A possible surge in COVID-19 instances attributable to a brand new variant of the coronavirus may make it tough for colleges to reopen despite the new guidelines released by the Biden administration final week, a number one infectious illnesses epidemiologist mentioned Monday.
Michael Osterholm, the pinnacle of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy and a Biden transition adviser on COVID-19, mentioned the spiking variety of U.Okay. variant instances might imply that “a lot of schools are going to be challenged to open at all.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday launched new pointers for varsity reopenings that embrace a bunch of security pointers, together with masks carrying and sustaining 6 ft of bodily distance between folks when attainable. Vaccinating academics, nevertheless, will not be a should for in-person instruction.
Osterholm praised the rules and mentioned virus transmission in colleges is mostly low, particularly amongst younger college students. The problem, he mentioned, will not be that colleges cannot deal with the necessities of the brand new pointers however that instances in communities might rise too excessive for colleges to stay open, because the CDC factors out is a priority.
“The next 14 weeks I think will be the worst of the pandemic,” Osterholm told “CBS This Morning.”
Dr. Isaac Weisfuse, a Cornell University public well being professor and former deputy well being commissioner in New York City, informed USA TODAY faculty openings may probably be delayed in some areas. “We are entering a difficult phase of the pandemic because of the spread of a mutated virus that is easier to transmit and perhaps deadlier than earlier versions,” he mentioned. “In the next few weeks we may face a sharp increase in cases, as occurred in the United Kingdom.”
But Weisfuse sounded a word of hope. “The good news is that with increasing uptake of the vaccine, this phase may not be long lasting,” he mentioned.
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In the headlines:
►The World Health Organization on Monday approved use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine. The transfer will assist enhance provides for thousands and thousands of individuals worldwide by way of the U.N.’s COVAX effort, which goals to assist vaccinate poorer international locations.
►In Texas, the cities of Houston and Austin canceled their well being departments’ vaccine appointments on Monday and Tuesday due to severe winter weather wreaking havoc throughout the southern and central U.S. The Tennessee Department of Health additionally mentioned some native well being departments have been canceling vaccine appointments.
►The IRS says it won’t push back the April 15 deadline this yr to file taxes because it did final yr in the course of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
►Travelers arriving in Britain should quarantine in inns beginning Monday because the U.Okay. authorities goals to gradual the unfold of latest coronavirus variants. The nation reached the milestone of 15 million folks, together with folks working in well being care and people over 70, receiving their first vaccine dose, and isn’t increasing eligibility to folks over 65 and people with underlying situations.
►California on Sunday reported the bottom variety of hospitalizations since Dec. 1, in response to the California Department of Public Health. The state’s demise toll, nevertheless, stays persistently excessive.
►Both New York’s each day and seven-day common case charges stayed beneath 4% on Sunday for the second day in a row, per Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s workplace.
►Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi has prolonged coronavirus restrictions by way of mid-March in Hawaii’s most populous metropolis however mentioned that might change if confirmed instances stay low.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has greater than 27.6 million confirmed coronavirus instances and 485,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The world totals: More than 108.9 million instances and a pair of.4 million deaths. More than 70 million vaccine doses have been distributed within the U.S. and about 52.8 million have been administered, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re studying: The life cycle of a COVID-19 vaccine, from DNA to doses, is an advanced, months-long course of. Here’s how Pfizer does it.
COVID-19 instances within the United States have been dropping since a peak a number of weeks in the past. There have been 83,321 reported new instances on Saturday – the primary time since Nov. 2 the nation had reported lower than one new case each second.
And on Sunday, Johns Hopkins University information exhibits, the tempo slowed even additional, to 64,938 instances.
Cases are usually reported at a slower fee on weekends, however the fee at which instances have been reported has dropped by greater than half since final month’s peak.
– Mike Stucka
If you’ve got been waiting for a big national campaign telling you COVID-19 vaccines are secure and all people ought to get them, do not maintain your breath. Until the provision is plentiful, the federal effort is essentially targeted on minority communities hesitant concerning the immunizations.
It’s a sensible method, consultants say.
With COVID-19, completely different communities want completely different messages and mass promoting does not essentially make sense, mentioned Hal Hershfield, a professor of behavioral resolution making on the University of California, Los Angeles, Anderson School of Management.
“When you really start thinking about budget and the need for specific messaging, it’s a reasonable thing not to have some giant national campaign,” he mentioned.
– Elizabeth Weise
Many Americans stayed away from the emergency room when the nation went underneath lockdown for concern of contracting COVID-19 on the hospital. While this led to an total decline in emergency division visits, a latest research exhibits weekly trips to the ER for drug overdoses were higher in 2020 than in 2019.
Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied greater than 180 million ER visits from Dec. 30, 2018, to Oct. 10, 2020, and located that weekly counts of all drug overdoses have been as much as 45% greater in 2020 than in 2019, in response to the research printed Feb. 3 within the peer-reviewed JAMA Psychiatry. Opioid overdoses, particularly, elevated about 29% in comparison with earlier than the pandemic.
Overall visits to the emergency room plummeted when COVID-19 lockdown measures have been applied in March 2020, reducing about 43% in comparison with the identical timeframe in 2019. However, drug overdoses skilled solely a slight lower from March 29 to April 11, about 4% in comparison with 2019, earlier than rising once more.
“That all drug and opioid overdose emergency department visits did not decrease in a similar manner to other emergency department visits is especially compelling, suggesting an increase in overdose burden during the pandemic,” research authors mentioned.
– Adrianna Rodriguez
The World Health Organization staff of scientists investigating the origins of the coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic in China has discovered indicators that the unique outbreak in Wuhan was wider than beforehand thought, the lead investigator told CNN.
Peter Ben Embarek, who led the WHO mission, informed CNN that investigators had discovered a number of clues that time to a bigger outbreak within the central Chinese metropolis, together with proof of over a dozen strains of the virus already circulating in December 2019.
A preliminary report from Ben Embarek and a staff of WHO scientists who just lately concluded a visit to China is anticipated this week.
An Israeli research of 1.2 million folks discovered that Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine lowered symptomatic infections by 94% and instances of significant illness by 92%, one of many nation’s largest well being care suppliers mentioned.
The research by Clalit checked out 600,000 individuals who have been vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 600,000 who weren’t immunized.
“The efficacy of the vaccine is preserved in every age group,” notably per week after the second dose of the vaccine, researchers mentioned, including that the goal of the research was “emphasizing to the population that has yet to vaccinate that the vaccine is highly effective and prevents serious illness.”
COVID-19 variants proceed to infiltrate the U.S.: The B.1.1.7 variant first seen within the United Kingdom has been reported for the primary time in Maine, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C., whereas the B.1.351 variant first seen in South Africa has now been reported in Illinois, Texas and D.C.
The B.1.1.7 variant is spreading quickly. Michigan had been reporting 29 instances since Feb. 4; on Sunday night time, it reported one other 32 instances, greater than doubling its load. Florida additionally reported 32 new instances, bringing its whole to 379, or a few third of the nation’s. California reported 27 new instances, bringing its whole to 186. Colorado added 26 instances to achieve 67; Massachusetts added 19 instances to just about triple its reported tally, to 29. Texas added 14 instances to achieve 49.
There are actually 1,173 identified instances of B.1.1.7, which the Centers for Disease Control had mentioned may develop into the nation’s predominate pressure in March. The speedy unfold of variants is going on whilst all coronavirus case counts are being reported half as shortly as they have been final month.
– Mike Stucka
New Orleans is tamping down its annual Mardi Gras celebrations this week and well being officers in different cities are warning would-be revelers to do the identical amid a spike in coronavirus variant instances throughout the nation.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell ordered bars closed in the course of the Mardi Gras weekend that began Friday and runs by way of Tuesday. Parades are canceled and there are limits on gatherings.
Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the annual pre-Lenten bash celebrated alongside a lot of the Gulf Coast. Last yr’s revelry is believed to have contributed to an early surge that made Louisiana a coronavirus scorching spot.
Contributing: The Associated Press