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US To Ease Travel Restrictions For Fully Vaccinated International Visitors

Jeff Zients, White House Covid-19 response coordinator, said the new rules will take effect in November to give agencies and airlines enough time to prepare for the influx of travel that will likely come from these new standards.

CDC Claims Covid-19 Delta Variant Is As Transmissible As Chickenpox

The US Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an internal document this week that claims the Delta variant of the coronavirus is as contagious as chickenpox and could cause severe illness. 

The variant was already more likely to impact vaccinated Americans as well, which is why the report went on to explain that the CDC will be reversing their current mask guidelines for vaccinated Americans and will likely enforce all citizens to wear masks in public again. 

Previously the CDC said it was okay for vaccinated individuals to be unmasked indoors. Data has proven that the vaccines are still highly effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death in vaccinated people against the variants. 

The report claimed that the Delta variant is more transmissible than the viruses caused by MERS, SARS, Ebola, the common cold, flu, and smallpox. 

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CDC director Rochelle Walensky told the New York Times that new research was showing vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant carried a majority of the virus in their nose and throats. 

Officials in general have been warning Americans about major increases in new Covid-19 infections all throughout the nation; particularly among unvaccinated individuals.

Vaccine hesitancy is prominent throughout the entire country, fueled largely by a slew of misinformation that has been spreading about Covid-19 since the Trump administration. Federal employees in Washington are either to get vaccinated or be subject to multiple Covid tests a week, these types of requirements will likely appear throughout multiple industries as the pandemic continues. 

The Biden Administration recently called on state and local government leaders to offer $100 stimulus payments for newly vaccinated Americans; which would be funded by the $350 billion federal aid grant approved of under the American Rescue Plan Act. 

CDC To Hold Emergency Meeting Over Rare Heart Inflammation Side Effect In Covid Vaccines 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this week that they will be holding an emergency meeting on June 18th to discuss reports of heart inflammation following doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines. While the CDC claims that these reports have been rare, they’re still higher than initially expected, hence the meeting. 

The CDC has identified 226 cases that could meet the agency’s definition of myocarditis and pericarditis following the injections. A majority of those who experienced inflammation have recovered while 41 experienced ongoing symptoms, 15 are still currently hospitalized, and 3 are in the intensive care unit.

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“It’s a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison because, again, these are preliminary reports. Not all these will turn out to be true myocarditis or pericarditis reports.”

Dr. Tom Shimabukuro, a CDC vaccine safety official, stated that so far their findings were mostly “consistent with reports of rare cases of heart inflammation that had been studied in Israel and reported from the US Department of Defense earlier this year.” 

A panel of independent advisers for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA0 will be meeting this upcoming Thursday to review the new details regarding myocarditis and pericarditis. The meeting will also serve to discuss how the FDA should approach giving an emergency use authorization for using these vaccines in younger children; the next phase of reaching herd immunity in America. 

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Pfizer already received an emergency use authorization for their vaccine in Americans 12 and up last month, and announced that they were already going through trials to make sure it’s safe for children as young as 6 months old. Moderna is also in the process of seeking a EUA for their vaccine in adolescents. 

Pfizer believes they can finish their children’s trials by the beginning of September, while FDA officials have warned that authorizing vaccines for younger age groups, especially babies and toddlers, could take longer due to how much their bodies are still developing. The FDA believes children will likely be able to receive their vaccines by mid to late fall at the earliest. 

“We recognize that some adverse reactions, for example myocarditis or pericarditis as discussed earlier today, may be too infrequent to detect in a safety database of typical size for pre-licensure clinical trials,” said Dr. Doran Fink, a top official in the FDA’s vaccine office.

“Risk-benefit considerations to determine whether to issue an emergency use authorization for use of a COVID-19 vaccine into healthy pediatric individuals will need to account for this information, and risk-benefit consideration will likely be different, not only compared to those for adults, but also they may be different for younger versus older pediatric groups,” Dr. Marion Gruber, director of the FDA’s vaccine office, said at the meeting.

Delays In Adolescents Receiving Their Covid-19 Vaccinations Could Hinder US Recovery

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, an expert epidemiologist, recently spoke to the press about how some US populations are seeing an amazing increase in vaccination rates, while other groups in the nation are experiencing lags in their distribution, especially among adolescents, which could lead to a major delay in the country’s recovery as a whole. 

Children currently account for 25% of all Covid-19 cases in America due to the fact that they’re not yet vaccinated. 

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“As we’ve gotten more and more of our seniors vaccinated, more and more people with pre-existing conditions, more and more people who may be healthy and younger, the question becomes how do we protect our children?”

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently performed a study in which they examined more than 200 adolescents aged from 12 to 17-years-old who were hospitalized within the first three months of 2021, likely with Covid-19. The report showed that while there were no deaths, a third of the adolescents were admitted to intensive care units because of their illness, and 5% required mechanical ventilation. 

“Every single one of those hospitalizations, every single one of those kids in the ICU, can now be prevented now that vaccinations are available to those 12 to 17. As certain states lag behind the national average vaccination rate, however, it could spell trouble for the youngest and most vulnerable populations. What we also see is that the same places where adults are lagging, teens are lagging,” emergency physician Dr. Anand Swaminathan said to CNN. 

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About 13 states have hit President Joe Biden’s goal of getting 70% of all US adults vaccinated with at least one Covid-19 vaccine by July 4th. However, experts like Leana Wen claim that the parts of the nation with lower vaccination rates are expected to experience another wave of coronavirus infections among its unvaccinated residents. 

“Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Wyoming, Tennessee and West Virginia have the lowest vaccination rates – with less than 50% of adults having received at least one dose. Vermont, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine and New Jersey boast the highest, with 75% or more of their adult population partially vaccinated. One issue for where vaccinations are lagging is lack of access and messaging in certain communities,” Dr. Swaminathan explained.

“There are people who don’t understand the fact that this is free. That messaging hasn’t been done as much as it should be.There are barriers for people who can’t get paid time off of work or have issues finding childcare that prevent them from getting the vaccine.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told CNN that he’s optimistic children younger than 12 could receive their vaccinations by Thanksgiving this year. 

“We are now doing studies that are ongoing, studies that are looking at what we call age de-escalation, children from 12 to 9 and ten 9 to 6 and then 6 to 2 and then 6 months to 2 years. We hope that as we approach the end of the calendar year we’ll have enough information to vaccinate children of any age.” 

Medical Masks

CDC Director Defends Controversial New Mask Guidelines 

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, took to Capitol Hill this week to justify the CDC’s decision to release new guidelines that allow vaccinated individuals to go without a mask in most outdoor and indoor settings. 

Initially, Walensky was just going to discuss the CDC’s proposed budget with the press, however, she quickly began being confronted with questions about the guidelines and the controversy surrounding it; many people think the CDC was premature in their announcement, and are giving non-vaccinated individuals a free pass to go without a mask in public. 

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“The country is not uniform, you really need to interpret our guidence in the context of what is happening in your community.” 

The major issue with this statement from Walensky is that America is so large, and so many individuals feel differently about being vaccinated. She continued to discuss how the “United States is not a homogenous country, so the CDC is letting states and localities decide how to implement the new guidance.” 

Although the CDC released these new guidelines, they did not tell any governors or local leaders how to implement the guidance based on their specific infection and vaccination rates. This has left political leaders completely blind, and confused, as to when it’s safe enough to lift their mask mandates. 

Wednesday’s press conference proved that America’s lawmakers are just as confused as average Americans, which is a major problem considering our political leaders have been the main authority figures throughout this pandemic. Now that the CDC has more of an authority in the White House, it’s confusing that they’re not helping specific state leaders determine when to lift their mandates. 

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Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin spoke out against the confusion: “What should workplaces be doing right now? I’m especially concerned with food-processing plants, of which Wisconsin has a high number. Many such plants are crowded facilities where there’s going to be a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated workers. My state also experienced multiple coronavirus outbreaks in a number of meat-processing plants last spring.”

United Food and Commercial Workers International is a union that represents people in the food service industry in America. They also spoke out against the CDC’s general guidelines, claiming that the guidance “fails to consider how it will impact essential workers who face frequent exposure to individuals who are not vaccinated and refuse to wear masks. We worry that these workers could be forced to become the vaccination police, asking people about their status, and potentially asking them to mask up.” 

As most of us have seen, many businesses have had to fight customers tirelessly who refused to wear a mask for whatever reason. The CDC claimed that they will be giving update guidance for workplaces and other settings, but it’s unclear as to when that will be; the White House was apparently completely surprised by the CDC’s initial announcement that vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear masks. 

Although there’s an obscene level of confusion among the individuals who are supposed to be keeping us safe and guiding us in the right direction toward the end of this pandemic, the rate in which Americans are being vaccinated is a major turning point for the past year. Hopefully more Americans will continue to get their vaccines, and life can really begin to feel normal again.

Medical Face Masks

CDC Says Vaccinated Individuals Can Go Without Masks Indoors And Outdoors 

The director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this Thursday that people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances. 

“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”

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Dr. Rochelle Walensky called this an “exciting and powerful moment. The science supports the updated CDC guidance that anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing.” She cited three studies — one from Israel and two from the United States — that show vaccines work.

The Israeli study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and showed “the vaccine was 97% effective against symptomatic Covid-19 and 86% effective against asymptomatic infection in over 5,000 healthcare workers tested.” 

In the more than 117 fully vaccinated Americans there have been a small number of reports of breakthrough infections, however, Walensky noted that “the resulting infections are more likely to have a lower viral load, may be shorter in duration, and likely less risk of transmission to others.” 

People who are immunocompromised should still proceed with caution, and all mask mandates are still in effect for all forms of public transportation, including air travel. 

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“The past year has shown us that this virus can be unpredictable, so if things get worse, there is always a chance we may need to make a change to these recommendations. People who develop Covid-19 symptoms, even those who are vaccinated, should put their mask back on and get tested, Walensky said.

She explained how: “the science is clear, too, for unvaccinated people. You remain at risk of mild or severe illness, of death, or spreading the disease to others. You should still mask and you should get vaccinated right away. But once someone is fully vaccinated — two weeks after the final dose — you can shed your mask,” she said.

Some people may choose to continue wearing masks even if they are fully vaccinated, and that’s OK, federal Covid-19 response leaders said Thursday.

“People have to make their own personal choice,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during the White House Covid-19 briefing.

“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with an individual who has a certain level of risk aversion, as we know the risk is extremely low of getting infected whether you’re indoors or outdoors. But there are those people who don’t want to take that bit of a risk and there’s nothing wrong with that and they shouldn’t be criticized.”

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

CDC Expected To Meet About J&J Vaccine Pause

The CDC and FDA are meeting to discuss the six blood clotting cases among people who received the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine.

CDC Tells Americans To ‘Limit Travel’ As Covid-19 Surges Continue Throughout Nation 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave Americans a stark warning this week, claiming that they should limit all travel, as Covid-19 cases are beginning to spike throughout the nation again, despite the roll out of multiple vaccines. 

Dr. Rochelle Walenshy is the director of the CDC, who said that travel is helping spread the coronavirus, as it has been for the past year now. During a White House briefing she said: “I would just sort of reiterate the recommendations from the CDC that tell us to please limit travel to essential travel only for the time being.”

Walensky warned Americans of an “impending doom” if they continue to go about their lives as they currently are. She even went as far as to express that she herself was scared for the future of the nation. 

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“We must act now, and I am worries that if we don’t take the right actions now, we will have another avoidable surge, just like we’re seeing in Europe right now and just as we are so aggressively scaling up vaccinations.” 

President Joe Biden has also asked all state officials to reinstate mask mandates to continue to combat the pandemic. Biden claimed that reckless behavior is leading to the virus spreading again. 

“People are letting up on precautions, which is a very bad thing. We are giving up hard-fought, hard-won gains. This is not a time to lessen our efforts.. We could still see a setback in the vaccination program. And most importantly, if we let our guard down now we could see a virus getting worse, not better,” Biden proclaimed. 

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As previously mentioned, these warnings are a result of new Covid cases rising throughout the country. According to the New York Times official Covid-19 dashboard new cases have been rising by 15% for the past two weeks, and the CDC blames that rise on an increase in travel. 

TSA data shows that more than one million people have been walking throughout the airports everyday since the beginning of March. For comparison at this point last year TSA screened around 180,000 people. 

The CDC is highly recommending everyone continue to abide by proper health and safety procedures until a greater herd immunity is met, and that includes not traveling even if you’re fully vaccinated. 

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have proven to be highly effective in the real world when it comes to preventing the transmission of Covid-19, however, the CDC thinks Americans are getting too comfortable too quickly, and need to continue to be patient until the rest of the nation can catch up with vaccinations.

The CDC Still Wants You To Be Diligent If You’ve Been Vaccinated 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released new guidelines for individuals who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. However, now, they’re urging the general public not to let these new guidelines deter them from treating this pandemic any less seriously, as only about 10% of the US population is fully vaccinated at this point.

Dr. Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security recently spoke to the media about these new guidelines and how the CDC needs to be more direct with the public on what they can and can’t do. “If people believe the vaccine is not going to improve their life why would they get it?”

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“The CDC is waiting for more ironclad data about the vaccination before issuing a more detailed guidance, and while the initial data from Israel, which has the highest coronavirus vaccination rates in the world, is highly encouraging, it’s apparently not encouraging enough for the CDC to give an all-clear to Americans who’ve had their shots,” Adalja explained.

The new guidance says that vaccinated individuals can gather in small groups without masks or socially distancing. Vaccinated grandparents will be able to see their unvaccinated grandchildren as long as they are indeed children, and the new guidelines still advise against any travel. Thomas Skinner is a spokesman for the CDC who recently spoke with the press to defend the new guidelines. 

“It’s a good first step until we have more people vaccinated and data around vaccine effectiveness when it comes to real world circumstances. Until then it’s important to minimize cohorting of people.”

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The CDC was also greatly silenced throughout the beginning and middle of the pandemic due to former president Donald Trump and his administration’s constant interference with new guidance on things like wearing masks, reopening schools, and business protocols. The Biden administration has luckily allowed the CDC to have the platform they need to keep the public informed and educated on where the US is with this pandemic. 

Currently more than 2 million people are being vaccinated daily, and with Biden recently purchasing an additional 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it’s likely that the rate will increase in the coming month. This is good news considering around 90% of the population is still unvaccinated. 

“While some guidance is better than no guidance, the guidelines are too timid and too limited, and they fail to tie reopening guidance with vaccination status, as a result the CDC missed a critical opportunity to incentivize Americans to be vaccinated,” said emergency physician and former Baltimore health commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. 

“The perfectly understandable desire to return to normal as quickly as possible can obscure the fact that the first doses of coronavirus vaccine were administered in December. A more liberalized guidance should come this spring or summer,” said Dr. Peter J. Hotez, an infectious disease specialist at Baylor College of Medicine.

For now, everyone should continue to treat the pandemic as they have within the past year and stay home, social distance, and wear a mask in public.

Coronavirus Vaccine in Bottles

What The CDC Will Likely Say In Their New Guidelines For Vaccinated Individuals 

Dr. William Schaffner is a Professor of Preventive Medicine in the Department of Health Policy as well as a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Schaffner has been answering questions non-stop regarding the Covid-19 vaccines and what vaccinated individuals can and can’t do now that more Americans are receiving their doses. 

“I try to answer as many of those questions as I possibly can, because these are very thoughtful people. These are the people who are trying to do the best in these circumstances,” Schaffner said regarding vaccinated individuals who are two weeks past their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. 

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So far more than 82 million vaccine doses have been given out in the US, which is prompting many Americans to question what they’re able to safely do as the nation waits in this middle grey area of getting people vaccinated and waiting to achieve herd immunity. “I think people need practical advice about how to go about their everyday lives. I think without guidance, people may make decisions that are not informed,” said Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Harvard. 

The Biden Administration claims that they’ve been working on these guidelines for weeks now and are expecting them to be released this upcoming Thursday. An official working within the administration claimed that a draft of the new guidelines have “likely been sent to the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services so that staff there could be aware ahead of time what has been discussed.”

“I don’t envy the writers of those guidelines. You can paint some pictures with a fairly broad brush, but people want to apply general guidelines to specific life, and that gets very, very nitty gritty. There’s no way to capture everything,” Schaffner said. 

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“Vaccines offer really good protection and help prevent the spread of Covid-19, but the vaccines are not total armor. People still need to make informed decisions about risk.”

Guidelines need to encourage vaccinated individuals to remain vigilant and continue to follow health and safety procedures for the most part while we wait to achieve herd immunity. “We don’t want people who are not fully vaccinated to think that everything has been lifted and already we can put things behind us, and the pandemic is over, because it’s not. There were more than 64,000 newly diagnosed cases of Covid-19 in the US just on Thursday,” the White House official explained. 

Vaccinated individuals will likely be able to gather in very small groups together where social distancing will still be recommended. Everyone will still have to wear masks in public and act as if the pandemic is still as severe as it’s been within the past year, because it still is in some parts of the world and nation. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci also reinforced that vaccinations are not a “free pass to travel” and only essential travel should occur for vaccinated individuals. The Biden official explained that “It’s impossible to get to a high level of detail right now. We can’t predict every situation that human beings will be in. What we can do is give principles for people to think through. It will give people the means to think through it and then they can choose what level of risk they wish to take.” The CDC will likely be officially releasing these guidelines next week.