WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
New COVID-19 cases in the U.S. fell by 23% in the last week, marking the fifth week of declining cases in a row. Experts say that improvements in social distancing, seasonality, more vaccinations and partial immunity have contributed to the decline. Between 15 and 30% of Americans are estimated to have already contracted the virus, while public health experts say the decline provides some evidence that the coronavirus vaccines are effective. The Biden Administration will increase the weekly vaccine supply to states by more than 20% and will double the number going to pharmacies this week, a move that President Joe Biden said should make vaccines available to all Americans by July.
FEMA has opened its first COVID-19 inoculation sites in Los Angeles and Oakland, while massive winter storms continue to hamper vaccination efforts in the Midwest and the South. In Chicago, more than 100 vaccine sites didn’t get shipments Tuesday because of the extreme weather, leading to cancellations.
New York’s attorney general is suing Amazon over accusations of inadequate protection from COVID-19. The complaint accuses Amazon of failing to comply with state cleaning and disinfection requirements and failure to notify employees of infected co-workers. The lawsuit comes after Amazon filed its own suit in anticipation of the litigation, saying the state lacks legal authority to enforce those requirements. The New York suit follows a major push among Amazon workers to unionize at a warehouse in Alabama, where workers demand better work conditions as Amazon’s profits skyrocket during the pandemic.
Developing countries are running dangerously behind in vaccination efforts, an issue that could prolong the pandemic. Nearly 130 countries have not yet administered a single shot, delaying the fight against emerging virus variants and indicating that the pandemic’s economic damage will be deeper and more persistent in poorer countries.
Many scientists expect that the coronavirus will linger in global daily life for years to come, emerging in pockets of the world with an endemic existence. The degree of the virus’ prevalence will depend on the level of immunity achieved by vaccinations and acquired immunity, they say, and could resemble that of the common cold or flu.
Japan launched its coronavirus vaccination campaign on Wednesday, an endeavor that highlights the billions of dollars put on the line to host the Summer Olympics. South Africa is rolling out the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to healthcare workers after halting plans to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was found to be less effective against the variants developing there. Earlier this week, the World Health Organization cleared the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine for emergency use.
The streets of Rio de Janeiro and other cities known for their elaborate Carnival celebrations were starkly quiet on Tuesday, but people across the globe found creative ways to mark the holiday. Residents of New Orleans replaced the usual revelry and parades of Mardi Gras with flashy “ house floats” decorated with the same grandeur as pre-pandemic celebrations. Ash Wednesday will similarly be celebrated by Christian communities from a distance as they usher in the somber period of Lent.
If You Can’t Get To Your Vaccine Appointment, These Cities Will Drive You – Next City – 2/17/2021
“It’s a really great use of our existing resources. It hasn’t cost us too much extra to provide this service, which is great because we’re trying to operate effectively. We have the mentality of operating as a private business with the heart of a public agency that knows our mission is to serve our community,” says Ballentine.
7 simple steps to create better boundaries when you work from home – Fast Company – 2/17/2021
We don’t have commute times to help us transition from work to home life. But we all have rituals that can be used as such markers, she says, “whether it’s taking care of your kids, or doing a bit of meditation every day, or taking your dog for a walk around the block. We all have these more daily rituals that help us to destress.”
Here’s how Ash Wednesday might look different this year – Newsweek – 2/17/2021
Instead of a cross in the dust of the ashes, the memo requests each priest or Ash bearer “takes the ashes and sprinkles them on the head of each one without saying anything.” The art of the sprinkle may vary between religious professionals, but it appears to suggest there won’t be actual contact between the priest and the Catholic recipient. Instead, the ashes, mixed with Holy Water, will be sprinkled atop the congregation as a whole.
Long-term unemployment during a pandemic is a double whammy – Axios – 2/17/2021
“The troubling amount of long-term unemployment and its continuing rise is dangerous for the U.S. labor market,” says Nick Bunker, an economist at the jobs site Indeed. “A fast labor market recovery will help alleviate these concerns, but that bounce back is still a ways away and dependent on controlling the coronavirus.”
The myth of ‘good Covid vaccines’ and ‘bad Covid vaccines’ – STAT – 2/17/2021
News coverage and social media posts about clinical trial results are creating a hierarchy of Covid vaccines in the minds of much of the public: “good vaccines” and “bad vaccines.” The former you might try to seek out; the latter might even prompt you to step out of line. That, health officials say, is a problem.
WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING
USA TODAY Health @USATODAYhealth 17 Feb Even as cases continue to decline and more Americans receive their vaccines, the coronavirus isn’t likely to go away anytime soon, health officials say.
Chris Alexander @calxandr 17 Feb “(…) new coronavirus infections reported globally (…) dropped nearly by half, from about five million the first week of January to about 2.7 million last week. (…) daily case tallies are the lowest they’ve been since October (…).” @globeandmail
Oscar Flores @oflores 17 Feb Rapid declines in new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in California have the nation’s most populous state on a path to loosening business restrictions imposed when the deadliest surge of the pandemic was gaining momentum.
Brooks Jarosz @BrooksKTVU 16 Feb #UPDATE: Health officials in #Marin County say the number of #COVID19 cases has dropped significantly after long term care facilities’ residents & staff received their second #coronavirus #vaccinations DETAILS @maringov @MarinHHS
Patrick LaForge @palafo 17 Feb At least 1,703 new coronavirus deaths and 64,375 new cases were reported in the U.S. on Feb. 16. Over the past week, there has been an average of 81,200 cases per day, a decrease of 43 percent from the average two weeks earlier. Total dead: 487,851
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