COVID19 ๐Ÿฆ  Newsbites
Handwashing falls to pre-Covid levels despite pandemic, study finds
Do it with lots of soapy bubbles, scrubbing for a full 20 seconds (or the time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice). Rinse, dry and repeat as often as possible.

And we did. A June 2020 study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found Americans said they were lathering up twice as often as they did in 2019.

In one Chicago hospital where the use of soap and sanitizer is electronically tracked 24/7 via every room entrance and exit, a new study found staff were 100% compliant just after the virus invaded our shores -- much to the delight of infection control specialist Dr. Emily Landon.

"Our health care workers were really worried about Covid -- they didn't know who had Covid and who didn't -- so they were extremely careful with their hand hygiene," said study coauthor Landon, executive medical director of infection prevention and control for University of Chicago Medicine.

Unfortunately, it seems we've all quickly gone back to our old habits.

It only took four months for doctors, nurses, techs and cleaning staff to drop back to a 51.5% daily handwashing compliance rate, according to the study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

And a nationally representative survey done in January found only 57% of Americans said they were washing their hands six or more times a day -- such as after using the bathroom, before eating or after returning from a trip outside the home.

That's a significant drop from the 78% of people who said they were washing hands frequently when the survey was conducted in the early days of the pandemic.

"Hand hygiene is a habit. It's like wearing your seatbelt, or eating healthy or exercising regularly; it's something you have to get used to doing," Landon said.

Let's face it -- studies find we don't regularly wash the nasties off our hands even when we know we should. And if asked, we even lie about it.

... It's really not that hard to have clean hands, experts say.

"Set up some rules for yourself," said infectious disease specialist Landon.

"If you show up at my house, the first thing I say is, 'Hey, take your shoes off and would you mind washing your hands?' Our house rules are we wash our hands before we eat, we wash our hands after going to the bathroom, and we wash our hands when we come inside from an activity, such as going into work or returning home."

There's a proper way to wash your hands -- a full 20 seconds, with lather, scrubbing inside fingers and fingertips and backs of hands.

... Perhaps you already feel that you are doing your best to wash up, the right way? Landon hears that all the time from patients who have Covid and say, "I did everything right. I followed all the rules."

"When you talk to them it turns out they've been cutting some corners," she said. "So, chances are if our health care workers are cutting corners with cleaning their hands in the hospital, then you're probably cutting the corners with cleaning your hands at home, too.
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Tennessee governor declares that Covid-19 is no longer a health emergency with only 25% of state's residents fully vaccinated
Health experts say that to reach herd immunity, somewhere between 70-85% of the population probably needs to be immunized. According to the state's website, 24.7% of its population are fully vaccinated, and 34.4% have had at least one shot.

"We are in the very bottom tier of states in the proportion of our population vaccinated," Professor William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, told CNN. "Covid continues to be a serious public health urgency throughout the state. The virus is still spreading. It's still putting many people into the hospital."

... "We have never had a statewide mask mandate and I am removing authority from local officials to issue mask requirements," Lee tweeted. "This is about trusting Tennesseans, using the tools we have at our disposal to move on from crisis management and back to life and back to business."

... Nashville said earlier Tuesday it would keep its indoor mask mandate in place, even as it lifts other restrictions on May 14, according to the Tennessean.

In the two weeks ended Sunday, Tennessee reported almost 21,000 new cases -- more than 1,000 a day -- according to CNN data. About 150 Covid-19 deaths were reported.

... Tennessee is among a number of states in the South that lag the nationwide vaccination pace, according to CDC data. It has administered about 57,000 doses per 100,000 residents, compared with New England states such as Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire, which have administered well over 80,000 doses per 100,000 people.
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Covid-19 deniers in Germany are placed under surveillance.
Germany’s domestic intelligence service said on Wednesday that it would surveil members of the increasingly aggressive coronavirus denier movement because they posed a risk of undermining the state.

The movement — fueled in part by wild conspiracy theories — has grown from criticizing coronavirus lockdown measures and hygiene rules to targeting the state itself, its leaders, businesses, the press and globalism, to name a few.

“Our basic democratic order, as well as state institutions such as parliaments and governments, have faced multiple attacks since the beginning of the measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement confirming that parts of the denier movement were under observation. The Interior Ministry oversees the intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

In announcing the decision to keep tabs on conspiracy theorists, intelligence officials noted the movement’s close ties to extremist groups like the Reichsbรผrger, who refuse to accept the legitimacy of the modern German state.

The news comes days after Germany instituted new virus rules that apply nationwide and allow the federal government to enforce lockdowns. (Such regulation had previously been in the hands of the country’s 16 states.) It also suggests that the authorities believe coronavirus denier groups could continue to flourish and pose a threat after the pandemic ends.

The movement, called Querdenken, German for lateral thinking, communicates and recruits over social media and has a large presence on the encrypted chat service Telegram, where its main channel has 65,000 subscribers.

A week ago, when Parliament passed the law giving the government powers to impose the latest lockdown, about 8,000 of the movement’s activists took to the streets in Berlin before being dispersed by the police for ignoring mask and distancing rules. Germany has seen a persistently high number of new daily cases recently, averaging about 19,000, up from about 8,000 two months ago.

Pia Lamberty, a psychologist and expert in the German conspiracy scene, warned of connections between the deniers and far-right extremists. “The danger of Querdenken,” she said, “has long been underestimated.”
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The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 94 percent effective at preventing hospitalization in older adults, a study finds.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines are 94 percent effective at preventing hospitalization in fully vaccinated adults 65 or older, according to a small study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday.

The findings, which are consistent with the clinical trial results, are the first real-world evidence from the United States that the vaccines protect against severe Covid-19. Older adults are at the highest risk of hospitalization and death from the disease. More than 573,000 people have died across the country related to the virus, according to a New York Times database, and as of Wednesday, 142.7 million people have received at least one dose of one of three federally authorized vaccines, including about 98 million people who have been fully vaccinated.

“These findings are encouraging and welcome news for the two-thirds of people aged 65 and up who are already fully vaccinated,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the C.D.C. director, said in a statement. “Covid-19 vaccines are highly effective and these real-world findings confirm the benefits seen in clinical trials, preventing hospitalizations among those most vulnerable.”

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots, spaced three to four weeks apart. Older adults who were partially vaccinated — that is, they had received one dose of the vaccine more than two weeks prior — were 64 percent less likely to be hospitalized with the coronavirus than unvaccinated seniors, the researchers reported.

The vaccines did not reduce hospitalization rates in people who had received their first dose less than two weeks prior. The body requires time to mount an effective immune response, and people are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the last dose in the series.

“This also highlights the continued risk for severe illness shortly after vaccination, before a protective immune response has been achieved and reinforces the need for vaccinated adults to continue physical distancing and prevention behaviors,” the scientists wrote.
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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