NJ Governor of Biden: Increase Vaccine Production
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says the biggest priority for the Biden administration should be to increase production of the COVID-19 vaccine. Murphy said the state will fight to achieve its vaccination targets if no more supply is made available. (Jan. 26)
After a historically mild flu season, a resurgence of colds and other viruses in New Jersey signals what may be in store for the rest of the country as pandemic restrictions continue to ease.
While influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) dipped to record low during the pandemic, the New Jersey State Department of Health said the overall level of respiratory viruses has been “higher than one would typically expect at this time of year.”
“We are in another world now,” said Dr. Ashwin Jathavedam, an intern at Leonia Medical Associates and Head of Infectious Diseases at Englewood Health. “Most of these are mild infections, things that you would not have thought twice about before the pandemic.”
Increased testing to rule out COVID-19 has detected viruses that could have previously been pulled off. And the easing of socially distancing demands and the reduction of mask-wearing have brought conditions that allow viruses to flourish.
New Jersey is not alone: Last month, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned health officials in southern states of reports of rising RSV infections outside the normal fall and winter seasons.
Also in the news:
► Carnival Cruise Line offers an alternative to unvaccinated cruisers. As of July 31, non-vaccinated individuals over the age of 12 departing from Florida will only have to show proof of a travel insurance policy to board ships.
► Asian countries experiencing their first major increases in coronavirus – Thailand, South Korea, Vietnam – announced or introduced tough measures on Friday, which they hope can slow the spread of COVID-19 before their health systems are overwhelmed.
► Arizona reported its largest daily increase in COVID-19 cases in two months on Friday, as coronavirus continued to spread mainly among unvaccinated people.
► Kansas reported its largest increase in COVID-19 cases in more than three months on Friday as the faster-spreading delta variant becomes a growing public health problem in the state.
► The Legoland New York theme park officially opened to the public on Friday after its original opening was delayed last summer due to the coronavirus pandemic.
► California’s middle class is still awaiting another set of COVID-19 stimulus controls announced by the Newsom government back in May, and so far there has not been much word on when they will get them.
►Indonesia is running out of oxygen as it endures a devastating wave of coronavirus cases and the Southeast Asian government is seeking emergency supplies from other countries including Singapore and China.
📈 Today’s numbers: The United States has more than 33.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 606,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Total sums: more than 186.1 million cases and more than 4 million deaths. More than 158.6 million Americans – 47.8% of the population – have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘 What we read: As many young people and young adults prepare to return to the classroom in the fall in the midst of the spread of the delta variant, the delayed vaccination rate among Generation Z is causing concern among experts.
Keep updating this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for the USA TODAY Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and sign up for our Facebook group.
The Southern Baptist Convention unleashes a small COVID-19 cluster in Nashville
A small but troubled coronavirus cluster has been linked to an annual meeting of a Baptist convention in Nashville, the first major conference held in the city after it lifted restrictions on collections, according to the Metro Public Health Department.
The Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting, a two-day event in which Baptist churches elected leaders and discussed controversial topics, drew more than 15,000 attendees to the Music City Center, which began on June 15.
About eight to ten infections have been detected among participants since the event in mid-June, which is enough to be classified as a COVID-19 cluster, said Metro Health epidemiologist Leslie Waller. The cluster is almost certainly larger, but difficult to measure because most participants live outside of Tennessee, Waller said.
– Brett Kelman and Holly Meyer, Nashville Tennessean
The White House shouts critics of door-to-door vaccine push
For several months, the Biden White House refrained from criticizing Republican officials who downplayed the importance of coronavirus vaccinations or tried to make political hay of the federal government’s combined efforts to fire guns. Not anymore.
With the COVID-19 vaccination rate across the country, the White House is returning to those they see as spreading harmful misinformation or fear of the shots.
When South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster this week tried to block door-to-door efforts to increase the vaccination rate in his state, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki did not mince words in his response.
“The lack of accurate public health information, including the effectiveness of vaccines and their availability to people across the country, including South Carolina, is literally killing people, so maybe they should consider it,” she said Friday.
While 67% of American adults have received at least one dose, officials are increasingly concerned about large geographical differences in vaccination rates, and the emergence of what some experts warn of could be two dramatically different realities for the country in the coming months: high vaccine uptake and lower caseloads in more democratically skewed parts of the country and fresh hot spots and the development of hazardous varieties in more GOP skewed areas.
– Zeke Miller, Associated Press
Guidelines for CDC masks for schools will not complete the nation’s patchwork of rules
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published guidance Friday, saying vaccinated teachers and students should no longer wear masks inside school buildings to protect against the transmission of COVID-19.
The guide, issued during declining infection rates and hospitalizations, recommends unvaccinated people, including children, still wear masks and maintain 3 feet of social distance.
Schools and government officials have been waiting weeks for updated CDC guidance and rolled out a patchwork of preliminary and conflicting rules for their own teachers and students. The CDC guidelines are more lenient than what some localities have established, yet they fly against anti-mask legislation passed in some conservative states.
Some local officials are likely to change their standards again in response to the CDC’s decision. And others will stand firm against the mask requirements – worrying about parents who are concerned about their children’s risk of getting COVID-19.
– Taylor Avery, USA TODAY
Health officials are stopping vaccine events for teens, emails say
After Tennessee lawmakers chastised state health officials for encouraging teens to be vaccinated against coronavirus, the Department of Health instructed its county-level staff to stop vaccination events targeting teens and stop online outreach to teens, according to the department’s emails obtained by The Tennessean.
Dr. Tim Jones, the department’s Chief Medical Officer, wrote in an email to colleagues last week that the agency should not announce vaccine events to anyone beyond the “general population” and “should not have any pop-up events” for young people. ‘”
In the same email chain, Dr. Jill Obremsky, one of the department’s medical directors, said the agency could continue to vaccinate teens, but its post on vaccination on social media “should not be specifically targeted at this group.” Read more.
– Brett Kelman, Nashville, Tennessean
Contributions: Lindy Washburn, NorthJersey.com; Associated Press