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Coronavirus

CDC Releases New Guidelines for Schools, Encourages Reopening

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(Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) released recommendations for school reopening this coming fall that are expected to influence how school and local officials determine their reopening strategies.

What We Know:

  • The main recommendation the CDC outlines are vaccinated students do not need to wear masks in school unless traveling on the bus. None of the guidelines are mandatory, but the CDC hopes that parents might be encouraged to vaccinate their children with this in mind. Kids older than 12-years-old qualify for the Pfizer vaccine. With the three-week period between doses along with the additional two weeks it takes for full efficacy, a child should receive their first shot now to reach immunity by mid-August. Captain Erin Suber-Schatz, a member of the CDC COVID response team that drafted the guidelines, said, “The message is really, if your child is eligible for vaccine, the time to get vaccinated is now.”
  • The guidelines still call for unvaccinated students and staff to continue wearing masks. They also encourage schools to offer routine testing voluntarily. Masks are strongly encouraged to be worn on the bus by both passengers and drivers. 3 feet of physical distance has also been encouraged amongst unvaccinated children, but the CDC says this factor should not discourage classrooms from reopening.
  • Previously the CDC hasn’t taken a stance on reopening schools. Child development experts have long called for policymakers to prioritize reopening schools for children as remote learning can be ineffective, especially for younger children. In their statement, the CDC said, “Students benefit from in-person learning and safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall 2021 is a priority.”
  • According to the Center for American Progress, by the end of last school year, 53% of schools had fully reopened, 46% did a combination of remote and in-person learning, while the remaining 1% was fully online. The CDC advises districts to slowly lift COVID protocols if the outside community has low case numbers and high vaccination rates. One of the earliest districts to return to school July 21, the Chandler Unified School District of Arizona, has made masks voluntary as a result of their Republican Governor Doug Ducey signed a law that prohibits local counties and school districts from requiring face coverings.
  • A big question becomes whether or not districts might require vaccination, which would not be unlike other immunizations required by most institutions except for special cases. The Biden administration said it would not be making vaccination federally mandated but has done so for mask-wearing on public transportation in hopes of curbing the spread of potential variants. Businesses have taken the honor system approach, which may change if federal regulators approve the vaccines which are currently being distributed under emergency authorization.
  • COVID-19 has been proven to be less susceptible in children, and 80% of teachers, staff, and childcare workers have received one dose of the vaccine by April. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, finds the CDC’s guidelines encouraging to educators. “It builds us the evidence we have about COVID transmission and reminds us we must remain committed to other mitigation strategies so every school building is safe and welcoming for all, including those who are still too young to be vaccinated and those who cannot be,” she said.

While the CDC is not able to require their recommendations to be followed, they designed them to be adaptable to the visions of lawmakers and administrators. Sauber-Schatz said the mission was “really about protecting people who are either not yet eligible for vaccine due to their age, or people who are not yet fully vaccinated.”

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Coronavirus

U.S. May Approve COVID-19 Booster Shots at 6 Months

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently reviewing booster data from vaccine manufacturers and other countries given at 6 months.

What We Know:

  • An unnamed source told the Wall Street Journal the boosters would be approved for all three COVID-19 vaccines administered in the US- Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. In addition, they declared approval would come in mid-September.
  • The information comes after officials reported that booster shots would become available to some adults 8 months after their last dose beginning on September 20. These include healthcare providers, nursing home residents, and other seniors. However, booster rollout depends on FDA approval and recommendation from a key Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outside vaccine advisory committee.
  • Officials want people to receive the third dosage because of the current rise in Delta strain cases. Studies show that the coronavirus vaccine loses potency after several months. Additionally, the Delta strain currently holds the highest number of infections among vaccinated and unvaccinated people; despite this, those who obtained the vaccine experience milder breakthrough infections.
  • In addition, the CDC and FDA urge citizens to receive vaccinations as hospitalizations rise once more. Recently, the U.S. saw 100,000 people hospitalized, a number only seen since before vaccines were easily accessible. A third of the country’s hospitalizations come from states with low vaccination rates, large populations, and governors who disagree with vaccine and mask mandates, such as Texas and Florida. As of Aug. 25, Texas saw 23,412 new daily cases, 248 deaths, and 14,000 hospitalizations. On that same date, Florida saw 26,203 positive cases, 9 fatalities, and 17,000 hospitalizations.

Alongside more hospitalizations, daily numbers are also creeping back up. On Aug. 25, the U.S. saw 148,000 new cases, only 3,000 less than Jan. 30’s report. In contrast, deaths from COVID-19 waned since January, dropping from 3,100 a day to 1,100 a day.

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FDA grants full approval to Pfizer’s Covid vaccine

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The Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s two-dose vaccine Monday for people ages 16 and up, making it the first Covid-19 vaccine to pass this final regulatory hurdle.

“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the Covid-19 pandemic,” Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement. “While millions of people have already safely received Covid-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated. Today’s milestone puts us one step closer to altering the course of this pandemic in the U.S.”

What We Know:

  • The FDA’s decision may also pave the way for more vaccination mandates: Many businesses were waiting for full approval before they required employees to be vaccinated.

“Full approval could not come at a more important time, as the highly contagious delta variant continues to drive up caseloads and deaths across the U.S.,” the president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Dr. Richard Besser, former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement. “I am hopeful that full approval will address any remaining concerns and will move many people to a ‘yes’ on vaccination.”

  • Besser said the lack of vaccines in middle- and low-income countries “represents a global failure,” adding, “Ensuring an adequate supply of vaccines in every country and community must be a health, economic, and moral imperative for the world.”
  • Federal health officials announced that, starting September 20th, people who received the Pfizer vaccine will be eligible for third doses eight months after their second doses. The FDA has not yet signed off a third dose.  No Covid vaccines have been authorized or approved for use in children under 12, though this is expected to change soon with FDA approval.

Pfizer’s vaccine is one of three in use in the U.S. Moderna has also applied for full approval, also known as a Biologics Licensing Application. Johnson & Johnson has not yet applied for full approval, and remains in use under emergency authorization.

Pfizer’s product was the first Covid vaccine to gain emergency use authorization, in December. As of Monday, more than 203 million doses have been given in the U.S., according to the CDC.

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Coronavirus

Reverend Jesse Jackson and His Wife, Jacqueline, Hospitalized with COVID-19

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Reverend Jesse Jackson and his wife Jacqueline are currently being treated at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

What We Know:

  • News about the couple’s diagnosis became public after a statement released by the Reverend’s Rainbow/Push Coalition on Saturday. In the statement, officials declared that doctors were monitoring both Jesse and Jacqueline; it did not provide any further information.
  • However, their son, Jonathan, provided more information on Sunday. Jonathan told the Associated Press that doctors are carefully observing Jesse and Jacqueline because of their ages. Additionally, the two responded “positively” to treatments and were resting. On Monday, Jonathan said his parents’ status did not change and asked for prayers for the two,
  • Despite his hospitalization, Jesse received his first coronavirus vaccine dosage in January 2021 during a publicized event. Alongside obtaining protection against the disease, he urged his followers to receive the vaccine as soon as possible. The Associated Press reported that it is unclear if Jacqueline also got the vaccine.
  • Underlying health concerns might have been the cause for both of them catching COVID-19. Family members said Jacqueline had an unspecified condition which made them concerned recently. In addition, Jesse was diagnosed in 2015 with Parkinson’s disease and underwent gallbladder surgery earlier this year.
  • Rev. Jesse Jackson worked with mentor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in moving the Civil Rights Movement forward. His impact helped guide the movement on numerous issues, such as voting rights. After the movement and even currently, Jesse continued working to make a change in his society. Police recently arrested Jesse for civil disobedience after participating in a sit-in at Sen. Kyrsten Sinema‘s Phoenix office with 39 others.

Black News Alerts prays that Jesse and Jacqueline make a speedy recovery and continue inspiring many.

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