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Governor Gavin Newsom To Lift Covid-19 Stay-At-Home Orders In California 

Despite California being one of the most infected Covid-19 hot spots of the entire world, Governor Gavin Newsom is announcing this week that he will lift all regional coronavirus stay-at-home orders for the state. This means establishments that promote close contact such as restaurants, gyms, and bars, will be able to reopen in certain counties. 

All counties in the state will return to the colored tier system that applies local risk levels based on case numbers and rates of positive test results. Most counties are expected to go into the “widespread” risk tier, which “permits hair salons to offer limited services indoors, but restricts many other nonessential indoor business operations. The change is expected to take effect immediately after Newsom’s announcement this Monday,” according to the Los Angeles Times. 

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Los Angeles County has become a national/international hotbed of the coronavirus. Hospitals have been completely overwhelmed by patients, Southern California is reporting close to 0% availability in ICU beds. In less than a month more than 5,000 people have died of Covid-19 in LA County alone. 

Outdoor dining bans and stay-at-home orders, however, have been widely opposed due to the economic impact of having so many local businesses shut down indefinitely. However, critics then just raised the point that the government should be bailing out those businesses and placing every American’s health and safety as the top priority. 

The stay-at-home orders were initially enforced in the beginning of December in an effort to reduce the amount of stress hospitals were under as case numbers continued to rise exponentially due to the holidays. Once ICU beds have a capacity of over 15%, certain regional shutdowns can be lifted, according to Newsom’s office. 

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However, earlier this month Newsom lifted the orders for the Greater Sacramento region despite daily reports of available ICU beds never approaching even close to the 15% threshold which was thought to be a state requirement for lifting the restrictions. 

The Bay area has reported a 23.4% ICU bed capacity, and has on the other hand remained under the stay-at-home order due to a four-week projection of a decrease in hospital bed availability for the area. As of this Saturday Southern California showed literally no ICU availability, and the San Joaquin Valley region reported a 1.3% capacity. These numbers were released two days ago, and Newsom is still moving forward with lifting some of the state’s restrictions. 

Health officials are also expressing major concern over a new and potentially more contagious variant of the virus that has been detected in California. One of the newer variants is thought to be 50% more transmissible than the already extremely contagious standard Covid-19 virus that we’ve been fighting for the past ten months. 

Two weeks ago certain officials were in talks to close down the state’s malls and outdoor gyms, however, no action was taken, and those establishments continue to stay open. Only time will tell if more federal action from the Biden administration is taken to give these states the opportunity to recover.

China Covid-19

China Is Building Massive Covid-19 Quarantine Camps For 4,000 Infected Residents

China is in the middle of building a massive quarantine camp that can house more than 4,000 individuals after a Covid-19 outbreak this month left tens of millions of residents under strict lockdown. 

The quarantine camp itself is located on the outskirts of Shijiazhuang, the capital of the Hebei province which surrounds the country’s capital of Beijing. China for the most part has been successful in containing the spread of the virus, and has even been able to return to some sense of normalcy within the past few months. However, a sudden rise in cases that appeared before the Lunar New Year had officials worried for the future of the pandemic. 

The Lunar New Year in China is the country’s most important festival that occurs every year. During it, hundreds of millions of individuals from all over the world typically travel to China to visit their family and celebrate. The country went on strict lockdown following the week-long festivities. 

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Officials in Shijiazhuang, where the outbreak is centered, have begun mass testing citizens and enforcing strict lockdowns as they’ve done in the past to contain the spread. Entire villages were forced to move to centralized quarantine facilities as an extreme attempt to curb the spread of the virus. 

The new quarantine camps are meant to house close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 patients. Authorities will locate these individuals through contact tracing and then inform them that they have been in close contact with someone infected and need to quarantine at the camp to ensure that they aren’t spreading the virus any further. 

Originally the camps were only meant to house 3,000 people but has since been expanded to a capacity of 4,160 to deal with any new cases that appear. Authorities began initial construction on January 13th and the first section of the camp is now available for use. 

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Each room in the camp measures around 194 square feet and comes with an en suite bathroom, shower, desk, chair, bed, WiFi, and television set as well. The quarantine camps actually initially appeared as an idea in the beginning of the pandemic as a means of easing the pressure on hospitals who were becoming overwhelmed with patients.

China was able to set up temporary hospital’s that could house 1,000 individuals, which is what gave officials the confidence to set up this quarantine camp in a timely manner. The opening of the camp couldn’t have come at a better time for China either, as the nation reported 103 new cases and 58 asymptomatic infections across four different provinces. 

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 88,557, while the official death toll is 4,635, according to health officials. All 11 million residents of Shijiazhuang are now barred from leaving the city in accordance with the lockdown procedures the government is enforcing. More than 20,000 citizens have since been relocated to other quarantine sites as well as a preventive measure.

Japn Covid-19 Lockdown

Japan Enters New State Of Emergency To Contain Spread Of Covid-19 

Japan has entered into a “light” state of emergency that is projected to last a month, however, public health experts in the country already believe that it will take longer to sufficiently slow down the rate in which the Covid-19 virus is spreading. 

Japan has reported record breaking new daily infections for at least two days in the last week, and the capital of Tokyo is facing some of the worst rates it’s seen in months. Hitoshi Oshitani, a professor of virology at Tohoku University and a member of the expert panel advising the government, recently spoke with the press regarding the current timeline the nation has set up in regards to curbing the spread. 

“I’m not sure if the situation can become better within a month. It’s certainly much more difficult to control the current situation compared to the outbreak in summer.”

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Japan has entered into a more limited state of emergency, meaning remote work is being encouraged, and restaurant hours have been reduced. Movie theaters, gyms, karaoke bars, and theme parks are all set to remain open as well with reduced hours, and large events are still permitted with a reduced capacity; for reference in their initial state of emergency all of those businesses were completely shut down. 

For the time being, these measures only apply to the capital of Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures. In order for the emergency status to be lifted these regions must emerge from their current “Stage 4” rankings; stage 4 is the highest stage an area can be in Japan, and is determined by hospital capacity, positive test rates, and weekly increases in new infections. 

Shigeru Omi is the head of the panel of experts that is advising the government on these states of emergency, and recently spoke with the media about how initially he believed it would to be “next to impossible” for the nation to emerge from their state of emergency in just a month, however, after analyzing the recent data he seems more hopeful for the future. 

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“It’s not very easy but I believe it’s possible to reduce the infections to a Stage 3 level within a month if everyone does their best.” 

Omi went on to explain that residents need to fully follow the suggested measures by staying home and avoiding all nighttime dining, drinking, and partying; which as we’ve seen here in America, is quite difficult to do when the government keeps these establishments open. He also explained that the government will need to push for legal changes so that establishments that refuse to follow these rules will be punished through fines. 

Japan last entered a state of emergency in the spring which began in just seven prefectures, but eventually expanded to be nationwide. The state of emergency slowly began being phased out in May of last year. 

While Japan was highly praised in the beginning of this pandemic for its success in containing the virus without imposing strict lockdowns, after a while a slew of challenges began appearing. Cases initially began increasing across the country in November, and have remained on the rise ever since. Tokyo being the city hit the hardest, Omi and other experts are hopeful that the nation can return to a greater sense of normalcy by February.

COVID Lockdown in the UK

UK Announces New Lockdown And Mass Vaccinations To End Spread Of Covid-19

Prime minister Boris Johnson announced a national recovery plan this week after the United Kingdom entered another lockdown amid a massive increase in the spread of Covid-19

Covid-19 in Scotland

Scotland Enters Full Lockdown To Further Curb Spread Of Covid-19

Nicola Sturgeon recently announced that mainland Scotland would be placed in full lockdown for the duration of January.

Germany Covid-19

Germany Breaks Record For Covid-19 Deaths, Enters New Lockdown

This week Germany broke its record for Covid-19 deaths within a 24 hour period after 952 individuals unfortunately lost their lives to the virus. The previous record for the country was 598, which was set just last week. These staggering numbers have forced Germany to enter another nationwide lockdown to hopefully curb the spread of this virus that has now infected nearly 1.4 million people in the country. 

According to the Robert-Koch-Institute (RKI), Germany tallied 27,728 new cases on Tuesday alone, the nation has been surpassing 20,000 new cases a day for some time now, hence the nationwide lockdown. The lockdown went into effect this Wednesday, so it’s likely more cases will continue to appear within the next two weeks, and hopefully after that curve will start to flatten. 

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German leaders are extremely concerned with the growing number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. The head of RKI recently released a statement in which they claimed that the pandemic was “as serious as it has ever been” for the country; RKI has been monitoring Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic much like Johns Hopkins University has been here in the US. 

“At the moment far too many people are getting infected, and we need to be prepared for the situation to get much worse over Christmas.” 

Germany’s Health Minister, Jens Spahn, has joined a multitude of other European country leaders and ministers to call upon the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to approve a vaccine as soon as possible. The country is expected to begin vaccinating residents within two to four days of the vaccines approval. 

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According to Spahn the main “goal is to get approval before Christmas, as we want to start vaccinating in Germany before 2020 ends.” Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeir addressed the country in a rare speech this Wednesday, claiming that the pandemic is literally “dead serious” and it should be taken as such. 

“From Wednesday onwards, our public and private life will be more restricted than we have ever seen in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany. Drastic measures can’t be avoided this time.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel made the official lockdown announcement this past weekend. Under these new restrictions all non-essential retail and business services will be closed until January 10th, 2021. All schools and kindergartens will also be closed until that date, and Christmas gatherings are to be limited to just five people; unless you’ve been quarantining in a house with more than five people of course. 

“If we have too many contacts now before Christmas, and that ends up making it the last Christmas with the grandparents, then we will have failed. We should not do that,” the Chancellor said in her passionate address to the nation. The head of RKI added to this statement claiming that he already expects Germany to see a massive rise in cases within the next few weeks, but there is hope that this strict shutdown will curb the spread and hopefully relieve some of the pressure for the country’s brave healthcare industry workers.

California Shutdown Is Causing Restaurants And Other Businesses To Struggle Greatly

After an intense second-wave of Covid-19 infections, California Governor Gavin Newsom shutdown the state with measures that yet again restricted a multitude of businesses and restaurants from making an income.

Holiday Zoom Call

Using Technology To Keep In Touch Over The Holidays 

The holidays are obviously going to be much different this year. As most of us have already experienced with Thanksgiving, taking advantage of the multitude of digital tools out there that keep us connected with our loved ones has been the best way to keep the holidays alive this year. Since we won’t be able to celebrate Christmas and all the other holidays normally this year, it’s time to start planning some digital festivities to keep the positive spirit up!

First, choose a good medium to use to connect you with your loved ones. As most of us know at this point, Zoom is one of the best platforms for video-chatting with multiple individuals at once, however, for most users they’re limited to a 40-minute time-stamp for video calls which then prompts users to create a new room and send out the link again. On Thanksgiving, Zoom removed the 40-minute limit so that families could talk for an unlimited amount of time, and while they will likely do this again at some point for Christmas, there are other platforms one could easily use too. 

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Google Meet doesn’t require any additional software to be downloaded onto your device, you just need a Google account. FaceTime also allows for over 30 individuals to be in a call at once, so if you and your loved ones all own Apple devices this is another great option for you to connect. 

Next, make a nice set up for your device. Chances are you don’t want to spend the whole night sitting at a table or desk and talking with your family, so set it up in a comfortable spot in your home that makes it feel as though your entire family is in the room with you. If you have a smart TV or streaming box of any kind, you likely will be able to stream your device’s screen onto the television. By setting up your computer where the TV is as well, it will seem as though your entire family is at the center of your space.  

If you’re alone for the call, or can manage it with multiple people, wear headphones for the call. This way you’re able to move throughout your space and still hear everyone clearly, assuming you own wireless headphones. Additionally, most video-chatting platforms work better when the users wear headphones in terms of audio feedback. 

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For most platforms, when one individual is speaking, everyone else’s mics are typically muted, so sometimes the audio can sound really choppy when multiple people are trying to speak at once. If everyone’s wearing headphones, this problem is much less persistent. 

Make it a full on event and sync up a cocktail hour, appetizer, and dinner time with your family. By having and sticking to a schedule, it will really feel like you’re all together and celebrating at once. If you want to take it a step further, try to sync up the entire menu so that everyone is eating and enjoying the same meal. This is a great way to keep any holiday traditions alive in terms of the meal and what you and your family tend to create together. 

Finally, have fun with it. Maybe set up some digital holiday games that everyone can enjoy within their living rooms, or set up a secret Santa drop off so that everyone can open their gifts to one another on screen in front of the individuals who got them the gifts. Just because our holidays are looking different this year doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice any of the joy and spirit that makes this time of year so magical.

Covid-19 on Swedish Flag

Sweden Quickly Moves To Enforce New Lockdown Measures As Covid-19 Cases Rise 

If we think back to the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Sweden was one of the countries that the rest of the world was looking at for guidance in terms of combatting this deadly virus. The country was one of the only in the world that never imposed a lockdown during the first wave of the pandemic, however, now Sweden is implementing stricter measures as a second wave of infections is taking a toll on its citizens and hospitals. 

On Monday, the Swedish government announced that public gatherings of more than eight people are not allowed. This is a major shift for a country that has previously been relying on voluntary measures and guidance throughout this pandemic. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven announced the new gathering limits this week; previously the limit stated that gatherings had to be 50 people or less. 

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“This is the new norm for the entire society. Don’t go to gyms, don’t go to libraries, don’t host dinners. Cancel it all.”

The ban will begin being enforced on November 24th and is set to last for at least four weeks. Previously, Sweden was viewed as a vision of aspiration for other European countries that began seeing major new spikes in cases starting this summer. Many European countries of smaller sizes were able to recover from the first wave of infections more easily due to the smaller population densities, however, as those restrictions began to loosen, cases began to rise everywhere again, and now Sweden is no different. 

Most schools, businesses, bars, restaurants, and cafes, however, will be remaining open, despite some major international criticism from neighboring European countries who claim that those businesses and establishments are what led to the rise in cases in the first place. Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnall defended the new strategy by claiming it was striking a “balance between public safety and protecting the economy.” 

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However, as we’ve seen in America, when you put protecting the economy within the plan to prevent Covid-19 from spreading, you’re likely to keep a multitude of establishments open that will lead to an increase in foot traffic and new cases. Schools, bars, and restaurants have proven to be amazing breeding grounds for this virus, as they all promote close contact and cross contamination. 

Government data has shown that the number of daily new confirmed cases started to rise again in Sweden in early October, and thus hospitalizations began increasing two to three weeks later.  Daily deaths also hit double digits in early November, which is fairly shocking for the country. 

Sweden recorded almost 6,000 new daily Covid-19 cases last week alone, bringing its total number of confirmed infections up to 177,355 and counting; for context Sweden has around 10 million residents. The death rate per capita in Sweden is also several times higher than any of its neighbors, however, countries like Denmark, Finland, and Norway have roughly half the population of Sweden each.

Business Closed due to Covid-19

Adviser For Joe Biden Suggests 6-Week Lockdown To Slow Spread Of Covid-19

A top-adviser for president-elect Joe Biden recently discussed the possibility of a national 6-week lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus.