Friday CoronaBuzz, July 30, 2021: 33 pointers to updates, health information, research news, and more.

There’s been an increasing amount of tension between state and local government so I’ve separated them into two categories. Please stay safe. Please get vaccinated. Please wear a mask when you’re inside with a bunch of people. Much love.


KUER: COVID-19 Cases Are Spiking In Utah Due To The Highly Infectious Delta Variant And Hospitals Are Feeling The Pressure. “COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Utah are higher now than they were a year ago even though vaccines are widely available. The state is averaging about 150 more cases now than it was at the end of July 2020. The number of people hospitalized has also increased compared to a year ago. The Delta variant is largely to blame, according to Utah Department of Health spokesperson Charla Haley. The latest data from UDOH shows the Delta variant is responsible for 86% of new cases.”

Miami Herald: Florida COVID update for Wednesday: 16,038 new cases, highest reported since January. “Florida has entered a peak of COVID-19 cases not seen since January’s surge as the state reported 16,038 new cases Tuesday to the federal government, the seventh consecutive day the state has reported more than 12,000 new daily cases.”

AP: Ravages of COVID surge evident inside Missouri hospital. “Daryl Barker was passionately against a COVID-19 vaccination, and so were his relatives. Then 10 of them got sick and Barker, at just 31, ended up in a Missouri intensive care unit fighting for his life.”

CNN: ‘I am furious with myself’: Unvaccinated Covid patient describes the exhausting illness. “With Covid-19 surging in states across the country, Louisiana stands among those hardest hit by the most recent rise in cases, driven in large part by the Delta variant. The state has the highest 7-day average of new cases per-capita in the country, at 77 cases reported per 100,000 residents each day over the past week, according to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.”

ABC News: Data suggests Russia’s COVID-19 death toll is far higher than reported. “Throughout the pandemic, Russian authorities have been accused of massaging statistics to hide the real scale of the country’s COVID-19 impact. The Kremlin has repeatedly suggested that although it has been difficult, Russia has fared better than most other countries, even as it has neglected to impose tough lockdown measures….The data suggest the true death toll may already be over a half-million people. Far from doing better than most, the data suggests that, in reality, Russia has suffered one of the deadliest COVID-19 epidemics in the world.”


BBC: Covid and a coup: The double crisis pushing Myanmar to the brink. “On 1 February, Myanmar’s military seized power from its civilian government, leading to a series of mass protests that show no signs of stopping. Among the protesters were thousands of healthcare workers who walked out, leading to a collapse in the healthcare system and throwing Myanmar’s vaccination and testing response into chaos. And now, a surge in coronavirus cases fuelled by the highly infectious Delta variant has dealt the country a fresh blow.”

New York Times: Some in Missouri Seek Covid-19 Shots in Secret, Doctor Says. “Even as the more contagious Delta variant drives a surge in infections, the Covid-19 vaccination effort has become so polarized in Missouri that some people are trying to get shots in secret to avoid conflicts with friends and relatives, a doctor there said.”


HoustonPress: Texas Children’s Confirms It Has Some COVID Kids On Ventilators [UPDATED]. “It’s not just unvaccinated adults who’ve ditched their face masks who are being hit hard by the Delta COVID-19 variant’s rapid spread. Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital has also seen a disconcerting uptick in the number of sick kids laid low by Delta in recent weeks. Despite the popular misconception that children who get COVID-19 never have severe symptoms and can easily shake the disease, in some instances, kids admitted to Texas Children’s with the coronavirus have landed in intensive care. Some have even been placed on ventilators.”

South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Broward and Miami-Dade hospitals lead US in COVID admissions. “Miami-Dade and Broward counties admitted the most COVID patients to hospitals of any counties in the U.S. in the last seven days, with more than 800 patients each, according to a White House report. Signs of the toll on South Florida health systems emerged this week as Memorial Healthcare System set up triage tents outside its Emergency Departments and Broward Health enacted parts of its surge capacity plan converting regular rooms into COVID wards.”


CNBC: Facebook requiring U.S. employees to be vaccinated to return to work. “Facebook will require U.S. workers returning to its offices to be vaccinated, the company said on Wednesday. ‘As our offices reopen, we will be requiring anyone coming to work at any of our US campuses to be vaccinated,’ VP of People Lori Goler said in a statement. ‘How we implement this policy will depend on local conditions and regulations.'”

Miami Herald: Planning on visiting Disney World? Surging COVID cases means you’ll have to wear a mask. “On Wednesday, Disney World announced all guests — vaccinated or not — over the age of 2 will have to wear masks while indoors and on Disney transportation. The transportation includes buses, the monorail and Disney Skyliner. Masks still won’t be required outdoors, at least for now.”

CNBC: Get vaccinated or fired — Ken Langone says his businesses will mandate it after full FDA approval. “Billionaire Ken Langone told CNBC on Wednesday that all of his businesses will mandate employees be vaccinated against Covid once the shots receive full approval from the Food and Drug Administration.”

New York Times: Broadway Audiences Will Need Proof of Vaccination and Masks. “Broadway’s theater owners and operators, citing the ongoing dangers of the coronavirus pandemic, said Friday that they have decided to require that theatergoers be vaccinated against Covid-19 and wear masks in order to attend a performance.”

CNBC: Google postpones return to work until October, will require vaccinations. “Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company is extending its office return for employees until Oct. 18 amid the latest Covid-19 outbreaks. In an email to employees Wednesday, Pichai also said the company will require anyone coming to the office to be vaccinated, beginning in the U.S. in coming weeks.”


ABC News (Australia): Army to begin patrolling Sydney COVID hotspots to help police enforce lockdown rules. “Three hundred military personnel will undergo training over the weekend before hitting the streets with police on Monday to help ensure residents are complying with the health orders. ”

AP: Japan expands virus emergency after record spikes amid Games. “Tokyo has reported a record increase in cases for three days in a row, including 3,865 on Thursday, before logging another 3,300 on Friday. The cases have doubled since last week, although officials say the surge is unrelated to the Olympics.”

STAT: FDA, under pressure, plans ‘sprint’ to accelerate review of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for full approval. “Under heavy pressure, the Food and Drug Administration center that reviews vaccines is planning to deprioritize some of its existing work, like meetings with drug sponsors and plant inspections, in an effort to accelerate its review of Pfizer’s application for the formal approval of its Covid-19 vaccine, a senior agency official told STAT.”


Louisiana Department of Health: Louisiana hits record COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations. “The Louisiana Department of Health announces 6,797 new COVID-19 cases reported to the state since July 26, 2021 – the second highest single-day case count reported since January 6, 2021 (6,882 cases reported that day). Also today, 1,390 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Louisiana. That represents an increase of 169 hospitalizations since yesterday, the largest single-day increase since March 2020. There were three days in March 2020 where the increase was larger: March 25 (220), March 31 (196) and March 26 (185).”

KXAN: Gov. Abbott issues new order barring local officials from mandating masks, requiring vaccination. “Under the new executive order, which was made by combining existing COVID-19 orders already in place, governmental entities and jurisdictions are barred from mandating mask wearing, including school districts.”

Governor Roy Cooper: North Carolina to Require Vaccine Verification for State Employees, Urges Other Government Agencies and Private Employers to do the Same. “Today, Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. announced that state government would begin verifying vaccination status of its workers. Employees not vaccinated are required to wear a mask and be tested at least once a week. Today’s announcement comes as North Carolina’s latest upswing in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is driven by unvaccinated North Carolinians.”

Politico: DeSantis seeks to block school mask mandates in Florida. “Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed to reject mask mandates for school-age students on Friday, saying he will soon issue an order allowing parents or guardians to choose whether their child wears a mask in schools.”


KOLD: Tucson Mayor Regina Romero announces mask requirement for city facilities. “Mayor Regina Romero directed all members of the public – including those who are fully vaccinated – to wear a face mask in City of Tucson facilities, effective immediately. The city will provide face masks at each facility for anyone who does not have one.”

Washington Post: St. Louis public health leader said a mob called him racist slurs for promoting masks: ‘We are not the enemy’. “When Faisal Khan left the St. Louis County council meeting Tuesday after promoting a new mask mandate, he said he was shoulder-bumped and pushed by people in the aisle. When he made it through the door, the St. Louis County Department of Health’s acting director said things got worse. Khan was surrounded by an ‘angry mob,’ he said, and called the c-word and a brown b—–d. Others mocked his accent.”


AP: After lengthy battle with virus, lawmaker urges vaccinations. ” A Tennessee lawmaker who battled COVID-19 for nearly eight months is encouraging the public to ‘consider getting vaccinated.’ Republican Rep. David Byrd detailed his struggle with the virus in a lengthy statement Friday, describing how the disease put him in an intensive care unit on a ventilator for 55 days. He says his family began planning his funeral.”

Washington Post: Charlie Kirk’s pro-Trump youth group stokes vaccine resistance as covid surges again. “…the communications by Turning Point USA and its affiliate, Turning Point Action, reflect the increasingly hard line taken by the group, which describes itself as the ‘largest and fastest-growing youth organization in America’ and claims a presence on more than 2,500 college and high school campuses. Its dire warnings about a government-backed inoculation program — now a major theme of its Facebook ads, which have been viewed millions of times — illustrate how the Trump-allied group is capitalizing on the stark polarization around vaccine policy.”

AP: Louisiana Rep. Higgins says he, wife, son have coronavirus. “Republican Rep. Clay Higgins of Louisiana, a critic of mask mandates and public health restrictions during the pandemic, said he, his wife and son have contracted the coronavirus. He made the announcement on Facebook Sunday night. He said he and his wife had been infected last year, but this time around is much more difficult. He has not said whether he has been vaccinated.”


St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Cardinals will require masking in certain indoor clubs and retail stores at Busch. “In accordance with the City of St. Louis’ mask mandate that went into effect on Monday, the Cardinals have said that all fans will be asked to wear a mask when entering or circulating in the five indoor ticketed club areas, in addition to the team store and the Cardinals Authentics Shop at Busch Stadium, beginning with Friday night’s game here against Minnesota.”


Austin American-Statesman: In reversal, Austin schools to offer virtual learning for kindergarten through 6th grade. “Austin is the second Central Texas school district to add a last-minute virtual option after previously canceling online classes due to a lack of state funding. It joins the Round Rock school district, which announced a virtual program last week for students in kindergarten and first through sixth grades.”


Crain’s Detroit Business: University of Michigan, Michigan Medicine, MSU to require COVID-19 vaccination for all staff, students. “The University of Michigan and its health system, Michigan Medicine, announced Friday it will require all staff and students to be vaccinated for COVID-19. East Lansing-based Michigan State University followed later in the day with a similar mandate of its own as concern grows about the delta variant of COVID-19.”


Washington Post: People are more anti-vaccine if they get their covid news from Facebook than from Fox News, data shows. “Respondents who get news about the coronavirus via Facebook are less likely to get vaccinated than the average American and than non-Facebook users. Sixty-one percent of those Facebook users said they had been vaccinated, vs. 68 percent of the eligible U.S. population and 71 percent of non-Facebook users. The relationship was stronger for those who said that they had received coronavirus news or information only from Facebook and not from any of the other sources mentioned. Sixteen percent of all respondents fall into this category, and only 47 percent of them report being vaccinated, with 25 percent saying they will not get vaccinated.”


New York Times: C.D.C. Internal Report Calls Delta Variant as Contagious as Chickenpox. “The Delta variant is much more contagious, more likely to break through protections afforded by the vaccines and may cause more severe disease than all other known versions of the virus, according to an internal presentation circulated within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”


New York Daily News: North Carolina camp linked to more than 75 COVID cases across 17 states. “A growing coronavirus outbreak linked to a Christian summer camp in North Carolina has spread to 17 different states across the U.S. As of Thursday, 75 staffers and children who were at The Wilds Christian Camp and Conference Center between June 28 to July 17 have tested positive for COVID-19.”

BuzzFeed News: A Cape Cod COVID Outbreak Shows The Delta Variant May Be Even More Infectious Than We Thought, The CDC Says. “The CDC’s about-face recommendation this week that vaccinated people in high-risk areas should resume wearing masks in indoor public spaces was spurred by new data that showed that even vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant can spread it, the agency said Friday. The data analyzed a large outbreak of COVID-19 cases among vaccinated beachgoers in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, over the July 4th holiday.”

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