Variant cases in US spike by 73%, with Florida leading the way; CVS, Walgreens to start giving shots Friday: Latest COVID-19 updates

Written by on February 9, 2021

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The variety of recognized coronavirus variant circumstances within the U.S. has surged 73% within the final week alone, in response to figures from the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention launched late Tuesday.

The nation now experiences 944 circumstances of variants that unfold extra simply, bypass remedies and immunities, or each.

Nowhere has the rise been extra noticeable than in Florida, which now has 343 circumstances of a fast-spreading variant – up from 201 circumstances reported throughout Sunday’s Tremendous Bowl, which was hosted in Tampa. Florida now has greater than twice as many recognized variant circumstances as every other state, with California a distant second with 156 circumstances, up six from Sunday.

The overwhelming majority of the nation’s recognized variant circumstances, and all of Florida’s, are of the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first detected within the U.Ok. and has run rampant there. The CDC has stated it could turn into the dominant pressure within the U.S. by March. Final month, U.Ok. researchers stated there’s evidence the variant may be more deadly than others, and it is  additionally thought of a minimum of 50% extra transmissible than the unique pressure.

Tuesday night time’s report nonetheless exhibits three recognized circumstances of P.1, a variant first noticed in Brazil that seems to bypass immunities, and now 9 circumstances of B.1.351, a variant that took over South Africa and resists some remedies and vaccines.

– Mike Stucka

USA TODAY is monitoring COVID-19 information. Preserve refreshing this web page for the newest updates. Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates to your inbox, join our Facebook group or scroll through our in-depth answers to reader questions.

Within the headlines:

►Main League Baseball and the gamers union have agreed to well being and security protocols for the upcoming season that include among the identical measures put in place final yr but add more penalties for clear violations. Gamers and different personnel at ballparks must put on digital tracing units from the beginning of spring coaching.

►The US has reported 775,975 new COVID-19 circumstances in a seven-day interval ending Monday, the primary time the weekly tally has been beneath 800,000 circumstances since Nov. 6. The nation peaked at about 1.75 million circumstances per week final month. The variety of deaths, which generally lag circumstances by about 4 weeks, stays as excessive as ever, averaging 21,700 per week, a mean of three,100 a day.

►Beginning subsequent week, Canada would require any non-essential traveler arriving within the nation by land to indicate a unfavorable PCR-based coronavirus take a look at or face a positive. Canada already requires folks arriving by air to indicate a unfavorable take a look at.

►Congressional Democrats rejected calls from some average lawmakers to cut back the variety of folks eligible for $1,400 stimulus checks in President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief proposal, proposing an earnings threshold of $75,000 yearly, the identical as within the final spherical of $600 checks.

📈 Right now’s numbers: The U.S. has greater than 27.1 million confirmed coronavirus circumstances and 468,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The worldwide totals: Greater than 106.8 million circumstances and a couple of.33 million deaths. Greater than 62.8 million vaccine doses have been distributed within the U.S. and about 43.2 million have been administered, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re studying: Whilst the newest surge in coronavirus infections abates throughout the nation, USA TODAY analysis discovered 245 hospitals reporting full intensive care models as of Jan. 28 and 477 hospitals reporting extra COVID-19 sufferers within the ICU than the earlier week. You can find out which hospitals in your community are overwhelmed here.

Alaska faces unsure future with COVID-19 declaration nearing finish

A catastrophe declaration supposed to assist Alaska’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is about to run out this weekend, and well being and emergency officers warn a failure to increase it might prohibit the state’s skill to distribute vaccines.

Three weeks into the state’s legislative session, the politically divided Home has but to prepare, and till it does, it will probably’t contemplate or act on payments. Members of the Republican-led Senate, in the meantime, have chafed at Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposal for an extension by way of September.

“I feel Alaskans need the catastrophe declaration to finish,” Sen. Mia Costello, an Anchorage Republican, stated final week.

Not all of them. The heads of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Residence Affiliation, Alaska Chamber, Alaska Municipal League and Alaska Native Well being Board urged an extension in an opinion piece within the Anchorage Day by day Information. They argued that “ending Alaska’s public well being catastrophe emergency declaration is not going to deliver normalcy. Relatively, it should delay the very factor all of us need.”

FDA authorizes Eli Lilly monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 remedy

The U.S. Meals and Drug Administration on Tuesday granted emergency use authorization for using bamlanivimab and etesevimab administered collectively for the remedy of delicate to average COVID-19 in adults and a few pediatric sufferers.

The Eli Lilly monoclonal antibody remedy is allowed for individuals who are 65 years of age or older or who’ve sure power medical circumstances, the company said in a press release. Daniel Skovronsky, Lilly’s chief scientific officer and president of Lilly Analysis Laboratories, stated bamlanivimab and etesevimab collectively “might doubtlessly enable efficacy” in opposition to rising COVID-19 variants, as properly.

The monoclonal antibody cocktail needs to be administered collectively by way of a single intravenous infusion as quickly as potential after a constructive COVID-19 take a look at and inside 10 days of symptom onset, Lilly stated.

The FDA, in its own press release, cautioned that the remedy isn’t approved for sufferers who’re hospitalized because of COVID-19 or require oxygen remedy because of the virus.

1 million vaccine doses for neighborhood well being facilities

The Biden administration will start sending coronavirus vaccines on to neighborhood well being facilities because it boosts distribution and reaches out to underserved communities, the White Home introduced Tuesday.

At the very least one heart in each state and territory will get vaccines as this system ramps as much as embrace 250 of the greater than 1,300 such services within the nation. The taking part facilities will obtain a mixed 1 million doses, beginning as quickly as subsequent week. In later phases, vaccines will turn into accessible to all neighborhood well being facilities.

“This effort … actually is about connecting with these hard-to-reach populations throughout the nation,” stated Marcella Nunez-Smith, who heads the COVID-19 well being fairness activity pressure. That features the homeless, residents of public housing, migrant employees and folks with restricted English proficiency.

Jeff Zients, the White Home coronavirus response coordinator, additionally stated vaccine provide to states, tribal governments and territories is rising by 5% over final week. The brand new weekly whole of 11 million doses represents a 28% improve over the 8.6 million distributed when Biden took workplace three weeks in the past, Zients stated.

– Maureen Groppe

COVID-19 vaccines at some medication shops accessible Friday

That much-coveted vaccine shot might be accessible at a close-by drug retailer this week for individuals who are eligible. 

CVS and Walgreens, the nation’s two largest pharmacy chains, will begin vaccinating select populations in stores Friday. The CVS program will initially embrace 350 drug shops in 11 states, whereas Walgreens will supply vaccinations at some areas in 17 states and jurisdictions. Appointments are required. Different pharmacies chosen to ship vaccines at sure areas embrace Walmart, Journey Assist, Kroger, Publix, Albertsons, Safeway, Costco and Meijer.

Specialists hope the nation’s established community of pharmacies will assist velocity up distribution amid consternation over the tempo of the rollout.

– Nathan Bomey

Ought to employers give employees break day or different incentives to get vaccine?

T.J. Daniels hoped after working at a Petco retailer in Colorado for 11 months throughout a pandemic that the corporate would give him break day to get a COVID-19 vaccine and take care of any potential unwanted effects. To date, nothing. And whereas Petco stated it was poised to announce a plan, most main employers, together with Amazon, Goal and Walmart, are not committing to provide any extra pay or time off to workers to get their shots.

Advocates say incentives will encourage vaccinations, which is able to lead to extra safety for workers and clients. It should additionally doubtlessly restrict downtime that may happen when employees contract the virus. Specialists say a excessive proportion of the U.S. inhabitants – maybe 80% – must get vaccinated to construct herd immunity, which might restrict the coronavirus from persevering with to unfold.

Greenback Common, McDonald’s and Olive Backyard are among the many employers that have introduced incentives for employees to get vaccinated. However most others are saying solely that they’re strongly encouraging vaccination and basically forcing employees to do it on their very own time.

– Nathan Bomey

WHO says it should finish analysis into unlikely coronavirus lab-leak principle

World Well being Group investigators stated Tuesday they might no longer pursue research into whether the coronavirus leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China. Peter Ben Embarek, a meals security and animal ailments professional, introduced the choice throughout a press convention to wrap up a go to by a global workforce of WHO consultants to town the place COVID-19 was first recognized in 2019. 

Embarek stated there was not sufficient proof to help a speculation that the virus escaped from a Chinese language biosafety laboratory in Wuhan – the Wuhan Institute of Virology – and that the WHO stood by its earlier willpower that COVID-19 almost definitely entered the human inhabitants by way of an intermediate animal. 

The WHO workforce has spent a number of weeks on a fact-finding mission in Wuhan. Specialists from 10 nations have visited hospitals, analysis institutes and a wildlife market tied to the outbreak. Nevertheless, the WHO’s fieldwork and different actions in Wuhan have been carefully monitored by Chinese language officers and safety officers, and Beijing has repeatedly resisted referred to as for a totally impartial investigation into the origins of the virus.

– Kim Hjelmgaard

Contributing: The Related Press

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