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Coronavirus

France Imposes Earlier Curfew and Tightens Border Control

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France is preparing to tighten restrictions following an increase in coronavirus cases.

What We Know:

  • Last Thursday, France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that the country plans to strengthen border controls and bring forward its night curfew, from a previous 8 p.m. to now 6 p.m., in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus infections.

“We must do everything to prevent this variant from spreading and ensure that it does not become the dominant variant,” Castex said.

  • The new curfew will come into effect on Saturday, January 16th. Starting Monday, all people traveling to France from outside the European Union will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test and self-isolate for a week upon arrival. A new protocol for countries in the European Union will be worked on ahead of the European Summit approaching on Jan. 21st.
  • The Prime Minister assured that the uptick in cases would not require a complete shutdown of the country. However, if the epidemic worsens, the government will be swift to order a new shutdown. For now, the country is on track to administer more than 1 million COVID-19 shots by the end of the month.
  • According to U.S. News, France has the seventh-highest COVID-19 death toll in the world with nearly 70,000 deaths. The government is particularly worried by the more-transmissible coronavirus strain first detected in Britain, which now accounts for about 1% of new cases.

Like much of the rest of the world, the French government is trying its best to balance a surviving economy and a surviving population.

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Coronavirus

Texas and Mississippi to Lift Mask Mandates and Roll Back Covid Restrictions

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Shortly after the United States exceeded half a million deaths from the coronavirus, governors of the two southern states announced that they would be lifting covid restrictions on Tuesday.

What We Know:

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbot announced Tuesday afternoon during a news conference in Lubbock that the state’s public mask requirements would be lifted. All businesses can open at full capacity beginning on March 10th. “It is now time to open Texas 100%,” he said.
  • That same day Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced he would be lifting his state’s mask mandate effective Wednesday. Businesses would also be allowed to open with no restrictions.

  • He added in later tweets that “we are putting our focus towards rapid vaccine distribution” and “getting out of the business of telling people what they can and can not do.” Mississippi has suffered over 6,000 covid deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • These announcements come after CDC director Rochelle Walensky warned against the relaxing of restrictions. “Now is not the time to stop wearing a mask,” she said, speaking to NPR. “The CDC squarely recommends routine masking, routine social distancing right now. . . . it squarely does not fit within the guidance that we are recommending,” Walensky continued, in reference to the announcements by Abbot and Reeves.
  • According to data collected by the CDC, over 80 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered across the country. The number of infections and deaths has steadily fallen over the last 30 days as more doses of the vaccine become available to the public.

35 states in the U.S., along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, still require masks to be worn in public. By lifting its mandate, Texas, with a population of 29 million, became the largest state to end the rule aimed directly at stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

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‘Premature’ and ‘Unrealistic’ to Expect Pandemic to End Soon, WHO Officials Say

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A senior official at the World Health Organization (WHO) says that despite the ignorance surrounding pandemic expectations, the recent arrival of effective vaccines could assist in dramatically reducing hospitalizations and death.

What We Know:

  • Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director of WHO’s emergency program, believes that the world’s only focus should be keeping COVID-19 numbers as low as possible. Ryan has stated in a recent briefing that he believes that we can end hospitalizations and death associated with the pandemic by the end of the year. However, he warns against complacency by asserting that nothing is guaranteed although the virus is “very much in control.” Ryan continues to say we are beginning to see data that shows vaccines are impacting the virus.
  • Ryan asserts that once the vaccines show a significant impact on transmission dynamics and transmission risks, we will begin to see accelerated control of the pandemic. Director General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, notes that it is regrettable vaccinations for younger, healthier adults are happening before at-risk health workers in less developed countries. Tedros affirmed that immunizations are finally taking place this week in countries like Ghana and the Ivory Coast. However, this comes three months after countries like the U.S, Britain, and Canada began vaccinations.
  • Tedros is not a trained medical doctor but has earned a Doctorate of Philosophy degree from the University of Nottingham in the U.K. He also holds a Masters of Science degree in Immunology of Infectious Diseases from the University of London. Tedros revealed that for the first time in seven weeks, COVID-19 cases had spiked after previously showcasing a decline in numbers. The Director General admits that the increase was disappointing but not surprising. Tedros had been Director General for WHO since 2017.
  • The Director General continues to say that, after observing the data, the recent spike in cases seemed to be the result of relaxing public health measures. Texas Governor Greg Abbot most recently issued an executive order that would end all COVID-19 restrictions, including masks mandates.
  • The executive order is due to come into effect on March 10. Texas is currently the largest state in the U.S to ease restrictions on masks. It appears as if other states, including Louisiana, Mississippi, and Michigan, will ease health measures. The news comes in the wake of record breaking power outages that swept across the state of Texas a few weeks ago.

WHO remains confident in the data they have collected and, with time, we will see how the nation responds to vaccination efforts to control the coronavirus pandemic.

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U.S. Exceeds 500,000 Deaths From the Coronavirus

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On Monday, February 22, 2021, President Biden and Vice President Harris stood outside the White House with a candlelight vigil and mourned 500,00 American deaths caused by the Coronavirus since February 2020.

What We Know:

  • More Americans have died from the Coronavirus than in wars in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Specifically, black and Hispanic/ Latino death rates are six times higher than for Caucasian people. Since super spreading events such as clubs, venues, and restaurants were closed, people started having indoor events or large gatherings, which made spreading the coronavirus more easily. It takes only one person to contact the coronavirus, and then they can transmit it to everybody in the room without knowing it.  
  • The coronavirus has killed more than 2,462,000 people worldwide, according to NBC News.
  • California remains on top with 187,000 new cases, but that is a 30 percent decrease from the previous weeks. Texas is second with approximately 127,000 new positive cases, and those numbers showed a 15 percent decrease. In third is New York, with 90,000 new cases and a 12 percent decrease occurred. 
  • A few important things start to decrease, such as hospitalization and air population because fewer people are outside or traveling. This is happening because more people are getting the vaccine, the busiest holiday is over, and more people are starting to follow safety protocols.

Even though the numbers are decreasing in certain areas, everybody needs to continue the safety protocols such as wearing masks, avoiding indoor events, especially ones with crowds, and maintain a distance of 6 feet apart at all times.

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