School board resigns after mocking parents on reopening; weather could fuel virus spread in Texas: Latest COVID-19 updates

Written by on February 20, 2021

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President Biden toured a Pfizer vaccine manufacturing plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan as extreme winter climate deters COVID-19 vaccine rollout plans. USA TODAY

As federal companions rush to distribute delayed COVID-19 vaccine shipments and hundreds of thousands of Individuals grapple with access to clean water Saturday, epidemiologists warn that the record-breaking winter climate might result in coronavirus surges in some elements of the nation whereas quelling outbreaks in others.

“To the extent that the winter climate will increase the probability folks at present shedding infectious viruses keep remoted and don’t combine with different folks, it should suppress virus transmission in the neighborhood,” David Sweat, chief epidemiologist for Tennessee’s Shelby County Well being Division, said earlier this week.

However in additional severely affected areas of the nation, like Texas, the climate might have the alternative impact, mentioned Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt College Faculty of Drugs professor of preventive drugs and an infectious illness physician. “In Texas, the place persons are coming collectively to get meals and water and going to communal shelters, there we would really seen a rise,” Schaffner mentioned.

Dr. Peter Hotez, dean for the Nationwide Faculty of Tropical Drugs at Baylor Faculty of Drugs in Houston, mentioned a surge was “attainable” if massive numbers of individuals huddled in shelters.

Inside some Texas jails, particularly, circumstances stay “dire,” in keeping with the Texas Jail Mission, a company working to empower incarcerated folks. “We’re indignant, & more and more involved concerning the affect that poor sanitation & lack of water could have on the unfold of COVID-19 in overcrowded jails,” the group wrote on Twitter Friday.

In the meantime, President Joe Biden on Friday toured a Pfizer manufacturing plant in Michigan and stressed the safety of vaccines, saying Individuals ought to get vaccinated “when it is your flip and out there.” Andy Slavitt, White Home senior adviser for COVID-19 response, mentioned doses backlogged on account of climate had been anticipated to be delivered “within the next week.” 

USA TODAY is monitoring COVID-19 information. Preserve refreshing this web page for the newest updates. Need extra? Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Within the headlines:

►After early confusion, most hospitals, clinics and vaccination facilities now have protocols and programs in place to make sure every last vaccine dose gets used.

►The U.S. plans to open 5 extra neighborhood vaccinations facilities, together with one in Philadelphia, and 4 in Florida, in Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa, Salvitt mentioned Friday.

►The FDA is reviewing knowledge from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial and plans to seek the advice of with the company’s unbiased advisory committee Feb. 26. “We ought to be listening to from them quickly,” Dr. Anthony Fauci mentioned Friday.

►Pfizer on Friday mentioned it was looking for authorization to retailer its vaccine in regular pharmaceutical freezers, as an alternative of the ultra-cold temperatures doses at present require.

California plans to set aside 10% of first vaccine doses for educators, college employees and childcare suppliers beginning in March to assist get kids again in lecture rooms, Gov. Gavin Newsom mentioned Friday.

► Specialists say america might shortly broaden the nation’s restricted testing provide and enhance velocity by authorizing rapid, paper-based antigen tests. The disadvantage: Fast checks are much less exact when in comparison with lab checks, which take longer to finish and price $100 or extra.

📈 In the present day’s numbers: The U.S. has greater than 28.0 million confirmed coronavirus instances and 496,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The worldwide totals: Greater than 110.9 million instances and a pair of.45 million deaths. Greater than 78.1 million vaccine doses have been distributed within the U.S. and about 59.5 million have been administered, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re studying: “He should not be useless”: A yr after their father’s dying from COVID-19, the family is confronting their loss.

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Whole college board resigns after mocking mother and father in livestreamed assembly on reopening

The president and all three different members of a California college board have resigned after mocking mother and father in a livestreamed assembly on college reopening that they appeared to assume was non-public.

Greg Hetrick, superintendent of the Oakley Union Elementary Faculty District in Costa County, introduced the board members had submitted their resignations in a letter to the college neighborhood Friday, calling it an “unlucky scenario.”

Video of the Wednesday night time assembly has circulated on social media and seems to seize board members mocking mother and father who’ve been writing letters to petition the board to reopen faculties amid the coronavirus pandemic. “They need to decide on us as a result of they need their babysitters again,” mentioned Board President Lisa Brizendine.

The board members additionally use expletives and giggle about mother and father who take medical marijuana. Towards the tip of the recording, the board members seem shocked to obtain a message alerting them that the livestream is public. In a press release, the board members expressed their “sincerest apology” and mentioned they “deeply remorse the feedback that had been made within the assembly.”

May your Apple Watch, Fitbit assist gradual the pandemic?

Rising proof suggests {that a} smartwatch or wearable reminiscent of a Fitbit could help warn wearers of a potential COVID-19 infection previous to a constructive take a look at outcome.

Wearables such because the Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy smartwatch, Fitbit and different units can acquire coronary heart and oxygen knowledge, in addition to sleep and exercise ranges. Researchers are finding out whether or not a physique’s well being knowledge would possibly sign an oncoming COVID-19 an infection.

A COVID-19 an infection will not be imminent for an individual whose coronary heart or exercise knowledge suggests a possible an infection. However the elevated probability – and the flexibility to alert the affected person to get examined and probably quarantine – might present an important software in stopping the unfold of the illness and monitoring it, researchers say.

Such findings, if confirmed out, might result in distant medical alerts for different attainable viruses, flu and undue stress.

– Mike Snider

Argentine well being minister resigns amid vaccine scandal

President Alberto Fernández eliminated Argentina’s well being minister Friday after a widely known native journalist mentioned he had been given a coronavirus vaccination preferentially after requesting one from the minister.

The president “instructed his chief of employees to request the resignation of well being minister” Ginés González García, who’s accountable for the federal government’s COVID-19 technique, mentioned a authorities official, who was not approved to launch the knowledge and spoke to The Related Press on situation of anonymity.

The firing comes on the heels of stories in current days that mayors, legislators, activists and folks near political energy obtained vaccine photographs regardless of not being within the precedence group of docs, well being personnel and the aged approved to obtain them.

Two-dose Pfizer vaccine right here to remain, regardless of new examine

A brand new examine out of Israel reignited the public debate Friday about the spacing between the two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, however the U.S. authorities is not budging in its dedication to the unique schedule.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is likely to be simply as efficient if the hole between doses is wider than the advisable 21 days, in keeping with the brand new examine from Israel. If the doses may very well be given additional aside, extra folks may very well be protected quicker. Vaccine provides, which stay fairly restricted now, are anticipated to ramp up in late spring.

However authorities officers need to follow the dosing schedule that has been scientifically confirmed to be efficient, warning that altering it’d weaken the vaccine’s effectiveness towards variants, and even drive the creation of latest variants that escape that safety. 

The present schedule gives “an optimum response while you’re coping with variants,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s prime infectious illness physician, mentioned Friday in a information convention.

– Karen Weintraub

Africa reaches 100,000 recognized COVID-19 deaths

Africa has surpassed 100,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 because the continent praised for its early response to the pandemic now struggles with a harmful resurgence and medical oxygen typically runs desperately brief.

The 54-nation continent of some 1.three billion folks has barely seen the arrival of large-scale provides of COVID-19 vaccines, however a variant of the virus dominant in South Africa is already posing a problem to vaccination efforts. Nonetheless, if doses can be found, the continent ought to be capable of vaccinate 35% to 40% of its inhabitants earlier than the tip of 2021 and 60% by the tip of 2022, mentioned John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.

Well being officers who breathed a sigh of aid final yr when African nations didn’t see an enormous variety of COVID-19 deaths are actually reporting a soar in fatalities. The Africa CDC on Friday mentioned general deaths are at 100,294.

– The Related Press

Contributing: Courtney Subramanian, USA TODAY; Corinne S. Kennedy, Memphis Industrial Enchantment; The Related Press

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