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Two Positive Covid Tests

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.”
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.

Negative Covid Test

The US Is Requiring Negative Covid-19 Tests From All UK Travelers 

Any traveler from the United Kingdom coming into the United States will now need to arrive with a negative Covid-19 test result that was taken within three days of their flight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US recently released this new requirement along with other restrictions. 

This specific requirement went into effect this past Sunday and applies to any passenger who is currently eligible to fly from the UK to the US; this includes US citizens as well. Airlines are responsible for confirming the negative test results before and after boarding as well. According to the CDC airlines will need to confirm the date that the test was taken, the type of test taken, and that the test was negative. 

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Passengers have the option of either getting the nucleic acid amplification test, or the antigen test, but it must be one or the other in order to actually apply; rapid tests aren’t accurate enough to provide the approval for travel. 

Travelers who may be in a UK airport due to a layover, and who are there for less than 24 hours, are exempt from the rule. Additionally, travelers who have tested positive for the coronavirus and fully recovered with a confirmed negative test within the three months prior to travel are also exempt. 

The passengers who have recently recovered from Covid-19 must have proof of their prior positive test, negative test after their recovery, and a letter from a doctor clearing them for air travel. These requirements come after dozens of other countries around the world banned travel all together from the UK due to the discovery of a new strain of the coronavirus. 

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While the new strain of Covid-19 is also treatable with the slew of vaccines now being made available internationally, it’s thought that this strain is more contagious and severe when compared to the virus we’ve been battling throughout the past year. Individuals who have contracted the new strain often endure a more severe case of Covid, and are much more transmissible to individuals around them. 

The US resisted a total ban on travel between the two nations and initially declined to create any new requirements. It’s also already been discovered that this new strain is in the US, and it’s likely been here since September. 

“While it is known and expected that viruses constantly change through mutation leading to the emergence of new variants, preliminary analysis in the UK suggests that the discovered variant may be more transmissible than previously circulating variants, with an estimated potential to increase the transmissibility of the virus by up to 70%. This additional testing requirement will strengthen protection of the American public to improve their health and safety and ensure responsible international travel,” the CDC stated within the new set of guidelines. 

Once individuals get to the US the CDC recommends getting tested three to five days after arrival and self-quarantining for seven days even with a negative test result.

New Strain Covid-19

Researchers Believe New UK Covid-19 Strain Has Already Infected ‘Hundreds’ Of Americans

Researchers studying the new UK strain of the coronavirus believe that it likely already is in the US, and has been since mid-November. It’s important to note that health officials have already determined that the new strain shows no major differences from the Covid-19 virus that we’ve been battling for the past ten months, and the vaccine will still work against this variant. The biggest issue has been that individuals who get infected with this strain are more likely to have a severe case of the virus. 

“If I had to guess, I would say it’s probably hundreds of Americans by now, it’s very possible it’s arrived multiple times in multiple places.”

Michael Worobey is the head of the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona who recently spoke with the media about this new strain’s entrance into the US. Scientists in the UK have traced the new strain’s earliest known appearance to Kent, London on September 20th of this year. 

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“Imagine the amount of infected travelers leaving London — that’s been increasing exponentially,” said Trevor Bedford, associate professor in the vaccine and infectious disease division of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Both Worobey and Bedford have estimated that the virus likely made its way to the US in mid-November. 

Scientists in the UK and around the world are now scouring genetic sequences of certain Covid-19 cases in the US to determine if any match up with the UK variant. So far none have been found, but that’s likely due to the fact that the US’s surveillance and tracking system is lacking when compared to other countries. Dr. Anthony Fauci recently discussed this new strain with the press in one of his daily briefings. 

“You really need to assume that it’s here already, it certainly is not the dominant strain, but I would not be surprised if it is already here and we didn’t detect it.” 

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The UK Covid-19 strain has not been identified in the US via genetic sequencing, however, of the 17 million coronavirus cases that the nation has now dealt with, only 51,000 have been sequenced, so there’s really no telling how many of those millions of cases were the UK strain. The CDC released a statement about their tracking efforts this week in response to this strain’s momentum in the UK. 

“Given the small fraction of US infections that have already been sequenced, the variant could already be in the United States without being detected.” 

In order to detect new variants of the virus, scientists must look at samples from infected patients and then sequence the genetics of those samples to look at the specific letter order in the genetic code. Since mid-November, when it’s believed this new strain entered the US, the UK has performed 9,000 genetic sequences while the US has only performed 300. 

Last month, however, the CDC launched a new strain surveillance program that would require states to send in at least 10 samples, two times a week, for analysis; the agency is expecting to have this program fully up and running in January.