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Pandemic

Matt Hancock resigns after COVID rule breach; NC State disqualified

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Proof of compulsory vaccination could be key to fully reopening badly affected businesses in the US. However, many companies are reluctant to request proof of vaccination from customers as the public and politicians in many places have made it clear that they do not like the idea.

In fact, far more states have banned vaccination records than they have developed smartphone-based programs that allow people to digitally view their vaccination status.

Hawaii is the only state that enforces a version of a vaccination pass that requires travelers to upload a photo or PDF of their Hawaii vaccination record or pass a COVID-19 test prior to arrival to avoid a 10-day quarantine.

In contrast, at least 18 Republican-led states prohibit the creation of so-called vaccination records or prohibit public institutions from requesting proof of vaccination. Several of them – including Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Montana, North Dakota, and Texas – also prohibit most companies from refusing to serve those who are not vaccinated.

Also on the news:

► AMC Theaters continues its return to normal business operations. AMC Stubs A-List, the cinema chain’s membership program, is slated to be reactivated on July 1st after being suspended in March 2020.

► Panera Bread bakery-cafe chain is the latest to launch a COVID-19 vaccine giveaway. From July 2nd to 4th, the chain will be giving away free bagels nationwide to vaccinated customers at participating locations – without proof of vaccination.

Although 40% of Americans said they prefer to work from home full-time last month, large companies across the country encourage or require their employees to return to the office by Labor Day.

Russia has reported the highest daily death toll from COVID-19 of the year at 619 people as the country grapples with a sharp surge in infections that has led to new restrictions in some regions.

Finland is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases attributed to football fans returning from neighboring Russia after European Championship matches in St. Petersburg.

While the Houston Methodist hospital system is in the national spotlight for banning 153 employees who refused to be vaccinated, dozen of hospitals have silently started following the Texas hospital offering COVID-19 vaccinations prescribe their employees.

Southwest Airlines plans to raise the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour for about 7,000 employees, citing the need to attract and retain workers as the aviation industry continues to recover from the pandemic.

📘 What we read: American tourists will soon be able to travel to Sweden as the country plans to reopen its borders with the United States on June 30th.

📈 Today’s numbers: There are more than 33.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 603,000 deaths in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University. The global totals: more than 181 million cases and more than 3.92 million deaths. More than 153 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – nearly 46% of the population, according to the CDC.

Keep updating this page for the latest updates. Want more? Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter to get updates in your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Deleted gene sequences confirm that the coronavirus was circulating in front of the fish market in Wuhan

The virus that causes COVID-19 didn’t come from the Wuhan fish market, confirms a new study of deleted gene sequences from the virus’s earliest days.

The sequences were posted on a National Institutes of Health website but were removed for reasons unknown.

Jesse Bloom, who studies viral evolution at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, does not propose an answer to the question of whether the SARS-CoV-2 virus jumped directly from animals to humans or accidentally leaked from a research laboratory in Wuhan , China in its new report, which has not yet been peer-reviewed.

But by studying how the viral genes mutate over time, researchers like Bloom can reconstruct their history, find out which cases came first, and how the virus changed as it moved through the population.

“These sequences are informative to understand the early spread of SARS-CoV-2 in Wuhan,” said Bloom. “They’re not transformative, but they fill in some really important gaps.”

Bloom knows the deletion of the sequences will arouse suspicion among the public, but he says there are many reasons a researcher might request that material be taken offline, including the fact that the Chinese government should do so on the week of the the study was published, introduced a requirement that it review all scientific information on SARS-CoV-2 prior to publication. Continue reading.

– Karen Weintraub and Elizabeth Weise

UK Health Secretary resigns after violating coronavirus rules

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who led the country’s response to the coronavirus, stepped down on Saturday, a day after apologizing to a counselor he was allegedly having an affair with for violating social distancing rules .

Hancock has been under increasing pressure since the Sun tabloid published pictures of him and his senior associate Gina Coladangelo kissing in a Department of Health office. The Sun said the closed circuit television pictures were taken May 6-11, days before lockdown rules were relaxed to allow hugs and other physical contact with people outside of their homes.

In a letter of resignation to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Hancock said the government owes it “to the people who sacrificed so much in this pandemic, to be honest, if we let them down”.

Hancock is the latest in a line of British officials accused of violating the restrictions they have placed on the rest of the population to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Dominic Cummings, who once served as Johnson’s top advisor, was accused of undermining the government’s “stay home” message while driving 250 miles across England to his parents’ home during the spring 2020 lockdown.

Johnson said he regretted Hancock’s resignation and should leave his post “very proud of what you have accomplished – not just in fighting the pandemic, but before COVID-19 hits us.”

“The last thing I want is my personal life to divert attention from the single-minded focus that is leading us out of this crisis,” Hancock said in his letter. Continue reading.

– The Associated Press

Massachusetts announces details of a $ 1 million vaccine lottery

The first of five draws for the Massachusetts coronavirus vaccine lottery is scheduled for July 26, state officials said on Friday.

Additional drawings for a $ 1 million prize or $ 300,000 college scholarship will be held on the four consecutive Mondays through August, according to a statement from Governor Charlie Baker’s office.

The winners will be announced three days after each drawing. The state uses federal coronavirus aid funds to pay the winners.

Residents must be fully vaccinated prior to enrolling, but if they are not vaccinated by the enrollment date for a particular draw, they can still complete the vaccination and sign up for subsequent draws. Residents only need to register once to qualify for all draws after their registration date.

Residents ages 18 and older are eligible for the $ 1 million award, while residents ages 12-17 are eligible for the scholarships, which are in the form of grants through a 529 College Savings Plan, which administered by the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority.

The lottery is designed to attract more people to get vaccinated, Baker said. More than 4 million residents of the state have already been fully vaccinated.

– The Associated Press

Contribution: The Associated Press

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Pandemic

Here’s how to keep your kids safe from the Covid-19 Delta variant

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CNN

The more contagious Delta variant is spreading rapidly in the US, but children under the age of 12 can’t get the best protection there is – a vaccine.

That said, pediatricians say there are still simple things parents can do to help children protect themselves from Covid-19, especially when they return to school.

Serious cases are not common in children, but Covid-19 numbers have been higher than ever in the pandemic since November, said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, director of infectious diseases in the Department of Pediatrics at Stanford Medicine and chair of the committee with the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Her association has been tracking cases and found that nearly 72,000 children and adolescents were infected with Covid-19 last week. That is a significant increase compared to the previous week, about five times as many sick children as at the end of June.

“It is clear that this variant can cause serious injuries in children. You’ve heard these stories from pediatric intensive care units in Louisiana where children are sick as young as a few months, “said Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, John Berman of CNN on New Day Tuesday.

“Anyone who says that as a young healthy person you don’t have to worry, you have to think about it.”

The most important thing that parents need to think about, say pediatricians, is the vaccine.

If a parent or adult hasn’t been vaccinated in a child’s life, get one now, they guess. The same applies to siblings who are old enough.

Parents should also talk to children about why it is important.

“Make sure you have this conversation with them – about why it is important to be vaccinated and how it protects not just them but everyone around them,” said Dr. Dane Snyder, director of primary pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Parents may also want to talk to anyone who interacts with the child about their vaccination status, Maldonado said. If the person isn’t vaccinated and the parents still feel good about having them around their unvaccinated child, at least ask them to wear a mask or even consider asking them to take a test before they do meet.

“You wouldn’t want your child in a car that someone drives without a seat belt or a driver’s license,” Maldonado said. “We shouldn’t be afraid to stand up for the health of our children.”

Snyder said parents should continue to reinforce the message about good hygiene.

For example, she said, parents should teach their children to cough into their elbows and wash their hands.

“Hand washing is really one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of any type of disease, be it in your home or community,” said Snyder.

Three feet of physical distance can reduce the spread of the virus, good ventilation helps, and masks for indoor activities are key, public health experts say.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that anyone over the age of 2, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask when attending school.

“The data is very convincing that masking continues to be a very effective means of preventing infection,” said Dr. Larry Kociolek, attending infectious diseases physician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

By some estimates, having a mask reduces the risk of contracting Covid-19 by about 50%, he said. “Masks are most effective in areas where there is a high risk of exposure and transmission,” said Kociolek.

Dr. Sarah Combs, an emergency doctor at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, said parents can make wearing a mask fun.

“Go ahead and get them a mask of their favorite character and tell them it’s like Superman’s mask. Do whatever you can to get them involved, especially the younger who are less understanding, ”said Combs.

Snyder recommends that parents talk to their children about wearing a mask to school so they know what to expect, especially when a mask is not required. “Make sure you talk to children about accepting things about children who are either masked or not,” Snyder said.

As for parents and masks, Dr. Amy Edwards, assistant medical director of pediatric infection control at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, suggested that even vaccinated parents should wear a mask in public. “That way, they’ll be less likely to get Covid and bring it home,” Edwards said.

The risk of contracting Covid-19 is much lower if the child is playing outdoors.

Edwards said she restricted her own children to playing outdoors only with their friends. “It’s okay to play with the neighborhood kids, but only outside in the yard, not inside in the playroom or bedroom or the like where there is closer internal contact – which is a bigger problem,” she said.

For older children who enjoy video games, Edwards said a parent could set up time for streaming together even if they are in different rooms.

“Try to come up with creative ways kids can play together, but limit their exposure,” Edwards said.

Playing outdoors has an added benefit. “It’s not just safer from a Covid-19 standpoint – physical activity is a real health benefit,” Kociolek said, particularly given the rise in child obesity rates in the Chicago area since the pandemic began.

Talking to children about Covid-19 is essential, according to paediatricians. Children are like sponges, said Combs.

“Even at this very young age, they are aware of their surroundings, they are picking up your emotional cues. And when we try to keep things from the kids, they get more suspicious and fearful, ”said Combs.

This way even a toddler can understand the basics.

Edwards says she even talked to her kids ages 2 and 4 about the Delta variant. “I told them the virus kind of grew up and got a little bit stronger, so we have to fight a little bit harder,” said Edwards.

With teenagers, parents don’t want to make them more anxious, so be factual, Combs said. It can be helpful to acknowledge that it can be scary even for parents. “That’s fine because we know things and ways to reduce the risk and help each of us in the family,” said Combs.

Combs added that it is also good to encourage the children to be open, especially when they are unwell, so that the parents can keep them at home and remind the child that being home is not a punishment stay – it serves the security of the people.

Edwards said clear communication and reassurance are important in children.

“How many times have we told our parents it wasn’t fair and our parents told us life wasn’t fair?” Said Edwards. “For children, this pandemic is the ultimate ‘life is not fair’. We have to let them know that we are doing everything we can to help them. ”

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Australia records one of its youngest COVID-19 deaths as Sydney outbreak grows

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SYDNEY, Aug. 4 (Reuters) – Australia’s New South Wales on Wednesday reported one of the country’s recent deaths from COVID-19 as daily infections remained near a 16-month high despite 5 million people in the state capital, Sydney in the 6th week.

The nameless man in his twenties, who had no underlying health problems and was unvaccinated, died at his home in the city, authorities said. It was deteriorating rapidly after previously complaining of only mild symptoms, they added.

The death underscores the risk to Australia’s largest city, which is struggling to contain a highly contagious Delta variant outbreak when fewer than 20% of Sydney’s residents are vaccinated.

Last year, neighboring Victoria state said an unnamed man in his twenties died of COVID-19, although a coroner is still investigating the exact cause of death.

The young man was one of two COVID-19 deaths reported in New South Wales (NSW) in the past 24 hours. NSW also recorded 233 new cases, near a 16-month high reported last week, and Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian said case numbers were likely to rise.

“I am not going to rule out that the number of cases will not worsen, I even believe that they will worsen,” Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

“If you look at the number of infected people in the community, it suggests that we may not have peaked yet.”

Berejiklian is under intense pressure to ease the restrictions on movement that are threatening Australia into its second recession in as many years. However, she said at least 50% of the state’s population would need to be vaccinated in order for the curbs to be loosened in late August. Continue reading

Still, many are wary of taking the AstraZeneca (AZN.L) vaccine, the most powerful of two vaccines approved in the country, due to a rare blood clotting problem.

In addition, government models released Tuesday showed that at least 70% of the state’s population would need to be vaccinated to slow the spread.

Authorities have warned people not to wait for an increase in Pfizer shipments (PFE.N) expected in the next month, as case numbers are proving difficult to cut and wastewater tests suggest that the coronavirus may be heading north has spread.

COUNTER-MEASURES

New South Wales has taken aggressive countermeasures to halt the spread of the coronavirus, including cordoning off high-risk suburbs and urging the military to help police enforce lockdown rules. Continue reading

A total of 17 people have died in Sydney during the current outbreak, which began on June 16. During that time, the surge has brought the total number of cases in NSW to more than 4,000.

Nationally, Australia has recorded 927 deaths since the pandemic began, with just over 35,000 cases affecting 22 million people.

Queensland reported 16 locally acquired cases on Wednesday, just like the day before, prompting authorities to declare it the state’s worst outbreak since the pandemic began and warn that a lockdown in the capital, Brisbane, could be extended beyond Sunday .

“If we don’t do anything really, really, really special in Queensland, we’ll be extending the lockdown,” Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young told reporters in Brisbane.

Coverage of Byron Kaye and Renju Jose in Sydney and Colin Packham in Canberra; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Christian Schmollinger

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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US Covid-19 hospitalizations top 50,000 for first time since February

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According to new data from the US Department of Health, more than 50,000 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized on Monday for the first time since February 27.

The 50,625 Covid-related hospital admissions on the HHS dashboard are more than three times the number of people hospitalized for Covid-19 a month ago when 16,000 patients were hospitalized.

Florida leads the nation in Covid-19 hospital admissions, with 10,682 listed on the HHS dashboard. Texas reported 6,628 Covid-19 hospital admissions this week. California reported 4,682. And Louisiana reported 1,839 Covid-19 hospital admissions, nearing its record for that pandemic.

“You have people with chest pain sitting in an emergency room while their families sit in the waiting room wringing their hands and calling everyone they know,” said O’Neal.

Just over two weeks ago, the hospital had 36 Covid-19 patients, O’Neal said. On Monday it was 155.

“No diagnosis should take up a quarter of your hospital,” said O’Neal. “We no longer believe we are adequately caring for anyone because these are the darkest days of the pandemic.”

The best way to slow the spread of Covid-19 is to get a vaccination, but it doesn’t go fast enough, O’Neal said. Even if people are vaccinated today, it will take weeks for the vaccines to fully work.

So people should wear masks, said O’Neal.

In many hospitals, patients are younger and sicker than they used to be, doctors say.

The seven-day average of daily new coronavirus cases is up more than 40% from the previous week, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday.

“While we absolutely want to deal with this pandemic, Covid-19 is clearly not done with us yet. Therefore, our fight has to take a little longer,” said Walensky.

With vaccination rates rising but still below where they need to be to slow or stop the spread of the virus, many local leaders are turning to masks again to protect their populations.

The CDC updated its guidelines last week advising even fully vaccinated individuals to mask themselves in areas with significant or high transmission. CDC adds 16 travel destinations to its

These guidelines cover more than 90% of the US population – about 300 million people, according to a CNN data analysis released by the CDC on Monday.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has temporarily reinstated the state mask mandate for anyone aged 5 and over, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, while indoors and in public. The mandate comes into force on Wednesday.

“Nobody should suffer the misconception that this is just another climb. We’ve already had three of them, this is the worst we’ve had so far,” said Edwards.

The state health officer, Dr. Joseph Kanter said he anticipates that at any point in the pandemic, Louisiana will hit the highest number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients on Tuesday.

“If we intend to prioritize the things that are important to us, such as keeping our children back in school and in person, and keeping our growing economy open by keeping business open, masking is the best way to ensure that Masking order seriously, both in your personal life and in your professional life, “said Kanter.

Breakthrough infections aren’t as alarming as they seem, says Fauci

Reports of infections in vaccinated individuals known as breakthrough infections have caused some public concern. However, experts say they are not as alarming as they seem. About 99.999% of fully vaccinated Americans have not had a fatal breakthrough Covid-19 case, CDC data shows

“The vaccines do exactly what we ask them to do when it comes to keeping you out of the hospital, keeping you away from serious illness, and certainly preventing your death,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Vaccines result in an eight-fold reduction in the number of people developing the disease and a 25-fold reduction in both hospital admissions and Covid-19-related deaths, Fauci said.

“An important point to make is that the absolute number of breakthrough infections might appear high in a larger percentage of people vaccinated, even with a high level of protection. That’s not the critical number. The critical number is the proportion “of those vaccinated, people who … get breakthrough infections, and that’s the critical one,” added Fauci.

This Texas city has a relatively high vaccination rate, but it is still struggling to get firearms in the face of rising casesWalensky gave some details on what that percentage looks like: Of the tens of thousands of people likely to have been exposed in an outbreak in Provincetown, Massachusetts, she found 346 confirmed breakthrough infections.

“During the summer, some Barnstable County towns can have up to 240,000 visitors a month,” Walensky noted.

Some of these people will even get infected if they are vaccinated, Fauci said.

“You can expect breakthrough infections,” he said. “Most of these infections will be asymptomatic or mild.”

“The bottom line of what we’re saying is … Get vaccinated. I say that every time,” said Fauci.

The CDC reported on Sunday that 816,203 additional doses were administered, and for the fifth straight day the agency recorded more than 700,000 firearms. The current 7-day average of administered doses is 662,529 per day, the highest average since July 7th.

CNN’s Matthew Hilk, Rebekah Riess, Deidre McPhillips, Maggie Fox, Ralph Ellis and Theresa Waldrop contributed to this report.

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