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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.”

US Will Not Lift Covid-19 Travel Restrictions Amid Spreading Of Delta-Variant

The United States has no plans to lift any of the existing travel restrictions put in place to protect from the spreading of Covid-19 and its much more contagious Delta variant. 

White House Officials told the media this week that this means the long-running travel restrictions that have barred a lot of the world’s populations from coming into the US will not be lifted anytime soon. 

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“Given where we are today with the Delta variant, the United States will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point. Driven by the Delta variant, cases are rising here, particularly among unvaccinated citizens.”

US airlines and the tourism industry in general has been hoping that this summer could help rebuild what was lost last year when everyone was forced to stay home. Airlines have been lobbying with the White House for the past few months in order to find new and safe ways to get Americans to travel more this summer. 

Currently the US bars any non-US citizen from coming into the country if they have been to the United Kingdom, 26 Schengen nations in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran or Brazil within the past 14 days. 

Last week, the US Homeland Security Department claimed that US land borders with Canada and Mexico will also remain closed to non-essential travel until at least August 21st. Canada has said that it would begin allowing fully vaccinated Americans into the country after August 9th. 

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U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Rochelle Walensky said Thursday the “seven-day average of new cases in the United States was up 53% over the previous week. The Delta variant, which was first found in India, now comprises more than 80% of new cases nationwide and has been detected in more than 90 countries.”

“The administration understands the importance of international travel and is united in wanting to reopen international travel in a safe and sustainable manner.”

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Friday said international travel is “something we would all like to see — not just for tourism, but for families to be reunited. However, we rely on public health and medical advice on when we’re going to determine changes to be made.”

The Biden Administration has been in talks with US airlines in recent weeks about how to establish an international contact tracing program for passengers before they lift any restrictions. As of right now the CDC has imposed a mandatory Covid-19 testing rule for nearly all international air travelers.

Facebook Remains Under Fire For Continuously Spreading Covid-19 Vaccine Misinformation 

President Joe Biden called out tech giants and social media platforms like Facebook for failing to tackle the problem of misinformation being spread regarding the Covid-19 vaccine. The White House released a statement in which they claimed to have zeroed in on the “disinformation dozen,” which is in reference to 12 major social media accounts that have shown to be responsible for spreading a majority of the anti-vaccine misinformation online. 

“Facebook has repeatedly said it is going to take action, but in reality we have seen a piecemeal enforcement of its own community standards where some accounts are taken off Instagram but not Facebook and vice versa. There has been a systemic failure to address this,” said Imran Ahmed, the CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), the organization behind the “disinformation dozen” study.

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The report identified 12 “superspreader accounts,” and a Facebook spokesperson claims the company has permanently banned all pages groups and accounts that “repeatedly break the rules on Covid misinformation including more than a dozen pages groups and accounts from these individuals.”

The CCDH confirmed that they have removed 35 accounts across multiple social media platforms so far. There are currently about 8.4 million followers spread across 62 active accounts that are still spreading anti-vaccine misinformation.

The main issue with these accounts is the amount of followers who believe that the information is real. Many of these accounts post false facts about the vaccine that claim its unsafe, ineffective, and not worth getting despite the overwhelming amount of evidence from a multitude of studies on these vaccines before they were distributed to the public. 

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Jessica Gonzalez is the co-CEO at Free Pass, a media equity group, who recently spoke out about how a lot of these posts are prevalent on Spanish-language Facebook.

“Facebook needs a much better mechanism to stop the spread of false information about the vaccine, and they need to make sure they’re doing that across languages. It’s difficult to gauge the scope of the issue when Facebook doesn’t share figures.”

According to the social media watchdog Accountable Tech, “11 out of the top 15 vaccine related-posts on Facebook last week contained disinformation or were anti-vaccine.”

Vaccination rates in the US are currently plateauing as new cases continue to rise among unvaccinated individuals almost exclusively. 67% of Americans have received at least one vaccination and 58% are fully vaccinated. 

“Action needs to be taken regarding vaccine misinformation. Social media has greatly contributed to this misinformation – there’s no doubt. When we have a public health crisis and people are dying every day, enough is enough,” said Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar.

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.

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.

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.

Australia’s Covid-19 Delta Outbreak Worsening Despite Lockdown Measures 

Sydney, Australia is already debating extending their current lockdown as Australian health officials continue to report a daily rise in Covid-19 cases. These daily rises are specifically fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus that’s been spreading around the world. 

New South Wales state reported 112 new cases of Covid-19 despite the fact that Sydney, the country’s largest city, is currently entering its third week of lockdown. Case numbers have been reaching record highs every day. New infections luckily dropped slightly this Sunday, from 45 to 34. 

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State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the “progress of that figure in coming days would determine whether Sydney’s lockdown would be extended. That’s the number we need to get as close to zero as possible. It is really up to us. The health expert advice will be based on what those numbers look like. I can’t be clearer than that.”

Total infections in this particular outbreak are reaching 700. 63 individuals are currently hospitalized while 18 are in intensive care. 

Lockdown measures in Sydney include school closures, stay-at-home orders, and of course mask mandates and social distancing procedures anywhere essential workers are present. Many small business owners are worried about the economic impact of another lockdown if the government doesn’t provide any economic assistance. 

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Australia was able to previously contain their Covid-19 flare-ups with strict lockdowns, speedy contact tracing efforts, and social distancing rules. The nation has experienced 31,200 cases and 911 deaths since the pandemic began. 

Only 11% of Australia’s adult population of 20.5 million have been fully vaccinated. Critics believe a lack of communication with the public and vaccine shortages in general have led to the outbreak the nation is currently enduring. 

Federal health guidance in Australia currently recommends the AstraZeneca vaccine be restricted to individuals over the age of 60 while the Pfizer vaccine is limited to individuals between the age of 40 and 60. 

In New South Wales, vaccine centers and pharmacies will be able to give the AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 40. The state government also claimed they would be opening a vaccination hub in western Sydney, which is the epicenter of the outbreak.

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.

House Keys 2

How Much Has The US Housing Market Been Impacted By The Pandemic? 

Housing experts throughout the US are currently experiencing a “white hot” market thanks to a multitude of economic reasons. However, problems that existed in the industry before the pandemic are being just as exasperated due to the impact of the past year overall. 

“One of the most prominent housing issues in pre-pandemic America was supply shortages. That has carried over and exacerbated, but we already had evidence of supply shortages heading into the pandemic,” said Matthew Murphy, executive director of the Furman Center For Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University. 

Murphy also explained that “today’s housing situation has its roots in the last boom-bust cycle. The context here to this current housing moment is that we were still recovering from the 2009 foreclosure crisis, when property values plummeted.” 

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According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), over the past two decades an underbuilding gap of between 5.5 million and 6.8 million housing units has existed since 2001. 

The National Association of Home Builders found that of “all the new single-family homes built last year across the U.S., none were priced below $100,000. A mere 1 percent fell in the range of $100,000 to $150,000. Home buyers in the bottom one-fourth of the market have been squeezed entirely out of the market for new construction,” the group said in an online post.

“In a pandemic, with people working from home and kids schooling from home, you need more space. We saw a real pickup in demand. People wanted a home with some green space and a community with lower population density.”

“The increase in demand has really been sparked by the record low level of mortgage rates. That’s a real opportunity for anyone who’s shopping for a mortgage or shopping to buy a home, and that’s really sparked the demand, especially among millennials or Gen Xers,” explained Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic. 

Prospective buyers are also noticing a major decrease in available homes due to the fact that those who weren’t as economically stunted by the pandemic have been able to get out and acquire more real estate within the past few months of recovery. 

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“You’ve got this 20-plus percent year-over-year price growth, which you think would entice homeowners to sell. The bigger factor is just availability of supply to move into. … There’s nothing to go buy or downsize into,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer at Attom Data Solutions.

Zillow found a nearly 4% increase in housing availability on the market in May, which has been the first time that percentage has increased since July 2020. The NAR found that the average price of existing homes throughout the US have hit a record number of $350,000; up nearly 25% when compared to last year. 

“This is supply and demand on steroids.”

The other major issue is that builders, architects, and construction workers can’t keep up with the demand that the pandemic has created. Costs for certain raw materials like copper or lumber are projected to continuously increase within the next couple of months. That in addition to labor costs and the cost of land overall is causing a lot of buyers to be hesitant with their purchases. 

“There’s an affordability that comes with density, and in a lot of America, you can’t build that kind of housing. This just makes it harder for the market to supply this housing en masse,” Murphy explained. 

“If we see a substantial increase in the proportion of the workforce working remotely, then I think we’re going to continue to see some of this shift to single-family and this shift not just to suburban but to the outer edges of metro areas. When you sever that link between where you live and where you work, then that gives you a lot of flexibility on where you locate,”  Nothaft said.

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.