense and deport foreigners on the second offense.

Though this was Lin's and Se's first known offense, the hubbub surrounding the video drew so much attention that Balinese authorities seized both of their passports. Lin is reportedly from Taiwan but lives in the United States, while Se (who goes by the name Lisha online) is a Russian citizen, according to a police statement.

... Meanwhile, some police officers seem to have taken a more creative approach to punishing those caught breaking the law: an Australian news channel reported that two tourists were ordered to do push-ups as punishment for mask slacking.
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100 U.S. Colleges Will Require Vaccinations for Fall Enrollment
More than 100 colleges across the country have said they will require students to receive coronavirus vaccines in order to attend in-person classes in the fall, according to a New York Times survey.

Those requirements come as Covid-19 cases have continued to climb steadily this spring at colleges and universities across the United States. More than 660,000 cases have been linked to the institutions since the start of the pandemic, with one-third of those since Jan. 1.

Major outbreaks continue on some campuses, even as students have become eligible for vaccines. Salve Regina University in Rhode Island canceled all in-person events for at least a week after more than 30 students tested positive in seven days. Wayne State University in Detroit, a city that has been one of the worst U.S. coronavirus hot spots, suspended in-person classes and on-campus activities in early April.

Schools including DePaul University, Emory University and Wesleyan University are requiring all students to be vaccinated. Others have said they are requiring athletes or those who live on campus to get a shot. Most are allowing medical, religious and other exemptions.

Although private colleges make up the bulk of the schools with vaccine mandates, some public universities have also moved to require the shots.
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After a Year of Loss, South America Suffers Worst Death Tolls Yet
If the world doesn’t stop the region’s surging caseload, it could cost us all that we’ve done to fight the pandemic, said one health official.

The Covid crisis in Latin America is taking an alarming turn for the worse, potentially threatening the progress made well beyond its borders.

The region accounted for 35 percent of all Covid-19 deaths in the world last week, with just 8 percent of the global population, according to data compiled by The Times.

The crisis stems from limited vaccine supplies and slow rollouts, weak health systems and fragile economies that make stay-at-home orders difficult to impose or maintain.

If Latin America fails to contain the virus — or if the world fails to step in to help it — new, more dangerous variants may emerge.
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Boy dies on Hawaii trip after being diagnosed with covid-19
The boy, who exhibited symptoms hours after arrival, is the state’s first pediatric coronavirus death

The family trip to Hawaii was full of precautions: Both parents had been fully vaccinated and tested negative for the coronavirus before leaving, as the state requires of visitors who want to avoid a long quarantine.

But still, the couple’s young son developed symptoms of covid-19 shortly after arriving in Hawaii from another state. The child, who had underlying health conditions, was taken to a hospital and later died.

The department did not provide the boy’s exact age. He was younger than 11, according to a news release.

“Possible sources of exposure are still under investigation,” Brooks Baehr, a spokesman for the Hawaii Department of Health, said in an email. “Symptoms developed within hours after arrival in Hawaii, so it is unlikely the child was exposed here.”

It was the state’s first pediatric covid-19 death, the Health Department said late Tuesday. The state has reported 479 deaths in which covid-19 was a contributing factor.

In the United States, there have been about 3.7 million cases of coronavirus in children and at least 296 deaths as of earlier this month, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. That is compared to nearly 32 million total cases and almost 570,000 deaths, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The date of the child’s death was not available, but Baehr said it was recent. His home state was not released, nor was any other information about the trip.

Hawaii has strict entry requirements for tourists age 5 and older: either self-quarantine for 10 days upon arrival or take a coronavirus test from an approved partner within 72 hours of departure. In this case, while the child’s parents tested negative, he did not undergo testing before traveling.

“This was an unusual and unfortunate situation,” Baehr said. “Broader vaccination coverage in the general population increases protection of susceptible individuals who have not yet had the opportunity to be vaccinated, such as young children. This is another good reason to get the shot when it is your turn; this helps protect others in the community.”
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Joe Rogan is using his wildly popular podcast to question vaccines. Experts are fighting back.
It shouldn’t need to be said, but Rogan is not an expert on infectious diseases. He’s a comedian and MMA commentator who hosts a free-form conversation podcast. And his comments have sparked a media firestorm, especially as experts recognize just how much influence he has in today’s culture.

... “Did Joe Rogan become a medical doctor while we weren’t looking?” White House communications director Kate Bedingfield told CNN on Wednesday. “I’m not sure that taking scientific and medical advice from Joe Rogan is perhaps the most productive way for people to get their information.”

... His off-the-cuff style has led to him spreading misinformation in the past. Just this past September, he apologized for claiming that people were arrested for lighting forest fires in Portland, Ore. “I was very irresponsible not looking into it before I repeated it,” he tweeted at the time.

Spotify has even pulled more than 40 episodes of his show, including one featuring conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

Most of his assertions are wild claims — that astronauts didn’t land on the moon, or that the government found aliens in Roswell. Normally, it’s easy enough to shake off his ramblings, but experts say his questioning of both vaccines and the severity of covid-19 is putting people at risk.

Misinformation coming from someone like Rogan “continues to perpetuate doubt,” said Kolina Koltai, a vaccine misinformation researcher at the University of Washington. “A lot of young adults follow him … and he’s encouraging people to have hesitation.”

Koltai pointed out that “no one is getting all of their information from Joe Rogan.” But when his comments clash with what experts tell us, it helps muddy the waters. “Hearing these conflicting messages from someone you might trust and someone you might agree with typically, it can potentially cause you to be concerned,” she said. “Oftentimes, it just ends up confusing people and making them not sure what to do.”

What’s particularly striking is that at times he has focused on covid caution. At the beginning of the pandemic, he dedicated a 90-minute episode to an interview with epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, who detailed the seriousness of the disease. Later, he had on sociologist and physician Nicholas Christakis to discuss the mechanisms behind mRNA vaccines. He posted a clip of that conversation to his YouTube page with the title “The Safety & Efficacy of Potential COVID Vaccine.”
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Modi’s pandemic choice: Protect his image or protect India. He chose himself.
Why did the prime minister make so many reckless decisions?

India's coronavirus crisis is stunning to behold. In northern India, bodies are being cremated in public parks because crematoriums have exceeded their capacity. Elsewhere, officials have suggested that families bury in their backyards relatives who succumbed to covid-19. Despite being the world's largest producer of vaccines, India has fully vaccinated less than 2 percent of its 1.3 billion people. Shortages of the antiviral drug Remdesivir have people begging friends and relatives on social media to locate supplies. Family members drive each other to multiple hospitals in the hope of finding a bed. Recently, 22 covid-19 patients in a hospital died when its oxygen-generating facility sprang a leak. The daily rate of infections has reached more than 300,000, and epidemiologists believe the country will peak around mid-May with more than 5,000 daily deaths.

The underlying infirmities of India's health-care infrastructure were well-known. Still, through harsh lockdown measures, the nation had controlled the initial wave by January. Then, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government abandoned its caution and, in a series of stunningly reckless decisions, invited the second wave that is now crushing the country. This colossal failure of policymaking has many forebears: general callousness, crass electoral considerations and sheer ineptitude. For a government that first assumed office in 2014 with a promise of sound, technocratic governance and an end to political paralysis, the second surge represents an astonishing abdication.

It's not like Modi doesn't know how to lead ably. In his first term in office, he initiated welfare programs ranging from educating girls to ending public defecation across the country. Launched with considerable fanfare, these programs won over a number of his critics, who grudgingly conceded that they were worthwhile endeavors and could demonstrate the efficacy of government. Five years later, the disorganized and ideologically incoherent opposition all but guaranteed Modi a second term.

But a haughty, out-of-touch approach has always been evident, too — and it is the hallmark of the government’s coronavirus response. Without consulting public health experts or epidemiologists, Modi imposed a draconian, nationwide lockdown with just a few hours’ notice, leaving millions of migrant workers stranded hundreds of miles from their homes. This 21-day shutdown briefly impeded the spread of the virus, but the prime minister did not use the opportunity to plot against its eventual resurgence. Instead of using the respite to build up stocks of personal protective equipment, boost vaccine production or ramp up testing, he returned to a business-as-usual governance. He and his alter ego, Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah, focused their energies on caricaturing opposition politicians, harassing political dissidents and claiming at a World Economic Forum meeting that India had crushed the virus. As four of the country’s states went to the polls for legislative elections, Modi threw himself into full campaign mode, attending rallies without any prospect of social distancing and with mostly unmasked supporters. (Not to be outdone, some opposition parties followed suit.) Modi has also allowed a massive Hindu religious festival to be held in Haridwar, a city on the Ganges. This festival, the Kumbh Mela, routinely attracts more than 1 million pilgrims and can last three months. The political appeal of permitting this festival was obvious: It would virtually guarantee him and his party the votes of the Hindu faithful.

The message of all this is clear: Policy goals, political dramaturgy and electoral prospects are more important than the well-being of the country's population. Had Modi and his government felt concern for India's citizenry, they could have used the rallies and the festival as occasions to vaccinate vast numbers. The hapless national inoculation drive is especially galling, because India, between its public and privately run facilities, is the largest producer of vaccines in the world. (It has ample experience with vaccination drives, too: It eliminated polio across the country though a massive campaign between 1995 and 2011.) And instead of prioritizing its vulnerable population, India chose to pursue "vaccine diplomacy," offering supplies to neighboring countries and various nations in Africa. Only in mid-April did Modi's government belatedly release $400 million in funding to the Serum Institute of India, a world-class vaccine manufacturing company that is producing the AstraZeneca shots.

What's more, an instinct to protect Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led it to permit party stalwarts to peddle all sorts of medical quackery. Some local party leaders suggested that practicing yoga and using cow urine as a disinfectant could ward off the virus. Vijay Chauthaiwale, the head of the national party's foreign affairs department, encouraged the consumption of bovine urine and turmeric as possible cures. A local BJP president, Dilip Ghosh, at a campaign stop in the industrial city of Durgapur, echoed these views.

... Now that public parks are becoming temporary crematoria, patients are lying on the sidewalks outside hospitals, and ambulances (when available) lack oxygen, Modi's associates have resorted to more drastic, albeit familiar, tactics: They argue that the government's critics are merely seeking to sow nationwide discord. Delhi is now pressuring social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram to take down posts that are critical of its handling of the crisis.

But the haphazard, abrupt approach to critical public policy questions now haunts Modi in ways he can no longer deflect. After living down a host of decisions it took without much regard for the consequences, his government may have finally met its Waterloo. Despite efforts to squelch the bad press, everyone knows who is to blame for the fatal disaster unfolding today.
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Mask On or Off? Life Is Getting Back to Normal, and We’re Rusty.
After the C.D.C. issued new guidelines, people are figuring out how to proceed. Some want to keep their face coverings on: “It saves me having to put on sunscreen.”

To mask, or not to mask?

The new mask guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says that vaccinated people can go barefaced in most outdoor settings, is a baby step back to normalcy. But after the trauma of the past year, many Americans are finding it difficult to uncover their faces so quickly — let alone return to their old ways.

Do we shake hands now? Hug? Dine indoors? These are questions made more complicated by ever-changing rules, which can vary from state to state and even among neighborhoods.

Some of us have also found that masks are useful for things other than preventing infection. They can keep our faces warm in the winter, help introverts hide in plain sight and allow us to lip-sync a Dua Lipa anthem during a workout without embarrassment. Not to mention helping let go of vanity and save time. “It saves me having to put on sunscreen and wear lipstick,” said Sara J. Becker, an associate professor at the Brown University School of Public Health.

Dr. Susan Huang, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of California, Irvine, medical school, said that the conflicted psychology around mask wearing is a function of rapidly changing risk, and differences in risk tolerance. While about a third of the country is fully vaccinated, we are still nowhere near the roughly 80 percent needed to reach herd immunity.

“We’re between the darkness and the light,”
Huang said, likening the psychology around masks to the different ways people choose to dress in spring. People who are more risk averse continue to wear winter clothes on 50-degree days, while bigger risk takers might choose shorts.

“Eventually,” she said, “everyone will be wearing shorts.”

... “Whatever happens, many of us will not be able to let go of the fear and insularity that the pandemic has brought,” she wrote. “Even the fully vaccinated are, in many instances, still choosing outdoor seating when they go out to eat.”

At least for now, some of us are “hostages still beholden to the demands of our captor.”
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Bring a Detroiter to get COVID-19 vaccine, you'll get paid $50 for each dose
Neighbors who take Detroiters to get inoculated will get $50 on a pre-paid debit card to reward their efforts starting Monday.

The new incentive announced Wednesday by Mayor Mike Duggan is part of the city's Good Neighbor" program. When the program was first introduced in February, residents were rewarded for driving their eligible neighbors to get vaccinated with a shot as well.

However, now that eligibility has opened up statewide to include everyone ages 16 and older, the Good Neighbor program is turning to a new incentive: money.

"My responsibility is to make this city the easiest place in America to get a vaccine," Duggan said Wednesday. "There are people who say, 'I'll never get it,' but most people fall in the middle ... and those folks, when they have support in their lives, tend to show up to get vaccinated."

Good-natured drivers from any community can participate, but are first required to register and the passenger receiving the vaccine must be a Detroit resident. Drivers can be paid $50 for each dose, meaning each neighbor vaccinated can yield $100 on pre-paid MasterCard debit cards.

... Drivers can bring up to three passengers in one car, and get paid for all three ($300). However, after $600 in payments, the city will have to issue a W9 for taxes.

The city also offers $2 rides to vaccination sites for residents, but the new Good Neighbor incentive proves to be more cost effective and efficient for the city. The city pays a $35 base cost for the $2 rides and $50 for trips taking longer than an hour.
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Shopping And Shots Power An Economy Heading To Its Fastest Growth Since 1984
The U.S. economy expanded at a rapid pace in the first three months of the year, setting the stage for what's expected to be the strongest annual growth in nearly four decades.

According to the Commerce Department, the economy grew at an annual rate of 6.4% between January and March as millions of Americans got vaccinated against COVID-19 and the federal government spent trillions of dollars to counteract the effects of the pandemic recession.

"The $1,400 paychecks that hit consumer mailboxes in March made a difference," said Nela Richardson, chief economist at the payroll processing company ADP.

Federal relief payments coincided with a nationwide vaccination campaign. More than 140 million Americans have so far received at least one shot.

"I think that's made a huge impact on confidence in the economy as things are starting to reopen and more people are inoculated against this disease," Richardson said.

The data comes a day after President Biden told Congress that "America is on the move again" as he touted his administration's work to end the coronavirus crisis.

... While gross domestic product is expected to bounce back to its pre-pandemic level this spring, the labor market will take longer to recover. Of the 22 million jobs that were lost last year, employers have yet to restore more than 8.4 million.

What's more, million of people have dropped out of the workforce during the pandemic. Some are worried about returning to jobs so long as the virus is still spreading rapidly.

... As of mid-April, some 16.5 million Americans were receiving some form of unemployment assistance. More than 5.6 million of those were on extended benefits for people who have been out of work more than six months.

"That is concerning because the longer you're out of the workforce, the harder it is to get back in," Richardson said. "The scarring is there. And how long it will take to work off those scars is still a big question hanging over the labor market."
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Pakistan, With Record Covid Deaths, Warns of Tighter Lockdown
With Covid-19 deaths surging to records in Pakistan this week, the government has sent troops to the streets to help enforce coronavirus precautions, and is warning it may turn to a lockdown if the spread is not controlled.

Pakistan reported 201 deaths on Tuesday, the most in a single day so far, and has counted a total of 17,680 Covid deaths since the pandemic began. More than 5,200 patients are receiving critical care in the country’s hospitals. And there are fears that the virus could rampage through Pakistan the way it is doing in neighboring India if immediate steps are not taken to curb its spread. All travel to India has been banned.

Fawad Chaudhry, the minister for information, said on Thursday that the government will be forced to impose a strict nationwide lockdown if the situation continues to deteriorate.

“Right now, the national positivity rate is 11 percent,” he told reporters in Islamabad, referring to the share of virus tests that are coming back positive. “If it goes up to 14 or 15 percent, we will have no choice but to move toward a lockdown.”

Soldiers are now patrolling streets and markets in more than a dozen cities, telling people to keep wearing masks and making sure mandatory closing times and other safety protocols are followed. Only essential food items and medicines may be sold after 6 p.m.
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Does It Matter if I Skip My Second Dose of Covid Vaccine?
Yes. Public health officials say that if you’re getting a two-dose vaccine, you should complete both doses for the strongest protection against Covid-19, especially with new variants circulating the globe. From a practical standpoint, missing the second shot could create problems down the road if workplaces, college campuses, airlines and border patrol agents require proof of full vaccination.

But many people aren’t getting the message that the second dose matters. More than five million people, or nearly 8 percent of those who got a first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, have missed their second doses, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The reasons people are missing their second shots vary. Some people say they are worried about side effects, which have widely been reported to be worse after the second dose. Others say second shot appointments have been canceled, and it’s been hard to reschedule. But new research also shows that many people are just confused and wrongly think one shot is enough.

... The C.D.C. recently reported that a study of health care and emergency workers at high risk for exposure to the coronavirus found a single dose of Pfizer’s or Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine was 80 percent effective at preventing Covid-19. After the second dose, the vaccines were about 90 percent effective.

But vaccine experts say those numbers can mislead people into thinking there’s very little benefit from the second dose, and fail to capture some of the important changes that happen inside the body after a person is fully vaccinated with both doses.

“The second dose of mRNA vaccines induces a level of virus neutralizing antibodies about 10-fold greater than the first dose,” said Dr. Paul Offit, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory panel. “Also, the second dose induces cellular immunity, which predicts not only longer protection, but better protection against variant strains.”

It’s also not clear how long first-dose protection lasts without the boost from a second dose, Dr. Fauci said during a White House press briefing in April.
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A GOP lawmaker asked if the COVID-19 vaccine had tracking devices, insisting the question was to debunk 'wild charges' from his constituents
  • Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner asked if there are tracking devices in the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • A health official denied that; Wagner said he wanted to debunk "wild charges" from constituents.
  • Video of the moment prompted critics to accuse Wagner of spreading misinformation about the vaccine.
A GOP lawmaker in Southern California asked a top county health official if COVID-19 vaccines had "tracking devices," insisting the question was intended to debunk "wild claims" from his constituents.

Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner asked the question to Clayton Chau, the county's health-care agency director, during a Board of Supervisors meeting about "vaccine passports" on Tuesday.

"In the vaccine, we heard about an injection of the tracking device," Wagner said. "Is that being done anywhere in Orange County?"

Chau could be heard laughing on a livestream broadcast of the meeting, later apologizing and saying he had to "compose" himself.

"There's not a vaccine with a tracking device embedded in it that I know of exists in the world. Period," Chau said.

Wagner also asked Chau if digital vaccine records would be used for "tracking folks," to which Chau responded with a definitive "nope."

A video capturing the moment went viral on Twitter, garnering more than a million views and prompting critics to accuse Wagner of spreading misinformation about the vaccine.
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Florida legislature passed a bill making it illegal for schools to require COVID-19 vaccines — but a long list of shots are already required to attend school in the state
  • The Florida legislature passed a bill banning schools from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • The state of Florida requires a long list of vaccines for public school students.
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis already passed an executive order banning businesses from requiring "vaccine passports."
The list of required shots includes: the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine; a polio vaccine; the chickenpox vaccine; the Hepatitis B vaccine; and multiple others.
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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