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Exacerbated by COVID-19, Delaware sees 35% increase in homelessness

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In Delaware, the number of homeless has increased 35% over the past year, although local experts say the total is likely to be far higher due to the challenges of counting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nearly 60% of that increase were children, according to a recent report from the Housing Alliance Delaware, a statewide nonprofit that did the censusand aims to alleviate the problems of the homeless population.

The census did not include unprotected people living in cars and warehouses that year due to COVID-19 precautions and logistical challenges – communities that would drive up the total number of homeless across Delaware.

“Although they didn’t count the unprotected, which should have lowered the number, the number rose thirty-five percent,” said Stephen Metraux, director of the University of Delaware’s Center for Community Research and Service.

Experts say the rise in the number of homeless is due to a variety of factors, including a lack of affordable housing and COVID-19 safety concerns, which have resulted in people staying in hotels and motels for long periods of time.

COVID-19:“Help us all have a future”: Hope Center focuses on vaccinating the most vulnerable

In response, increased funding and rapid resettlement programs in the state are helping members of the homeless population find and maintain stable housing.

“You have nowhere to go”

Metraux does not attribute the increase to a new influx, but to the fact that it is becoming increasingly difficult to leave the homeless population and to find permanent housing.

In addition, he said the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed some of the weaknesses in the systems designed to help the homeless population find housing – both long-term and short-term.

Hope Center resident Heather Logan speaks about her first COVID vaccination during a vaccination event at the New Castle County facility on Wednesday, March 31, 2021. A goal of the event was to vaccinate as many of the eligible residents as possible .

FLASHBACK:The COVID-19 pandemic has seen Delaware homeless shelters face shortages. Winter doesn’t wait

Shelters across the state scaled back their capacities and imposed restrictions, such as a negative COVID-19 test on entry, to prevent the virus from spreading. The increased requirements of being accommodated in sometimes overcrowded accommodation during the pandemic discouraged many from staying there.

“You now have this situation where emergency shelters are not ideal accommodations when you are homeless,” Metraux said. “Shelters are just gathering places and people are scared of getting COVID.”

To alleviate these aggravated conditions, government centers and nonprofits have placed people affected by homelessness in hotels and motels that have been found to be safer than housing during the pandemic.

Last December, during the height of the Delaware pandemic, New Castle County’s Hope Center opened its doors as long-term shelter for members of the homeless community. The center, a former Sheraton hotel, offers residents health screenings, mental health services, and COVID-19-related resources.

The bedroom of a suite that used to house the residents of the Hope Center.

In March, the center on Airport Road off I-95 worked to vaccinate residents against COVID-19 to protect one of the most vulnerable populations in the state.

“Who knows if I would have got this,” said Robert Johnson, a resident of the center, after receiving his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. “I have that extra sense of security that I don’t have to worry.”

IN DANGER:While everyone goes inside to protect themselves, Delaware’s homeless are being abandoned in the cold – until now

Rachel Stucker, executive director of Housing Alliance Delaware, highlighted the importance of these resources in moving people from overcrowded and unsafe living conditions to safer alternatives.

“Resources were made available and it enabled us to see the real needs of people who might not otherwise be homeless but live on the fringes,” said Stucker.

According to the report, at the time of the January census, more than half of the homeless were staying in a hotel or motel. Many of these people continued their residency due to a lack of resources and safe, affordable housing.

“There’s nowhere to go,” Metraux said. “People stay in the hotels and motels and they don’t go, and that basically explains the increase in population.”

The report attributed the dramatic influx of homelessness in the state to an “affordable housing crisis” that has forced many to rely on temporary housing for too long. The report goes on to say that Delaware lacks 20,000 affordable housing units for the lowest-income households.

“If you can’t afford market rents, you will have a really hard time getting an apartment,” said Metraux.

Hope Center Resident Loralai Delacruz, left, holds newborn daughter Meredith Delacruz in the Hope Center lobby on Wednesday, February 10, 2021.

It also happens during a boom in the property market that is causing many private landlords to sell properties at a time when property values ​​are higher than they have been recently. This, in turn, has impacted the rental market, limiting affordable and available real estate.

Rapid relocation programs across the state are helping people affected by homelessness move to permanent housing. In 2020, Delaware jurisdictions allocated more than $ 1.5 million in aid from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to these programs, the report said.

“I am very confident that these people will come back to stable housing in the community this year, along with some support, but it will not be easy,” said Stucker.

Contact the reporter at jcastaneda1@delawareonline.com or connect with him on Twitter @joseicastaneda.

Pandemic

Kremlin blames ‘nihilism’ as Moscow sees record COVID-19 infections

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A specialist wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) sprays disinfectant while disinfecting Rizhsky train station, one of the measures taken to contain the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Moscow, Russia, June 17, 2021. Moscow Department for Russian Emergencies Ministry / Handout via REUTERS

MOSCOW, June 18 (Reuters) – The Kremlin on Friday blamed a surge in COVID-19 cases on reluctance to get vaccinated for “nihilism” after fears raised a record of 9,000 new infections in the capital third wave had stoked.

Russia, the largest country in the world, reported 17,262 new coronavirus infections nationwide.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin extended the restrictions he had previously imposed, including a ban on public events with more than 1,000 people, the closure of cafes and restaurants at 11 p.m. and the closure of fan zones set up for the European Football Championship. Continue reading

Sobyanin said earlier this week that Moscow, home to 13 million people, was facing a new, more aggressive and contagious variant of the coronavirus and that the situation in the city was rapidly deteriorating.

It was not clear if he was referring to the Delta variant, which was first identified in India and which led to a resurgence of cases in the UK.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said President Vladimir Putin is closely monitoring the situation.

When asked to explain the increase in cases, Peskov blamed the virus’ “cunning nature”, an indication of its mutations, and “total nihilism and low vaccination rate”. Continue reading

At a briefing, he rejected the idea, postulated by some critics, that Russians were reluctant to vaccinate because they mistrusted the authorities.

As of June 2, the latest available census, only 18 million Russians had received at least one dose of vaccine: that is far less than most western countries for one eighth of the population.

The Moscow authorities this week ordered all workers with public functions to be vaccinated. Continue reading

Sobyanin said Friday he expected the city government to begin vaccinating migrant workers with Sputnik Light – a single dose of the Sputnik-V vaccine – early next month.

But he also said it was “vital” to give more booster doses – a third dose, in effect. He said he had just received a booster himself after being fully vaccinated twice a year ago.

He said the third dose offered was a repeat of the first dose of the double Sputnik-V vaccine.

Several Russian officials and members of the business elite, as well as some members of the public, have already secured third and fourth doses of Sputnik V, Reuters reported in April. Continue reading

How long a vaccine will protect against COVID-19 will be crucial as countries assess when or if re-vaccination is needed, and Russia’s results are closely monitored elsewhere.

Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; Letter from Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Maria Kisselyova

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Global COVID-19 death toll exceeds 4 million

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June 18 (Reuters) – Coronavirus-related deaths worldwide passed a dismal 4 million milestone on Thursday, as many countries struggle to get enough vaccines to keep their populations safe, according to a Reuters tally.

While the number of new cases and deaths has declined in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, several countries are experiencing vaccine shortages as the Delta variant becomes the dominant strain worldwide.

According to a Reuters analysis, it took over a year for the COVID-19 death toll to hit 2 million, while the next 2 million were recorded in just 166 days.

The five largest countries by total deaths – the United States, Brazil, India, Russia, and Mexico – account for about 50% of all deaths worldwide, while Peru, Hungary, Bosnia, the Czech Republic, and Gibraltar have the highest death rates when populations adjust is. (Chart on worldwide cases and deaths)

Countries in Latin America are facing the worst outbreak since March, with 43 out of 100 infections reported in the region worldwide, according to a Reuters analysis. The nine countries that reported the most deaths per capita in the past week were all in Latin America.

Hospitals in Bolivia, Chile and Uruguay mostly see COVID-19 patients between the ages of 25 and 40 as the trend towards younger patients continues. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, 80% of intensive care unit (ICU) inmates are COVID-19 patients.

Rising deaths are straining the operating capacity of crematoriums in developing countries, and gravediggers in several countries have been forced to add a number of new graves to cemeteries.

India and Brazil are the countries with the highest number of reported deaths on a seven-day average each day and are still facing cremation issues and shortage of burial sites. According to a Reuters analysis, India is responsible for every third death reported worldwide on a daily basis.

Many health experts believe the official death toll is underestimated worldwide, with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating the death toll as much higher last month.

Last week, the Indian state of Bihar significantly increased its COVID-19 death toll after discovering thousands of unreported cases, adding weight to concerns that India’s total death toll is well above the official figure.

As poorer countries struggle to vaccinate their populations due to vaccine shortages, wealthier countries have been urged to donate more to help contain the pandemic.

“The main problem in America is access to vaccines, not vaccine acceptance,” said Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, on Wednesday, urging donor countries to send vaccinations as soon as possible.

The Group of Seven (G7) rich nations had pledged to provide 1 billion COVID-19 vaccinations to help poorer countries vaccinate their populations.

(Corrects the day of the week in the first paragraph)

Reporting by Roshan Abraham and Ahmed Farhatha in Bengaluru; Additional coverage from Lasya Priya M; Edited by Lisa Shumaker and Karishma Singh

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Pandemic

CureVac Shares Plunge Premarket on Disappointing Covid-19 Vaccine Trial

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Shares in Germany’s CureVac CVAC -3.47%

NV fell nearly in half in pre-trading hours, suggesting significant losses for investors as the market reopened after the drug company reported disappointing results from a study on its experimental Covid-19 vaccine.

Nasdaq-listed CureVac said late Wednesday that its vaccine was 47% effective against the disease in an interim analysis of a large clinical trial, a disappointing result that will likely cloud the vaccine’s prospects for wider use.

For the main listing in the US, shares fell 45% in over-the-counter trading. The shares of the Frankfurt-listed company traded 43% lower on Thursday.

The setback could hamper vaccination campaigns in Europe because the German company has a contract with the European Commission to supply up to 405 million doses, one of the bloc’s largest deals with a single company. CureVac has partnered with major pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline GSK 0.22%

SPS and Novartis AG

NVS -0.13%

to help make cans.

CureVac was once considered one of the most hopeful candidates for developing a successful Covid-19 vaccine. It received support from the German government, which had a 17% stake in the company, and the company was listed in the US last August. The company had a market valuation of $ 18.29 billion at the close of trading on Wednesday.

The share price had already declined in the past few days due to growing doubts about the study and the company’s ability to get its vaccine approved in Europe in the second quarter as planned.

A government spokesman declined to comment on the interim analysis, but said it would not affect the German vaccination schedule. On its website, the German Ministry of Health no longer includes CureVac in its vaccine delivery forecasts for the remainder of 2021.

CureVac’s vaccine uses a gene-based technology, messenger RNA, similar to that used by Moderna Inc.

and Pfizer Inc.,

with his partner BioNTech SE,

Manufacture Covid-19 vaccines.

In comparison, these vaccines were at least 94% effective in large clinical trials last year before new virus variants spread significantly. The Moderna and Pfizer shots have formed the backbone of mass vaccination campaigns in the US and other countries.

CureVac’s vaccine is slightly different from the Pfizer and Moderna shots, with a formulation that allows for storage at higher temperatures than the other shots.

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CureVac, together with its partner Bayer AG, carried out a combined clinical phase 2/3 study with its vaccine from December, in which around 40,000 people in 10 countries in Latin America and Europe took part.

The study volunteers received two doses of either the CureVac vaccine or a placebo, and the researchers tracked how many in each group got Covid-19.

The proliferation of new coronavirus variants may have played a role in the disappointing effectiveness, CureVac said.

Approximately 57% of Covid-19 cases for which virus sequence data was available were caused by variants of concern – those that are more easily transmitted or can cause more serious illness – and most of the remaining cases were caused by other, less characterized variants, announced the company.

“Although we had hoped for a stronger interim result, we are aware that demonstrating high efficacy in this unprecedented variety of variants is a challenge,” said Dr. Franz-Werner Haas, CEO of CureVac.

The company said the effectiveness of the vaccine in the study varied based on age, with results suggesting effectiveness in younger people but not conclusive effectiveness in those over 60 years of age.

CureVac’s early work on a Covid-19 vaccine last year first caught the attention of then-President Donald Trump. In March 2020, the German government accused the US of tricking CureVac into moving to the US to work on a vaccine.

The company continued to develop the shot after its founder, who returned as CEO, suffered a debilitating stroke and took medical break.

Write to Peter Loftus at peter.loftus@wsj.com

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