Think You’ve Never Had Covid-19? Think Again – The Wall Street Journal

Charley Ding spent weeks early in the pandemic intubating patients sick with Covid-19. The 42-year-old anesthesiologist in South Barrington, Ill., said he has since watched most of the doctors and nurses he works with get infected at some point.

But he has never gotten Covid-19, he said. “It’s probably a combination of being careful, maybe being blessed with a good immune system,” he said. “But also just luck.”

Masking recommended again as COVID-19 rises anew in Wisconsin – Wisconsin Examiner

Nearly 2.6 million Wisconsin residents live in counties where COVID-19 numbers and hospitalizations are high enough that federal guidelines call for everyone to wear masks indoors away from home.

CDC Wisconsin COVID-19 Community Levels, 7/21/2022
COVID community levels (orange) are listed as high in 16 Wisconsin counties, including the three most populous. Community levels were updated July 21. They reflect new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population over seven days through Wednesday, July 20; new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population over seven days; and percentage of inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients (seven-day average) through Tuesday, July 19. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) (Click on the image to open it in a larger window.)

Sixteen counties in the state, including the three most populous, have a “high community level” of COVID-19 under standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC guidelines recommend that in counties with a high community level, everyone should wear a mask indoors when they aren’t at home, regardless of whether they’ve had the COVID-19 vaccine or boosters.

The CDC updates its county-by-county community level ratings for COVID-19 every Thursday. The new list of counties with a high community level includes Milwaukee, Dane and Brown counties; the rest are Barron, Columbia, Door, Eau Claire, Grant, Green, Iowa, Kenosha, Portage, Richland, Rock, Rusk and Sawyer counties. Together they are home to  2.57 million people — 43% of Wisconsin’s total population.

It’s just a reminder that COVID hasn’t gone away. It’s getting worse, and whatever we’re doing now isn’t working.

– Ajay Sethi, University of Wisconsin epidemiologist

“When we get that high community level CDC indicator, that’s when community-wide masking is really necessary,” said Ajay Sethi, a University of Wisconsin epidemiologist. Even at lower community levels of COVID-19,  “people who are especially vulnerable to severe disease should always be wearing their mask indoors,” he added.

The CDC began using the community level indicator — which combines the rate of new cases with local hospitalization data to measure the burden on the health care system — earlier this year. A separate CDC indicator uses COVID-19 case rates and the percentage of positive cases in a county to measure community spread of the virus. That map shows continued high spread throughout the state. 

Milwaukee County landed on the high community level list on July 14, and the city’s health department reissued a mask advisory for the city shortly afterward. The community level for Dane County shifted to high on Thursday, July 21, and on Friday, Public Health Madison & Dane County issued a recommendation in response for masking indoors.

“It’s just a reminder that COVID hasn’t gone away,” said Sethi. “It’s getting worse, and whatever we’re doing now isn’t working.”

Ajay Sethi
Ajay Sethi, UW-Madison

Without government mandates for masking, “it’s not up to policy,” he said. “It’s up to people’s behavior. It’s hard to get people to go back to some of the precautions they used to take.”

Along with universal masking in high-community-level areas, public health agencies also recommend that everyone who hasn’t already done so get the full series of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. 

The most effective masks to help prevent the spread of the virus are N95 and KN95 respirators that fit snugly around the nose and mouth, according to public health providers. Masking helps protect the person wearing it from others around them who might have the virus; it also can protect others from the person with the mask, if that individual is carrying the virus. 

Wisconsin COVID-19 Community Transmission-7/21/2022
Community transmission for COVID-19 is high in all Wisconsin counties except one, La Crosse County, where it is substantial. The ratings combine a county’s rate of new cases over seven days through Wednesday, July 20, and the percentage of positive tests in the county over seven days through Monday, July 18. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) (Click on the image to open it in a larger window.)

The CDC has a website members of the public can use to search for free masks in their local community, although the site does not show the mask suppliers’ inventory levels.

Since mid-May, an average of 1,000 people or more a day have been reported to be infected with COVID-19, according to data reported by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. 

The publicly reported numbers are increasingly likely to be undercounting the true number of cases, however, due to the spread of rapid home tests for the virus. “Most of those tests are not going to be reported to public health,” Sethi said. 

As the reported rate of positive tests increases, “there’s going to be a lot more cases out there that are not detected,” he added.

Sethi said that the trends in reported numbers over longer than a couple of weeks to a month are less likely to be meaningful.

Table explaining How the CDC calculates local community levels for COVID-19.
How the CDC calculates local community levels for COVID-19. (Click on the image to open it in a larger window.)

Nevertheless, the current trajectory of infections, already high, is rising, Sethi said, and the newest variants appear to more easily overcome the immunity that people have developed, particularly people who have been previously infected. That has made breakthrough infections in people who have been vaccinated more common. 

“The size of the pool of people who can get a breakthrough infection is larger now,” Sethi said. And while in the past, patients who had gotten infected were told they were protected from a new infection for 90 days, “that doesn’t make any sense any more.”

The COVID-19 vaccine and boosters still help protect people from the worst effects of the virus, including hospitalization and death, according to public health providers. Of the people hospitalized with COVID-19 — on any given day, about 400 or more patients — most are people who haven’t been vaccinated completely or at all, and people who have compromised immune systems, Sethi said. Many people who qualify for boosters haven’t gotten them, however. 

Although its use is limited to patients most at risk for severe COVID-19, the antiviral drug Paxlovid has helped many patients avoid more severe illness. “Paxlovid is definitely the game changer of 2022,” Sethi said. 

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Digging into the Reasons for Puerto Rico’s Successful COVID-19 Response | AHA News – American Hospital Association

In June, we traveled to Fajardo, Puerto Rico to attend the annual convention for the territory’s College of Health Services Administrators, known as CASS. After our keynote presentation on how administrators and clinicians can convene to improve value for the patients and communities they serve, we had the opportunity to sit down with a group of health care leaders from around the island to discuss their experiences during the pandemic. With over 95% of the population receiving at least one dose of the vaccine – and nearly 84% fully vaccinated – we were interested in learning how Puerto Rico had been so successful at mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the course of a wide-ranging conversation, five themes arose that shed light onto their success.

  1. Vaccines and masks were not politicized. Puerto Ricans quickly recognized the ticket to returning to normal life was to wear a mask and get a COVID-19 vaccine. When vaccines became available, a vast majority of health care professionals quickly got vaccinated, which instilled a sense of trust. All of this was accomplished without politicizing the issue. Even now, people continue to voluntarily mask in public places.
  2. Community stakeholders were engaged from the start. Puerto Rico took a community-based approach to mitigating the impact of COVID-19 by engaging diverse stakeholders in the health care ecosystem and beyond. Building on their experience from past pandemics and vaccination efforts, local primary health centers and federally-qualified health clinics engaged their communities and used community health workers to augment their efforts. Public and private sectors worked together toward a shared goal – keeping their communities safe and healthy.
  3. Health care administrators approached the COVID-19 pandemic with a public health mindset. Unlike on the mainland, all health care administrators in Puerto Rico are trained in public health and receive certification to run health care facilities. This training enabled them to design their strategy with a communal mindset and focus on prevention.
  4. Puerto Rico did more with limited resources. During the pandemic, Puerto Rico received equal health care funding from the U.S. government for the first time. Such equality is not historically the case and as a result, Puerto Rican health care leaders are well-accustomed to doing more with less. With a payment rate of 99% from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for the COVID-19 vaccines, leaders were able to launch a robust response and make the most of the resources they have. As one health care leader put it, “When you treat us the same way you treat all the states, we deliver.”
  5. The government was consistent in its messaging. From the beginning of the pandemic, Puerto Rico’s government was open and consistent in its messaging about the virus. They used data to make informed decisions and communicated the reasons behind any changes in regulations. Throughout, their messaging revolved around the idea that masking and getting vaccinated was to protect your family and loved ones.

We left Puerto Rico inspired by how these health care leaders made the most of a situation that has challenged all of us. There is certainly a lot we can learn from how Puerto Ricans have united their community to keep one another safe during this ongoing pandemic. We look forward to more opportunities to learn from one another about how to address our nation’s pressing health issues.

Please visit www.aha.org/vaccineconfidence to explore AHA resources on COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Priya Bathija, J.D., MHSA, is vice president of strategic initiatives at the American Hospital Association, where she oversees The Value Initiative and efforts related to maternal and child health and the societal factors that influence health. Julia Resnick, MPH, serves as AHA’s director of strategic initiatives.

Dane County Moves into “High” COVID-19 Community Level | City of Madison – City of Madison, Wisconsin

On July 21, 2022, Dane County moved into the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) “high” COVID-19 community level. At this level, in accordance with CDC guidance, Public Health Madison & Dane County recommends that everyone be up-to-date on their vaccines and take additional precautions, including wearing a mask in indoor public spaces.

“In Dane County, the cases reported to us have remained stable over the last two months, but hospitalizations in our region have seen a gradual increase,” said Janel Heinrich, director of Public Health Madison & Dane County. “At this level, it’s time to layer proven prevention strategies to slow spread and the protect health of our friends, family, and community members.”

The CDC calculates community levels based on three indicators: new reported cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days, new regional hospital admissions with COVID-19 per 100,000 people in the last seven days, and percent of regional inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.

While reported cases locally are stable, they are likely underreported, given the accessibility of rapid tests. Last week, an average of 64 people were hospitalized with COVID. Hospitalization rates remain much lower than the surge experienced at the beginning of the year.

“Given evidence this new variant may more easily evade immunity it’s especially important we protect ourselves and our neighbors,” County Executive Joe Parisi said. “We all want to move past talking about and responding to COVID, but variations of the virus remain, and we need to keep looking out for one another.”

“We’re seeing this trend of communities moving to medium and high levels nationwide, and it is possible we could bounce between medium and high levels for a few weeks,” said Heinrich. “Being aware of our local landscape—especially if you are immunocompromised or at risk of severe illness—and taking appropriate actions can help prevent the spread of the virus.”

All masks and respirators provide some level of protection. However, properly fitting respirators—like N95 and KN95s—provide the highest level of protection. Wearing a highly protective mask or respirator may be most important in certain higher risk situations, or by some people at increased risk for severe disease. Wearing a mask offers protection to the wearer, even if those around them are unmasked.

“It’s so important that people stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations and get tested when sick or when identified as a close contact,” says City of Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway. “Business owners can also take action by doing things like supporting less crowded working environments and improving ventilation.” ​

There are many opportunities to get vaccinated and tested in Dane County. Anyone who needs free N95 masks can find options nearby at bit.ly/freemasksnearme.

For more information about COVID-19 in Dane County visit publichealthmdc.com/coronavirus. You can also follow @publichealthmdc on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

President Biden tests positive for COVID-19 – ABC News

President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 for the first time Thursday morning, his office said.

Biden, 79, has “very mild symptoms” and is taking Paxlovid, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

Biden is experiencing a dry cough, runny nose and fatigue, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said. The physician to the president, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, said Biden’s systems started Wednesday evening.

The president went to bed feeling fine but didn’t sleep well and subsequently tested positive in the morning, Jha added.

Jean-Pierre said an update will be provided every day as Biden “continues to carry out the full duties of the office while in isolation” at the White House.

Close contacts, “including any Members of Congress and any members of the press who interacted with the President during yesterday’s travel,” will be informed on Thursday, Jean-Pierre said.

Biden traveled to Somerset, Massachusetts, on Wednesday where he announced executive actions to address climate change. The president greeted Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska at the White House on Tuesday.

“He has been in contact with members of the White House staff by phone this morning, and will participate in his planned meetings at the White House this morning via phone and Zoom from the residence,” Jean-Pierre said.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks about climate change and clean energy at Brayton Power Station, July 20, 2022, in Somerset, Mass.

President Joe Biden speaks about climate change and clean energy at Brayton Power Station, July 20, 2022, in Somerset, Mass.

Evan Vucci/AP

The president will work in isolation until he tests negative, she said.

Biden was last tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday, when he tested negative, she added.

Biden is fully vaccinated and received two boosters; his second booster shot was March 30.

First lady Jill Biden tested negative Thursday morning in Detroit and will keep her full schedule in Michigan and Georgia through the day, her office said. She will continue following CDC guidance with masking and distancing, her office said.

ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said the biggest factor in treatment will be the president’s age.

“That is why,” she said, it’s “no surprise that he’s being treated with the antiviral pill Paxlovid. It’s been shown in clinical trials to be 89% effective in reducing the risk of severe COVID-19 illness, meaning hospitalization or death.”

Ashton stressed, “He is going to be closely monitored at the White House by the personal physician of the president, and if anything looks like it is going in the wrong direction, I absolutely expect that he would be hospitalized, if nothing else than for more close observation. But remember, the White House is not like your home or my home — they can do a lot of medical monitoring and observation and testing right there.”

Former President Donald Trump was briefly hospitalized at Walter Reed Medical Center in October 2020 after he tested positive for COVID-19.

Paxlovid, an antiviral pill developed by Pfizer, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for those aged 12 and older in December 2021.

Patients take three pills twice daily over the course of five days. The pill was hailed as a game-changer because it was the first COVID-19 treatment that did not require an infusion, making it more convenient to give to patients.

Paxlovid is made up of two medications: ritonavir, commonly used to treat HIV and AIDS, and nirmatrelvir, an antiviral that Pfizer developed to boost the strength of the first drug. Together, they prevent an enzyme the virus uses to make copies of itself inside human cells and spread throughout the body.

Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive for COVID-19 in April. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a senior adviser to the president on the pandemic, tested positive last month.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

ABC News’ Mary Kekatos and Molly Nagle contributed to this report.

COVID-19 Status Update for 07/19/2022 | Marin County Coronavirus Information – Marin County Coronavirus Information

Marin County COVID-19 Status Update for July 19, 2022 includes: Masks And BA.5: What You Need to Know; COVID-19 Reversed Progress Against Antimicrobial Resistance; Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine Continues Authorization Process; Vaccination Opportunities in Marin; Know your COVID-19 Community Level; and updated local COVID-19 data.

Para leer esta página en español, desplácese hacia arriba y haga clic en el enlace que dice “Translate” (Traducir) y elija “Spanish” (español).


The Marin County COVID-19 Status Update is published two times per week and as needed to share important news and resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic and to keep the local economy running. We remain here for you.

Masks And BA.5: What You Need to Know

More than 90% of our COVID-19 case samples sent for genomic sequencing are BA4 or BA5. Dr. Willis explains why masks are going to be an increasingly important tool as we fight a more infectious strain of the virus. 

[Watch on YouTube]

Medical-style masks, such as N95s, KN95s, and surgical-style masks, are more protective than cloth ones. Fortunately, these disposable masks, made with nonwoven materials, are now much easier to find than early in the pandemic.

KN95 masks are available for purchase in Marin County at pharmacies, hardware and industrial supply stores, and some grocery and convenience stores. Trusted online retailers also offer easy access to both N95 and KN95 masks.

Free N95 masks are available at select pharmacies. Use CDC’s Free Mask Locator to find local pharmacies participating in the program (check with location for availability).

COVID-19 Reversed Progress Against Antimicrobial Resistance

The COVID-19 pandemic pushed back years of progress made combating antimicrobial resistance (AR) in the United States. In a report released last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that the threat of AR infections worsened, including resistant hospital-onset infections and deaths both increasing at least 15% during the first year of the pandemic.

These increases reversed progress from the years leading up to COVID-19, when significant reductions in AR infections occurred. Historic progress in antibiotic prescribing was also reversed during the pandemic, when antibiotics were often the first option given to patients with pneumonia-like symptoms.

The takeaway? People should recognize that antibiotics do not help viral symptoms – whether COVID-19, common cold, or flu. People should support their doctors in not over prescribing antibiotics.

MORE INFORMATION:

Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine Continues Authorization Process

Today, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), authorized use of the Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine for unvaccinated adults. The Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine is a two-dose primary series, administered three weeks apart. In clinical trials of participants age 18 & older, vaccine was 90.4% effective in preventing mild, moderate or severe COVID-19. The final step needed for Novavax to be available in California is review and recommendation by the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. If authorized, the Novavax vaccine could be available sometime next week. 

Vaccination Opportunities in Marin

If you know someone who is still in need of a primary vaccination dose or booster shot, please share the list below with them! Staying up to date on our vaccines is just as important as receiving an initial series. COVID-19 Vaccines are FREE, regardless of insurance or immigration status.

This week’s schedule for 5 & older:

  • July 19 – St. Andrews Church, Marin City
  • July 21 & 22 – Northgate Mall, San Rafael

This week’s schedule for children 6 months to 5 years:

  • July 20 – Bolinas Community Center, Bolinas
  • July 21 & 22 – Northgate Mall, San Rafael
  • July 21 – Marin Community Clinics, San Rafael
  • July 23 – Marin Health & Wellness Campus, San Rafael

Walk-ups are welcome at most vaccination locations. Visit the Vaccine Finder webpage to view clinic hours, address, or schedule an appointment. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to receive a vaccination. Additional vaccination clinics in Marin and around the Bay Area can be found on MyTurn.

Know your COVID-19 Community Level

The CDC’s COVID-19 Community Levels are a tool to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data. Take precautions to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 based on the COVID-19 Community Level in Marin or other community in which you live, work or visit.

COVID-19 Data Update:

Below is just a snapshot of local COVID-19 data. Find a more in-depth analysis of COVID-19 trends on the Marin Data & Surveillance webpage, our Data FAQ, or Marin County’s Open Data Portal.

Data sets updated weekly (published on Fridays) include:

  • COVID-19 vaccination rates
  • COVID-19 cases & deaths among facility staff and residents
  • Weekly/Cumulative count of COVID-19 deaths among Marin residents
  • State COVID-19 Data

Status updates are now published Tuesdays and Fridays. “Change from Last Status Update” (far right column, below) may account for 2-4 days, depending on the date of the previous publication (view past status updates).

COVID-19 Case Data

Today’s Report

Change from Last Status Update on July 15, 2022

Total Confirmed Cumulative Cases

38,875

+256

“Active Cases” (Confirmed in Past 10 Days)

534

-89

Current COVID-19 Hospitalizations

17

-2

Current COVID-19 ICU Patient Census

5

0

Resource Link Library

What to do if…

You’ve tested Positive | You’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19

Online Resources

Vaccine locations | Booster Information | Free COVID-19 testing | Marin COVID-19 Data | State COVID-19 Data | State Race & Ethnicity Data  | State Variant Data | CDC Community Transmission Data

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COVID in California: US COVID-19 emergency order extended – San Francisco Chronicle

Study: Asian residents more likely to be hospitalized with COVID than others in Bay Area

Asian residents in the Bay Area were more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 in 2020 than any other racial or ethnic group, and the heightened risk cannot be fully explained by socioeconomic factors or medical conditions. Read more here about the newly published research.

COVID-19 emergency order in U.S. extended

Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra has extended the COVID-19 public health emergency order in the U.S. for three more months, as the nation’s COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise on the backs of the coronavirus’ BA.5 and BA.4 subvariants of the omicron strain. This marks the tenth time the declaration has been renewed since it went into effect on Jan. 31, 2020. Becerra reissued the order Friday.

Judge in Musk v. Twitter trial tests positive for COVID-19

The judge overseeing Twitter’s trial against Elon Musk on Monday announced that she has tested positive for COVID-19. Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick, chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery, added that the hearing would proceed as scheduled virtually by Zoom on Tuesday.

CDC ends program help cruise ships report COVID outbreaks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday ended its COVID-19 monitoring program for cruise ships. The agency will no longer provide operators with surveillance and reporting tools for cases onboard ships in U.S. waters. “CDC has worked closely with the cruise industry, state, territorial, and local health authorities, and federal and seaport partners to provide a safer and healthier environment for cruise passengers and crew,” the agency said in a website update. “Cruise ships have access to guidance and tools to manage their own COVID-19 mitigation programs.” The CDC said it will offer updated guidance for cruise ships in the coming days. As to how passengers can know if a cruise line has outbreaks, the agency stated, “Cruise travelers have the option of contacting their cruise line directly regarding outbreaks occurring on board their ship.”

Nearly 90% of Californians live in areas with high COVID levels

About 9 in 10 California residents live in an area designated to have high COVID-19 community levels by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Monday, 42 of the state’s 58 counties fell under the tier in which universal indoor masking is recommended by federal health officials — that includes population centers such as Los Angeles and San Diego, as well as all 9 Bay Area counties. That marks a sharp increase from a week ago when a little more than 40% of Californians were considered to live in an area with high community levels.

UC campus reinstates indoor mask mandates

UC Irvine said Monday it would require all students and staff to wear masks inside campus buildings, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the state. It becomes the latest school in the UC system to bring back universal indoor masking for its summer programs. UCLA and UC Riverside reinstated their mask policies a few weeks ago. UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz follow CDC guidelines and strongly recommend but do not require that masks be worn indoors. UC Davis and UCSF currently require masks in health care and other specific settings, with the latter additionally requiring unvaccinated people to mask in all indoor spaces.

About 4% of triple-vaccinated adults see long COVID symptoms after omicron case

Vaccinated adults infected with the omicron BA.1 or BA.2 variants experienced slightly lower rates of long COVID compared with those infected with the delta variant, according U.K. data from the Office of National Statistics. Of double-vaccinated adults, 4% self-reported long COVID 12 to 16 weeks after a first infection with the BA.1 variant, compared with 9.2% for those who had been infected with the delta variant. Among triple-vaccinated adults, 4.2% of those infected with BA.2 had long COVID symptoms, compared to 4.5% of BA.1-infected people and 5% for infections compatible with delta. “Today’s findings show that approximately 4% of adults who are triple-vaccinated against COVID-19 will report experiencing long COVID 12 weeks after being infected for the first time with the omicron BA.1 or BA.2 variants. This represents a similar risk to the delta variant,” ONS expert Daniel Ayoubkhani said of the report published Monday. “However, these findings may not apply to people who have previously had COVID-19 and have been reinfected with the omicron variant, and we cannot say what the implications are for any future variants in terms of long COVID risk.”

CDC pushes older adults to improve rate of booster uptake

The CDC says only about 28% of adults 50 and older have received a second booster of coronavirus vaccine, in addition to their initial shots and booster, and that rate of uptake needs to improve. “This means that millions of people are now six or seven months past their first booster and could be more vulnerable to BA.4 and BA.5, the newest lineages of Omicron,” CDC officials said in their most recent update. CDC recommends the second booster shots for older people and those over 12 who have weakened immune systems. BA.4 and BA.5 are spreading more easily than previous omicron strains, the agency notes, with BA.5 now dominant nationally. COVID hospitalization and death rates have risen among older adults. CDC officials note research showing second boosters can restore vaccine protection against hospitalization that might have dropped over time and help protect against COVID-19 death for older adults.

Fauci says he plans to retire at end of Biden’s term

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, said he will retire at the end of President Biden’s term, CNN reported. Fauci, one of the most recognizable faces linked to the country’s pandemic response, said he had no specific date in mind from his retirement from government, but said it would be before January 2025, when Biden’s first term ends.

BART mask mandate expires

A requirement to wear face coverings on BART trains and stations expired Monday, but the transit agency’s board of directors may vote to reinstate the mandate at a meeting later this month. “BART strongly encourages riders to wear masks in the system,” a BART spokesperson said Monday. “Free masks will continue to be made available at station agent booths as well as from safety personnel.”

People are getting COVID again and again. Is this the new normal?

As the Bay Area’s latest COVID surge threatens to be the biggest yet and the coronavirus continues spinning off new, immune-evasive variants, are multiple infections a part of living with COVID?

Increasingly, experts fear, the answer is yes. Read more about repeat coronavirus infections here.

California’s public health tax ballot initiative is dead for the year

A ballot initiative that would have raised taxes on California millionaires and billionaires to fund public health programs and pandemic prevention is dead — at least for this year.

The Silicon Valley tech executives who bankrolled the measure, which had been targeted for the November ballot, said they aren’t giving up on their goal of creating the strongest state public health system in the country. But they acknowledge COVID-19 is no longer top of mind for most Americans.

Bay Area wastewater surveys suggest COVID surge could be biggest yet

Surveys of coronavirus levels in Bay Area wastewater suggest that the region’s relentless spring COVID surge probably rivals the winter omicron wave in terms of the number of people currently infected — in fact, this surge may be the largest yet in some places.

But capturing the scale of disease, and conveying to the public the relative risk of getting sick, is becoming increasingly tricky, health experts say.

Gaston County reported 587 additional COVID-19 cases this week – Gaston Gazette

Representatives of all Gaston healthcare workers battling the COVID pandemic accepted the Chamber's 2021 Public Service Award.

New coronavirus cases increased 3.6% in North Carolina in the week ending Sunday as the state added 26,388 cases. The previous week had 25,462 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.

North Carolina ranked 21st among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the latest week coronavirus cases in the United States increased 29% from the week before, with 947,862 cases reported. With 3.15% of the country’s population, North Carolina had 2.78% of the country’s cases in the last week. Across the country, 42 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

The Fourth of July holiday disrupted who got tested, when people got tested and when both test results and deaths were reported. This may significantly skew week-to-week comparisons.

Gaston County reported 587 cases and five deaths in the latest week. A week earlier, it had reported 554 cases and two deaths. Throughout the pandemic it has reported 70,076 cases and 871 deaths.

Within North Carolina, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-person basis were in Graham County with 557 cases per 100,000 per week; Pamlico County with 471; and Surry County with 436. The Centers for Disease Control says high levels of community transmission begin at 100 cases per 100,000 per week.

Adding the most new cases overall were Mecklenburg County, with 3,112 cases; Wake County, with 2,994 cases; and Guilford County, with 1,039. Weekly case counts rose in 63 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week’s pace were in Surry, Cumberland and Cabarrus counties.

>> See how your community has fared with recent coronavirus cases

Across North Carolina, cases fell in 36 counties, with the best declines in Wake County, with 2,994 cases from 3,442 a week earlier; in Buncombe County, with 527 cases from 617; and in Iredell County, with 362 cases from 419.

In North Carolina, 138 people were reported dead of COVID-19 in the week ending Sunday. In the week before that, 48 people were reported dead.

A total of 2,919,068 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 25,395 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 89,542,107 people have tested positive and 1,023,799 people have died.

>> Track coronavirus cases across the United States

North Carolina’s COVID-19 hospital admissions rising

USA TODAY analyzed federal hospital data as of Sunday, July 17. Likely COVID patients admitted in the state:

  • Last week: 2,073
  • The week before that: 1,800
  • Four weeks ago: 1,638

Likely COVID patients admitted in the nation:

  • Last week: 73,328
  • The week before that: 67,692
  • Four weeks ago: 57,602

Hospitals in 36 states reported more COVID-19 patients than a week earlier, while hospitals in 27 states had more COVID-19 patients in intensive-care beds. Hospitals in 40 states admitted more COVID-19 patients in the latest week than a week prior, the USA TODAY analysis of U.S. Health and Human Services data shows.

The USA TODAY Network is publishing localized versions of this story on its news sites across the country, generated with data from Johns Hopkins University and the Centers for Disease Control. If you have questions about the data or the story, contact Mike Stucka at mstucka@gannett.com.

Amarillo health department raises level after increase in COVID-19 numbers – Amarillo Globe-News

The Amarillo Public Health Department’s COVID-19 update on Friday noted that 2,003 cases were considered active, with two additional deaths.

The APHD reported an increase of 736 new COVID-19 cases over the past week in its weekly COVID-19 report card released Friday.

According to the report card, the 736 new COVID-19 cases amount to a seven-day, new-case average of 105, with a seven-day positivity rate of 23%. 

That brings the total number of cases in Potter and Randall counties to 77,439 and the total number of deaths to 1,281 since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, according to the APHD’s site, along with 74,101 total recoveries for the area. 

Potter County’s total cases since the start of the pandemic rose to 37,457, with 1,062 active, 35,635 recoveries and 760 deaths related to the virus, according to the APHD website.

COVID spreading across the U.S.:COVID-19 cases on the rise: What to know about the state of the pandemic

Amarillo Public Health Report July 15 2022

Randall County’s total COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic rose to 39,982, with 993 active, 38,466 recoveries and 523 deaths related to the virus. 

By the Centers for Disease Control standards, Potter County’s community levels of COVID-19 were considered high or red, as of Thursday, while Randall County’s community levels of COVID-19 increased to medium or yellow.

The Amarillo Public Health COVID-19 Hospitalization report, also being released weekly each Friday, noted 36 COVID-19 patients hospitalized. Five patients were in the ICU, and no patients were on ventilators.  

More:COVID at-home tests are free through your insurance. Here’s how to get them.

The hospitalization rate for Trauma Service Area A, which includes Potter and Randall counties and the bulk of the Texas Panhandle, was 6.19% as of Friday.

Since August of 2021, 81% of COVID-19 deaths have involved unvaccinated individuals, according to the report card.

For more information on COVID-19 and the vaccine, visit amarilloalerts.com.

Covid- 19 levels for Potter ad Randal County as determined by the Center for Disease Control

The city of Amarillo Public Health Department, now located at 850 Martin Road, offers COVID-19 vaccines for everyone 5 and older. They also offer other adult and children’s vaccines to those that qualify. To learn more, go to https://www.amarillo.gov/departments/community-services/public-health.

For the complete report of all Amarillo Public Health COVID-19 data, visit amarillo.gov/coviddashboard .

Editor’s note: Some of the numbers surrounding COVID-19 cases listed in this story are different on the weekly report card, vs. the APHD website. According to the public health department, readers can check the website for the latest updates and totals.

New COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness Data Showcase Protection Gained by 3rd and 4th Doses | CDC Online Newsroom – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (.gov)

A third and fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose offered substantial protection among adults with healthy immune systems who were eligible to receive them during Omicron variant evolution in early 2022, according to a new MMWR published today. The findings of this study, in conjunction with recently published data showing people infected with BA.2 may also have antibodies that can protect against illness with BA.5, suggest that currently available vaccines may provide protection against serious illness caused by the currently circulating BA.5 variant.

To evaluate effectiveness of 2, 3, and 4 doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) among adults with healthy immune systems, experts examined VISION Network data on more than 214,000 emergency department/urgent care visits and more than 58,000 hospitalizations with a COVID-19–like illness diagnosis in 10 U.S. states from mid-December 2021 through mid-June 2022. Study findings show:

  • When BA.1 was the predominant variant, vaccine effectiveness (VE) was 61% for two doses against COVID-19-associated hospitalizations; VE increased to between 85%–92% after receipt of a third/booster dose.
  • When BA.2/BA.2.12.1 became predominant, vaccine effectiveness with two doses was 24% against COVID-19-associated hospitalizations and increased to 52%–69% after a third/booster dose.
  • Patterns were similar for emergency department and urgent care encounters, with lower VE during BA.2/BA.2.12.1 predominance and higher VE with 3 or 4 doses compared to VE with 2 doses.
  • Among adults ages 50 years and older during BA.2/BA.2.12.1, vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19–associated hospitalization was 55% more than 4 months after a booster/third dose and increased to 80% more than a week after the fourth dose

COVID-19 vaccines remain our single most important tool to protect people against serious illness, hospitalization, and death. Getting vaccinated now will not prevent you from getting an authorized variant-specific vaccine in the fall or winter when they are recommended for you.  Given recent increases in deaths and hospitalizations associated with the BA.5 variant, everyone should stay up to date with recommended COVID-19 vaccinations, including additional booster doses for those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and adults over 50.