COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte tests positive for COVID-19
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte has tested positive for COVID-19, according to local outlet KULR-8. The governor's wife is reportedly awaiting test results, and the two are quarantining for 10 days, according to the report.

Gianforte, a Republican governor, had dropped Montana's mask mandate on February 12, and he loosened restrictions on businesses in recent months.
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A dangerous Covid-19 variant has spread to all 50 US states. Experts worry it could send cases surging
The more contagious coronavirus variant first identified in the UK has now been reported in every state in the US. Experts are concerned this strain is hitting younger people hard and could fuel a new surge of the pandemic.

Yet as the US rolls out a breakneck-speed vaccination program, many states have begun relaxing measures, such as mask-wearing mandates. On Monday, some 38,000 people packed into a stadium for a Texas Rangers baseball game, in what President Joe Biden has called “a mistake.” Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration said more than 6 million people have taken flights since Thursday, many of them spring breakers.

"America appears to be done with the pandemic," said Dr. Michael Osterholm, director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. "The virus is not done with us."

The US has reported more than 15,000 cases of the B.1.1.7 Covid-19 strain, sometimes called the UK variant. Beaumont Health's Royal Oak hospital in Michigan is noticing their patients are increasingly younger and healthier than they were several months ago.

Fred Romankewiz, 54, who tested positive to Covid the same day he planned to get his vaccine, is being treated at the hospital and told CNN the virus feels as if he "went 10 rounds with Mike Tyson."

Tina Catron, a 44-year-old with no underlying health conditions, said: "You feel like you're suffocating a little bit." She experienced oxygen levels at a dangerously low 82% -- far below the normal range of 95% to 100%.
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Illinois bar opening event linked to 46 Covid-19 cases, a school closure and hospitalization, CDC report says
The Illinois Department of Public Health identified 29 individuals who tested positive for Covid-19 or had Covid-19-like symptoms within 14 days after the indoor bar opening event. All 29 cases were confirmed by Covid-19 antigen or nucleic acid amplification tests except for one probable symptomatic case who did not receive testing.

The details were outlined in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on Monday. The report did not disclose the name or location of the bar.

The report did say that bar attendees came in close contact with at least 71 others. Of the 37 close contacts tested for Covid-19, 17 tested positive within 14 days of contact.

Two of the secondary Covid-19 cases were student athletes in close contact of a bar attendee with Covid-19 who attended indoor sports practice and in-person classes. The school, with 650 children, closed for two weeks beginning February 18 after 13 staff members could not work due to isolation, quarantine, or their child in quarantine.

Three of the secondary Covid-19 cases were long-term care facility residents in close contact of a bar attendee who worked as a certified nursing assistant. The nurse tested positive for Covid-19 four days after the bar opening event. One person who contracted one of these secondary Covid-19 cases became hospitalized within 14 days of the positive test result. However, the person was discharged the same day.

Two weeks after the event, the seven-day average daily Covid-19 incidence in the county more than doubled to at least 86 cases per 100,000 people, according to the report.

"Bars can play a role in community spread of COVID-19 because of limited mask use while eating or drinking and lack of consistent physical distancing," the authors wrote in the report. "These findings show that SARS-CoV-transmission originating in a business such as a bar not only affects the patrons and employees of the bar but can also affect an entire community."

The bar event was held indoors with no outside airflow. Attendees cited inconsistent mask use and disregard of the six feet physical distancing guidelines. Although the total number of people who attended the event is unknown, the bar can accommodate about 100 people, the report said.

The high percentage of symptomatic people linked to the event, 82.6%, as well as the reluctance of many people to disclose contacts suggest that the actual case count was higher than what was found, according to the CDC report.

"As community businesses begin to reopen, these findings underscore the importance of businesses and individuals adhering to public health prevention and mitigation guidelines to reduce additional community transmission, including isolation after receipt of a COVID-19 diagnosis and while experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms, even as vaccination efforts expand," the authors wrote in the report.
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California's Covid-19 positivity rate is lowest in the nation
California, a state which experienced a dreadful surge in Covid-19 cases after the holiday season, is now boasting the nation’s lowest positivity rate.

... As cases drop, California continues to reopen sectors by county, based on the state’s four-tiered “blueprint for a safer economy.” Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous, dropped to the second-most restrictive tier Monday, allowing for additional reopenings and increased capacity at various activities.

California's vaccination numbers: Widespread vaccinations are being credited with much of the decline in cases, with nearly 20 million doses administered to date. More than 7.3 million Californians have been fully vaccinated, as the state continues to roll out appointments. As of April 1, all Californians over the age of 50 are eligible to be vaccinated. All adults aged 16 and older will become eligible on April 15.

More than 58,500 Californians have died as a result of Covid-19 and nearly 3.6 million residents have been infected with the virus.
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Billionaires club grew by nearly a third, to 2,755 names, during pandemic
The number of newly minted and reissued billionaires soared last year, Forbes reported Tuesday in its annual ranking, a staggering accumulation of individual wealth that stands in sharp contrast to the widespread economic struggles unleashed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of billionaires on Forbes’ 35th annual ranking swelled by 660 to 2,755 — a roughly 30 percent jump from a year ago — and 493 of them are first timers. And a staggering 7 of 8 of them are richer than they were before the pandemic. Forbes calculates net worth by using stock prices and exchange rates from March 5.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, with an estimated fortune of $177 billion, topped the list for the fourth year running. Tesla chief executive Elon Musk came in at No. 2 at $151 billion. The shares of both companies soared last year, largely contributing to both men’s net worth and causing them to toggle for the richest man title on various lists. (Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

As a class, billionaires added about $8 trillion to their total net worth from last year, totaling $13.1 trillion. The United States had the most billionaires, at 724, extending a rapid rise in wealth that hasn’t happened since the Rockefellers and the Carnegies roughly a century ago. China, including Hong Kong and Macao, had the second highest number of billionaires: 698.
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Teenagers in New York Receive Vaccinations

Coronavirus vaccine eligibility expanded in New York to include teenagers on Tuesday.

“Well, it was just a little prick, it’s not a big deal.” “Were you a little nervous up to this point?” “Yeah, a little.” “And how do you feel now?” “I feel fine. I feel great.” “There was a lot of hype around the vaccine. And so many people have an opinion on it. You don’t know what’s true, what’s not true, who to trust. And I feel like at the end of the day, as long as you have some sort of protection against the deadly virus, it’s all worth it in the end.” [applause]
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Biden Visits Virginia Vaccination Site

President Biden visited a vaccination clinic in Virginia on Tuesday before delivering remarks on vaccination progress, where he will outline his goal to have all Americans vaccinated from the coronavirus before the summer.
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Biden Moves Up Vaccine Eligibility Goal for Adults

President Biden said on Tuesday he was speeding up his deadline for states to make all adults eligible for Covid-19 vaccination, to April 19, a goal that most states have already met or will beat.

I promised in the beginning I’d always give you the straight scoop, straight from the shoulder, the good and the bad. Well, here’s the truth. The good news is we’re on track to meet our goal of 200 million shots in the first 100 days. More than 75 percent of the people over the age of 65 have gotten shots, up from 8 percent when we took office. That’s a dramatic turnaround, and critical because seniors account for 80 percent of all Covid deaths. On March the 11th, I announced that I was opening up all vaccination sites to all adults by May 1. Many governors, Democrats and Republicans, responded and decided to beat that date, which was good. Thanks to their hard work and the hard work of the American people, and the hard work of my team, I’m announcing today that we’re moving that date up from May 1 to April 19 nationwide. That means by no later than April 19, in every part of this country, every adult over the age of — 18 or older will be eligible to be vaccinated. No more confusing rules, no more confusing restrictions. My message today is a simple one. Many states have already opened up to all adults. But beginning April 19, every adult in every state, every adult in this country is eligible to get in line to get a Covid vaccination.
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California to Lift Virus Restrictions on June 15

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced on Tuesday that the state would lift all its coronavirus restrictions on June 15 as long as new infections remained low and stable.

We have administered more doses than all but five nations in the world. The state of California, that 20 million mark, represents over seven million more doses than any other state in the country. That four million, on the equity mark, to me though, as I noted, is more important and significant. This state set a commitment and a audacious goal of providing over 40 percent, or upwards of 40 percent, of all our first doses and providing them under an equity metric in order to deliver on the cause of equity. We still have a lot of work to do in that space. We’re mindful of that. But that four million mark is as important as the 20 million mark. And today we have formally passed that. We are announcing today that on June 15, we will be moving beyond the blueprint and we’ll be getting rid of the colored tiers, we’ll be moving past the dimmer switch. We’ll be getting rid of the blueprint as you know it today. We anticipate enough vaccines are coming into the state of California, with two and a half million people just last week receiving the vaccine. We anticipate over 30 million people will have been vaccinated with at least one dose by the end of the calendar month. With the expectation of an abundance of doses coming in from the federal government through the end of this month and into May, we can confidently say by June 15 that we can start to open up as business as usual.
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis calls out '60 Minutes' for cutting large portions of his vaccine distribution answer
  • Florida's governor is taking CBS's "60 Minutes" to task after a segment aired on Sunday.
  • CBS defended the package, which linked DeSantis donations to a grocery store vaccine deal.
  • The Publix grocery chain said the program made an "irresponsible suggestion" of pay-to-play.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized a "60 Minutes" segment that omitted large portions of his explanation of how a grocery store chain got approved for vaccine distribution in Palm Beach County.

The story focused on the Sunshine State's vaccine rollout and a recent $100,000 donation from the Publix supermarket chain to DeSantis' next gubernatorial campaign in 2022. Publix partnered with the state to administer vaccines in Palm Beach County as eligibility opened up.

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, CBS defended the package, which was reported by correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi.

"We requested an interview with Gov. Ron DeSantis, he declined; We spoke to State Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz twice, but he declined to be interviewed on camera for our story until well after our deadline," the CBS spokesperson wrote in the statement. "The idea we ignored their perspective is untrue."
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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