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Pandemic

Even past delta spike, Eagle County COVID-19 cases are ‘higher than we want’

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Eagle County’s Health Department hopes winter community members can understand disease trends and protect against infection without mandates.
Chris Dillmann / Vail Daily Archive

Although the number of COVID-19 cases has decreased since the Delta variant spike in late August, Eagle County is still experiencing a high rate of transmission in the community.

“We seem to be on a high plateau for COVID cases right now,” said Heath Harmon, the county’s public health director. “We are in a similar area, really since the end of September, where we are between 170 cases per 100,000 and up to 225 cases per 100,000 – that’s more than we want to achieve.”

As of Friday, October 22, the weeklong incident rate was 187 cases per 100,000, according to the county’s COVID-19 surveillance dashboard. During the delta peak in late August, the community was about 295 cases per 100,000, Harmon said.

“We’re higher than we want to be because there’s still quite a bit of transmission,” he said. “We came down from this increase and then unfortunately, instead of returning to a level that we saw in the middle or earlier of the summer, unfortunately simply stayed at this higher transmission level.”

He added that Eagle County and the state have seen “a small increase”, if any, in the past few weeks.

One of the reasons Harmon believes the county has not yet reverted to summer incidence rates – which were below 50 cases per 100,000 – is because “Maintaining many of these healthier habits are these precautions for spreading COVID for all of our challenges “. Parishioners, ”he said. These habits and precautions include masking and vaccinations.

However, local vaccination rates remain a bright spot in the community. The county continues to see an increase in the vaccination rate for the entire community. This immunity, according to Harmon, is the single most important factor in reducing the continued transmission and spread and the likelihood of serious illnesses.

“I think one of the things that we still see an advantage is our higher vaccination status because we’re not as high as we are in many other counties,” Harmon said. “As we have learned in the last few months, [the vaccine] cannot prevent every single disease, but it does a remarkable job of reducing the likelihood of infection, reducing its spread within a community, and then reducing the likelihood of serious illnesses. “

The Federal Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week approved booster shots for Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines. Booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine were approved by the same federal agencies in September for certain people. For information on booster eligibility and local availability, visit EagleCountyCovid.org and its vaccine information page.

At the local level, these numbers have also resulted in a decline in hospital admissions. According to its COVID-19 dashboard, the county has had declining or stable hospital admissions for 13 days, with one person currently being hospitalized on Thursday October 21. National hospital admissions tell a different story, however.

“The healthcare system is truly an ecosystem and our support is coming from other larger hospital systems that are in the front range,” said Harmon. “And that’s a threat to all of us in the community right now.”

Nationwide, he said ICU utilization is 93%, meaning that only “7% of ICU beds in the entire state of Colorado are available should anyone in our community need it, be it due to a COVID infection or a terrible car accident “.

Mask requirement in school

Although the current incident rate is lower than it was on Aug. 16, when the public health order for masks in schools went into effect, canceling the order in schools is not enough, Harmon said.

“One thing that is currently in effect with this order is if we can bring the incidence rate down to less than 50 cases per 100,000 over 7 days and maintain that, then that mask requirement would become a recommendation,” he said.

And there could be significant changes in sight that could help make this happen sooner rather than later. Harmon expects federal approval, recommendations, and guidelines for vaccinating children ages 5-11 “maybe as soon as November 5th.”

This is vital, Harmon said, as the county “continues to work towards an exit strategy from public health contracts”.

The ability to vaccinate children between the ages of 5 and 11 “will further increase the vaccination rate for the entire community,” he said.

As COVID-19 immunity continues to rise in the community – whether from getting vaccines approved for the youngest population, continued vaccinations, or from recent infections – this could help lower the threshold for public health repeal in schools.

“We will continue to review these thresholds and make changes that meet the needs and interests of our community,” said Harmon.

Off to winter

Eagle County remains at a high plateau on COVID-19 case rates and is not yet returning to the summer’s low transmission.
Eagle County Public Health / screenshot

As the local community prepares for the ski season – and the associated influx of visitors – public health officials want residents to raise awareness of the spread of disease in the community.

“Let’s face it, when visitors come to our community we’re not sure what their vaccination status is,” said Harmon. “What we really want to do over the next few months is normalize where to get your information, what to look for, when to think about wearing masks, and when it’s okay not to worry about it Make masks or transmission in a community. “

He stated that community members should know what to do to protect against infection without mandates as transmission and case rates get higher – closer to the 300 cases per 100,000 area.

“This is a time when everyone in our community – vaccinated or not, whether they got infected eight months ago or not – should consider wearing face-coverings when we go inside public indoor spaces,” he said.

On the flip side, community members would understand when it is safe to be indoors without a mask.

Even if the local health department tries to normalize the community’s behavior and response, it is going nowhere as a resource and continues its immunity boosting efforts.

“We will definitely continue to make recommendations and support vaccinations. That way, we know we can improve immunity without disease – and that’s a win-win, ”Harmon said.

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Pandemic

Judge blocks U.S. COVID-19 vaccine rule for health workers in 10 states

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Nov. 29 (Reuters) – A federal judge on Monday blocked a Biden government vaccine request in 10 states, ruling that the agency that made the rule requiring healthcare workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus was likely theirs Has exceeded powers.

The St. Louis District Judge Matthew Schelp’s ruling prevents the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from enforcing their medical personnel vaccination mandate until the court can hear legal challenges from the 10 states.

CMS said in a statement that it was reviewing the ruling, adding that unvaccinated health workers pose a threat to patient safety.

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The ruling marks the second legal setback for President Joe Biden, who has focused on vaccines to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, a point he emphasized on Monday amid concerns over the spread of the new variant of COVID-19 Omicron . Continue reading

A federal appeals court in New Orleans blocked a comprehensive workplace mandate earlier this month requiring companies with at least 100 employees to vaccinate or test their employees weekly. Continue reading

Republican attorneys general sued the government in early November over the CMS rule and tried to block the request on the grounds that it would worsen health staffing shortages.

Schelp, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, said CMS underestimated the “overwhelming” cost of its mandate and, by refusing to comment publicly on the rule, the agency fueled vaccine reluctance the rule is designed to counter.

Schelp also said the CMS rule changed the balance of power between the federal and state governments.

“Congress has not given clear authority to CMS to issue this politically and economically large, federalism-changing, and cross-border mandate that the Supreme Court precedent requires,” he wrote.

Schelp’s verdict was in the 10 states pending: Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, Wyoming, Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and New Hampshire.

On November 4th, CMS issued the preliminary final rule, which includes over 10 million people and applies to approximately 76,000 healthcare providers, including hospitals, nursing homes and dialysis centers.

The regulation requires healthcare facilities that all employees, volunteers, and contractors receive an initial dose of vaccine by December 6th and be fully vaccinated by January 4th. Providers who fail to comply could lose access to Medicare and Medicaid funds.

Medicare serves people 65 and over and the disabled. Medicaid serves the poor.

In addition to the CMS rule and workplace vaccine requirement, the Biden government has placed coronavirus vaccine regulations on government contractors, military personnel and federal employees, all of which will be challenged in court.

Courts have upheld mandates from private employers and state governments, which has helped increase COVID-19 vaccination rates in the United States.

On Wednesday, the Biden government announced that a total of 92% of US federal employees have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; additional reporting from Ahmed Aboulenein in Washington; Editing by Bill Berkrot

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Pandemic

Andrew Cuomo uses old briefing to push COVID-19 precautions

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Like in the old days!

Disgraced ex-governor. Andrew Cuomo shamelessly tried to resume his role as the man in charge on Sunday, using one of his famous COVID-19 press conferences to remind New Yorkers to remain vigilant amid the proliferation of the Omicron variant.

“Let’s take to heart the lessons we learned in the early, terrible days of this pandemic and not go backwards,” he said in a tweet that included a slide used during one of his pandemic briefings.

The presentation reads: “Lesson to be learned: an outbreak everywhere is an outbreak everywhere.”

“Enter [mask] in public indoor spaces, get yourself vaccinated AND your booster, take care of each other, ”added the former governor, who resigned in August amid scandals. “And be #NYTough.”

During the pandemic, Cuomo delivered daily briefings that revealed the Empire State’s COVID-19 metrics – along with meandering comments and show-off stunts.

In June 2020, Cuomo revealed a $ 415 mountain of COVID-19 that allegedly represented New York’s battle against the virus. Along with Anthony Fauci, the nation’s best infectious disease doctor, he compared the Italian compatriot and himself in a bizarre way to actors Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.

His younger brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, also dialed into the briefings to describe his symptoms of being infected with the virus.

“Let’s take heed of the lessons we learned in the terrible early days of this pandemic,” tweeted former Governor Andrew Cuomo.Twitter / @andrewcuomo

Andrew Cuomo.During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, what was then Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been recognized and recognized for his daily briefings.David Dee Delgado / Getty Images

The governor received a temporary Emmy for “Using Television Effectively During the Pandemic” in November 2020 – but the Academy quickly withdrew the award after Attorney General Letitia James discovered that Cuomo had sexually molested several women.

Cuomo’s tweet on Sunday morning came after former top aide Melissa DeRosa boldly shot her boss’s successor, Governor Kathy Hochul.

“Time to move with the times – cutting tapes and photo ops drinking maskless beer in UES bars won’t do this job,” said the former governor’s secretary on Friday night in a since-deleted tweet, referring to the current CEO’s October visit to the Manhattan Sports Bar.

Andrew Cuomo.Then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo was awarded an Emmy for “Using Television Effectively During the Pandemic” in November 2020, but the award was withdrawn when his harassment allegations came to light.Don Pollard

The scandal-ridden public service announcement of the ex-politician comes after the World Health Organization identified a new variant of COVID-19, Omicron, on Friday.

The discovery prompted Hochul to sign an executive order postponing unnecessary operations in hospitals with limited capacity.

The Omicron variant has yet to be identified in New York state, although two cases of the coronavirus variant were discovered in Canada on Sunday.

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Pandemic

US Covid-19: Omicron variant is a reminder that coronavirus ‘is still in control,’ medical professor says

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“But it’s pretty likely we’ll see cases,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.

“It should redouble our efforts to use the tools we have at our disposal, namely vaccinations and booster vaccinations – and to make sure we get them out to the rest of the world,” Collins told CNN on Sunday.

“It also means that we have to pay attention to the mitigation strategies that people are simply fed up with, such as wearing masks when you are indoors with other people who may not have been vaccinated, and to maintain this social distance,” he said.

“I know America – you are really tired of hearing these things. But we are not fed up with the virus. And it changes itself. ”

Why Omicron “looks different” than other variants

As the coronavirus continues to spread, new mutations – and new variants – are expected.

“We’ve seen a lot of variations in the last five or six months, and most of them haven’t done much. It looks different,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University School of Public Health.

The Omicron variant has an unusually high number of mutations, with more than 30 mutations in the spike protein alone, South African genome scientists said last week. Spike proteins are the structures that a virus uses to enter the cells that it attacks.

And “10 or more” of the mutations are in the receptor binding domain, which “binds to the cells in your nasopharynx and in your lungs,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday opposite NBC.

“In other words, the profile of the mutations strongly suggests that it will have an advantage in communicability,” said the director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases.

When experts looked at other variants, Jha said, it usually took several months for those strains to become dominant – in other words, the most common strain of the virus to spread to an area.

“In South Africa, this has established itself very quickly in the regions where it was found – within days to weeks instead of months,” said Jha.

“Now the number of cases in South Africa is pretty low, so there could be other reasons as well – not just because it’s more easily transferable.”

The new Omicron variant is a pandemic bowel check

Collins said it was not yet clear whether the Omicron variant was more contagious than the Delta variant.

“It certainly shows the signs that it can spread quickly,” he said. “What we don’t know is whether it can compete with Delta.”

It’s also too early to tell if the Omicron variant causes more severe illness, Collins said.

In short, “There is still a lot we don’t know about Omicron,” said epidemiologist and infectious disease expert Dr. Celine Gounder.

“We’re still learning,” said Gounder on Sunday. “As we said very early in the pandemic, pandemics are not about panic. It is about guidelines, protocols and practices. And in this case that means characterizing the virus. “

Do not be surprised by renewed Covid-19 restrictions, says the expert

A growing number of countries have confirmed cases of the Omicron variant. Canada joined that list on Sunday when health officials confirmed two cases in Ottawa, Ontario. The Omicron variant is spreading across EuropeBoth people recently traveled from Nigeria and are in isolation, Canadian health officials said.

If the Omicron variant isn’t available in the US yet, it will be “soon,” said Dr. William Schaffner, professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“It will go around the world. This is how it looks,” said Schaffner on Saturday.

And that could lead to a return to stricter Covid-19 containment efforts.

“I think we are indeed facing a phase with a lot more masks, a lot more social distancing and more restrictions and vaccination requirements,” said Schaffner.

News of the variant spread as Americans filled airports near pre-pandemic levels for Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season: The Transportation Security Administration said it screened about 2.3 million people at airports across the country on Wednesday which makes it the busiest day to see security checkpoints since March 2020.

All the more reason to get vaccinated or boosted

About 59% of Americans are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and about 19% of those fully vaccinated have received a booster dose, according to CDC data. NIH Director: New Variation

As vaccine manufacturers test their vaccinations against the new Omicron variant, health experts said it is important for everyone to get a Covid-19 vaccine or a booster vaccine now.

“The most important thing people can do now to protect themselves is to get vaccinated if you are not vaccinated,” said Gounder. “If it turns out to be an immune defense variant, it may also be beneficial to receive an additional dose or a booster vaccination.”

Fauci gave similar advice: “If there was ever a reason to be vaccinated who were vaccinated and those who weren’t vaccinated, it is now,” he told NBC.

“When you’re six months or more away from your second dose of an mRNA (vaccine) – either the Pfizer or the Moderna – you get a boost. “

Fauci said he believes the current vaccines – and the booster doses in particular – will at least help something against the Omicron variant.

“When you get a boost, your antibody levels go way above the maximum after the second dose,” Fauci told NBC.

“And that’s why, even with variants like Omicron, we feel that when you get boosted, you’re getting antibody levels high enough that you can probably reach at least a certain level – and maybe a lot – Protection from it. “

Moderna said it is testing its Covid-19 vaccine’s ability to neutralize Omicron and data is expected in the coming weeks.

The company said it is also testing a larger dose booster and an Omicron-specific booster in case the current vaccine and booster don’t work well enough against the new variant.

When scientists determine that an Omicron-specific vaccine dose is required, “we think we could have an Omicron-specific vaccine booster available for testing within weeks to maybe two to three months,” said Dr. Paul Burton, Chief Medical Officer of Moderna Sunday.

BioNTech, the German company that has partnered with Pfizer to make a Covid-19 vaccine, is also studying the effects of Omicron on its vaccine. The dates are expected in the coming weeks.

Johnson & Johnson is also testing the effectiveness of its vaccine against Omicron.

Moderna said the Omicron variant could be challenging.

“The combination of mutations presents a significant potential risk of accelerating the decline in natural and vaccine-induced immunity,” the company said on Friday.

But Jha said he doesn’t think the new variant “makes vaccines unusable”.

“I think that’s extremely unlikely,” he said. “The question is, is there a tiny hit to vaccine effectiveness or is there a big hit?”

“A couple of weeks of uncertainty”

With the Omicron variant, the world is in a

Before scientists can say how well the current vaccines against Omicron might work, “we have to go through a few more weeks of uncertainty,” Burton said.

“There are three questions to which we really need answers: How transferable is this variant? How heavy is she? And will the antibodies produced in response to the current vaccines be effective? And we won’t know (answer to) the last question for a couple of weeks, “Burton told CNN on Sunday.

“But what we do know is that the best protection is to get vaccinated. If you stand on the fence when you haven’t been vaccinated, get vaccinated. And now everyone over 18 in this country is entitled to at least one Refresher. So if you are eligible for a boost now, you will get a boost, too, ”he said.

“At least that way, we know you’re getting the first line of critical protection. And then of course there are other, simpler things you can do – hand washing, social distancing, possibly wearing masks.Two together, for now – until we know exactly what’s going on – will be crucial on our line of defense . ”

“The virus is still in control … tighten your seat belts”

With or without the Omicron tribe, the US is still struggling with the Delta variant.

Covid-19 hospital stays in 16 states increased more than 50% in the past week compared to the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Health.

“I think we just have to remember that the virus is still in control. I don’t care about your Covid fatigue, ”said Schaffner.

“We’re going to have to deal with this very, very seriously. … Tighten your seat belts.”

Contributors to this report are Dakin Andone, John Bonifield, Jacqueline Howard, Virginia Langmaid, Michael Nedelman, Christina Maxouris, and Kaitlan Collins of CNN.

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