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FS-ISAC Coronavirus Update, April 9, 2021
Dr. Anthony Fauci explained Wednesday why the US is now seeing more Covid-19 cases among younger people, explaining it’s in part because so many older people are vaccinated, and also because of spread in day care centers and at school sporting events – in which people are in close contact and sometimes aren’t wearing masks, as well as the factor of the B.1.1.7 variant first reported in the United Kingdom.
Michigan’s average number of new daily cases has soared by 88 percent, to 6,700, and hospitalizations have risen even more – 114 percent – over the last two weeks, as the state is currently suffering the worst outbreak in America.
Stanford University researchers have identified five new cases of a “double mutant” Covid-19 strain that was recently discovered in the San Francisco Bay Area and originated in India, a variant doctors suspect could be more contagious than earlier strains and may be resistant to existing vaccines.
About a quarter of adults in the US - more than 66 million people - are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to data published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with over a third of the total population - more than 112 million people – having received at least one dose of vaccine, including more than 43% of adults and nearly 77% of people age 65 or older.
The race to vaccinate hit more roadblocks on Thursday, as several patients at a mass vaccination site in North Carolina suffered immediate reactions to the Johnson & Johnson shot, just a day after 11 people had adverse reactions in Denver, ranging from dizziness to nausea, with both sites temporarily shut down.
Data from v-safe, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention record-keeping system that tracks vaccine recipients' reactions, shows that at least 70% of participants reported an injection site reaction after both doses, and fifty percent of participants reported wider systemic reactions, affecting other parts of the body after their first shots, while 70% reported other symptoms after their second shot.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky anticipates that all schools will be fully in person and no longer remote in September 2021, saying Thursday that parents and teachers should anticipate this regardless of whether children are vaccinated or not, and predicting that she expects children to become eligible to get vaccinated by mid-May.
Researchers agree that newly vaccinated mothers are right to feel as if they have a new superpower, with multiple studies showing that their antibodies generated after vaccination can, indeed, be passed through breast milk - though the protection might be short-lived.
The number of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine shots allocated to states and other jurisdictions by the federal government is expected to drop 84% next week, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, down to about 785,000 from the nearly 5 million doses allocated to states and other jurisdictions this week.
The European Union is on track for herd immunity by mid-July, vaccine chief Thierry Breton said Thursday, explaining “We now have 53 factories, seven days a week, and I will tell you today, that we will deliver the number of doses which will be necessary to achieve 70% of the population being vaccinated by mid-July.”
The COVAX vaccine facility has delivered nearly 38.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 102 countries and economies across six continents, six weeks after it began to roll out supplies, according to a statement on Thursday.
Brazil continues to see the number of cases and deaths reported surging at alarming rates, but President Jair Bolsonaro is standing steadfast on opposing lockdowns and restrictive measures, even criticizing governors and mayors with insulting language for implementing them.
France is beginning to see encouraging signs after the latest lockdown measures aimed at curbing the surge in Covid-19 infections, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said Thursday during his weekly press conference.
Researchers at Imperial College London found that COVID-19 infections dropped about 60% in March as national lockdown measures slowed the spread of the virus, with people 65 and older least likely to be infected as they benefited most from the vaccination program, which initially focused on older people, and the study also found that the relationship between infections and deaths is diverging, “suggesting that infections may have resulted in fewer hospitalizations and deaths since the start of widespread vaccination.”
The sluggish progress of Covid-19 vaccination outside the US is a key threat to the economic outlook, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday, echoing calls to address the widening disparity between rich and poor nations, and while the US is on track to vaccinate three-fourths of its population by late June and other wealthy countries are following suit, emerging-market economies are on pace to vaccinate just 28% of their populations by the end of the year, according to UBS research. A gap, and its economic implications, which have become the major focus of global policy makers this week in a round of meetings arranged by the International Monetary Fund.
Businesses have discovered during the pandemic that they can function with nearly all of their workers out of the office, an arrangement that many intend to continue in some form and could wallop the big property companies that build and own office buildings, leading to a sharp pullback in construction, steep drops in office rents, fewer people frequenting restaurants and stores, and potentially perilous declines in the tax revenue of city governments and school districts.
Online travel shopping company Expedia Group Thursday launched COVID-19 Travel Advisor, an online tool that provides information about current travel restrictions to potential and existing customers across seven of the company’s brands.
Japan is working closely with the International Olympic Committee to prepare for the Games and despite concerns about Covid-19 cases flaring, there are no plans to postpone, said Japan’s minister in charge of vaccinations Taro Kono.
Vaccine Rollout - US
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data updated Thursday shows that 174,879,716 doses of vaccine have been reported administered - about 76% of the 229,398,685 doses delivered, more than 3.4 million doses reported since yesterday, for a seven-day average of more than 3 million per day.
And 45% of the people in New Hampshire are at least partially vaccinated, the state with the highest level of vaccinations, and on the other side is Mississippi as the lowest state, with less than 27% partially vaccinated.
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu announced on Thursday starting April 19 the state will open vaccine eligibility to all people age 16 and older regardless of residency.
All D.C. residents aged 16 and older will become eligible for the vaccine starting Monday, the health department said Thursday, indicating that the city has been able to offer vaccine appointments to priority groups more quickly than officials originally anticipated.
Defense Department officials said on Thursday that the contamination of as many as 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine has hobbled the military’s ability to vaccinate its overseas troops and their families, with uniformed personnel overseas now vaccinated at rates between 10 percent and 15 percent higher than in the continental US, but this may be because many received shots before deploying.
A Los Angeles mass vaccination site will allow any adult to stand in line for a vaccine Thursday through Sunday after vaccination appointments went unfilled in recent days, the governor’s Office of Emergency Services said.
Florida officials considered and rejected using Dollar General stores to deliver vaccines in rural counties and to historically underserved urban areas because there were not enough people going there for testing.
Baseball fans headed to the San Francisco Giants' home opening game Friday will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative result to be admitted, the team said on its website Thursday.
Michigan’s hospitalizations have been doubling every 12 to 14 days for the last three weeks, and the absolute increase in hospitalizations over the last week – about 1,000 patients - represents the biggest weekly change since the spring 2020 surge, and unless something changes soon, the state is on track to surpass its winter peak for cases and hospitalizations later this month.
Florida posted 7,939 new cases Thursday, the most since February 11, according to state health department data, with the seven-day average climbing to the highest this month, but the cases per capita are running just slightly above the national average and significantly below hot spot states such as New Jersey, New York and Michigan.
Ohio reported 2,742 new cases on Thursday – the must infections for three weeks and comparing with a 21-day average of 1,801, with hospitalizations and intensive-care admissions also increasing, and Governor Mike DeWine saying that trends are “moving in the wrong direction” but “we can still turn this around” if more people get vaccinated.
National Guard leaders on Thursday called for people in the US keep adhering to Covid-19 mitigation measures as the military races to vaccinate the population, with Air Force Colonel Russell Kohl, commander of the 131st Medical Group for the Missouri National Guard, saying ,” when asked if there were concerns of more states relaxing guidance that “We’re excited to follow the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] science that tells us what the smart thing is to continue to protect the civilians around us.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan on Thursday that he said would significantly reduce the temporary public school closures that have frustrated parents and educators across city over the last few months, saying that starting on Monday, schools will have to close for 10 days only if four or more cases in separate classrooms are confirmed within a seven-day period, and only if the city’s contact tracing program determines that the infections originated inside the school.
Alexandria City Public Schools will not immediately switch to three feet of separation inside classrooms, going against guidance from the federal government and the trend in Northern Virginia, where all other major school systems recently opted for that distance.
The University of Chicago is telling students living in its dorms to stay in their rooms beginning immediately through April 15 because of a large cluster of cases involving undergraduates, with classes moving to fully remote for seven days.
The University of Notre Dame said it will require all students to be fully vaccinated for the fall semester, but it will accommodate documented medical or religious exemptions.
The chase for the Ivy League and other prestige colleges, a perennial object of global fascination, grew a few degrees more frenzied during the pandemic as applications soared and admit rates plummeted to, in some cases, crazy-low single digits.
Economy and Business
The latest jobs report shows the manufacturing sector grew at its fastest level since the pandemic began, jumping by 50,000 positions, however, there are still about half a million fewer employed manufacturing workers than there were a year ago, and the question is how many of those jobs will come back - and how many have been permanently disrupted by digital processes.
Predatory debt collectors would be barred from collecting any more money from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program under recently proposed US legislation that argues during the pandemic abusive collectors had harassed consumers and that such firms should not be eligible for the federal relief.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that the state will file a lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, demanding cruise ships be allowed to resume sailing immediately and saying “On behalf of the tens of thousands of Floridians whose livelihoods depends on the viability of an open cruise industry, today Florida’s fighting back,” adding that “We don’t believe the federal government has the right to mothball a major industry for over a year, based on very little evidence and very little data.”
Norwegian Cruise Line President and CEO Frank Del Rio said that the company is proposing that all passengers and staff be vaccinated in order to start cruises again on July 4, saying “If it takes vaccines to break that logjam with the CDC, that's what we're prepared to do.”