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Outgoing National Institutes Of Health Director Tells Americans To Focus On Covid As The Real Enemy 

“I get upset because people point to anecdotes of somebody who got sick even though they had been vaccinated and say, ‘There, you see, it doesn’t work,’ That’s way too simplistic,” said Dr. Francis Collins on his last day as director of the National Institutes of Health. 

Around 50 million Americans still haven’t received even their first dose of Covid-19 inoculation, and with the omicron variant causing a major surge in new cases throughout the US, Collins made his frustration in those still refusing to get vaccinated evident. 

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“How did that happen? How did we get all of this so mixed up with social media, misinformation, and political insertion into the discussion? This is the thing for me on my last day as NIH director that I find particularly frustrating.”

An investigation performed by NPR revealed that vaccination rates are substantially lower in US counties that were in support of former president Donald Trump. Individuals living in counties that had a 60% or higher approval rating for Trump are three times more likely to die from Covid-19 due to the lack of inoculations. 

“We’ve got to remember, Covid is the enemy. It’s not the other people in the other political party. It’s not the people on Facebook who are posting all sorts of crazy conspiracies. This is the enemy,” Collins exclaimed. 

“We in this country have somehow gotten all fractured into a hyper-polarized, politicized view that never should have been mixed with public health. It’s been ruinous and history will judge harshly those people who have continued to defocus the effort and focus on conspiracies and things that are demonstrably false.”

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Collins also warned that with its dozens of mutations, “the omicron variant has the properties to potentially be evasive of the vaccines. I urge the 60% of Americans who are eligible for a booster shot but haven’t gotten one to take action.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke to the media this week as well, explaining that the omicron variant is particularly concerning because of its “extraordinary transmissibility. It has a ‘doubling time’ of just 2-3 days. That’s the time it takes for the number of coronavirus cases to double.” 

Data from South Africa, where the omicron variant first emerged, shows that it leads to less severe symptoms and does require less hospitalization, but that could also be due to the fact that “South Africa’s population has so much experience with prior infections that it might be underlying immunity that’s making it look like it’s less severe.”

“And even if omicron does turn out to be less severe than delta, the sheer number of expected omicron infections is likely to overcome the “slight-to-moderate diminution in severity. U.S. hospitals are going to be very stressed with people,” Fauci said.

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Michigan’s Surge In Covid-19 Cases Has Health Experts Worried For Rest Of The US

Michigan is currently in the middle of a major surge of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations that has many experts worried for the rest of the nation. Younger people are among the most vulnerable as they’re the last group to receive their vaccinations. Dr. Celine Gounder is an epidemiologist who spoke to the media about this recent surge.
“Michigan is really the bellwether for what it looks like when the B.1.1.7 variant spreads in the United States. It’s causing a surge in cases and it’s causing more severe disease, which means that even younger people, people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s are getting very sick and being hospitalized by this.”

The B.1.1.7 strain was initially spotted in the United Kingdom but is now the most dominant strain of Covid-19 in America. Experts have claimed this strain is more contagious, may cause more severe disease and is potentially more deadly. Florida currently has the highest number of variant cases, filled by Michigan, Minnesota, and Massachusetts, according to the CDC.

Gounder claims Michigan’s surge in particular is caused by a combination of two factors: the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant combined with the fact that many states have already pulled back, or completely removed, all health and safety precautions meant to curb the spread of Covid due to the fact that vaccines are rolling out more quickly now.
“While some officials are trying to make a case for the federal government to ramp up vaccines to the state, that won’t help in Michigan’s case. Here’s why: it takes about two weeks after the Pfizer and Moderna second doses and about two weeks after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine before people are immune. Meanwhile, the incubation period, which is the time from when you’re exposed to when you are infected with Covid, is four to five days.”
“So there is no way that a surge in vaccination is going to help curb this when transmission is happening right now. The hard truth is that the only thing that will curb transmission right now are measures that take effect immediately. For example, masking up, not dining indoors, and socializing outdoors,” Gounder explained.
Michigan is currently reporting thousands of new coronavirus cases everyday, when just a few weeks ago the state’s data showed that it’s daily case count was as low as 500. Dr. Rob Davidson is an emergency room physician in the state who told the media recently that “hospitalizations have gone up four fold in just the last two weeks.”
Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, told CNN: “Hospitals are being inundated, Michigan needs to shut down and the government should send more vaccines to the state. Think about it this way: Every year during fire season, when forest fires get out of control, we don’t just leave the states to manage as best they can. We surge firefighting forces into those states. So Michigan is on fire now. And we need to put that out.”
Beyond just Michigan health officials are warning of sharp increases in Covid-19 all throughout the country. Minnesota officials are specifically claiming it’s “more important than ever to keep wearing a mask and physical distancing.” Some experts in the US think that the nation could prevent another surge in the coming weeks if all Americans just continue to treat this pandemic like they did in the beginning while the rest of the country waits to receive their vaccinations.
So far about 35.9% of Americans have gotten at least one dose of their vaccine and 21% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At the record pace that the US is administering vaccines, the country could reach the vaccination numbers needed to control the virus over the next few months. The way to do that is to vaccinate like crazy,” Reiner said.
“The last 20 to 30% are going to be the hardest because a lot of folks in this country are still hesitant to get the vaccine. We’re seeing it all over the country. We need to really get down on the grassroots level, talk to people about their hesitancy and get shots into arms, because if we don’t vaccinate that last 30% or so, we’re still going to have to live with this virus for a very long time.”
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Health Experts Warn Another Covid-19 Surge Could Look Different For Younger People

Health experts claim that while Covid-19 vaccinations in the US are currently rolling out at a successful rate, not enough individuals are protected in the country to gain a proper herd immunity, and another surge may be on the way if we don’t continue to protect ourselves in the coming months. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that over the weekend more than 4 million vaccine doses were administered in 24 hours, and the nation is currently averaging more than 3 million doses a day. 

However, CDC data also shows that only 18.5% of Americans are fully vaccinated at this point. Dr. Celine Gounder is an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist who recently spoke to the press about how this increase in case numbers is still a major cause for concern even with the rollout of multiple vaccines. 

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“I do think we still have a few more rough weeks ahead. What we know from the past year of the pandemic is that we tend to trend about three to four weeks behind Europe in terms of our pandemic patterns.”

In Europe specifically the highly contagious B117 variant of the virus has caused a major irse in case numbers and hospitalizations. Experts worry the US could face a similar fate if Americans don’t continue to abide by health and safety measures, regardless of if they’re vaccinated or not. 

“What’s worse is that the variant is changing the pandemic’s playbook and could spell trouble for younger groups that haven’t yet been vaccinated. We have to think about the B.1.1.7 variant as almost a brand new virus. It’s acting differently from anything we’ve seen before, in terms of transmissibility, in terms of affecting young people, so we have to take this very seriously,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

More than 54% of Americans 65 and older have been fully vaccinated at this point, according to CDC data, and more than 75% of individuals in that demographic have received their first dose. It’s for this reason that younger groups are being more closely monitored in terms of new cases and hospitalizations. 

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“We’re seeing in places like Michigan that the people who are now getting hospitalized by large numbers are people in their 30s and 40s, and now we’re even seeing children getting infected in larger numbers, too, and it’s not just Michigan. What we’re seeing is pockets of infection around the country, particularly in younger people who haven’t been vaccinated, and also in school-aged children,” former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke at a press conference this past weekend in which he urged all Americans to double down on safety measures to protect themselves and others from the virus and its new variants. 

“We say it over and over again and we need the local people, we need the governors and the mayors and others to be able to say, ‘We’re not out of it yet,’ people say, ‘Well, you just want to confine us forever.’ No, this is not going to last forever because every day that you get four million, three million people vaccinated, you get closer and closer to control,” Fauci said. 

Health experts believe if the entire country stayed indoors for the next six weeks while vaccinations continue, we’re likely be in a much better place by the summer.

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.

Experts Are Warning The US Could Face Another Surge Of Covid-19

With multiple governors easing up on health and safety procedures before a proper herd immunity is met, many healthcare experts are worried the US might face another severe outbreak of the virus.