COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
Maryland will pay $100 to state employees who are fully vaccinated
Maryland is offering $100 to state employees who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, an effort to incentivize vaccinations as supply begins to outpace demand in some areas.

To receive the payment, workers must provide proof of their vaccination to their human resource departments and agree to receive booster shots recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the next 18 months.

“We strongly encourage businesses across the state to consider offering incentives to their workers as well,” Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said in a statement.

The state has about 99,000 employees, about 52,000 of whom are eligible for the program, said Hogan spokesman Michael Ricci. Those employed by the University System of Maryland are not eligible, because the system has required them to be vaccinated.

Maryland’s announcement comes as vaccination rates begin to slow in rural parts of the state, mirroring a nationwide trend.
Read the full article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/maryland-offers-100-to-state-employees-who-are-fully-vaccinated/2021/05/03/5cf66b16-ac14-11eb-b476-c3b287e52a01_story.html

India’s reported cases surge past 20 million, though the number is likely higher.
India on Tuesday passed the milestone of 20 million reported coronavirus cases, with many more undetected, according to experts, spurring new calls for a national lockdown. With those reported numbers, India became the second country after the United States to cross 20 million cases. Although aid has begun to pour in from other countries, hospitals are still unable to help many of those who are critically ill, and families have been left to hunt for much-needed oxygen.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been sharply criticized by many for underplaying the virus earlier this year, and on Tuesday the opposition leader Rahul Gandhi said a national lockdown was desperately needed, calling it “the only option.”


Mr. Gandhi accused the authorities of helping the virus spread. “A crime has been committed against India,” he wrote on Twitter.

Mr. Modi has been reluctant to impose strict nationwide lockdown measures like the ones last spring, which remained in place for months.

While experts say that the lockdown helped reduce the number of cases in the first wave of the pandemic, it also triggered the biggest internal migration since the partition of the country in 1947. Millions of workers fled the cities, dealing a blow to the economy.

The economy had been recovering in recent months, but the current wave of disease has dampened hopes for a full recovery, and Mr. Modi asked states to consider lockdowns as “a last option.” Many states, including some governed by Mr. Modi’s party and its allies, have issued stay-at-home orders.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/04/world/indian-premier-league-cricket.html

CVS and Walgreens Have Wasted More Vaccine Doses Than Most States Combined
Two national pharmacy chains that the federal government entrusted to inoculate people against covid-19 account for the lion’s share of wasted vaccine doses, according to government data obtained by KHN.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 182,874 wasted doses as of late March, three months into the country’s effort to vaccinate the masses against the coronavirus. Of those, CVS was responsible for nearly half, and Walgreens for 21%, or nearly 128,500 wasted shots combined.

CDC data suggests that the companies have wasted more doses than states, U.S. territories and federal agencies combined. Pfizer’s vaccine, which in December was the first to be deployed and initially required storage at ultracold temperatures, represented nearly 60% of tossed doses.

It’s not completely clear from the CDC data why the two chains wasted so much more vaccine than states and federal agencies. Some critics have pointed to poor planning early in the rollout, when the Trump administration leaned heavily on CVS and Walgreens to vaccinate residents and staff members of long-term care facilities. In response to questions, CVS said “nearly all” of its reported vaccine waste occurred during that effort. Walgreens did not specify how many wasted doses were from the long-term care program.


One thing is clear: Months into the nation’s vaccination drive, the CDC has a limited view of how much vaccine is going to waste, where it’s wasted and who is wasting it, potentially complicating efforts to direct doses to where they are needed most. Public health experts say having a good handle on waste is crucial for detecting problems that could derail progress and risk lives.

... “To me, this ultimately correlates with just poor planning,” said Dr. Michael Wasserman, immediate past president of the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine and a critic of the corporate effort.

Wasserman said the companies’ approach was too restrictive and their unfamiliarity with long-term facilities’ needs harmed the effort.

“CVS and Walgreens didn’t have a clue when it came to interacting with nursing homes,” he said. “Missed opportunities for vaccination in long-term care invariably results in deaths.”
Read the full article: https://khn.org/news/article/cvs-and-walgreens-have-wasted-more-vaccine-doses-than-most-states-combined/

He faked a coronavirus certificate to fly to Argentina, officials say. He was infected all along.
Just hours before he was set to board a flight home to Argentina on Saturday, Santiago Solans Portillo received some news that appeared to throw a wrench in his travel plans: His coronavirus test had come back positive, authorities say.

But when the 29-year-old arrived at the airport in Miami, he made no such disclosure to the American Airlines agents checking him in, instead presenting a medical certificate that said he was fit to fly.

It was only the following day, when he landed in Buenos Aires and health officials took his temperature, finding he had a fever of 101.3 degrees, that he made his confession: He probably had covid-19 — and should not have boarded the plane.

“Due to this irresponsible, selfish behavior, 200 people are at risk despite having done the right thing while traveling,” Florencia Carignano, Argentina’s top immigration official, told reporters this week.

... Carignano, the immigration official, said that Portillo could face 3 to 15 years in prison under an Argentine law that bars people from knowingly exposing others to infectious diseases. She noted that his “complex judicial situation” would be compounded if any of his fellow passengers develop symptoms in the coming days.

Buenos Aires city health officials have tracked down at least 14 people who were sitting near Portillo on the plane, ordering them to quarantine for at least seven days, although it is unclear whether any have tested positive for the virus.

A judge has seized Portillo’s cellphone to examine when he received the medical certificate, and at what time a different clinic in Miami notified him that he had tested positive for the virus.

Carignano has also said that her agency would sanction and fine American Airlines for allowing a sick person to board the flight, in violation of the country’s coronavirus rules.
Read the full article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/05/05/argentina-covid-flight-florida-vaccine/

Covid-19 caused one in three deaths in Brazil so far this year
According to data from Brazil's National Civil Registry, 615,329 deaths were reported in the country between January 1 and April 30. Of those, 208,370 were related to Covid-19, according to Brazil's health ministry -- 33.9% of the nation's total.

The coronavirus has surged with a vengeance in the South American giant in recent months -- fueled in part by a disregard for social distancing precautions and the emergence of extra-contagious new variants -- and has claimed more lives in the past four months than in all of 2020. More than 78,000 people in Brazil were killed by the virus last month alone.

Meanwhile, despite Brazil's robust immunization program, its rollout of Covid-19 vaccines has been slow, dogged by supply shortages and delays in the early days of deal-making with global pharmaceutical companies. So far, less than 10% of the population has been vaccinated.

...Brazilian Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga said Monday he expects to sign a deal soon for 100 million Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine doses, and that the majority of Brazilians should be immunized by the end of the year.


But for now, Brazil continues to lag behind fellow South American countries such as Chile and Uruguay, which increasingly see their neighbor as a epidemiological threat.
Read the full article: https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/03/americas/brazil-covid-deaths-2021-intl/index.html

Air traveler faces $32,750 in fines for refusing to wear mask and throwing items, FAA says
Passenger is one of four the agency is taking action against for unruly behavior while flying

A woman aboard a JetBlue flight from the Dominican Republic to New York faces $32,750 in fines after refusing to wear a mask, throwing food and an empty bottle of alcohol into the air, and shouting obscenities at crew members, the Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday.

In addition to throwing food, the woman allegedly hit a flight attendant twice, scratched the crew member’s hand and grabbed another flight attendant by the arm, hurting her. The disturbance prompted the pilot to return to the Dominican Republic.


In another incident, a Southwest Airlines passenger faces $16,500 in fines for refusing to wear a mask and using “combative” and “offensive” language on a Jan. 26 flight from Chicago to Sacramento, the FAA said. After being asked repeatedly to wear a mask over his nose and mouth, the man was asked by a Southwest supervisor to leave the plane. The passenger complied but as he walked to the exit, he called two flight attendants “pathetic” and hit one with a bag.

Two travelers face $9,000 in fines in other cases.

In one case, a Delta Air Lines passenger on a Dec. 22 flight from Minneapolis to Philadelphia got out of her seat during takeoff and began walking up and down the aisle, repeatedly saying she wanted to get off the aircraft, the FAA said. When a flight attendant asked her to return to her seat, the passenger refused, prompting the flight to return to Minneapolis.

The second incident took place on a Jan. 30 flight from Bozeman, Mont., to Seattle and involved a passenger on an Alaska Airlines flight who refused to wear a mask. Flight attendants asked the man repeatedly to wear a mask while the plane was at the gate and as it taxied to the runway, but officials said he refused. The plane returned to the gate and the man was removed from the flight.
Read the full article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/transportation/2021/05/05/faa-jetblue-penalty/

Tucker Carlson’s worst vaccine segment yet
In a commentary, the Fox News host, who has unleashed a steady stream of innuendo-laden vaccine skepticism in recent months, raised the idea that the vaccines may be linked to an inordinate number of deaths.

He suggested (as he is wont) that he’s simply asking questions that nobody else will. As usual, though, the questions he raised have indeed been addressed in ways he didn’t relay. And as usual, there was a simpler explanation that he ignored in what seems, for all intents and purposes, to be his long-running quest to plant seeds of doubt in people’s minds on a very dangerous topic.


“Between late December of 2020 and last month, a total of 3,362 people apparently died after getting the covid vaccine in the United States — 3,362,” Carlson said, citing data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). “That’s an average of roughly 30 people every day.”

He added: “It’s clear that what is happening now, for whatever reason, is not even close to normal. It is not even close to what we see in previous years with previous vaccines. Most vaccines are not accused of killing large numbers of people. … Again, more people, according to VAERS, have died after getting the shot in four months during a single vaccination campaign than from all other vaccines combined over more than a decade and a half. Chart that out. It’s a stunning picture.”

It may be a stunning picture, but it’s also a highly misleading and cherry-picked one.

The most crucial thing to note at the outset is that just because someone died after getting the vaccine doesn’t mean they died because of it.
This is a point we’ll return to.

Another is that data in the VAERS system is unverified. Anyone can submit claims about what happened to them or someone they know. The idea is to give the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tons of data to use and then evaluate potential links between vaccines and side effects. As The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss noted last month:
Anti-vaccination activists routinely exaggerate the dangers of vaccines by misinterpreting and misusing data from EudraVigilance and from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), a U.S. government database that allows anyone to self-report “possible side effects or health problems” experienced after a vaccine, even minor ones such as soreness at the injection site.
In other words, it’s not the final word. It’s a bunch of open-access data that anyone can submit and that lots of amateur sleuths can then comb through.


... It’s not at all clear where Carlson got his data, but it’s abundantly clear that he’s comparing apples and oranges. Although his data on the coronavirus vaccine are deaths after vaccination — and not necessarily because of it — it rather surely relies on a more established, causal link. (Flu vaccines have been connected to anaphylaxis and other side effects that can be life-threatening. As with the coronavirus vaccines, those side effects are exceedingly rare.) There is no question that exponentially more than 203 out of 100 million people who got the flu vaccine in 2019 went on to die of something in the months that followed.

As for Carlson’s broader case that deaths after coronavirus vaccinations far exceed deaths after other vaccines — he specifically mentioned the vaccine for bacterial meningitis — again, this is apples to oranges. Even if the data from VAERS was ironclad, vaccines are generally given to children, who are significantly less likely to die of something else in impending months and years, because they are young.

The final point is the rhetorical inconsistency. Carlson’s show last year was among those suggesting that the official death toll from the coronavirus might be inflated. The claim was often that people who died after contracting the virus might have in fact died of something else — this despite their deaths coming very shortly after infection and us knowing that the coronavirus exacerbates other preexisting conditions.

Carlson is now effectively making the opposite implication: that we should all be very suspicious that people who get the vaccine and then die actually died because of the vaccine and not because of something else — even as the numbers he cited are deeply within the expected range.
Read the full article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/05/06/tucker-carlsons-worst-vaccine-segment-yet/

‘Turning the Corner’: U.S. Covid Outlook Reaches Most Hopeful Point Yet
Cases and deaths have dipped, and vaccinations make scientists hopeful, even as variants mean the coronavirus is here to stay.

The U.S. is “turning the corner” in the pandemic.

Americans have entered a new, hopeful phase as the outlook has improved across the nation. Cases and deaths from Covid-19 have dipped, and more people are shrugging off masks, venturing into restaurants and returning to prepandemic routines.

The biggest reason experts are optimistic that the trajectory may last is the vaccination campaign. More than 56 percent of adults have received at least one shot, and more than 30 percent are fully vaccinated.

Experts said that while they still expected significant local and regional surges in the coming weeks, they did not think they will be as widespread or reach past peaks. “We’re clearly turning the corner,” said one expert.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/06/us/covid-case-hospitalizations-update.html

Covid Forces Families to Rethink Nursing Home Care
Even with vaccines, many older people and their relatives are weighing how to manage at-home care for those who can no longer live independently.

People are rethinking the purpose of nursing homes after the pandemic killed tens of thousands of residents.

The pandemic has driven occupancy down significantly at nursing homes — not just from the 132,000 deaths but also because of a decline in admissions. For years, health officials and some insurers have tried to encourage more stay-at-home care, and the pandemic has created a sense of urgency.

“What’s happened is a welcome sort of market correction for nursing homes,” a lawyer for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform in San Francisco said.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/06/health/covid-nursing-homes.html

A town in Japan spent Covid relief funds on a giant squid statue.
giant squid statue
A $230,000 statue is part of an effort to revive tourism in the fishing town of Noto. Critics call it a waste of money as Japan struggles to contain a new outbreak.

A coastal town in Japan has provoked debate after spending nearly $230,000 in federal Covid-19 relief money on a 43-foot statue of a flying squid.

Noto, a fishing town where the squid is a delicacy, erected the statue in March in a bid to promote tourism after the pandemic subsides. The five-and-a-half-ton pink sea creature sits outside a squid-themed restaurant and tourist center.

Tetsuji Shimoyachi, a town official, said he hoped the statue would be “a driving-force attraction in the post-Covid period.”

But the giant squid’s unveiling provoked questions among some of the 16,000 residents of the town, roughly 180 miles northwest of Tokyo, who wondered whether there weren’t better uses of its emergency relief funds.

Mr. Shimoyachi acknowledged that residents had raised concerns about whether the money should have been spent elsewhere.

He said that of the $6.2 million in coronavirus relief that the town received from the Japanese government last year, it had spent about $2.5 million on infection control measures and $1.3 million to promote local businesses and employment, and still had money left over after purchasing the squid statue. The town has recorded fewer than 30 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/06/world/asia/japan-squid-statue.html

The Pandemic Has Changed Their Shower Habits. How About Yours?
Some people said they started bathing less during the pandemic. As long as no one complains, they say they plan to keep the new habit.

The pandemic upended the use of zippered pants and changed people’s eating and drinking habits. There are now indications that it has caused some Americans to become more spartan when it comes to ablutions.

Parents have complained that their teenage children are forgoing daily showers. After the British media reported on a YouGov survey that showed 17 percent of Britons had abandoned daily showers during the pandemic, many people on Twitter said they had done the same.

... Daily showers are a fairly new phenomenon, said Donnachadh McCarthy, an environmentalist and writer in London who grew up taking weekly baths.

“We had a bath once a week and we washed under at the sink the rest of the week — under our armpits and our privates — and that was it,” Mr. McCarthy, 61, said.

As he grew older, he showered every day. But after a visit to the Amazon jungle in 1992 revealed the ravages of overdevelopment, Mr. McCarthy said he began reconsidering how his daily habits were affecting the environment and his own body.

“It’s not really good to be washing with soap every day,” said Mr. McCarthy, who showers once a week.

Doctors and health experts have said that daily showers are unnecessary, and even counterproductive. Washing with soap every day can strip the skin of its natural oils and leave it feeling dry, though doctors still recommend frequent hand-washing.
... An eight-minute shower uses up to 17 gallons of water, according to the Water Research Fund. Running water for even five minutes uses as much energy as running a 60-watt light bulb for 14 hours, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. And frequent washing means going through more plastic bottles and using more soap, which is often made with petroleum.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/06/health/shower-bathing-pandemic.html

Norwegian Cruise Line may avoid Florida if state doesn't permit Covid-19 vaccination checks, CEO says
Florida's new law prohibiting businesses from asking whether employees or customers have been vaccinated against Covid-19 may take a toll on its cruise business.

The CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. said Thursday it could cause the company to suspend Florida departures and move its ships elsewhere.

"At the end of the day, cruise ships have motors, propellers and rudders, and God forbid we can't operate in the state of Florida for whatever reason, then there are other states that we do operate from, and we can operate from the Caribbean for a ship that otherwise would have gone to Florida," CEO Frank Del Rio said during the company's quarterly earnings call.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order last month banning the use of Covid-19 passports in the state. The order prohibited any government entity from issuing vaccine passports and blocks businesses from requiring any such documentation. Senate Bill 2006 was signed into law Monday making that executive order official.

"In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision," DeSantis said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week announced guidelines for trial cruises with volunteer passengers to test safety measures, which will be required for each ship before resuming regular passenger voyages in US waters.


To bypass the trial cruises, the CDC says at least 98% of crew members and 95% of passengers must have been vaccinated.

Del Rio says he hopes the CDC's conditions will override the governor's action when it comes to the cruise industry, although he said he was "disappointed at first read" of the agency's proposal for resuming cruise operations.

"It is a classic state versus federal government issue," said Del Rio. "Lawyers believe that federal law applies." He added that the company has been in talks with the governor's office but did not specify what was discussed.

Norwegian Cruise Line had previously hoped to resume cruises on July 4, and said it was willing to require all passengers and staff to be vaccinated in order to gain CDC approval.

That's no longer possible, Del Rio said Thursday.

"It was possible back in early April when we proposed to the CDC 100% vaccination. We've always said it takes about 90 days to stand up a vessel," he said. So the cruise line is now looking at August at the earliest.

Whether Norwegian decides to operate in Florida or not, it and other cruise companies will have to meet the CDC requirements before setting sail from US ports.
Read the full article: https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/norwegian-cruise-line-florida-vaccinations/index.html

Australia to drop entry ban for citizens and permanent residents coming from India
Australia will allow its citizens and permanent residents to return from India as of May 15, ending a controversial entry ban on anyone who has been in India over the past 14 days.

The ban is being enforced with a possible five-year jail term, a fine of $51,000 or both.

There are around 9,000 Australians in India who have officially informed the Australian government that they would like to return home, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. He said 900 of those people are classified as "vulnerable."

While commercial flights will not resume, Morrison said the Australian federal government will put on three repatriation flights between May 15 and 31.

Only Australia citizens, permanent residents and travelers from New Zealand can enter Australia, with few exceptions. All must undergo 14 days in state quarantine on arrival.


Around 40,000 Australians worldwide have told the government they want to return, with just over 5,000 places in quarantine available each week.

Morrison's government has denied criticism that banning entries from India alone was racist. The Prime Minister said Friday the entry ban “is working as it was intended to” in keeping Covid-19 out of Australia.
Read the full article: https://www.cnn.com/world/live-news/coronavirus-pandemic-vaccine-updates-05-07-21/h_f518cf0f20870109e9ecfdc2b87d1140

California bar owner charged with multiple felonies for allegedly selling fake Covid-19 vaccination cards, officials say
Todd Anderson, 59, of Acampo, California, was arrested Tuesday at his bar, the Old Corner Saloon, John Carr, a spokesperson for the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, told CNN.

ABC received a complaint that fake vaccination cards were being sold at the bar and opened an investigation, the agency said Wednesday in a statement. In April, undercover agents were able to buy four fake cards from the bar as part of their investigation, Carr said. They paid $20 for each card, he said.


It's not clear how many cards were sold in total. Agents found two completed cards and 30 blank ones with a laminating device, Carr said. ABC said agents also found an unregistered firearm with Anderson during the arrest at his bar in Clements, nearly 35 miles southeast of Sacramento.

"This is the first case the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) has investigated that involves allegations of the sale of Fraudulent COVID-19 Vaccination Cards," Carr told CNN via email.

Anderson faces three felony charges, including carrying an unregistered firearm, forgery of a government seal and identity theft of Pfizer, CVS and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office. He is also charged with creating a false medical record, a misdemeanor.
Read the full article: https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/06/health/fake-vaccination-cards-california-bar/index.html

New Study Estimates More Than 900,000 People Have Died Of COVID-19 In U.S.
A new study estimates that the number of people who have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. is more than 900,000, a number 57% higher than official figures.

Worldwide, the study's authors say, the COVID-19 death count is nearing 7 million, more than double the reported number of 3.24 million.

The analysis comes from researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, who looked at excess mortality from March 2020 through May 3, 2021, compared it to what would be expected in a typical non-pandemic year, then adjusted those figures to account for a handful of other pandemic-related factors.

The final count only estimates deaths "caused directly by the SARS-CoV-2 virus," according to the study's authors.


Researchers estimated dramatic undercounts in countries like India, Mexico and Russia, where they said the official death counts are some 400,000 too low in each country. In some countries — including Japan, Egypt and several Central Asian nations — the IHME death toll estimate is more than 10 times higher than reported totals.

"The analysis just shows how challenging it has been during the pandemic to accurately track the deaths — and actually, transmission — of COVID. And by focusing in on the total COVID death rate, I think we bring to light just how much greater the impact of COVID has been already and may be in the future," said Dr. Christopher Murray, who heads IHME.

The group reached their estimates by calculating excess mortality based on a variety of sources, including official death statistics from various countries, as well as academic studies of other locations.

Then, they examined other mortality factors influenced by the pandemic. For example, some of the extra deaths were caused by increased opioid overdoses or deferred health care. On the other hand, the dramatic reduction in flu cases last winter and a modest drop in deaths caused by injury resulted in lower mortality in those categories than usual.

Researchers at UW ultimately concluded that the extra deaths not directly caused by COVID-19 were effectively offset by the other reductions in death rates, leaving them to attribute all of the net excess deaths to the coronavirus.

"When you put all that together, we conclude that the best way, the closest estimate, for the true COVID death is still excess mortality, because some of those things are on the positive side, other factors are on the negative side," Murray said.

Experts are in agreement that official reports of COVID-19 deaths undercount the true death toll of the virus. Some countries only report deaths that take place in hospitals, or only when patients are confirmed to have been infected; others have poor health care access altogether.

"We see, for example, that when health systems get hit hard with individuals with COVID, understandably they devote their time to trying to take care of patients," Murray said.

Because of that, many academics have sought to estimate a true COVID-19 death rate in order to better understand how the disease spreads.
Read the full article: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/05/06/994287048/new-study-estimates-more-than-900-000-people-have-died-of-covid-19-in-u-s

In Covid Vaccine Data, L.G.B.T.Q. People Fear Invisibility
Unlike with racial and ethnic data, the collection of sexual orientation and gender identity data is scattershot at best, captured in only a few states and territories.

The collection of this data would increase the visibility of vaccine disparities, advocates say, and allow policymakers and health care providers to more nimbly and equitably allocate resources and craft messaging campaigns for members of these groups. That’s important because they have routinely experienced health disparities and often mistrust the health care system, a result, in part, of a history of medical mistreatment.

Many doctors, for example, refused to treat those infected with H.I.V. during the early stages of the crisis. Some patients who were treated were prescribed toxic doses of a drug approved to combat AIDS. It was only in 1987 that the American Psychiatric Association stopped treating homosexuality as a mental disorder, while “gender identity disorder” was treated as such until 2013.

Today, many in this population continue to be turned away by doctors for emergency, pediatric and other forms of medical care. In some states, such as Arkansas, doctors will be able to legally withhold medically necessary treatment from L.G.B.T.Q. patients.

Experts fear this historical and continued mistreatment could deter even those willing to receive a vaccine from seeking one.


Adding sexual orientation and gender identity data to providers’ vaccine registration forms, then, can also serve another purpose, advocates say: It signals an affirming, safe space for this population of people, which could help address vaccine hesitancy.

A number of national surveys and studies have found that L.G.B.T.Q. people are more likely to face hurdles to health care, from lack of transportation to outright denial of care.

A 2020 study shows that transgender people frequently experience overt discrimination by health care providers, from being denied care to being verbally harassed. And care seekers who were out to their providers were more than five times more likely to experience overt discrimination.

Those in intersectional vulnerable groups, such as Black or low-income L.G.B.T.Q. people, may have even more medical mistrust.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/07/health/lgbtq-covid-vaccines.html

W.H.O. Approves China’s Sinopharm Covid-19 Vaccine

The World Health Organization’s authorization of the vaccine for emergency use on Friday allows it to be included in Covax, W.H.O’s global initiative to increase vaccine access in low- and middle-income countries.

Solving the vaccine crisis requires that we pull out all the stops. W.H.O. is continuing to explore every avenue for increasing access to vaccines globally. This afternoon, W.H.O. gave emergency-use listing to Sinopharm, Beijing’s Covid-19 vaccine, making it the sixth vaccine to receive W.H.O. validation for safety, efficacy and quality. This expands the list of vaccines that Covax can buy, and gives countries confidence to expedite their own regulatory approval and to import and administer a vaccine. The strategic advisory group of experts on immunization, or SAGE, has also reviewed the available data and recommends the vaccine for adults 18 years and older, with a two-dose schedule. Vaccines remain a vital tool. But right now, the volume and distribution of vaccines is insufficient to end the pandemic without the sustained and tailored application of public health measures that we know work.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/europe/100000007751308/who-china-sinopharm-coronavirus-vaccine.html

An Oregon church sued over covid-19 restrictions. Now, an outbreak there has sickened 74.
In early April, dozens of maskless churchgoers in northwest Oregon stood onstage singing and clapping inside a packed indoor venue for Easter Sunday service. The Peoples Church, which previously sued the state over coronavirus restrictions, hosted three similar indoor services that day, each lasting a little over an hour.

Days later, the state’s health authority began investigating a potential outbreak at the Salem church.

Now, the Oregon Health Authority says that at least 74 people associated with the church have tested positive for the coronavirus — one of the state’s largest workplace outbreaks.


In a statement, the church’s leaders attributed the outbreak to a recent rise in covid-19 cases in Marion County, Ore. “We are concerned about the covid-19 surge in Oregon,” executive pastor Tom Murray said in an email to The Washington Post. “This statewide increase has impacted our entire region, including our church family.”

Murray said the church, which has held in-person services throughout the pandemic, intends to continue with in-person ceremonies on Sunday.
Read the full article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/05/07/oregon-peoples-church-covid-outbreak/

Japan Extends Coronavirus Emergency Measures

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan announced on Friday that it was extending the state of emergency in Tokyo and other cities until the end of May to contain the increase of coronavirus cases.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/asia/100000007751919/tokyo-olympics-coronavirus.html

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