The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky asked Americans last Monday not to let their guard down. She said she has a continuous feeling of “impending doom”.
What We Know:
- Walensky made this statement during a virtual White House briefing. She discussed her fear that a fourth wave of the coronavirus may be entering the United States. Recently, daily COVID-19 cases have risen to 10% or about 60,000 cases per day. Additionally, an upward trend in hospitalizations and deaths has also been seen.
- Walensky seemed sincere in her announcement as she became emotional and appeared to hold back tears. She wants Americans to stay patient and get vaccinated. The CDC Director emphasized that when cases start rising, they “surge and surge big” right after.
“I’m speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director and not only as your CDC director, but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter, to ask you to just please hold on a little while longer,” urged Walensky.
- The boost in coronavirus occurrences has been seen in Northeastern states like Michigan, New York, and New Jersey. It is partially because new variants of the virus, like the UK’s B.1.1.7, have become more widespread. Another reason for the higher number is the loosening travel restrictions. Additionally, the opening of states is exposing more people to the disease.
- ABC News states that despite the rapid pace of vaccinations, Americans cannot afford to become comfortable. If measures like testing, mask-wearing, social distancing, and more do not get enforced, a fourth wave will occur. However, since 71.8% of Americans 65 years or older have taken at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, a fourth wave will have fewer hospitalizations and deaths. Neil J. Seghal, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, told the news site that due to the vaccinations, the next surge in cases would not be as deadly as those after the winter holidays.
- Although forty-seven states and Washington, D.C. have declared that residents over the age of 16 may soon begin to get vaccinated, there are still vulnerable population groups awaiting their shots. These include seniors who haven’t gotten the vaccine and people with pre-existing health conditions who are still ineligible.
- Seghal is afraid that younger people will face serious consequences from the coronavirus. Rachel Baker, an epidemiologist at Princeton University, found a connection in risk of future outbreaks to the strength of social distancing measures. She said that regions with less vaccination coverage should not begin to ease their restrictions just yet.
President Joe Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci have defended Walensky’s statements. Biden has said that the country can not celebrate just yet because citizens must “fight to the finish.” Fauci declared that the US has to be patient and hopes there is not another increase because officials “are really doing things prematurely right now with regard to opening up.”
Otters in Georgia Aquarium Test Positive for COVID-19
Seven geriatric Asian small-clawed otters at the Georgia Aquarium showed mild COVID-19 symptoms like sneezing, runny noses, lethargy, and coughing. They are currently being cared for off-exhibit.
What We Know:
- The popular tourist location released a statement on Facebook and their website on Sunday about the situation. In the announcement, the Georgia Aquarium noted that the animals caught the virus from an asymptomatic staff member. This is despite “following all recommended health and safety protocols.” The institution tested all staff members and is certain a guest did not give the coronavirus to the otters because of the acrylic barrier that separates them.
- The group’s clinical signs helped leaders make the decision to test the animals. In addition, medical officials at the establishment consulted with the state veterinarian’s office and the Department of Health (DOH).
- The Georgia Aquarium announced vets and animal care team members would continue monitoring the otters on their website. After they no longer show symptoms, executives will determine if they can return to the display.
“We are providing supportive care as needed so they can eat, rest and recover,” said Dr. Tonya Clauss, vice president of animal and environmental health at Georgia Aquarium.
- According to the announcement, information on COVID-19’s impact on otter species is unknown. However, based on other zoological facility animals and the otters’ health status, the organization believes the animals will not have any long-term effects. The document also directs readers to visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) websites, as well as their own Animal Guide, for more information. People at the aquarium are hopeful the otters will recover quickly.
- Although these are the first coronavirus cases at the Georgia Aquarium, other animals have contracted the disease. In December, three snow leopards tested positive at the Louisville Zoo. Thousands of mink died at fur farms across Utah and Wisconsin after a series of outbreaks, CNN reports. Further, a small number of dogs and cats have gotten the disease throughout the pandemic as well.
Scientists are experimenting with a possible COVID-19 vaccine for animals. In February, the San Diego Zoo gave four orangutans and five bonobos two doses each of an experimental vaccine developed by a veterinary pharmaceutical company. Recently, Russia registered the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine for carnivorous animals. A report by CNN from March 31 declared mass production on the vaccine would start as early as April. These experiments may bring all animals protection soon.
High Number of Babies and Children are Dying of COVID-19 in Brazil
Approximately 1,300 babies in Brazil have died since the beginning of the pandemic. This statistic defies overwhelming evidence that COVID-19 rarely kills children.
What We Know:
- Last year, Jessika Ricarte noticed something was off about her one-year-old son, Lucas. First, he lost his appetite. After his godmother, a nurse, suggested he had a sore throat, he developed a fever. The appetite loss and fever transformed into fatigue and labored breathing. Jessika took Lucas to the hospital and asked for a COVID test. Although an oximeter indicated that Lucas’ blood oxygen levels were at 86%, the doctor would not administer a test. Lucas was not feverish at the time, and the medical professional stated COVID-19 was rare in children. He sent Jessika home with antibiotics, but it did not help her son.
- The symptoms reduced, but Lucas’ tiredness did not. Weeks went by and his condition kept getting more aggressive. Jessika returned to the local hospital, where they finally tested her son. Lucas tested positive. Officials transferred Lucas to a pediatric intensive unit in Sobral, over two hours away. Lucas received a diagnosis of multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS). Despite a month’s treatment and multiple attempts to save his life, Lucas ultimately lost his battle with the coronavirus. Dr. Manuela Monte, the pediatric doctor who attended Lucas, said she was shocked by the severity of his condition, as he did not have any risk factors.
- While the Health Ministry reports that 800 children under 9-years-old have died of COVID-19, experts say the death toll is higher. This might be from a lack of widespread testing, little contact tracing efforts, and vaccine shortages. University of São Paolo epidemiologist Dr. Fatima Marinho estimates that 2,060 children under 9, including 1,302 babies, have died. The senior adviser to the international non-governmental Vital Strategies says she based her prediction on the number of deaths from an unspecified acute respiratory syndrome throughout the pandemic.
- Marinho debunked the misconception that children are not at-risk for COVID-19. She told BBC that there have been 10 times more deaths from the unexplained disease over the past year. They are low-risk for the coronavirus, but the scale of the epidemic increases the chance of younger people becoming ill. Additionally, she saw a rise in MIS cases among children. NBC says the newly identified and serious health condition is associated with the virus that causes coronavirus infections. MIS affects children up to six weeks after they are contaminated.
- Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) declared on Thursday the Brazilian government’s “failed response” led to thousands of avoidable deaths. MSF President Dr. Christos ChrIstou shamed President Jair Bolsonaro for his lack of prioritizing throughout the pandemic. The right-wing leader dislikes lockdowns and holds large events without wearing a mask. It was not until March that he began to consider vaccines as an option.
“Each week there is a grim new record of deaths and infections — the hospitals are overflowing, and yet there is still no coordinated centralized response,” said Christou.
- Christou expects the situation to worsen during the next weeks if nothing changes. He reprimanded the country for refusing to “adapt evidence-based public health measures.” According to Christou, Brazil needs a fast, science-based, and well-coordinated reset. Doing so will prevent deaths and the destruction of the “once prestigious Brazilian health system.”
- MSF warned of an unfolding “humanitarian catastrophe.” The high number of cases has damaged hospitals. Many are faced with basic medicine and oxygen supply shortages. Sao Paolo’s health secretary Jean Carlo Gorinchteyn said Brazil’s situation was dire in its most populous state. Officials warned that more than 640 hospitals could possibly collapse. Gorinchteyn further asked for the government’s support. He adds it is not only necessary for Sao Paolo, but also for the entire country.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19, Brazil’s record of cases stands at more than 13.5 million cases. 365,444 citizens have died from the disease, as shown in data from John Hopkins University from April 15. Just last week, more than a quarter of COVID deaths came from Brazil; it is the country with the second-highest number of deaths behind the United States of America. An increase in COVID-19 tests can protect many more Brazilian children from being like Lucas.
Michigan Infections Spike, Unfilled Vaccine Appointments Rise
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently explained that the recent surge in coronavirus cases is partly the result of a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that struck down a key law she used to fight the pandemic.
What We Know:
- In October, the Michigan Supreme Court deemed the Emergency Powers of Governors Act of 1945 as unconstitutional. The legislation was Whitmer’s main tool that allowed her to issue emergency orders to address the pandemic. Whitmer has stated her new strategy in combatting the surge has been by massively increasing and “urging,” not ordering, people to wear masks. In recent months, Whitmer has voluntarily eased coronavirus restrictions despite rising case numbers.
- Whitmer reassured her community on Sunday that Michigan still has “strong measures to keep people safe.” All Michigan residents 16 and up are eligible to be vaccinated as of April 5th. Average daily infections in Michigan are now five times the amount they were six weeks ago. New data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services show this dramatic surge is due to cases spiking among children and teenagers.
- Since February 19th, average daily COVID-19 cases among children under 10 jumped 230%. The second-highest increase in infections is in the 10 to 19 age group, which saw cases rise 227%. According to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 64,000 new cases in children were reported nationwide between March 18th and March 25th.
- 40% of new outbreaks have come from either K-12 schools or youth programs. The rise in cases can be linked to the reopening of schools and youth sports. Some children are developing a condition called multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) after COVID-19 infection. It is a rare condition that may affect the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.
Officials are confident that the research on COVID-19 vaccines for children is making progress despite the rise in pediatric cases and their contribution to community spread.
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