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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. 

Former Surgeon General Says Unvaccinated Americans Are Causing Pandemic To ‘Spiral Out Of Control’ 

Former surgeon general Vice Admiral Dr. Jerome Adams recently spoke to the media about how unvaccinated Americans are causing the coronavirus pandemic to “spiral out of control.”

In an interview with CBS, Adams urged all unvaccinated Americans to go get their inoculations as the highly contagious Delta variant is a growing problem in the nation.

“There’s also real harm to you because, guess what? More mitigation is coming, whether it’s masking or whether it’s closures or whether it’s your kids having to return to virtual learning, that is coming.”

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Adams then explained how more legal mitigation would be “coming because this pandemic is spiraling out of control yet again, and it’s spiraling out of control because we don’t have enough people vaccinated. So get vaccinated because it helps your neighbors, but get vaccinated because it’s going to help every single American enjoy the freedoms that we want to return to.”

All 50 states have seen a ride in Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, and the Delta variant is responsible for around 83% of those new cases. The variant has also proven to be a significant rest among the unvaccinated; currently unvaccinated individuals account for nearly all Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already updated their national guidance and has recommended that all Americans should continue to wear their masks when in public. 

“If you’re out in public, if you’re around people who you don’t know whether they’re vaccinated or not, and especially if you’re in a community where prevalence is going up … it is probably going to be safest for you to mask it whether or not you’re vaccinated or not.”

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“Your public health officials who don’t have a good way of knowing, or your businesses who don’t have a good way of knowing who’s vaccinated or not, they’re going to find that they have no other choice but to call on more people to mask it. And the CDC needs to give those businesses, those health officials, a little bit of cover by clarifying the guidance that they have out there,” Adams explained. 

According to the CDC just under 50% of Americans are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, while 57.3% of every American over the age of 12 has received their shots. 

Adams said there are many people “who have legitimate questions and who have legitimate barriers that have kept them from getting their vaccines, but also said the lack of full approval of the vaccines from the Food and Drug Administration is also a hurdle.”

“We still have no clear timetable on when we can expect FDA licensure of these vaccines for adults. And a lot of people say that that is still causing their hesitancy, number one,” he said. 

“But number two, I can tell you the quickest way to get people vaccinated is through mandates. And we can’t have mask mandates. We won’t — you’re hearing this from the military and from other businesses until you have full licensure of these vaccines. So if you want to get a bunch of people vaccinated, really quickly, get the vaccines licensed and then you’ll see the military make it mandatory. You’ll see businesses make it mandatory.”

Olympics

Organizing Committee Chief For Tokyo Olympics Claims Games Could Still Be Cancelled

The chief of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, Toshiro Muto, claimed that a last-minute cancellation was not off the table for the Olympic Games this year, despite the fact that the opening ceremony is scheduled to take place this Friday.

A combination of athletes testing positive for Covid-19 and major Olympic sponsors pulling out of the opening ceremony is what has so many experts worried.

“We can’t predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases. So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases,” Muto explained.

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“We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.”

Covid-19 cases are currently on the rise in Tokyo. The Games are set to happen with no spectators, and Japan decided this month that participants will be competing in empty venues to minimize health risks.

So far there have been 67 cases of Covid-19 in Japan among the individuals accredited for the Games since the beginning of July, when a majority of the athletes started arriving. Japan’s vaccination program overall has been delayed, and the city of Tokyo is currently experiencing a surge of new cases with 1,387 being reported on Tuesday.

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Seiko Hashimoto, who sits alongside Muto as organizing committee President, said that “safety measures introduced to reassure the Japanese public had not necessarily done so, I’m aware that popular support for the Games had dropped.”

“I really want to apologize from my heart for the accumulation of frustrations and concerns that the public has been feeling towards the Olympics.”

Kenji Shibuya, former director of the Institute for Population Health at King’s College London, said that the Olympics bubble system was “already kind of broken. My biggest concern is, of course, there will be a cluster of infections in the (athletes’) village or some of the accommodation and interaction with local people,” he added.

“Members of the public are concerned because they feel that the current situation appears to show that the playbooks that were meant to guarantee security are not providing a sense of safety.”

55% of the Japanese population claimed that they were opposed to the Games and wanted them to be cancelled, according to a poll performed by a local media outlet.

Medical Face Masks

Los Angeles Reinstates Mask Mandate As Delta Variant Cases Continue To Rise 

Los Angeles County has reinstated its indoor mask mandate this weekend due to the continued spreading of the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus. The reinstatement also comes just one year after Governor Gavin Newsom initially instated an order that closed down most schools in LA County. 

On July 17th 2020, Newsom issued health and safety guidelines that closed down all schools unless a certain list of criteria were met for in-person learning. Exactly one year later on the same date, he reinstated the mask mandate. 

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A majority of California’s public and private k-12 schools had to close, and many critics called out the government for neglecting families that rely on support provided by schools; specifically working parents. 

Reopen California Schools is a social media movement that has spoken out about the disruptions to social development that these children are enduring due to a lack of organization from the government in regards to schooling during the pandemic. 

“Newsom’s decision to close our schools will go down as one of the darkest times in California and U.S. history, as other ‘special interests’ were taken into consideration over children.”

Republican assemblyman Kevin Kiley, who is running in the recall election to replace Newsom this fall, said that Newsom’s school shutdowns did a lot of harm that many don’t even realize. 

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“Today is the one year anniversary of Gavin Newsom’s school shutdown order. You’d be hard-pressed to find any action by any governor that did more harm or for worse reasons.”

Los Angeles County Officials announced last week that they would be reviving the requirement to wear masks in all public settings regardless of vaccination status due to a “rapid rise in Delta variant cases.” 

According to LA County data, the 7-day daily average positivity rate is at 3.17%; about 1,000 new cases a day. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently confirmed that Delta variant cases were on the rise all throughout the US, and that more serious mask mandates should be enforced nationally. 

The CDC reported that the most recent seven-day moving average of daily new cases for the Delta variant in the US is 26,306. This marks a nearly 70% increase when compared to the previous seven-day average (15,541).

Singapore Announces Separate Rules For People Who Received Their Covid-19 Vaccines 

Singapore is introducing new health and safety measures for those who are vaccinated against Covid-19. New cases are continuing to rise in the city, so only fully vaccinated individuals and people who have recovered from Covid-19 will now be able to dine in groups of five without taking a Covid test.

The health ministry made the announcement this week, stating these rules would go into effect on July 19th. Any food and beverage establishment must implement a system so that they can check every patrons vaccination status. 

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Children under the age of 12, who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, are able to dine together with members of their household without taking a Covid test. The press release from the health ministry claimed that individuals are fully vaccinated once it’s been two weeks since their second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. 

Authorities have also stated that those who receive shots developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech will not be given the same perfs as those who have received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Sinovac’s vaccine has not yet been included in Singapore’s national vaccine program, and is only available in the city-state through a special access route. 

A cluster of about 120 new Covid cases have been linked to a KTV lounge in Singapore. Nightclubs, bars, KTV/karaoke lounges have all been banned from operating in Singapore since the beginning of the pandemic. 

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A number of these establishments have been able to remain open, however, by just serving beverages and food and not providing any other entertainment services. The number of new infections hit 127 this week; up 23 from the week before according to the health ministry. 

Singapore in total has experienced about 63,000 cases of Covid-19. Health Minister Ong Ye King recently told reporters that 73% of the population has received at least one dose of their vaccine while 45% of the population is fully vaccinated. 

That figure is currently set to rise by 50% in the coming weeks based on currently scheduled vaccination appointments in the city-state. 

“Our  country is well on track to meet its target of having two-thirds of its population to be fully vaccinated by August 9.”

Unvaccinated parties can still go out to eat at certain establishments, however, they need to endure testing and contact-tracing efforts beforehand.

Olympic Athletes Will Put On Their Own Medals This Year To Prevent Spreading Of Covid-19 

The International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach announced this week that all athletes at the Tokyo Olympics will put their medals around their own necks as a means of protecting themselves and others from the Covid-19 virus. 

“The medals will not be given around the neck. They will be presented to the athlete on a tray, and then the athlete will take the medal to him or herself.”

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“It will be made sure that the person who will put the medal on the tray will do so only with disinfected gloves so that the athlete can be sure that nobody touched them before,” Bach explained. 

Many individuals in the industry were wondering what the medal ceremonies would look like this year, considering Japan is currently enduring another state of emergency due to the spreading of the Delta variant of Covid-19. 

In Europe, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has been personally hanging medals around the necks of all players involved in the competition finals. He also shook hands with Italy’s standout goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and other all star players. 

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Bach, however, confirmed this Wednesday that during the 2021 Tokyo Games there will be no hand shaking or hugs allowed during the ceremony. This marks just one of the many changes the International Olympic Committee is going to have to continue to endure for deciding to move forward with the Games this year. 

Many of the residents of Japan are adamantly against hosting the Olympic Games this year, considering the world is still very much battling the Covid-19 pandemic, despite the rollouts of multiple vaccines internationally. 

Vaccination rates are different in every country, so the thought of bringing in thousands of individuals from hundreds of countries all with different vaccination and infection rates, has most Japanese citizens worried for the health of their country; especially considering they’re currently in lockdown and the Games are set to begin in less than two weeks. 

It’s still unclear what other modifications will be made to the Games this year. Covid-19 infection rates are still on the rise in Tokyo and Japan in general, and while the IOC has taken a multitude of measures to protect all athletes and staff involved in the Olympics, it’s unclear how smoothly this event will go considering all that’s at stake.

L.A. County Reports Rise In Covid-19 Cases, 99% Of Which Are Among The Unvaccinated 

Los Angeles County health officials reported that Monday marked the fourth consecutive day in which 1,000 new Covid-19 cases have emerged. The officials also claimed that these cases were all appearing among unvaccinated individuals almost exclusively. 

The Department of Public Health for LA County reported 1,059 new cases this Monday. Last Friday they reported 1,044 cases, followed by 1,069 on Saturday, and 1,113 more on Sunday. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer released a statement this week on the increase in cases. 

“Over 99% of the COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths we are seeing are among unvaccinated individuals.”

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These new cases are worrying many experts due to the fact that before this point, the county was doing relatively well in their fight against Covid-19. The week before June 26th, LA county reported an average of less than 250 new cases a day, consecutively. That number has now more than tripled in just two short weeks.

State data has shown that 376 patients had to be hospitalized due to their symptoms; the highest number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients the county has seen since May. Reported deaths still remain low, however, health officials noted that it can take weeks for an increase in viral transmission to reflect in the number of fatalities. 

Areas in LA county where the percentage of fully vaccinated people is high continue to have lower rates of new Covid-19 cases. Throughout the past week the entire state of California has reported an average of 2,100 new cases a day; this is a 124% rise when compared to two weeks ago. 

More than 59% of Californians have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while millions have still neglected to receive their vaccine; either because they’re too young, or have chosen not to get it. 

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Health experts are now labelling the Covid-19 crisis as a “tale of two pandemics,” one in which vaccinated people can enjoy a higher degree of protection, while unvaccinated individuals remain vulnerable and exposed. Dr. Tomás Aragón, state public health officer and director of the California Department of Public Health, recently gave a statement on the importance of getting vaccinated. 

“Although California’s vaccination rates are among the highest in the country, we must stay vigilant against COVID-19 and its variants. That means motivating the remaining Californians to get vaccinated, and encouraging our friends and families too.”

Ferrer added that “the work in front of us is to improve confidence in these vaccines among people who are not yet vaccinated, and we will try lots and lots of different strategies with all of our partners.”

“The most successful strategy to date is making sure that people are getting their information from other people that they trust, and working to build out those teams of folks that are in the neighborhoods that can be trusted and have good information remains one of the most important strategies. So we’ll continue to do that while we make sure that access remains as easy as possible,” she explained.

Tokyo Olympics

Japan Declares Covid-19 State Of Emergency Two Weeks Before Olympic Games 

The Tokyo Olympics will still be happening later this month despite the fact that Japan has just entered into another state of emergency due to the spreading of the Covid-19 virus. The Japanese government announced this week that it would be reinstating strict health and safety measures that will take effect next week and last throughout the Olympic Games. 

The biggest measure that’s being taken is that no spectators will be allowed to attend the games, Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa announced this morning. Japanese media outlets reported that all venues in and around Tokyo will be completely unattended.

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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported 920 new Covid cases just 16 days before the Games. This is 200 more than any other single-day total since May. This Thursday the country reported another 896 cases. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga vowed to protect the nation as much as possible from further spreading. 

“New infections are in their expansion phase and everyone in this country must firmly understand the seriousness of it. I vow to do everything we can to prevent the further spread of the infections.”

“I think we can all be very satisfied that the strict measures, having been established to protect everybody — the Japanese people and the participants of the Games — have proven to be successful,” said IOC president Thomas Bach. 

Olympic organizers have outlined a plan that will enforce a “complex web of Covid countermeasures that will limit contact between Olympic participants and non-participant Japanese citizens,” according to Bach. 

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The measures will force “Level 1” participants (athletes, coaches, team officials and more) to be tested daily, and other levels of participation will be tested based on how often they’re in common Olympic spaces. 

Dr. Shigeru Omi, a top government medical advisor, warned of “continuing risks of a resurgence of the infections that puts pressure on [Japan’s] medical systems.”

Olympic Organizers claimed that “in the event that a state of emergency or other priority measures aimed at preventing infection are implemented at any time after July 12, restrictions on spectator numbers at the Games, including non-spectator competitions, will be based on the content of the state of emergency or other relevant measures in force at that time.” It was officially announced today that no spectators would be allowed at the Games. 

 Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike promised that her city would “control the flow of people and be thorough with regard to measures to prevent infection during and around the Games.”

Japanese residents have been adamant in their disapproval of the Games still occurring this year despite the fact that so many countries have such different vaccination and infection rates.

Covid-19 Mutation

US Sends Covid-19 Team To Southwest To Combat Spreading Of Delta Variant 

The US government is sending a Covid-19 surge team to provide public health support to southwest Missouri, which is currently battling the spread of the Delta variant and causing hospital beds to fill up at exponential rates. 

In the city of Springfield, Missouri the CoxHealth hospital system has already begun transferring patients to other facilities that have better staffing. The Missouri Covid-19 caseload is currently the second highest in America with an average of 16 new cases per 100,000 people appearing everyday, according to Johns Hopkins University data. 

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“We’re already starting to see places with low vaccination rates starting to have relatively big spikes from the Delta variant,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

“We’ve seen this in Arkansas, Missouri, Wyoming … Those are the places where we’re going to see more hospitalizations and deaths as well, unfortunately. And any time you have large outbreaks, it does become a breeding ground for potentially more variants,” he explained.

According to the CDC, 39.4% of Missouri residents are fully vaccinated while 56% have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. 

Overall, the data is showing that Covid-19 is more likely to remain in less vaccinated communities, especially as the Delta variant continues to spread, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “If there was ever a reason to get vaccinated, this is it. America has ample vaccine supply, but there is still a significant portion of people who don’t want the shots.”

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“There are places in the world where people would do anything to get a vaccine, and yet we have a substantial proportion of people in very specific regions of the country, who just do not want to get vaccinated.”

The Biden administration said it would be deploying response teams composed of individuals from the CDC throughout the country in response to the spreading of the Delta variant. Members of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will also be deployed to areas of the country where vaccination rates are low. 

“The surge team in Missouri will include an epidemiologist, research assistants, a health communication specialist, contact tracers and others who will help with vaccination and outreach, according to the health department. More team members will be added, both remotely and in person, to assist with data and research, vaccine uptake strategies and outreach,” said Lisa Cox, a communications director with the Missouri health department.

So far 47.5% of the US population has been fully vaccinated. Two months ago the US was fully vaccinating individuals at a rate of about 490,000 a day, that number has since plateaued. The US Food and Drug Administration could potentially approve of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine this month which would likely sway many more Americans to get vaccinated; right now the vaccine is simply approved for emergency use as all the others are. 

“That will be a telltale sign for them to say ‘Why am I on the fence any longer? This has now been fully approved by the FDA,’ and even though it’s got a great record already, that will I think be another stamp of approval,” said Andy Slavitt, a former White House senior adviser for Covid Response.

US Officials Worried About An Increase In Covid-19 Infections Pre-Holiday Weekend

Local officials throughout the US are warning residents to remain diligent when it comes to Covid-19 safety protocols, as an increase in infections throughout the nation’s less vaccinated areas has health experts worried about an increase in infections following the fourth of July weekend. 

Arkansas currently has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation, and is enduring a major increase in infections. Los Angeles County has been vaccinating people at the same rate as the rest of the nation, but is warning residents about a potential new wave of the Delta variant of the Covid virus. 

“We are now going in the wrong direction yet again with Covid-19 infections here in the state of Arkansas,” said Dr. Cam Patterson, chancellor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

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“With July 4th holiday coming up and eventually kids going back to school, we have to be concerned that this would be a trend that could continue. And if it does, it would appear that we may be in the beginning of the third surge of Covid-19 here in the state of Arkansas,” he said.

More than 90% of the active Covid-19 cases in Arkansas are among people who have not been vaccinated, and that trend is the same throughout the rest of the nation as well. California’s Health Director Barbra Ferrer claimed that 59% of Los Angeles County residents are vaccinated, but the county recently reported 506 new cases, the largest single day increase since mid-April. 

“We have enough risk and enough unvaccinated people for Delta to pose a threat to our recovery and masking up now, could help prevent a resurgence in transmission.”

Overall the US has seen a 10% increase in its seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases, according to Dr. Rochelle Walenskym who heads the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“Looking state by state and county by county, it is clear that communities where people remain unvaccinated are communities that remain vulnerable. This is all true as we monitor the continued spread of the hyper-transmissible Delta variant.”

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“Two-thirds of adults in the US have received at least one dose of the vaccine as of Thursday. Over the past week, an average of 661,795 people became fully vaccinated daily,” according to the CDC. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci claimed that vaccinated Americans should still be able to celebrate the fourth of July weekend. 

“That is, if you were vaccinated, you have a high degree of protection. If you are not, you should wear a mask, and you should think very seriously about getting vaccinated,” said Fauci.

The other piece of good news is that the vaccines being distributed throughout the US are proving to protect against the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus. Johnson & Johnson just released data that showed their vaccine is effective against the Delta variant and individuals who receive the one-shot won’t need a booster. 

“Current data for the eight months studied so far show that the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine generates a strong neutralizing antibody response that does not wane; rather, we observe an improvement over time,” Dr. Mathai Mammen, head of research and development at J&J’s Janssen vaccine arm, said in a statement.