Covid variant from South Africa confirmed within the USA

Corky Siemaszko

Before 2h / 19:37 UTC

About 12 sailors aboard the USS Chafee have tested positive for Covid-19

About a dozen sailors aboard the USS Chafee have tested positive for Covid-19 and have been removed from the ship, the Navy confirmed on Friday.

“People who have been in close contact with these seafarers are also removed from the ship and are in quarantine while monitoring for symptoms,” Cmdr said. Sean Robertson, a spokesman for the Third Fleet, said in a statement.

Robertson said the warship, docked in San Diego, “can continue to serve its mission.”

“No Chafee sailors have been hospitalized,” said the commandant.

Robertson’s statement followed a Navy Times report that 41 seafarers out of a crew of 350 had either tested positive or were “in close contact with infected shipmates,” including several ship’s cooks.

And equipment shortages caused some seafarers to “wear a filthy N95 mask for five days” on their voyage from Hawaii, the Navy Times reported.

Wilson Wong

4 hours ago / 18:06 UTC

The Washington hospital apologizes after offering to register for the donor vaccine

A Washington hospital apologized after offering 100 donors an invitation to register for a Covid-19 vaccination appointment.

Last Friday, Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue emailed benefactors that the hospital “was delighted to have 500 new open appointments at the Overlake COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic,” the Seattle Times first reported .

The facility provided the donors with an access code with which, according to the newspaper, they could only register for appointments “by invitation”.

Hospital officials told NBC News in a statement Friday that vaccine registration was not being offered exclusively to 100 donors. The hospital also invited 4,000 other community members, including board members, volunteers, retired medical staff, and current staff.

Everyone who registered had to be eligible under the state Covid-19 vaccine guideline, according to the hospital.

Click here to read the full story.

Corky Siemaszko

Before 4h / 17:52 UTC

Cardinal Dolan in quarantine after coming into contact with someone who tested positive

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, leader of the Archdiocese of New York, is now in quarantine after coming into contact with a person who tested positive for Covid-19.

“The cardinal has not tested positive, feels good and has no symptoms,” the diocese said in a statement.

“He will, however, continue to follow health and safety protocols instructed by healthcare professionals, as well as other employees who have also been in close contact with this person.”

That means Dolan won’t be celebrating Sunday mass at 10:15 a.m. at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City this week.

Corky Siemaszko

4 hours ago / 17:49 UTC

Disney theme parks continue to require masks even if they are vaccinated

Disney World and Disneyland will continue to require visitors and workers in the theme parks to wear masks – even if they have been vaccinated against Covid-19, the company announced on Friday.

This is in line with the current guidelines of the Federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommend that people continue to wear masks after the shot and keep themselves socially distant.

Daniel Arkin

Before 3h / 6:15 PM UTC

Cuomo announces plans to reopen indoor restaurants, criticizing deaths in nursing homes

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that indoor dining across New York City will reopen at 25 percent capacity on Valentine’s Day, February 14th.

The governor also set guidelines for safe wedding receptions, which will go into effect on March 15. He explained that all guests must be tested and the venues can be opened up to 150 people with a capacity of only 50 percent.

He also updated reporters on the latest Covid-19 statistics in the state: 8,357 people are currently in hospital; 12,579 positive test results Thursday; 151 virus deaths on the same day.

Cuomo, whose daily briefings earned him greater national attention and praise in the early days of the pandemic, has been scrutinizing what critics are citing various flaws in his government’s response to the virus in recent months.

Cuomo’s office came under fire this week after the attorney general charged that the New York Department of Health had dropped the death toll from Covid-19 in nursing homes by as much as 50 percent.

Corky Siemaszko

Before 5h / 17:05 UTC

Fauci said children could start vaccinating in late spring

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading epidemiologist, said the Biden government hoped to start giving Covid-19 vaccines to children in late spring.

“We have already started tests to de-escalate age,” said Fauci during the Covid Response Team briefing in the White House.

This seems like a slightly faster schedule than Dr. Jose Romero, chairman of the Committee on Immunization Practices for the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was forecast last month.

Romero hoped that trials of Covid-19 vaccines could be conducted in young children from the second quarter of this year. If they were found to be safe and effective, children under the age of 18 would get their shots afterward.

Nigel Chiwaya

Before 7h / 14:53 UTC

3,905 new Covid-19 deaths nationwide on Thursday

The US reported 3,905 new deaths from Covid-19 on Thursday, according to NBC News.

Another 153,817 new cases have been reported by health officials across the country.

As the number of new cases continues to decline from its post-vacation high, deaths are on the rise. New cases are down 26 percent in the past two weeks, while deaths have increased 5 percent over the same period.

A total of 25.8 million cases and more than 430,000 deaths were recorded in the US as of Friday morning.

South Carolina set a record Thursday with 230 deaths.

Erika Edwards

Before 7h / 14:55 UTC

According to J & J, the vaccine is effective against Covid, but weaker against the South African variant

A single shot of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine is effective in preventing moderate to severe illness, the company reported on Friday.

Johnson & Johnson, who made the vaccine in partnership with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, is ready to ask the Food and Drug Administration for an emergency approval as early as next week.

The regulator could approve the vaccine by the end of February. Together with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, it would be the third Covid-19 vaccine available in the US.

However, the results differed from region to region. In the US, the single dose was 72 percent effective in preventing both moderate and severe illness. (Moderate illnesses included symptoms such as low oxygen levels, shortness of breath, or deep vein thrombosis.) In Latin America, the effectiveness was lower at 66 percent. And in South Africa, where a worrying variety is the predominant strain, effectiveness dropped to 57 percent.

Click here to read the full story.

Elisha Fieldstadt

Before 8h / 13:36 UTC

CDC director says the spread of South African tribes in the community is here

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday the South African variant of Covid-19, just discovered in South Carolina, had already reached the point where the community had spread across the United States

“I think one of the worrying things is that we know these two people did not know each other and that they did not travel to South Africa. Hence, at this point, this strain is believed to have spread throughout the community,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky told Savannah Guthrie on NBC’s “TODAY” show.

Walensky said the virus’s sequencing was “increased” under the new administration, meaning there is a greater chance of catching new strains.

Click here to read the full story

The Associated Press

Before 8h / 13:15 UTC

New Zealand Covid quarantine bug revealed by Tryst

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – The woman who took a flight to New Zealand was supposed to avoid any physical contact with others for 14 days as she went into mandatory quarantine. The man who worked at the quarantine hotel should be the last line of defense.

But the two started taking notes on each other, including one on the back of a face mask. Then she ordered a bottle of wine, which he delivered to her room. When he did not return 20 minutes later, a security manager sent to investigate found the couple together in an encounter deemed inappropriate by authorities, during which physical distance was not observed.

The incident earlier this month, which became known on Friday, highlighted a very human vulnerability in New Zealand’s coronavirus cleanup process in a country that has wiped out the spread of the virus in the community. It is similar to the mistakes made in Australia, which could have contributed to a major outbreak in Melbourne last year.

Read the whole story here.

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