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Daily Archives: November 19, 2021
Posted: November 19, 2021 at 6:21 pm
People wearing face mask to protect against the coronavirus as they walk in front of St. Stephen's Cathedral on Wednesday in Vienna, Austria. Michael Gruber/AP hide caption
VIENNA Austria will go into a national lockdown to contain a fourth wave of coronavirus cases, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced Friday, as new COVID-19 infections hit a record high amid a pandemic surge across Europe.
The lockdown will start Monday and initially will last for 10 days, Schallenberg said.
And starting Feb. 1, the country will also make vaccinations mandatory.
Most stores will close, and cultural events will be canceled next week. People will be able to leave their homes only for certain specific reasons, including buying groceries, going to the doctor or exercising.
Wolfgang Mueckstein, the country's health minister, said that kindergartens and schools would remain open for those who needed to go there but all parents were asked to keep their children at home if possible.
"We do not want a fifth wave," Schallenberg said, according to ORF. "Nor do we want a sixth or seventh wave."
The full lockdown is the latest effort to control rapidly rising case numbers. It's the fourth nationwide lockdown since the outbreak of the pandemic last year. On Friday, the country reported 15,809 new infections, an all-time high.
Earlier this month, Austria introduced rules that barred unvaccinated people from restaurants, hotels and large events.
And starting Monday, the government is imposing a national lockdown only for the unvaccinated.
Government officials had long promised that vaccinated people would no longer face lockdown restrictions: Over the summer, then-Chancellor Sebastian Kurz declared the pandemic "over" for those who had received the vaccine. But as virus cases continued to skyrocket, the government said it had no choice but to extend it to everyone.
"This is very painful," Schallenberg said.
Mueckstein, the health minister, said many factors contributed to the current situation, including Austria's lower-than-expected vaccination rate and the seasonal impact of the virus. But he also apologized for state and federal leaders' initial reluctance to implement stronger measures.
"Unfortunately, even we as the federal government have fallen short of our standards in some areas," he said. "I want to apologize for that."
After 10 days, the lockdown's effects will be assessed. If virus cases have not gone down sufficiently, it can be extended to a maximum of 20 days.
Austria's intensive care doctors welcomed the government's decision.
"The record infection figures that we have now experienced day after day will only be reflected in normal and intensive care units with a time lag. It really is high time for a full stop," Walter Hasibeder, the president of the Society for Anesthesiology, Resuscitation and Intensive Care Medicine, told Austrian news agency APA.
"Given the current infection developments, we believe there are no alternatives to even greater contact restriction than recently, so any measures that help curb the momentum are welcome," he added.
For the past seven days, the country has reported more than 10,000 new infection cases daily. Hospitals have been overwhelmed with many new COVID-19 patients, and deaths have been rising again, too. So far, 11,951 people have died of the virus in Austria.
The situation is especially dire in the regions of Salzburg and Upper Austria, which have been particularly hard hit by the rising case numbers. In Salzburg, for example, the seven-day rate of new infections is nearly twice the national average.
Hospitals in both states have warned in recent days that their ICUs were reaching capacity, and hospitals in Salzburg had begun discussing potential triage procedures to take only the worst cases.
Austria, a country of 8.9 million, has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe only 65.7% of the population are fully vaccinated.
Despite all the persuasion and campaigns, too few people have decided to get vaccinated, Schallenberg said, leaving the country no other choice but to introduce mandatory vaccinations in February.
The chancellor said the details would be finalized in the coming weeks but those who continued to refuse to get vaccinated would have to expect to be fined. In addition, booster shots are now available to all vaccinated individuals starting four months after their second dose.
"For a long time, the consensus in this country was that we didn't want mandatory vaccination," Schallenberg said. "For a long time, perhaps too long."
Posted: at 6:21 pm
COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in the United States after dipping just three weeks ago. Vaccine effectiveness is waning and without widespread boosters, shots given six months ago remain at least 80-85% effective against serious illness but will only prevent two out of three possible infections for those vaccinated early in the pandemicall signs pointing to the very real possibility of a winter surge here in the U.S.
Yet David Dowdy, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a physician with Baltimore Medical Services, says there is reason for hope that this winter will be better overall than last winter, even if cases continue to rise, thanks to vaccines and new oral antiviral medications that will reduce cases of severe COVID, preventing hospitalization and death.
"It's worth remembering where we were at this time last year: Many schools were not in-person, many businesses were operating at partial capacity, and many gatherings had strict size limits, yet COVID-19 cases were rising more than twice as fast as they are today," Dowdy says. "Now we have extremely safe vaccines with long-lasting effectiveness against serious disease, oral antivirals that could soon make COVID-19 a highly treatable disease, and we're living our lives much more like in pre-pandemic times. The COVID death rate in the U.S. is still falling and is now only half of what it was two months ago."
So how do we make sure Dowdy's optimism gains traction? Dowdy and Rupali Limaye, a social and behavioral scientist and health communication scholar at the School of Public Health who studies vaccine behavior and decision-making, offer the roadmap below, with a caveat that "no one can fully predict the future of this pandemic," Dowdy says.
If this winter is better than the last, it will be thanks in large part to vaccines. The new antivirals are great, but they aren't a preventative measure like the safe, effective vaccines, Dowdy says.
"While we still are susceptible to getting cases of COVID-19, I think that the amount of serious illness and death is going to be much less, especially because of all the efforts that people have put into to getting vaccinated and getting their families and communities vaccinated as well," he says. "So even if cases go up this winter, we're very unlikely to see a return to the overcrowded ICUs and makeshift morgues of a year ago."
The continued push to vaccinate against COVID-19 includes ensuring newly eligible children get vaccinated as soon as possible, with research indicating that vaccinating 5- to 11-year-olds may prevent 600,000 infections over the next four months alone, Limaye says. "The COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for children even if they've had COVID-19 infection. And that's simply because the vaccine can better provide longer-lasting protection than natural infection." Kids can even get a COVID-19 vaccine dose near or at the same time as other childhood vaccines, like HPV or a flu shot.
The benefits of vaccination in children outweigh the risks, especially when we don't yet know how the long-term effects of COVID-19 infections will affect brain development, Limaye says. And the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine extend beyond any individual child: "Vaccinating our children, specifically in that age range, can have immense benefits to reduce infection of others who may be at more risk," Limaye says. "This includes grandparents that you may see at Thanksgiving, for example, teachers, and other family members as well."
With so much riding on COVID-19 vaccines, convincing people in our lives to get shot is of paramount importance when we still have a little over 40% of the eligible populationexcluding 5- to 11- year-oldswho have not yet gotten the vaccine, Limaye says.
"I think what we are starting to see now is that if you have not gotten the vaccine, there's essentially two reasons why you will get the vaccine. One is that you will see either a close friend or a family member who ends up getting severe COVID and ends up in the hospital or passing. That has been a nudge that has forced people to think about the vaccine decision," Limaye says. "The second is [vaccine] mandates. That is one thing that we know will change vaccine behavior. As we're starting to see different employers think about mandates, that is changing vaccine coverage in specific populations."
Unvaccinated people account for the majority of new COVID-19 infections, for severe cases, and for spikes in states like Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. "With regards to specific socio-demographics where we're seeing hesitancy, it tends to be individuals that tend to be white and that might live in more rural areas," Limaye says, adding that vaccine disparities have narrowed in the last year among the Hispanic and African American communities.
"I think the goal here is going to be to continue to be empathetic, to be compassionate, and to continue to have one-on-one conversations with these individuals because it's important to not be dismissive of people's concerns," Limaye says. "That's the only way that we're going to be able to nudge those individuals into vaccine acceptance."
It's human nature to want to know exactly when the COVID-19 pandemic will be over, but Limaye and Dowdy say it's not that simple. In reality, it's time to shift our thinking from the endgame toward how we'll live our lives alongside COVID-19 going forward.
"Everyone wants there to be a day that we declare, 'This pandemic is over,'" Dowdy says. "But nobody asks, 'When is the end of the flu?' for example. This is a disease that's going to be with us for the foreseeable future. It's going to come and go." That could mean we get COVID-19 booster shots annually or in tandem with occasional spikes in community transmission, Limaye says.
Limaye agrees that we should think about COVID-19 as we do with any other pathogen like a cold or a flu. "COVID is here to stay," Limaye says. "What we really need to be messaging around is that people can still get COVID, there can still be breakthrough infections, but the great news is if you have been vaccinated, you are very much less likely to be hospitalized or have severe COVID compared to those that are unvaccinated."
"The question is, when can we get this to a point where it's tolerable to us as a society," Dowdy says. "And I think that we may be closer to that point than we imagine. If we already look at how we're living our lives today as opposed to how we were living our lives a year ago, we've made great strides. So, we're not at the pandemic end date and we never will be, but we are making real progress. And I think there's a lot of reason for optimism going forward."
COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations are on an ‘aggressive’ rise in the Fox Valley; all intensive care beds are full – Appleton Post Crescent
Posted: at 6:21 pm
APPLETON Health officials thought the delta variant was going to peak in October, with enough time for COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations to lower by Christmas. Instead, those numbers are seeing an "aggressive" rise, a ThedaCare official said at a virtual meeting Friday morning.
"Today, we're experiencing some pretty startling increases," said Frank Mellon,ThedaCare's senior innovation executive.
As of Thursday, no intensive care unit beds were available in the region, saidDr. Imran Andrabi,president and CEO of ThedaCare.
Holiday gatherings are on the horizon for many people, but Mellon said the nine-county region ThedaCare serves is seeing daily case numbers that mirror last fall, with even longer hospitalizations and longer recovery periods. The three-day average for cases is just shy of 334, but Thursday alone, over 560 new cases were diagnosed.
Outagamie, Winnebago, Calumet and Waupaca counties, in particular, are seeing "strong upward trends" in daily positive cases and some age groups are being more affected than others.
Since a high percentage of people over age 70 are vaccinated, Mellon said, cases in that group are just started to tick up. But every age groupyounger than that especially those 20 to 49 is seeing rapid increases in cases.
People who are unvaccinated are more likely to be hospitalized or die from the virus than their vaccinated counterpartsand are the ones "driving the surge," according to Friday's presentation.
People 45 to 64 who aren't vaccinated are13 times more likely to be hospitalized and 33 times more likely to die from the virus than those in the same age group who are vaccinated. Children 12 to 17 who aren't vaccinated are eight times more likely to test positive, according to data presented at Friday's meeting.
Because of the lag between when a person tests positive and when they may need to be hospitalized, the full effects of the increase in cases are still ahead, Mellon said.
Andrabi said COVID-19 numbers looked different even just a week ago. It's not the virus that has changed, he said, but the behavior and choices of community members.
"This is not something we can deal with in the four walls of our healthsystem," he said.
ThedaCare has administered almost 88,000 vaccine doses since last December, Chief Clinical Officer Mark Cockley said, but still only a little more thanhalf of the Fox Valley population is vaccinated.
Everyone 5 and older is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and can schedule an appointment with ThedaCare through the free MyThedaCare app or online at my.thedacare.org/mychart. Free testing is also still available.
MORE: Here's where and when you can find the COVID vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds in the Appleton, Oshkosh areas
MORE: Here's a running list of COVID-19 vaccination sites in Appleton, Fox Cities
People 18 and older who meet certain criteria, such as having an underlying health condition or working in congregate settings, can receive booster shots.
Regardless of which vaccine Pfizer,Modernaor Johnson & Johnson people received for their initial doses, they can receive any approved vaccine for their booster.
Those who received Pfizer or Moderna and meet the criteria can get their booster six months after their initial series.Anyone 18 and older who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can get a booster two months after the initial dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With the holiday season around the corner and hopes of gathering with loved ones, Cockley shared ways to make it as safe as possible. The safest option, he said, is for everyone to be vaccinated and not sick or experiencing symptoms.
But he also shared other ideas for keeping COVID-19 out of Thanksgiving celebrations:
Reach AnnMarie Hilton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 920-370-8045. Follow her on Twitter at @hilton_annmarie.
Here is the original post:
Posted: at 6:21 pm
Tennessee continues to insinuate masks don't work and the task of keeping kids safe from COVID-19 in schools is an individual, not community, task, according to legal arguments in federal court on Friday.
U.S. District Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw is deciding whether he will issuea preliminary injunction to block enforcement of a new state law's provision prohibitingschools from implementing mask mandates except in extremely rare circumstances.
It comes on the heels of three other cases across the state one in Crenshaw's court, too over the state's approach to masking in schools.
On Friday, the sides faced off on familiar lines.
The state argued that with the advent of vaccines, the increased availability of at-home tests and some promising treatment options, parents have the option to find a way to send their kids to school or not without impacting the others.
Parents of eightchildren with disabilities, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, argue school isn't equivalent to deciding whether to stay home from a birthday party.
School is important, they argued Friday, important enough to accept some risk of contracting the virus, even for their more-vulnerable children.
But that risk can be mitigated to avoid widespread outbreaks among all children, and especially those with higherrisk of contracting the virus and severe outcomes from the infection, those attorneys argued.
Thesearguments run along the same lines as the three previouscases. Indeed, they share a handful of plaintiffs and attorneys.
Gov. Bill Lee lastweek signeda comprehensive legislative packageaimed to curtailing the power local agencies have over COVID-19 restrictions. On Friday, he announced he would not extend a state of emergency in Tennessee because of the virus.
Signing the new law cameon the heels of Lee's executive order allowing parents statewide to opt their children out of any such mandate at their schools.
Lee rescinded the orderin light of the new state law, but it had already been blocked in three counties by three separate federal judges, including Crenshaw.
Eight Tennessee children, via their parents, sued Lee and Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn under the new law on Friday, just after the governor signed it. They argue the restrictions violate their children's rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Unexpectedly, the lawsuit was assigned quickly, landing on Crenshaw's desk almost immediately.
Crenshaw also acted with remarkable speed, blocking the implementation of the law until he could weigh the legal arguments.
Governor signs bill: Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signs sweeping COVID-19 legislation into law
Masks in schools: Tennessee's new law on school mask mandates remains temporarily on hold, federal judge says
The judge extended deadlines for attorneys through Dec. 2to file court documents.
Plaintiffs are expected to add a new filing this week after the Associated Press reported Friday an aide in the governor's office informed lawmakers of concerns the law was illegal under the ADA before it was passed.
Althoughthe state continues to push against claims of the widely accepted efficacy of masks, they stepped back from testimony in the previous case from a witness Crenshaw said was "troubling and problematic for several reasons."
The state also basedits arguments Friday on COVID-19 data, with expected exhibits to include reports from the Tennessee Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Education and the Food and Drug Administration.
At one point Friday, the state asked a witness whether it was true COVID-19 infection numbers had been going down.
They have not.
Case counts had been dropping over the past few months, plateauing in most places still higher than the average rates of cases before this summer's delta variant surge, Tennessee Department of Health data showed. But in recent weeks, cases have been ticking up again, data shows.
The state's attorneys also plan to reference statements from two of the other lawsuits against Lee's previous mask order, from both the Middle and Eastern Districts.
On the other side, the parents' attorneys added to their witness list from the previous lawsuits with two pediatricians, an infectious disease and internal medicine specialist at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, a pediatric specialist fromSt. Jude Children's Research Hospital, both in Memphis,and the mother of a plaintiff, who is herself a board-certified immunologist based in Middle Tennessee.
They've submitted declarations from their previous witnesses, as well, leaning on evidence that has already been successful in convincing Crenshaw that children are at risk if schools cannot put in place mask requirements.
Facing lawsuit: New Tennessee COVID-19 law banning school mask mandates is unconstitutional, lawsuit says
This time, the families are arguing against a law passed by the full legislature, not an emergency order from the governor alone.
With the new bill, "the state legislature passed what is, charitably, a vindictive law to elevate the 'rights' of persons to avoid Covid measures (quarantines and cloth universal masking) while removing the actual federal rights of children with disabilities who require such measures as reasonable accommodations to safely access the public school," they argue in a pretrial brief.
The state dances away from the claim they're barring ADA-compliance. That's a decision of the individual principal, they say in filings.
They also argue that keeping children with disabilities home as a way to avoid possible infection isn't "segregation," as the attorneys for the children argue.
"The Act does not require or even suggest segregation of a student requesting
an accommodation. Rather, the Act allows schools to implement a mask mandate so that the accommodated student be provided in-person education, which does not differ from the accommodation Plaintiffs have sought...Nothing in the Actspeaks to who
will be within 6 feet of the accommodated person, other than that such persons shall be required to mask," they wrote.
The state's attorneys also argue the new possibility of vaccinations for young children mitigates the risk of spreading the virus, calling them "extremely effective" on Friday, even though the new law also bans vaccine mandates in almost every case.
Arguments also dipped into debate over the idea of schools having the power to quarantine sick children, which the law may block them from doing. The new law gives the state health commissioner the authority to set quarantine policies.
School medical staff always had the ability to send sick kids home from school, the parents argued.
Reach reporter Mariah Timms at email@example.com or 615-259-8344 and on Twitter @MariahTimms.
See original here:
Posted: at 6:21 pm
Paxlovid, a Pfizer's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pill, is seen manufactured in Ascoli, Italy, in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters on November 16, 2021. Pfizer/Handout via REUTERS
Nov 19 (Reuters) - The Biden administration is looking at ways to broaden access to potential COVID-19 antiviral pills when supply increases in the coming months, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing a person familiar with the plans.
The administration is reviewing whether Paxlovid, the antiviral from Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), can be available on the commercial market in retail pharmacies if it gets regulatory clearance, the Journal reported.
Molnupiravir, an oral pill from Merck & Co Inc (MRK.N) and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP that is also under regulatory review, may be included in the government's plan to make it commercially available, the journal reported, citing the person.
The United States has agreed to buy 10 million courses of Pfizer's drug and has so far secured 3.1 million courses of Merck's pill. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently reviewing applications for emergency use authorization of the drugs.
Pfizer pointed to its supply deal with the U.S. government announced on Thursday, in response to a Reuters request for comment. Merck and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did not immediately respond.
Both drugs are viewed as promising weapons in the fight against the public health crisis, with countries scrambling to secure supply deals after promising data reported by the companies.
The U.S. government is pushing the drugmakers to boost production, the report said, adding that commercial sales could occur when supply of the pills increases.
Reporting by Amruta Khandekar; Editing by Anil D'Silva
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Posted: at 6:21 pm
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced Friday he will not renew the COVID-19 state of emergency, letting it expire Friday night.
By doing so, Lee is officially ending a 20-month-long status that granted the governor elevated authority to suspend state laws and regulations to combat COVID-19. It also allowed Tennessee to draw down additional federal funding assisting the state's pandemic response.
"This tool has provided deregulation and operational flexibility for hospitals and industries most affected by COVIDs challenges," Lee said in a statement Friday. "Should our state face any future surges, we will consider temporarily reinstating this tool, but in the meantime, we are evaluating opportunities for permanent deregulation."
The governor's decision comes as the state still is grappling with COVID-19.
The average number of daily infections in Tennesseehas fallen in recent months, but still remains at a much higher level than before the delta variant surge. With less than half of the population vaccinated, Tennessee still ranks near the bottom of all 50 states in vaccination rate.
Related: This week in coronavirus: School mask battles move to court
Lee declared the state of emergency on March 12, 2020, more than a week after the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Tennessee and a day after the World Health Organization declared the disease a global pandemic.
"This emergency declaration is an important next step in our efforts to treat and mitigate the impact of this disease," the governor said at the time.
Over the past 20 months, Lee never implemented a statewide mask mandate, but did restrict gathering sizes during the winter COVID-19 surge last year. Through an executive order, he granted county mayors the authority to implement their own mask mandates, and encouraged them to do so.In July 2020, Lee said he believed an earlier implementation of mask mandates would have helped avoid business shutdowns.
The Tennessee legislature, where Republicans hold a supermajority, swiftly passed a series of laws last month during a special session that significantly rolled back the state's COVID-19 restrictions. One all-encompassing measure set a stringent standard for governments and schools to implement mask mandates, and outlawed most vaccine requirements.
Lee, who had resisted the special session and remained reluctant to express his opinion on the measures, signed the bill into law last week. But he said some provisions needed a "correction" and urged the legislature to amend the bill in January.
House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, told The Tennessean last week he will unlikely loosen the laws during the regular session. In a tweet on Friday, Sexton said he agreed it was time to end the emergency.
Some of the laws have drawn legal challenges. The law prohibiting schools from issuing mask mandates remains blocked in federal court.
Reach Yue Stella Yu at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @bystellayu_tnsn.
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COVID-19 vaccinations will be required for Louisiana students under proposed health department rule – The Advocate
Posted: at 6:21 pm
Louisiana will require students to get vaccinated against COVID-19, or submit an exemption, to attend schools, daycares and universities, under a pending health department rule that adds the disease to the state-mandated immunization schedule.
It's unclear when exactly the rule will be enforced, though when it does go into effect, it will only apply to age groups that are fully approved by the Food & Drug Administration to get the jab. Kids as young as 5-years-old are currently eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, though so far, full FDA approval has only been granted for those age 16 and up.
Louisianas Office of Public Health alerted the Legislature of the proposed rule change on Sept. 20 when it published a Notice of Intent both online and in the Louisiana Register,a journal that provides access to legal notices from state agencies. It then followed up on Nov. 10 to inform lawmakers that no public comment had been submitted in opposition to the rule.
Under the states rule-making statutes, that set off a 30-day shot clock for the health care committees in the House and Senate to call oversight hearings.
The chair of the House Committee on Health & Welfare, state Rep. Larry Bagley, said lawmakers plan to hold such a hearing on Dec. 6. His counterpart in the upper chamber, Sen. Fred Mills, said the Senate doesn't plan to gather for an oversight hearing at this time.
Students are already required under state law to be immunized against certain vaccine-preventable diseases before attending public and private K-12 schools, daycares, universities and colleges. The Legislature delegates responsibility for curating that list to the state health department.
To enter kindergarten, for example, students must be vaccinated against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, Chickenpox, Hepatitis B, the Whooping Cough, measles, mumps and rubella. Another round of shots is required before entering 6th grade to boost immunity and stave off meningitis.
Still, Louisiana offers broad exemptions from those mandates. A student or guardian can submit a written dissent to opt out of the immunization requirement. Or they can provide a letter from a physician stating that a particular vaccine isnt advised for medical reasons. The state Department of Education even provides a stock exemption form online.
Once a week we'll update you on the progress of COVID-19 vaccinations. Sign up today.
Bagley, R-Stonewall, said the exemptions should offer comfort to those who aren't interested in getting the COVID-19 shot. All you need to do is say, No, Im not going to take it, Bagley said.
Still, Bagley said he plans to vote against approving the new rule. To stop the rule from being adopted, a majority of the members of both oversight committees, as well as the governor, would have to agree that the proposed rule was unacceptable.
Mills, chair of the Senate Health & Welfare Committee, said the proposed rule isn't the sort of major change that warrants an oversight hearing, noting that there's still ample opportunity for students to opt-out.
"Theyre not changing their policies of the freedoms of parents to decide if a vaccination is appropriate for their child," said Mills, R-Park.
Gov. John Bel Edwards repeatedly said that he planned to move forward with adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the immunization schedule, once it received full approval from the FDA. That approval came at the end of August, just as Louisiana was recovering from it's fourth surge of the deadly virus.
Eighteen children in Louisiana under the age of 18 have died of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, according to health department data.
"We strongly encourage everyone who is eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves and those around them," said Aly Neel, a health department spokesperson. "We know parents and families want to make the best possible decisions for themselves and their children, which is why we encourage them to reach out to their healthcare providers with any questions they might have."
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Pilot program launched in Charlotte to send home rapid COVID-19 tests with students, staff – mlive.com
Posted: at 6:21 pm
Through a new K-12 school pilot program, launched this week in Charlotte, students, parents and staff can sign up to take home free kits containing two COVID-19 antigen tests.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday, Nov. 18, introduced the MI Backpack Home Tests service to support families, teachers and support workers during the pandemic.
We must use every tool in our toolbox to keep kids safe and ensure that they can continue learning in person this school year, Whitmer said in a statement.
The announcement came as case numbers are rising rapidly in Michigan. This week, the seven-day average number of new cases reported per day reached the highest level since the start of the pandemic. This week, the state led the country in total new cases and new cases per 100,000 people.
Most recently, the state reported nearly 90 new outbreaks in schools, infecting more than 520 people.
Those enrolled in the voluntary program at Charlotte Public Schools receive one at-home test kit, which includes the two tests and educational materials. They may use the tests when they exhibit symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19.
Whitmer launched the program in partnership with the state Department of Health and Human Services.
MDHHS is committed to looking for innovative ways to protect the public health during this pandemic, Dr. Alexis Travis, senior deputy director for the MDHHS public health administration, said in the statement.
Additional districts, including Benton Harbor Area Schools and Battle Creek Public Schools, will later be added to the program. They are to receive their test kits after Thanksgiving break.
The Department of Health and Human Services is inviting a geographically diverse group of schools to participate so its effectiveness can be gauged across the state, according to the statement.
This is an expansion of the MI Safe Schools Testing Program, begun in January and intended to support schools incorporating SARS-CoV-2 testing into their plans to resume in-person learning. It provides rapid antigen testing to educators and staff.
Testing is one way to control and monitor the virus.
Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigans chief medical executive, also encourages mask wearing, maintaining good ventilation, social distancing, handwashing and vaccination.
Whitmer urges all parents to take their children five and older to get the safe and effective Pfizer vaccine, authorized this month for children 5-11.
So far, about 8% of this population has received a first dose and those 12 to 15, eligible for the vaccine since May, are among the least vaccinated group in Michigan.
Statewide, about 60% of the eligible population is vaccinated. Without including children 5 to 11, the number jumps to about 65%.
Read more on MLive:
Coronavirus data for Thursday, Nov. 18: Daily cases spike 104% as Michigans surge hits No. 1 in the U.S.
COVID-19 Q&A: Should I invite non-vaccinated family to Thanksgiving dinner?
Michigan reports 2-day total of 14,561 new COVID cases and 242 deaths on Wednesday, Nov. 17
West Michigan healthcare coalition says its resources are being overwhelmed by COVID and other patients
521 infected across 87 new coronavirus outbreaks at Michigan schools
COVID-19 vaccination required for Disney cruise passengers ages 5 and older, starting January 2022 – pennlive.com
Posted: at 6:21 pm
Disney Cruise Line has expanded its vaccination mandate to include children ages 5 and older, effective January 13, 2022, it has announced.
According to a report by CNN Travel, the new requirement is in line with the company policy stating that all vaccine-eligible guests as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must be inoculated against COVID-19 before boarding. The CDC endorsed the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine following the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations authorization in late October, that doses could be distributed to children ages 5-11.
The Miami Herald reported that proof of a negative test between 3 days and 24 hours before departure is required for children under the age of 5, and to board sailings scheduled prior to January 13, children from age 5-11 can provide either proof of vaccination or a negative test.
In terms of testing, Disney said in its announcement that rapid antigen tests will not be accepted, and the negative test must be a NAAT test, a rapid PCR test or a lab PCR test, the Miami Herald explained.
According to the statement, the cruise line will accept proofs of vaccination for passengers from Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Covishield, Novavax, Sinopharm and Sinovac, CNN cited.
Disney Cruise Line said, We are resuming sailing in a gradual, phased approach that emphasizes multiple layers of health and safety measures, cited CNN.
According to CDC data, nearly 1.9 million children under the age of 12 have received their first dose of vaccine, and of all new vaccinations over the past two weeks, the 5-11 age group account for about one-third, CNN reported.
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Fresh off COVID-19 list, Browns’ Nick Chubb, Demetric Felton will face Lions: ‘I’m ready for whatever’ – Akron Beacon Journal
Posted: at 6:21 pm
BEREA The Browns have the powerful engine of their offense back.
Running back Nick Chubb was activated Friday from the reserve/COVID-19 list, and the two-time Pro Bowl selection will play when the Browns (5-5) face the Detroit Lions (0-8-1) on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
"It's great to have No. 24 back," Browns All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett said after Friday's practice."I mean, he's the man, one of the best in the league, and a great locker-room guy."
The Browns announced the move involving Chubb onFriday morning along with the activation of rookie running back/wide receiver Demetric Felton from the same list. Like Chubb, Felton will be active against the Lions.
Chubb and Felton each tested positive for a breakthrough case of COVID-19 on Nov. 9 and missed Sunday's 45-7 loss to the New England Patriots. Both players returned to practice Friday.
I didn't really have any symptoms," Chubb said after practice."I felt bad maybe one day, but other than that, I felt great.
"[Last week was] pretty boring. I didn't really do anything. Just hung out at the house."
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Chubb has "fresh legs" and "physically he looks good." Stefanski didn't say he would limit Chubb's plays inhis first game back.
"I think well be mindful of it," Stefanski said,"but I dont have a number in mind at this point.
"His teammates were excited to see him [back]. Nicks very important to what we do and who we are."
Chubb said he feels like himself and is preparedfor a full workload against the Lions.
I'm ready for whatever, he said.
The temperature at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus was 36 degrees during Friday's practice, but Chubb donned shorts without long sleeves under his jersey.
"It's great to see him out here, especially with no sleeves. He doesn't care about this cold," Garrett said.
As Chubb stood at an outdoor interview podium, he admitted the cold bothered him.
"It's killing me now," he said. "I stopped moving now.Now I feel it.
"I like to practice how I play, so I won't have anything on in the game, so that's what I like to have on in practice."
The forecast is calling for cold, rainy weather for Sunday's game.
"This team, they'lltry to run this offense through Chubb," Lions coach Dan Campbell told Detroit reporters Friday. "Hes a special player. If there is such a thing as being underrated, he may be one of these underrated backs in the league. You can argue hes the best or top two or something. Hes a special back. We know theyre going to give him the ball. Hes going to carry a load. Theyre going to commit to it, especially in the conditions were getting ready to face.
"If we dont have population around the football with this guy, or we dont try to wrap up and buy some time for our teammates to get there, this guy will make you look bad. But we understand that, too. Our defense knows that."
Stefanski ruled out the Browns' other star running back, Kareem Hunt, earlier in the week. Hunt remains on injured reserve and will miss his fifth consecutive game Sunday with a calf injury, meaning No. 3 running back D'Ernest Johnson should still have a substantial role against the Lions.
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Chubb, though,is the Browns' best player on offense. In seven games this season, he has120 carries for 721 yards (6 average) and six touchdowns to go along with eight catches for 69 yards. Like Hunt, Chubb suffered a calf injury earlier this season. Chubb missed two games with the calfinjury and another game due to COVID-19.
A sixth-round pick in this year's draft, Felton is a running back, receiver and return man. He has three carries for 16 yards (5.3 average), 13 catches on 14 targets for 147 yards and a touchdown, 26 punt returns for 218 yards (8.4 average) and four kickoff returns for 65 yards (16.3 average) this season.
"Hes going to be OK to play. Hes also going to catch punts out there, as you cansee, until it gets dark,"Stefanski said of Felton, who caught punts after practice.
The Browns need all the help they can get Sunday because a loss to the winless Lions would be thekiss of death for Cleveland's slim playoff hopes.
Chubb said it was hard to watch the Browns get blown out by the Patriots.
"Seeing my team out there and not having things go our way, it was hard for me to watch," Chubb said. "But it's a new week, a new opportunity. We still have everything ahead of us. We got to come out here, had a great practice and got to keep moving forward.
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Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com.
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