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US coronavirus: Local officials sound the alarm over another possible wave of Covid-19 infections



Cases are rising in Arkansas, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, officials said. In Los Angeles County, where the vaccination rate is slightly above the national average, officials warned of a possible new wave of infections, especially given the rapid spread of the Delta variant.

“With the July 4th vacation coming up and the kids going back to school at some point, we have to worry that this could be a trend that could continue on Covid-19 here in Arkansas,” he said.

More than 90% of active virus cases are people who haven’t been vaccinated, Governor Asa Hutchinson said during the briefing.

The state has recorded 988 Covid-19 deaths since late January, and 99.6% of those deaths were people who weren’t vaccinated, Hutchinson added. During the same period, more than 98% of people hospitalized with Covid-19 were not vaccinated.

Arkansas has fully vaccinated 34.3% of its total population, federal data shows.

“The vaccine, as well as continued practice of social distancing and masking when needed, are our ways out of a third wave of Covid-19,” Patterson said.

The seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases has risen for six consecutive days, according to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. On Thursday, the seven-day moving average of new cases – just more than 12,700 per day – was up 9.08% from the previous week.

“If you look at state by state and county by county, it is clear that communities where people remain unvaccinated are communities that are still at risk,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Thursday. “This is all true as we monitor the continued spread of the hypertransmissible Delta variant.”

Los Angeles County, where 59% of residents 16 and over are fully vaccinated, reported 506 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, the highest in a single day since mid-April, Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.

The danger of another wave could be triggered by the 4 million people who do not yet need to be vaccinated, she warned.

“We have enough risk and enough unvaccinated people for Delta to pose a threat to our recovery and the masking now could help prevent a resurgence of the transmission,” Ferrer said, defending against criticism of the guide to wearing masks in To resume interiors.

The county is one of the first areas in the US to reconsider its mask recommendation after California lifted most of its Covid-19 restrictions last month. The new, voluntary mask guide is needed until health officials can “better understand how and to whom the Delta variant spreads,” the county health department said.

The delta variant will make it more difficult to achieve herd immunity

Two-thirds of adults in the US had received at least one dose of the vaccine by Thursday, CDC data shows. Over the past week, an average of 661,795 people were fully vaccinated every day.

But even if vaccinations continue, the Delta variant could make it difficult for the US to achieve herd immunity, said Deputy Health and Social Affairs Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine opposite CNN on Friday.

The Delta variant makes children susceptible to Covid-19.  How to protect your children

“We don’t know exactly what the herd immunity percentage would be for Covid-19. It would be different and higher for the Delta variant because it is more transferable, ”Levine told CNN’s Ana Cabrera.

The delta variant, which appeared for the first time in India, has now spread to all 50 states and, according to calculations by the CDC, made up more than 26% of the cases on June 19.

Vaccinated people are protected from the variant, Levine added, emphasizing that it is “extremely unlikely to get sick” and that it is “practically impossible for them to be hospitalized”.

“The Delta variant poses a threat to the unvaccinated,” she said. “In areas with low vaccination rates, these communities, counties, and states are vulnerable.”

The July 4th celebrations are fine. But first: be careful and get vaccinated

Dr. Anthony Fauci offered a glimmer of good news ahead of the holiday: Americans can celebrate with the right precautions, he said.

“That said, if you’ve been vaccinated, you have a high level of protection. If not, you should wear a mask and think very seriously about getting vaccinated,” said Fauci, who directs the National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Jeff Zients, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, echoed Fauci’s advice.

“It’s an appropriate time to take a step back and celebrate the progress we’ve made,” Zients said during a briefing.

Take it slow, be okay with saying no and other expert tips to celebrate July 4th safely

The holiday means that more people will be around.

In Chicago, Friday is expected to be the busiest day of travel at O’Hare and Midway International Airports since the pandemic began, according to the city’s Aviation Department. More than 220,000 passengers are expected to pass through O’Hare and 41,000 passengers in Midway on Friday, the department said in a statement.

Georgia’s Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is also expected to see the sharpest increases in travel since the pandemic began, an airport spokesman told CNN. In the period from Wednesday to Monday, the airport expects over 1.7 million passengers.

J&J vaccines protect against variants and do not require boosters, data shows

Johnson & Johnson said its one-shot coronavirus vaccine offers immunity that lasts for at least eight months, and it appears to offer protection against the Delta variant.

“Current data for the eight months studied so far shows that Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 single-shot vaccine produces a strong, neutralizing antibody response that does not subside; rather, we see an improvement over time, ”said Dr. Mathai Mammen, head of research and development at J & J’s Janssen vaccine division, said in a statement.

The delta variant will cause “very dense outbreaks” in these five states, says an expert

The company said that one dose both creates a sustained antibody response and creates immune cells called T cells that can last for that length of time.

In addition, the company said additional data from its study on the Covid-19 vaccine will be made available in the coming months.

And for those who received a J&J syringe, Fauci said clinical data currently shows no need for booster doses.

Fauci added that the decision to increase will depend on local conditions and could be determined at the local level.

“But you should only make a formal recommendation based on clinical data,” said Fauci.

CNN’s Deidre McPhillips, Carma Hassan, Devon M. Sayers, Jacqueline Howard, Maggie Fox, Cheri Mossburg and Jen Christensen contributed to this report.

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New report shows quality of nursing home care spiked during COVID-19



TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – A new report shows the quality of care afforded to residents of long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic spiked significantly.

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living says it released a new report on Thursday, March 26, which details data on the quality of care in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

AHCA/NCAL said the data highlights the commitment of dedicated caregivers to raising the standard of care for the benefit of residents during an unprecedented global public health crisis. The report follows data the organization issued which highlights improvements over the last decade.

The Association said the report found long-term residents in nursing homes were hospitalized 15% less during the pandemic than they were before while 8% of short-term patients saw functional improvement during the same time period.

AHCA/NCAL also aid the report found 72% of more than 110,000 infection control focused inspections of nursing homes conducted during the pandemic were deficiency-free.

The organization said the report acknowledges the devastating effects of the pandemic had on nursing home residents, however, the tragic loss of life was due to the nature of the virus, not because of inadequate care from caregivers.

Thanks to life-saving vaccines and treatments, as well as enhanced infection control, AHCA/NCAL said nursing home residents are much safer from the virus. Specifically, it said nearly 60% of nursing home resident deaths due to the virus happened during the first 7 months of the pandemic – before vaccines were available.

The Association also said COVID uniquely targets elderly patients and those with underlying health conditions, with the risk of death for those 85 and older being 340 times higher than for those ages 18 to 29.

The report also found independent research from various academic institutions overwhelmingly found a high spread of the virus in the community is correlated with outbreaks in nursing homes. At the height of the Omicron surge in mid-January, it said nursing home residents were more likely to die of complications from the virus compared to the height of the winter surge in 2020 – before the availability of vaccines.

Lastly, the report found over 730,000 nursing home residents have recovered from COVID-19.

“Our heroic long-term caregivers never wavered from our commitment to our residents during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL. “Nursing homes should be recognized for their efforts during this once-in-a-lifetime global crisis, and as we continue to focus on improving the quality of life for our residents, lawmakers and health policy officials must also work with us to implement lasting change by providing resources necessary to further enhance care.”

AHCA/NCAL said it also released a report which highlights federal data indicating the quality of care in nursing homes has risen over the past decade before the pandemic. It said the two quality reports underscore the significant strides providers have made and the continued commitment to better the lives of residents – no matter the challenges providers face.

To read the full Nursing Home Quality Improvement During COVID report, click HERE.

Copyright 2022 WIBW. All rights reserved.

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Select Kroger pharmacies join national “Test to Treat” COVID-19 Initiative



CARMEL, Ind. — A spokesperson for Kroger says 12 locations are now ready to participate in the Biden Administration’s “Test to Treat” initiative.

“Any store that has the “Little Clinic” sign with the pharmacy next door, basically,” said Eric Halvorson, a Kroger spokesperson.

White House officials announced the “Test to Treat” program earlier this month during President Biden’s State of the Union address. Back then, officials had said hundreds of COVID-19 treatment pills would be shipped out to pharmacies nationwide by the end of March.

“This is something that was created by the federal government and medical experts who were saying we needed another option to reduce the spread of COVID,” said Halvorson. “We’re making it available as quickly as we can to as many people as we can.”

Friday, Halvorson said select locations had finally received enough supplies to launch the program in their stores.

Gen Con 2022 to keep mask mandates for now

That means Hoosiers can now go to a participating Kroger location, get a rapid COVID test, and then immediately get a COVID-19 treatment pill if they are eligible and their result comes back positive.

“If they have symptoms, they can come in and find out: Are they sick? Do they need something to reduce the severity? Because that’s ultimately another element of this is to make sure that the people who have the greatest risk of a severe condition get the treatment they need,” said Halvorson.

All 12 participating Kroger locations will carry either the Pfizer or the Merck COVID-19 treatment pill.

“That will be up to what’s delivered to the pharmacy. And everything we’re seeing right now indicates we will have plenty of supply. No reason to indicate that we would have to worry about any of that,” said Halvorson.

Officials with Kroger said only those who are considered high-risk would be eligible to get the treatment.

Indy doctor talks chances of Moderna vaccine for kids getting approved

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), conditions and factors that may place someone at high risk for severe COVID include, but are not limited to:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Dementia or other neurological conditions
  • diabetes
  • Down syndrome
  • Heart conditions
  • HIV
  • Immunocompromised state
  • Mental health conditions
  • obesity
  • pregnant
  • Sick cell disease
  • tuxedo
  • Organ or blood stem cell transplant recipient
  • stroke
  • Substance abuse disorders
  • tuberculosis

“Providing the anti-viral agents through our Kroger pharmacy is another way that we can help reduce the spread of COVID and fight it in a different way to make people healthier and safer from the pandemic,” said Halvorson. “We just want to make sure that people have access to another treatment, another option to protect themselves, their families, and their neighbors.”

Halvorson said he strongly recommends Hoosiers call ahead to check the availability of their store before they arrive. He also urged suspected patients to book an appointment online in advance.

Lastly, if you are unable to make it in for an appointment in person, Halvorson said Kroger is also offering virtual appointments.

“If somebody isn’t able to make it into the clinic, they can go to Kroger Health online and do a telehealth visit. There will be an expert on the other end of the screen who can guide them through doing the test at home and then they would be advised about getting a prescription from there,” said Halvorson.

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Covid-19 Cases, Treatments and Omicron News: Live Updates



Credit…Aly Song/Reuters

The surge of Covid cases across China, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, is straining hospitals and prompting lockdowns of neighborhoods in Shanghai, which until recently had been held up as a crown jewel in the government’s strategy for fighting the pandemic.

Shanghai, China’s largest city, has seen few cases until recently. Now, it is reporting more than 1,500 a day, and many residents are expressing anguish and dismay about China’s zero-tolerance approach to the virus.

On Friday, anger and grief welled up online after a Shanghai hospital confirmed reports that a nurse who worked there, Zhou Shengni, had died from an asthma attack after finding the doors of its emergency department shut because of Covid restrictions.

“Due to pandemic prevention needs, the emergency department of our hospital’s southern campus had been temporarily closed,” Shanghai East Hospital said on its website. Ms. Zhou’s family rushed her to another hospital, but she died late Wednesday after “attempts to save her failed,” Shanghai East said.

“Just think, this happened in Shanghai, and it was a medical worker treated like this,” read one of many comments about Ms. Zhou’s death on Weibo, a popular Chinese social media platform. “What about regular folks? Not just in Shanghai, but other parts too.”

The outbreak has fanned a rising debate in China over whether the government should rethink its stringent “zero Covid” strategy of eliminating all infections with relentless force, rather than finding a way to cope with higher levels of infection, as most countries have.

But officials across China have given no indications that the government is reworking its strategy. Instead, they insist that any easing of restrictions could exacerbate the surge of infections and further strain the medical system.

“We hope that everyone slows down their life at this time, cutting down on outings and moving around,” Wu Jinglei, the director of the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission, said at a news conference on Thursday. “Pandemic prevention in our city has entered the most critical stage.”

On Friday, Shanghai’s health commission reported that it had identified 1,609 Covid cases the previous day, 1,580 of which were asymptomatic. China has recorded over 29,000 cases so far in March. That represents a significant spike for the country, which has kept cases low since quashing the world’s first outbreak, which began in the city of Wuhan, in 2020.

The current outbreak has strained Shanghai’s medical system as hospitals and isolation hotels are crowded with patients, residents have said on social media. The city government has started issuing a daily list of hospital clinics that have suspended outpatient and elective treatments and surgeries in order to cope with the Covid cases.

Zhang Wenhong, one of Shanghai’s leading infectious disease experts, told residents on Thursday to be patient while the authorities worked to curb the outbreak.

“All of a sudden medical resources are under strain” in Shanghai, Dr. Zhang wrote in a long post on Weibo. “If we don’t counter its speed with our own, we won’t have a chance to beat the Omicron race,” he wrote, adding that the government would need to ramp up its vaccination campaign.

Beneath his post, many commenters insisted that China rethink its approach to the virus.

“Exhausting social resources, degrading the quality of life and existence, dragging down economic development and urban vitality — where’s the sense in this pandemic prevention,” one commenter wrote. “The zero-infection strategy needs thinking over.”

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