Special welcome to everyone I met at the New York City meeting on Sunday — thank you for spreading the word about C19 News — Eric Francis
We’ll be keeping track of what we determine to be the most relevant updates on the coronavirus situation. New items will go at the top. If you have something to report — news, science news, or a check-in from your local area — please send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay in touch and help us out by sharing this resource with others. This blog is published by Chiron Return, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, which is an affiliate of the Pacifica Radio Network.
March 2021 | February 2021 | January 2021 | December 2020 | November 2020 | October 2020 | September 2020 | August 2020 | July 2020 | June 2020 | May 2020 | April 2020 | March 2020 | Timeline of coronavirus test | The Coronavirus Novel | Pandemic 101 | It’s Time for a Covid Reality Check
Interviews on Planet Waves FM
The First Year: Medical Doctors and Research Scientists Speak About Covid and SARS-CoV-2
Guardian: Rapid Covid testing in England may be scaled back over false positives | Added April 20
Senior government officials have raised “urgent” concerns about the mass expansion of rapid coronavirus testing, estimating that as few as 2% to 10% of positive results may be accurate in places with low Covid rates, such as London.
Boris Johnson last week urged everyone in England to take two rapid-turnaround tests a week in the biggest expansion of the multibillion-pound testing programme to date.
However, leaked emails seen by the Guardian show that senior officials are now considering scaling back the widespread testing of people without symptoms, due to a growing number of false positives.
In one email, Ben Dyson, an executive director of strategy at the health department and one of health secretary Matt Hancock’s advisers, stressed the “fairly urgent need for decisions” on “the point at which we stop offering asymptomatic testing”.
Honest, independent journalism about Covid is hard to find. We are sponsored only by our readers. Please support Chiron Return with a one-time or monthly tax deductible contribution.
Columbia, Yale and others join growing list of colleges mandating Covid-19 vaccinations for students | Added April 20
On the day that vaccine eligibility in the United States expanded to every college-age adult, Columbia and Yale on Monday joined a growing list of universities mandating that their students be inoculated before returning to campus in the fall.
“Although the course of the Covid-19 pandemic over the coming months remains uncertain, vaccination is the strongest tool for preventing transmission of the virus,” wrote Peter Salovey, the president of Yale, in a letter to the school. “There is abundant evidence of the vaccines’ effectiveness and growing confidence that vaccines will be widely available by early summer.”
In recent weeks, about 20 higher-education institutions have announced the requirement, with a few exceptions for medical, religious or other reasons, to help ensure the safety of campus communities. Among the early adopters are: Boston University, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Cornell, Rutgers, Brown, St. Edward’s in Texas and Oakland University in Michigan. Some schools are also considering requirements for faculty and staff.
Most American colleges and universities already require on-campus students to show proof of vaccines for illnesses, like bacterial meningitis, that can spread rapidly in close quarters. But many universities have not added the Covid-19 vaccine to their mandatory vaccination list, or have said they would not require proof. And lawmakers in some states, like Florida and Texas, are working to ban such vaccine requirements.
Honest, independent journalism about Covid is hard to find. We are sponsored only by our readers. Please support Chiron Return with a one-time or monthly tax deductible contribution.
Yearlong Covid lockdown measure — inmates in DC jail confined to cells for 23 hours a day | Added April 20
More than a year ago, about 1,500 men and women at the D.C. jail were locked in their cells for 23 hours a day to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
Such extreme confinement has been adopted at other jails and prisons during the pandemic as a temporary, last-ditch measure. But the District’s lockdown differed in a crucial way: It never ended.
For almost 400 straight days, the entire population of the D.C. jail has been subjected to what experts say is essentially a form of mass solitary confinement — without some of the basic services afforded even to those in solitary during normal times.
Honest, independent journalism about Covid is hard to find. We are sponsored only by our readers. Please support Chiron Return with a one-time or monthly tax deductible contribution.
All U.S. adults now eligible for vaccination | Added April 20
All adults in every U.S. state, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico are now eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine, meeting the April 19 deadline that President Biden set two weeks ago.
“For months I’ve been telling Americans to get vaccinated when it’s your turn. Well, it’s your turn, now,” Mr. Biden said Sunday on a program called “Roll Up Your Sleeves” on NBC. “It’s free. It’s convenient and it’s the most important thing you can do to protect yourself from Covid-19.”
The United States is administering an average of 3.2 million doses a day, up from roughly 2.5 million a month before. More than 131 million people, or half of all American adults, had received at least one shot as of Sunday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and about 84.3 million people have been fully vaccinated.
Majority of population fully vaccinated in Israel — mask mandate dropped | Added April 20
With more than half of its population fully vaccinated, Israel on Sunday dropped its outdoor mask mandate.
Masks are still required in indoor public spaces, like stores, malls, and places of worship. But the change was a stark signal of the country’s progress against the pandemic, powered by one of the earliest and fastest vaccine rollouts.
The outdoor masking rule was in place continuously for about a year.
On Monday, the country also took another step toward a pre-COVID-19 reality, fully reopening schools for the first time since September.
States ranked by percentage of administered Covid-19 vaccines as of April 19 | Added April 20
From Becker’s Hospital Review:
New Hampshire and Minnesota have administered the highest percentage of COVID-19 vaccines they have received, according to the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration data tracker. However, an apparent discrepancy puts into question the accuracy of New Hampshire’s data.
The CDC’s data tracker compiles data from healthcare facilities and public health authorities. It updates daily to report the total number of COVID-19 vaccines that have been distributed to each state and the total number each state has administered.
As of 6 a.m. EDT April 18, a total of 264,505,725 vaccine doses had been distributed in the U.S., and 209,406,814 had been administered, or 79.17 percent. Additionally, 131,247,546 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 84,263,408 had been fully vaccinated. That means 39.5 percent of the U.S. population had received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 25.4 percent had been fully vaccinated.
Below are the states and Washington, D.C., ranked by the percentage of COVID-19 vaccines they’ve administered of those that have been distributed to them. Some numbers may not reflect the actual number of vaccines administered, as coding problems and data lags have hindered efforts to accurately count and publicly report how many doses are administered daily in some states.
Representative Jim Jordan and Dr. Fauci in heated exchange over post-Covid-19 reopening | Added April 19
Here’s how it works Dr. Fauci. I get to ask you the question. You’re the highest paid official in the United States government. You’ve given us your advice on baseball, on dating apps, on cruise ships; you told us zero masks, one mask, two masks, now back to one mask. I’m just asking you, when is it gonna end? You can say I’m ranting; I’m actually asking the question that the citizens I get the privilege of representing — and my name actually goes on a ballot, I don’t think your name’s ever been on a ballot, my name goes on a ballot — the citizens I represent want to know the answer to when they can get their liberties back. You know, all that ranting, I actually call it standing up for the Constitution, which I take an oath to uphold Dr. Fauci — every year, every term, that I serve in this congress, representing the folks in the Fourth District of Ohio. So it is not ranting. It is defending the First Amendment, and we’d like an answer or your best guess, since you’ve got an answer for everything else.
Valencia, Spain reported to have one of lowest case counts in European Union | Added April 19
Thank you to Max Holm:
We also have low rates of vaccinations, aside from the very old, due to lack of vaccines.
And, I can tell you, the terrazas (outdoor cafés) are overflowing with people who aren’t wearing masks, as is the central park (The Turia).
Spain’s Valencia region continues to have the lowest infection rate of all 17 autonomous communities in Spain with a cumulative fortnightly infection rate of 36 cases per 100,000 inhabitants on April 12th.
This is slightly higher than the rate of 31 cases per 100,000 The Local reported three weeks ago when covering what was behind Valencia’s success, but the Mediterranean region continues to have one of the lowest rates of prevalence of Covid-19 in Europe.
The Valencian Health Ministry on Monday April 12th reported 83 new Covid cases and six deaths since its previous report.
Meanwhile Spain’s average 14-day infection rate has gone from 128 cases per 100,000 people on March 23rd to 199 cases per 100,000 people on April 12th.
As feared, Spain has seen infections spike after Easter, with the government’s chief epidemiologist Fernando Simón confirming on Monday April 12th that Spain is now in the midst of the fourth wave of the coronavirus.
Concern over ‘ripe for fraud’ paper vaccination cards fuels support for digital vaccine passports | Added April 19
At least 129.5 million Americans have gotten at least one or both doses of a coronavirus vaccine and have received a free proof-of-vaccination card with the logo of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as officials push to inoculate the nation. But that vaccination drive has pitted people like asianjackson, selling blank or fake credentials, against law enforcement officials rushing to stop them — and warning that the full scope of the problem is impossible to grasp.
The clash has escalated as businesses and universities say they’ll require proof of vaccination before allowing Americans to board cruises, enter some stores and even return to college classes, prompting some vaccine-hesitant people to search for false IDs or make their own. And the showdown is unfolding amid a bitter national debate about whether Americans should have digital “vaccine passports” instead of paper cards, and whether the government should be involved in credentialing such efforts.
For months, officials have been a step behind the scammers, who have openly discussed strategies to fake the cards on social media, sold them on sites such as eBay and pulled blank photos off state websites. Federal officials’ decision to use paper cards that can be easily photocopied or even printed off a template, rather than a digital tracking system, worsened those risks.
“This is exactly the scenario that you want to guard against. It undermines the entire effort by having falsified cards out there,” said Jennifer Kates, who oversees global health policy for the Kaiser Family Foundation and reviewed asianjackson’s eBay listings. “It certainly bolsters the argument for a digitized mechanism — which isn’t a tamper-proof system, but certainly a more secure one.”
NPR: More Than Half Of U.S. Adults Have Gotten At Least One COVID-19 Vaccine Dose | Added April 19
After a year of grim milestones, Sunday marked a hopeful statistic in America’s fight against the coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of all American adults have now gotten at least one vaccine dose.
After months of limited vaccine availability, every adult in the country will eligible to sign up for vaccination on Monday. The only remaining states still with certain adult age restrictions — Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont — will open vaccine registration to all people age 16 and older, meeting a federal deadline for all adults to be eligible set earlier this month.
About 130 million adults have gotten at least one vaccine dose, the CDC reported Sunday. And 84 million, or about a third of all adults, are fully vaccinated. (The CDC considers people “fully vaccinated” if they have received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.) The U.S. has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.
Within the U.S., New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Mexico report the highest percentage of population who have received at least one dose, according to NPR’s vaccination tracker.
Moderna and Pfizer declined offer from J&J for joint probe into blood clotting risks | Added April 19
Johnson & Johnson privately reached out to Covid-19 vaccine rivals to ask them to join an effort to study the risks of blood clots and speak with one voice about safety, but Pfizer Inc. PFE 2.58% and Moderna Inc. MRNA 6.84% declined.
As concerns mounted last week over rare cases of blood clots, J&J asked AstraZeneca AZN -0.18% PLC as well as Pfizer and Moderna to join its efforts looking into the reports, people familiar with the matter said. J&J, through emails and phone calls, also sought to build an informal alliance to communicate the benefits and risks of the shots and address any concerns raised among the public by the blood-clot cases, some of the people said.
Six women who got J&J’s vaccine developed clots, and one died, out of more than seven million doses administered across the U.S., according to federal health officials. The specific adverse event hasn’t been reported by people who received the Pfizer and Moderna shots, the officials said.
Pfizer and Moderna executives declined the offer, saying their vaccines appeared safe, the people said. The pair also objected because they didn’t see the need to duplicate the efforts of regulators and companies already looking for blood-clot cases and investigating the cause, the people said. One company’s concern: The safety of the Pfizer and Moderna shots could be tarnished by association, some of the people said.
NYT: Pregnant women in Britain will be offered Covid-19 vaccines | Added April 17
Pregnant women in Britain are now eligible to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, British health authorities announced on Friday, citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed that about 90,000 pregnant women had been vaccinated in the United States without any health issues.
The new guidance states that women in Britain who are trying to get pregnant, recently gave birth or are breastfeeding could be vaccinated with any available vaccine, but that the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna doses are preferred because “there is more real-world safety data from the U.S.”
New Hampshire’s governor lifts mask mandate | Added April 17
New Hampshire will lift its mask mandate Friday, though individual communities and businesses will be allowed to continue the requirement, Gov. Chris Sununu said Thursday.
New Hampshire was the last state in New England to adopt a statewide mask mandate in November and with Friday’s change, will be the first to lift it. In addition to dropping the mask requirement, the state also will eliminate remaining restrictions on businesses and replace industry-specific rules with universal safety recommendations on May 7, Sununu said.
CHD: Latest VAERS Data Show Reports of Blood Clotting Disorders After All Three Emergency Use Authorization Vaccines | Added April 17
Data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the number of injuries and deaths reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) following COVID vaccines revealed reports of blood clots and other related blood disorders associated with all three vaccines approved for Emergency Use Authorization in the U.S. — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (J&J). So far, only the J&J vaccine has been paused because of blood clot concerns.
VAERS is the primary mechanism for reporting adverse vaccine reactions in the U.S. Reports submitted to VAERS require further investigation before a causal relationship can be confirmed.
Every Friday, VAERS makes public all vaccine injury reports received through a specified date, usually about a week prior to the release date. Today’s data show that between Dec. 14, 2020 and April 8, a total of 68,347 total adverse events were reported to VAERS, including 2,602 deaths — an increase of 260 over the previous week — and 8,285 serious injuries, up 314 since last week.
HuffPost lists their favorite gear to ‘show the world you’re vaxxed’ | Added April 17
If you feel like shouting it from the rooftops, go ahead. But a more effective way to get the message across would be to wear these T-shirts, face masks, pins and more that the creative makers of Etsy have put on the market. They can put those around you at ease, but they’ll also serve as a keepsake for what’s hopefully the only year of your life you’ll ever have to experience a pandemic like this.
We’re partial to the Dolly Parton and Anthony Fauci gear, but there’s something for everyone. And if a shirt isn’t pictured in a color you like, keep in mind that most Etsy shops let you choose from a large selection of colors and styles to customize the design. Get shopping and wear your items proudly!
NYT: Pfizer’s chief says follow-up shots will probably be needed to fight Covid | Added April 17
A third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine will “likely” be needed within a year of vaccination, followed by annual vaccinations, Pfizer’s chief executive said Thursday.
“There are vaccines like polio where one dose is enough, and there are vaccines like flu that you need every year,” Albert Bourla, the Pfizer chief, said during a pre-recorded conversation hosted by CVS Health Corp. which was posted Thursday. “The Covid virus looks more like the influenza virus than the polio virus.”
Mr. Bourla said that more data and sequencing would be needed to determine a re-vaccination protocol but that “a likely scenario” is “a third dose somewhere between six and 12 months, and from there it would be an annual re-vaccination.”
Dispatches from the War: Epidemics are staged on Television — read from Jon Rappoport | Added April 16
When a new epidemic is launched and promoted, despite the lack of good science and good evidence, it is jacked up on television screens. Images begin to flow:
An emergency medical vehicle on a street. EMT personnel, in hazmat suits, load a man strapped down to a stretcher, into the van. On another street, a man collapses on the sidewalk. We see a quarantined man sitting inside a huge plastic bubble on a third street. Cut to an airport lobby. Soldiers are patrolling the space among the crowds. Cut to a lab. Close-up of vials of liquid. Camera pulls back. Techs in light green scrubs are placing the vials into slots of a table-top machine. Auditorium—a man on a platform, wearing a doctor’s white coat, is pointing a wand at a large screen, on which a chart is displayed, for the audience. Back to the street. People are wearing face masks.
These images wash over the television viewer. Meanwhile, the anchor is imparting his prepared meaning: “The government today issued a ban on all travel into and out of the city…hundreds of plane flights have been cancelled. Scientists are rushing to develop a vaccine…”
The television audience has an IMPRESSION of knowing something. They’re in the flow, the flow of the news…they’re in the images…
Reuters: Americas not behaving as if in midst of worsening COVID-19 crisis -regional health official warns | Added April 16
The Americas are not behaving like a region experiencing an ever-graver outbreak of COVID-19, the director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) warned on Wednesday.
This rise in infections is alarming but not surprising given relaxed restrictions used to curb virus transmission, PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said at a weekly news conference, adding that vaccination will not be enough to stop this wave of contagion.
“Highly transmissible variants are spreading, and social distancing measures are not as strictly observed as before,” Etienne said. “We are not acting like a region in the midst of a worsening outbreak.”
The Washington Post: A year into the pandemic, it’s even more clear that it’s safer to be outside | Added April 16
The photos of Clearwater Beach, Fla., went viral last spring: people crowded on the sand, seemingly unconcerned about the deadly new contagion coursing across the world. Local officials, accused of fueling a public health crisis, quickly shut 35 miles of county beaches and left them closed for weeks.
What a difference a year makes. The beaches were even busier this year, but officials say there were no talks of closure. There was also far less outcry.
And with good reason, according to many scientists and public health experts, who say that the outdoor spaces now warming under spring sun should be viewed as havens in the battle against a stubborn virus and restriction-induced fatigue. For more than a year, the vast majority of documented coronavirus clusters have been linked to indoor or indoor-outdoor settings — households, meatpacking plants, nursing homes and restaurants. Near-absent are examples of transmission at beaches and other open spaces where breezes disperse airborne particles, distancing is easier, and humidity and sunlight render the coronavirus less viable.
16- and 17-year-olds now eligible for Covid-19 vaccine in Hong Kong | Added April 16
Hong Kong expanded eligibility for Covid-19 vaccines to all residents aged 16 and older, in the government’s latest attempt to boost the financial hub’s low inoculation rate by making the shots more widely accessible.
People 16 and above will be allowed to receive BioNTech SE vaccines, while those older than 18 will also be able to opt for shots made by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd., Secretary for Civil Service Patrick Nip said at a briefing on Thursday. Bookings for the expanded group will start on April 23, Nip said, and 16- and 17-year-olds will need parental consent to be vaccinated.
BioNTech vaccinations will only last until the end of September due to supply levels, Nip said, and appointments for the first dose must be made by August. He urged citizens to get inoculated as soon as possible.
NPR: The Most Popular J&J Vaccine Story On Facebook? A Conspiracy Theorist Posted It | Added April 16
CNN. ABC News. The New York Times. Fox News.
Those are the publishers of four of the five most popular Facebook posts of articles about the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this week. They’re ranked 2 to 5 in total interactions, according to data from the tracking tool CrowdTangle.
The No. 1 posting, however, isn’t from a news organization. Or a government official. Or a public health expert.
The most popular link on Facebook about the Johnson & Johnson news was shared by a conspiracy theorist and self-described “news analyst & hip-hop artist” named An0maly who thinks the pandemic is a cover for government control.
It’s a stark example of what experts warn could be a coming deluge of false or misleading information related to the one-shot vaccine.
In the case of the post by An0maly, a representative for Facebook said the company has taken action against previous posts of his that have broken the social media platform’s rules, and broadly removed more than 16 million pieces of content over the past year related to Covid-19 misinformation, but because this specific post did not contain any factually incorrect information, it would stay up.
Experts call this sort of tactic gray area misinformation, and say it can have the same impact on an audience as blatant falsehoods when it’s being received without proper context or by people with preconceived ideas.
Scientists claim new coronavirus tests can detect variants, acknowledging this may change | Added April 16
In January 2020, just weeks after the first Covid-19 cases emerged in China, the full genome of the new coronavirus was published online. This genomic sequence is how scientists scrambled to come up with diagnostic tests for the virus. But since last year, the virus has mutated and the coronavirus has evolved.
The emergence of new variants has sparked a flurry of interest in developing tests for specific viral mutations and prompted concerns about the accuracy of some existing tests. The Food and Drug Administration has warned that new mutations in the coronavirus could render some tests less effective. Last week, PATH, a global health nonprofit, launched two online dashboards to monitor how certain variants might affect the performance of diagnostic tests.
“With these Covid diagnostics, we were on a time crunch, we had to get something out there,” said Lorraine Lillis, the scientific program officer at PATH. “Diagnostics take a long, long time, and we’d normally challenge them with multiple variants.” Now, she added, they are doing that, “but in real time.”
“The Establishment” by Jen Sorensen | Added April 15
Vitamin D and Covid a year on | Added April 15
When the pandemic hit, many Americans turned to vitamins and supplements in hopes of boosting their immune systems.
Scientists also raced to study them. Vitamin D, perhaps more than any other, captured the attention of researchers.
Even the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, Anthony Fauci, embraced the idea of using the vitamin to help keep COVID-19 at bay, saying in September that he takes a supplement to avoid being deficient and “would not mind recommending” it to others.
So should you take vitamin D to prevent or even treat COVID-19?
More than a year into the pandemic, many of the studies that can offer high-quality evidence are still in the works, but there’s now enough out there to offer clues — as well as fodder for spirited debate — about the question.
The Independent: Pentagon unveils microchip that senses Covid in the body | Added April 15
The 60 Minutes episode referenced below may be found here, and the relevant segment begins at 14:55. Note also: we previously reported on the USS Theodore Roosevelt in July of last year.
And they have also developed a revolutionary filter that can remove the virus from the patient’s blood through a dialysis machine.
Researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) say they have been working for years on ways to prevent and to end pandemics.
Their work on the microchip was revealed on 60 Minutes on CBS on Sunday night.
Retired Colonel Matt Hepburn, an army infectious disease physician leading DARPA’s response to the pandemic, showed off the technology on the show.
The idea for the invention came after 1,271 infections were recorded on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier in 2020.
The microchip, which does not track movements, is carried in a tissue-like gel and is designed to continuously test the patient’s blood.
Denmark to permanently stop administering AstraZeneca vaccine | Added April 15
Denmark on Wednesday became the first country to plan to permanently stop administering the AstraZeneca vaccine, a month after suspending its use following reports that a small number of recipients had developed a rare but serious blood-clotting disorder.
The director general of the country’s health authority, Soeren Brostroem, said Denmark was able to halt use of the vaccine because it had the pandemic under control and could rely on two other vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna.
The Danish announcement is another setback for the AstraZeneca shot, which is easy to store and relatively cheap, and was expected to be the foundation of vaccination campaigns around the world.
CNBC: CDC panel postpones decision on J&J vaccine while it investigates rare but serious blood-clot issue | Added April 15
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel on Wednesday decided to postpone a decision on Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine while it investigates cases of six women developing a rare but potentially life-threatening blood-clotting disorder that left one dead and one in critical condition.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met a day after the Food and Drug Administration asked states to temporarily halt using J&J’s vaccine “out of an abundance of caution.” The panel voted unanimously to reconvene in a week, when it will decide what it will recommend to the CDC on J&J’s vaccine.
The postponement means the pause on J&J’s vaccine will remain in effect.
Amid lockdown, French authorities investigate claims of secret dinner parties being held by government officials and other wealthy guests | Added April 15
French prosecutors have opened an investigation into claims government ministers and other wealthy guests attended secret Paris dinners that broke Covid rules.
The scandal emerged after the television channel M6 broadcast hidden camera footage allegedly from a high-end restaurant where diners were shown enjoying caviar and champagne as part of gastronomic menus costing up to €490. The address was known only to a “privileged few”, M6 claimed.
The film showed diners failing to maintain recommended Covid rules including not socially distancing, not wearing masks and some greeting each other with bises (kisses on the cheek). Staff were also shown without masks.
It emerged shortly after the French president, Emmanuel Macron, ordered coronavirus restrictions be extended to the whole country as the number of cases soar. All French restaurants and cafes have been closed since the end of October.
Stanford study finds masks ‘ineffective’ | Added April 14
The existing scientific evidences challenge the safety and efficacy of wearing facemask as preventive intervention for COVID-19. The data suggest that both medical and non-medical facemasks are ineffective to block human-to-human transmission of viral and infectious disease such SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, supporting against the usage of facemasks. Wearing facemasks has been demonstrated to have substantial adverse physiological and psychological effects. These include hypoxia, hypercapnia, shortness of breath, increased acidity and toxicity, activation of fear and stress response, rise in stress hormones, immunosuppression, fatigue, headaches, decline in cognitive performance, predisposition for viral and infectious illnesses, chronic stress, anxiety and depression. Long-term consequences of wearing facemask can cause health deterioration, developing and progression of chronic diseases and premature death. Governments, policy makers and health organizations should utilize prosper and scientific evidence-based approach with respect to wearing facemasks, when the latter is considered as preventive intervention for public health.
Nebraska woman dead, second in critical condition, after receiving Johnson & Johnson vaccine, causing US to suspend the shot | Added April 14
Injections of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine came to a sudden halt across the country on Tuesday after federal health agencies called for a pause in the vaccine’s use as they examine a rare blood-clotting disorder that emerged in six recipients.
All six were women between the ages of 18 and 48, and all developed the illness within one to three weeks of vaccination. One woman in Virginia died, and a second woman in Nebraska has been hospitalized in critical condition.
More than seven million people in the United States have received Johnson & Johnson shots so far, and another 10 million doses have been shipped out to the states, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” Dr. Peter Marks, the director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, and Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the C.D.C., said in a joint statement. “Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare.”
In wake of volcanic eruption on St. Vincent, ships to evacuate only the vaccinated | Added April 14
People on the volcano-stricken island of St. Vincent will be evacuated to certain neighboring islands only if they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19, the nation’s prime minister said.
Cruise ships have been dispatched to the island that is being partially evacuated after the 4,000-foot high volcano La Soufrière erupted on Friday.
Some are due to be temporarily housed in the neighboring islands of St. Lucia, Grenada, Barbados, and Antigua.
But most of the islands would require vaccination before they take anybody in.
“If people are willing to welcome you at a time of COVID-19, they will wish you to have the highest level of protection possible,” Gonsalves told reporters on Saturday.
St. Lucia is not requesting people to be vaccinated to come, he said, but it may require vaccination on arrival.
“We have to manage all of this during the time of COVID-19,” Gonsalves told NBC 6 on Sunday. “We have managed the pandemic quite well. We have had only 10 deaths.”
The Atlantic: America’s Health Will Soon Be in the Hands of Very Minor Internet Celebrities | Added April 14
Influencers look like a simple solution to a common problem for public-health communicators: They need to reach people who don’t want to be reached, but who spend a lot of time on the internet.
Familiar faces can affect health-related behaviors, for better or worse. (Imagine a Millennial who vapes because she saw it on Instagram and who gets an annual mammogram because she read about Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy.) So a local health department might try to use that influence for highly targeted outreach that fills the gaps in traditional media campaigns. Rob Perry, the CEO of XOMAD, told me that his public-health efforts tend to draw on influencers with fewer than 10,000 followers. “What’s important is that they’re not professional influencers,” he said. “They have jobs. The vast majority have never even been paid for a post before we contact them. They have real connections with their followers, and their content is seen as organic.”
These campaigns are built on good information, because influencers are able to confer with experts on XOMAD’s custom-built forums. But the campaigns are not specifically about information. They’re about personal stories, emotional appeals, and that buzzword, authenticity. The tactic is a borrowed one, taken from anti-vaccine activists and the vaccine-suspicious wellness influencers who have been parroting their talking points on social media for the past decade. Prior to the pandemic, “the phenomenon of anti-vaccine messaging was going through these networked, authentic voices,” says Kate Starbird, a disinformation researcher at the University of Washington. “The rhetoric is, You can’t trust the government; you can’t trust science; you can’t trust the pharmaceutical companies.” If the government’s top-down communications aren’t getting through, why not try doing what the anti-vaxxers do, and go bottom-up?
Mick Jagger releases song with Dave Grohl promoting Covid-19 vaccines | Added April 14
Mick Jagger must be getting antsy not being on the road in the studio with the Rolling Stones. He’s dropped a new single this morning, with Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters. The lyrics are all about COVID, masks, and the vaccine, which Mick is promoting. He’s sending up the anti-vaxxers.
CNN: Fauci says we can’t end mitigation measures now even with impressive vaccine rollout | Added April 13
While the rollout of vaccines in the United States is “really impressive,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN on Monday, Americans still need to do two things to blunt the pandemic.
First, they must continue getting their shots, he said. Second, they must avoid declaring victory prematurely and putting aside the methods that helped bring down cases before a recent rise.
“We see pulling back on so many of the public health measures, the mask mandates, the restaurant opening, the bars. We can’t be doing that. We’ve got to wait a bit longer,” he told CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”
Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor and chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, said that if the US keeps a pace of 3 to 4 million vaccination shots per day, “pretty soon we’re going to see a turnaround.”
Biden’s spending plan calls for significant increase to CDC funding | Added April 13
From The New York Times:
President Biden’s spending plan calls for an almost 25 percent increase in discretionary funding — to $131.7 billion — for the Health and Human Services Department, the hub of the federal government’s pandemic response.
That increase includes a $1.6 billion increase for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an agency public health experts have viewed as chronically underfunded and neglected until public health emergencies. Data collection would be modernized, and epidemiologists would be trained to support local health departments.
Almost a billion dollars would go to the Strategic National Stockpile, the country’s emergency medical reserve, for supplies and efforts to restructure it that began last year.
NPR: CDC Director Declares Racism A ‘Serious Public Health Threat’ | Added April 13
Racism is a scourge in American society. It’s also a serious public health threat, according to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a statement released Thursday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky pointed to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, as seen in case numbers, deaths and social consequence.
“Yet, the disparities seen over the past year were not a result of COVID-19,” Walensky said. “Instead, the pandemic illuminated inequities that have existed for generations and revealed for all of America a known, but often unaddressed, epidemic impacting public health: racism.”
NYT: Pfizer and BioNTech requested the F.D.A.’s authorization to use their vaccine in 12- to 15-year-olds | Added April 13
Pfizer and BioNTech requested on Friday that the Food and Drug Administration expand the emergency use authorization for their coronavirus vaccine to permit its use in children ages 12 to 15. If broadened, young adolescents could start getting vaccinated before going back to school in the fall.
The companies plan to request similar authorizations from health agencies around the world in the coming days, they said in a joint statement.
“These submissions represent a critical step in Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s ongoing efforts to support governments in broadening global vaccination efforts,” the statement said. Clinical trial results found the vaccine highly effective in that age group, the companies said last month.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for use via emergency authorization in people 16 and older. Granting approval for its use in the younger age group would also speed the country’s efforts to reach herd immunity, which will depend on vaccinating children.
Small-scale studies are underway to test updated Covid-19 vaccines aimed at variants | Added April 12
Dozens of Americans are rolling up their sleeves for a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine — this time, shots tweaked to guard against a worrisome mutated version of the virus.
“We need to be ahead of the virus,” said Dr. Nadine Rouphael of Emory University, who is helping to lead a study of Moderna’s tweaked candidate. “We know what it’s like when we’re behind.”
It’s not clear if or when protection would wane enough to require an update but, “realistically we want to turn COVID into a sniffle,” she added.
The good news: It’s fairly easy to update the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. They’re made with a piece of genetic code called messenger RNA that tells the body how to make some harmless spike copies that in turn train immune cells. The companies simply swapped out the original vaccine’s genetic code with mRNA for the mutated spike protein — this time, the one from South Africa.
Studies getting underway this month include a few hundred people, very different than the massive testing needed to prove the original shots work. Scientists must make sure the mRNA substitution doesn’t trigger different side effects.
Tanzania’s new president moves country away from late president Magufuli’s stance on Covid-19 | Added April 12
Tanzania’s role as a global leader in Covid-19 denial is coming to an end.
The country’s new president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, who took over last month following the death of prominent coronavirus skeptic John Magufuli, is aiming to unravel her predecessor’s hard-line policy which categorized the pandemic as “satanic,” stopped counting cases and refused to accept vaccines.
Ms. Hassan’s policy reversal could bring Tanzania back from mounting international isolation and thaw strained ties with foreign investors, whose money the country has relied on for years, in the mining and energy mining sectors. It could also dent the swelling coronavirus-skepticism across East and Central Africa that was led by the late president and has been flourishing in the region’s most impoverished states.
“You are Damaged and Only We Can Repair You” — read from OffGuardian | Added April 12
If there is a master trope in the discourse of consumerism, it is this: “You are defective and we, only we, can repair you.” Listening to this repeatedly in advertising on a day-to-day basis, works, in time, and in the effective absence of any other attractive model of the good life, like the waves that wear down the sharp edges the stones located near the tide line at the beach.
Looking at our covidophobic, or perhaps more accurately, covidophilic world of 2021, it seems clearer and clearer that the long agony of modernity is finally over. Westerners are very tired, so tired that they are not even interested in minimally investigating the very questionable logics and findings of the oracles of the new church of biosafety.
The signs of what Unamuno called “the reason of unreason” are everywhere.
Like the peasants of yesteryear with their garlic necklaces, people now devotedly wear masks that, no matter what the public health authorities and their media lackeys say and repeat, have no clear cut, scientifically proven efficacy against the transmission of the virus.
And they cannot wait to take an experimental and non-fully licensed vaccine for a disease that has a survival rate of more than 99.5%.
NPR: The Vaccine Passport Debate Actually Began In 1897 Over A Plague Vaccine | Added April 12
This isn’t the first time the world has been engaged in a conversation about “vaccine passports.” And there even is a version of a passport currently in use – the World Health Organization-approved yellow card, which since 1969 has been a document for travelers to certain countries to show proof of vaccination for yellow fever and other shots. Without which they can’t visit those countries.
But first, let’s flash back to the late 19th century – 1897 to be exact. A scientist from Odessa, Russia, Waldemar Haffkine, developed a vaccine for plague. He was hailed as the “Jewish Jenner” (a shout-out to Edward Jenner, inventor of the smallpox vaccine in 1796).
Once Haffkine’s vaccine was put into use in British India, discussions started about asking for proof of vaccination in certain circumstances, according to Sanjoy Bhattacharya, a professor of history at the University of York in the U.K. and director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Global Heath Histories.
NYT: Vaccinated Mothers Are Trying to Give Babies Antibodies via Breast Milk | Added April 10
As soon as Courtney Lynn Koltes returned home from her first Covid-19 vaccine appointment, she pulled out a breast pump. She had quit breastfeeding her daughter about two months earlier because of a medication conflict. But she was off those pills, and she had recently stumbled across research suggesting that antibodies from a vaccinated mother could be passed to her baby through milk.
Getting the milk flowing again — a process known as relactation — would not be easy. She planned to pump on every odd-numbered hour from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. But Ms. Koltes and her husband were eager to finally introduce their 4-month-old daughter to family members, and with children not yet eligible for vaccination, she was willing to try.
“I am starting to see very slow progress, so it is all worth it if it means I can protect her,” Ms. Koltes, who lives in Orange County, Calif., said last week — nine days after receiving her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Summit News: World Economic Forum Promotes ‘Smart Mask’ That Alerts You if You Forget to Wear It | Added April 10
Respondents warn it could be linked to social credit score system.
The World Economic Forum is promoting a ‘smart mask’ that tracks your breathing and alerts you via an app if you wear it improperly or forget to wear it at all.
A video clip posted to the WEF’s official Twitter account this morning hypes the “the mask of the future,” designed by Chinese firm CirQ Technologies.
The smart mask tells you when to wash it, whether you’re wearing it properly, and alerts you via a sensor linked to a cellphone app when you’ve left it at home.
The environmental benefits of the mask are also touted as it would cut down on the number of disposable face masks that end up in land fills.
Official at Baltimore vaccine plant where millions of doses were ruined had warned of problems last year | Added April 10
A top federal pandemic official warned last June that Emergent BioSolutions, the government contractor that last month threw out millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines because of contamination, lacked enough trained workers and had a record of problems with quality control.
A copy of the official’s assessment, obtained by The New York Times, cited “key risks” in relying on Emergent to handle the production of vaccines developed by both Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca at Emergent’s Bayview plant in Baltimore.
The assessment, which has not been released publicly, was based in part on a visit to the plant days after the government awarded Emergent a contract worth up to $628 million, mostly to prepare its factories to make coronavirus vaccines as part of Operation Warp Speed.
Reuters: J&J COVID-19 vaccine under EU review over blood clots | Added April 10
Europe’s drug regulator said on Friday it is reviewing rare blood clots in four people in the United States who received Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.
The European Medicines Agency’s safety committee has also been looking at how AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine is associated with very rare cases of unusual blood clots and said it was now reviewing reports of capillary leak syndrome in people given AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
Johnson & Johnson (J&J) said it was aware of the rare reports of blood clots in individuals given its COVID-19 vaccine, and was working with regulators to assess the data and provide relevant information.
“At present, no clear causal relationship has been established between these rare events and the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine,” the company said in an emailed statement.
European Court of Human Rights deems obligatory vaccines ‘necessary in democratic society’ | Added April 10
The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Thursday that obligatory vaccinations can be seen as necessary in democratic societies, in a landmark judgement after a complaint brought by Czech families over compulsory jabs for children.
This is the first time that the ECHR has delivered a judgement about compulsory vaccination against childhood diseases.
Experts say it could have implications for any policy of compulsory vaccinations against Covid-19.
The Czech cases were lodged between 2013-2015, well before the current pandemic.
“The… measures could be regarded as being ‘necessary in a democratic society'” the court ruled, saying that the Czech health policy was consistent with the “best interests” of children.
“The objective has to be that every child is protected against serious diseases, through vaccination or by virtue of herd immunity,” it added.
As a result, the court ruled there had been no violation of Article 8 on the right to respect for private life of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The decision was by the court’s Grand Chamber and cannot be appealed.
Samuel Adams offers free beers for those who receive Covid-19 vaccination | Added April 10
Beer brand Samuel Adams is offering fans a free beverage for getting their COVID-19 vaccine as part of a new promotional campaign.
Beginning April 12, the popular Boston-based beer brand will send fans who post a vaccination sticker or bandage $7 through Cash App for a beer at their favorite bar.
Britain offers conflicting messages in advising under-30s against AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine while continuing to promote the shot | Added April 9
British officials and ministers sought to shore up confidence in AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, saying advice that most people under 30 should be offered alternative shots was not unusual and would not impact the pace of rollout.
A pharmacist whose brother died from a brain blood clot linked to the AstraZeneca shot was among those calling for people to keep getting it, saying the doses would save lives.
Officials said the suggestion that under-30s should be offered an alternative did not reflect any serious safety concerns, just a “vanishingly” rare possible side effect.
Anthony Harnden, Deputy Chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which issued the new advice, said such suggestions were not unusual, pointing out that people of different ages already got different flu shots in Britain.
CHD: Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Site Shut Down After 11 People Suffer Reactions, 2 Hospitalized | Added April 9
More than 600 people with appointments were turned away from a mass vaccination site in Commerce City, Colorado, after several vaccine recipients suffered adverse reactions to the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) one-shot COVID vaccine.
Centura Health, which helped run the community vaccination center at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, said in a statement posted to Twitter that 11 patients who received the vaccine experienced adverse reactions. Two people were transferred to the hospital after medical staff determined they required additional observation. Centura officials did not specify what reactions were observed or their severity.
CDC belatedly recognizes scientific consensus that SARS-CoV-2 does not spread on surfaces | Added April 9
The admission is long overdue, scientists say.
“Finally,” said Linsey Marr, an expert on airborne viruses at Virginia Tech. “We’ve known this for a long time and yet people are still focusing so much on surface cleaning.” She added, “There’s really no evidence that anyone has ever gotten Covid-19 by touching a contaminated surface.”
During the early days of the pandemic, many experts believed that the virus spread primarily through large respiratory droplets. These droplets are too heavy to travel long distances through the air but can fall onto objects and surfaces.
In this context, a focus on scrubbing down every surface seemed to make sense. “Surface cleaning is more familiar,” Dr. Marr said. “We know how to do it. You can see people doing it, you see the clean surface. And so I think it makes people feel safer.”
But over the last year, it has become increasingly clear that the virus spreads primarily through the air — in both large and small droplets, which can remain aloft longer — and that scouring door handles and subway seats does little to keep people safe.
“The scientific basis for all this concern about surfaces is very slim — slim to none,” said Emanuel Goldman, a microbiologist at Rutgers University, who wrote last summer that the risk of surface transmission had been overblown. “This is a virus you get by breathing. It’s not a virus you get by touching.”
NPR: Vaccine Refusal May Put Herd Immunity At Risk, Researchers Warn | Added April 9
Despite the fact that millions of people have been vaccinated safely, Kraner worries about complications. She believes some people are having “life-threatening reactions” to the vaccine that the media aren’t reporting. (Many such reports shared on social media are false or misleading.) And she’s worried because it’s so new: “We don’t know the long-term effects. We don’t know what it’s going to do.”
A recent NPR/Marist poll found that one in four Americans said they would refuse a coronavirus vaccine outright if offered. Another 5% are “undecided” about whether they would get the shot. Although the numbers were highest for Republican men and residents of rural areas, there were still a significant number of people across all ages and demographic groups who claim they will say “no.”
Now some researchers are increasingly worried that this reticence will be enough to prevent the nation from reaching what’s known as herd immunity, the point at which the coronavirus can no longer spread easily through the population and transmission peters out. Reaching high levels of vaccination would mean new outbreaks of the coronavirus would die down quickly, as opposed to growing and spreading.
Vaccinated and unvaccinated sections now in place for Miami Heat games | Added April 9
Vaccinated fans will soon have their own sections at Miami Heat games.
The Heat announced plans Tuesday to open two sections in their lower bowl only for fully vaccinated fans starting with an April 1 game against the Golden State Warriors. The Heat are the first NBA team to reveal such a plan, though other clubs are believed to be working on similar measures.
Masks will still be required, even for the vaccinated fans, but social distancing rules will be slightly relaxed in those areas.
The NBA told teams last week that such sections would be allowed, under very specific conditions and in accordance with local and state health and safety guidelines. If any of the sections provided by teams include seats within 30 feet of the court, fans in those seats will have to take a PCR test two days prior to the game or an approved antigen test on game day.
Japan to launch automated PCR testing | Added April 9
A fully automated coronavirus testing system began operations at Fujita Health University in Toyoake, in the prefecture of Aichi, last month.
The system uses robots to conduct polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests, significantly reducing infection risks for technicians.
“The system will reduce the burden on medical workers, who are becoming exhausted from measures aimed at preventing infections,” especially as Japan braces for a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases, Hiroyasu Ito, a professor at the university, said.
CDC discourages travel to from US to Canada even for those vaccinated | Added April 8
Travel to Canada from the United States is being discouraged by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, saying that even those who are fully vaccinated could be infected and spread COVID-19 variants.
The CDC rates COVID-19 travel advisories from Level 1 (low) to Level 4 (very high), and it has labeled Canada a Level 4 danger zone. The highest level warrants the following advice from the CDC:
- Travelers should avoid all travel to Canada.
- Because of the current situation in Canada even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to Canada.
- If you must travel to Canada, get fully vaccinated before travel. All travelers should wear a mask, stay 6 feet from others, avoid crowds, and wash their hands.
The warning from the CDC comes just after U.S. Reps. Michelle Fischbach and Pete Stauber, both Minnesota Republicans, have encouraged the reopening of the Canadian border due to the impact the closure has had on the Minnesota. economy.
Reuters: Italy, Britain suggest age limits for AstraZeneca vaccine but still recommend it | Added April 8
Italy recommended on Wednesday that AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot only be used on those over 60 and Britain that people under 30 should get an alternative, due to possible links between the vaccine and very rare cases of blood clots.
More than a dozen countries have at one time suspended use of the vaccine, which has been given to tens of millions in Europe. But most have resumed, with some, including France, the Netherlands and Germany, recommending a minimum age.
European Union health ministers failed to agree common guidance on the use of the shot, despite calls for coordination across member states to combat public hesitancy over a vaccine set to be a key component of many vaccination programmes.
Angela Merkel wants another lockdown in Germany — a short one this time | Added April 8
On Wednesday, a German government spokeswoman said the chancellor was in favor of a short nationwide lockdown to help stem rising coronavirus figures.
As Germany struggles to tackle a third wave of COVID-19 cases during a sluggish vaccination campaign, several state leaders have backed calls for a period of strict restrictions.
“Every call for a short, uniform lockdown is right,” said spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer. “Also, a common nationwide approach would be important here.”
The differing rules across the country’s 16 states “is not contributing to security and acceptance at the moment,” she added.
Collection of scientist call for new investigation into Covid-19 origins | Added April 8
A joint China-World Health Organization (WHO) study into COVID-19 has provided no credible answers about how the pandemic began, and more rigorous investigations are required – with or without Beijing’s involvement, a group of international scientists and researchers said on Wednesday.
The joint study, released last week, said the likeliest transmission route for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, involved bats and other wildlife in China and southeast Asia. It all but ruled out the possibility it had leaked from a laboratory.
In an open letter, 24 scientists and researchers from Europe, the United States, Australia and Japan said the study was tainted by politics.
SCMP: Philippines man dies after being forced to do 300 squats for breaking coronavirus curfew | Added April 8
The chief of police in a town in the Philippines has been relieved from his post after the death of a man who was caught violating curfew, reportedly due to excessive physical punishment.
Darren Penaredondo, 28, died on Saturday after allegedly being forced by police to do 300 rounds of squats. His wife, Reichelyn Balce, said Penaredondo went out on Thursday to buy water, was arrested by village watchmen and then turned over to the police.
Her husband had a heart condition and could barely walk when he got home on Friday and was “in a lot of pain”, she said. The next day he had a “convulsion” and died hours later.
California to reopen fully by June 15, two months after Covid-19 shot will be available to all adults | Added April 7
June 15 is expected to be the end of California’s current reopening roadmap, which sorts counties into one of four color-coded tiers based on three metrics: coronavirus case rates, adjusted based on the number of tests performed; the rate of positive test results; and a health-equity metric intended to ensure that the positive test rate in poorer communities is not significantly higher than the county’s overall figure.
“The entire state will move into this phase as a whole. This will not be county-by-county,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s health and human services secretary, said in a call with reporters.
In a statement, officials said those sectors included in the state’s reopening blueprint will be allowed to “return to usual operations in compliance with Cal/OSHA requirements and with common-sense public health policies in place, such as required masking, testing and with vaccinations encouraged. Large-scale indoor events, such as conventions, will be allowed to occur with testing or vaccination verification requirements.”
A successful statewide reopening in June confers a major political upside for the governor, who faces a likely recall election in the fall.
Newsom’s chances of surviving a recall could be higher if Californians have resumed some form of pre-COVID-19 life when they cast their ballots. Mass vaccinations and the return of in-person education are critical to that sense of normality.
OffGuardian: Jab-erwacky (or, Why Are People So Crazy about Being Guinea Pigs?) | Added April 7
About twelve hours ago I passed a sort of personal milestone: I found, and read, an ecstatic Facebook post from the twentieth person I know who has received a dose of one of those experimental drugs the U.S. government, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars of our money, is trying to persuade us to turn loose on our immune systems.
Yes – I’ve been keeping count of those weird effusions of relief and self-congratulation from the latest dupes of the coronavirus coup. To be honest, they baffle me. And infuriate me.
At first, I couldn’t believe that anyone would boast of turning himself into a human guinea pig, without getting a cent in compensation, just to add to the profits of a corporate camorra. Then I couldn’t believe I’d find five such posts on Facebook. Then I bet myself that I’d never encounter ten of them.
Well, now I’ve seen twenty.
Biden announces all adults will be eligible for Covid-19 shot April 19, two weeks earlier than planned | Added April 7
President Joe Biden said Tuesday that all adults in the U.S. should be eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine by April 19 as he pleaded with Americans to not let their guard down in the coming weeks as the number of new infections continues to rise.
The new deadline to expand eligibility — which is two weeks earlier than Biden had previously targeted — should not be difficult to meet since several states have already begun administering the vaccine to anyone over 16 who wants it.
“No more confusing rules, no more confusing restrictions,” said Biden, who appealed specifically to seniors to get vaccinated now before more people join the queue.
New York Times realizes vaccine passports are the next big controversy | Added April 7
Around the country, businesses, schools and politicians are considering “vaccine passports” — digital proof of vaccination against the coronavirus — as a path to reviving the economy and getting Americans back to work and play. Businesses especially fear that too many customers will stay away unless they can be assured that the other patrons have been inoculated.
But the idea is raising charged legal and ethical questions: Can businesses require employees or customers to provide proof — digital or otherwise — that they have been vaccinated when the coronavirus vaccine is ostensibly voluntary?
Can schools require that students prove they have been injected with what is still officially an experimental prophylaxis the same way they require long-approved vaccines for measles and polio? And finally, can governments mandate vaccinations — or stand in the way of businesses or educational institutions that demand proof?
Legal experts say the answer to all of these questions is generally yes, though in a society so divided, politicians are already girding for a fight. Government entities like school boards and the Army can require vaccinations for entry, service and travel — practices that flow from a 1905 Supreme Court ruling that said states could require residents to be vaccinated against smallpox or pay a fine.
Honest journalism about Covid is hard to find. Please support Chiron Return with a one-time or monthly contribution.
Colleges deciding whether to require students to be vaccinated for fall semester | Added April 6
At least five U.S. colleges and universities have announced plans in the last few days to require Covid-19 vaccinations for students who will be on campus in the fall. But many more colleges have said they would not require vaccination or would wait and see before setting a policy.
Students at Cornell University in New York, Rutgers University in New Jersey, Fort Lewis College in Colorado, Nova Southeastern University in Florida and St. Edward’s University in Texas will have to be vaccinated before the fall term begins, with a few exceptions for medical, religious or other reasons.
“Covid-19 has made it very clear just how impactful and necessary it is for us to have an educational experience in person, and vaccines are our way of ensuring that we can be together for a normal fall semester,” Tom Stritikus, the president of Fort Lewis, wrote in a letter explaining the mandate.
Honest journalism about Covid is hard to find. Please support Chiron Return with a one-time or monthly contribution.
CHD: Feds Won’t Mandate Vaccine Passports, But Will Help States, Businesses, Schools Develop Standards | Added April 6
The U.S. government won’t mandate vaccine passports, multiple news outlets reported today, but that doesn’t mean states, schools and private entities can’t or won’t.
Andy Slavitt, senior adviser for the White House COVID-19 Task Force, said today the U.S. does not plan to create vaccine passports. Instead, Slavitt said states can develop their own system and the federal government will help develop standards for equity and privacy that programs need to uphold.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to President Biden, echoed Slavitt’s comments during a podcast today with the Politico Dispatch. Fauci said he doubts the federal government would be the “main mover of a vaccine passport concept” but he could see “individual entities” — such as businesses or schools — requiring vaccine passports to enter their buildings, Axios reported.
Honest journalism about Covid is hard to find. Please support Chiron Return with a one-time or monthly contribution.
NYT: White Evangelical Resistance Is Obstacle in Vaccination Effort | Added April 6
Stephanie Nana, an evangelical Christian in Edmond, Okla., refused to get a Covid-19 vaccine because she believed it contained “aborted cell tissue.”
Nathan French, who leads a nondenominational ministry in Tacoma, Wash., said he received a divine message that God was the ultimate healer and deliverer: “The vaccine is not the savior.”
Lauri Armstrong, a Bible-believing nutritionist outside of Dallas, said she did not need the vaccine because God designed the body to heal itself, if given the right nutrients. More than that, she said, “It would be God’s will if I am here or if I am not here.”
The deeply held spiritual convictions or counterfactual arguments may vary. But across white evangelical America, reasons not to get vaccinated have spread as quickly as the virus that public health officials are hoping to overcome through herd immunity.
The Guardian: Everyone in England to be offered twice-weekly Covid tests, PM to say | April 6
The testing scheme, involving kits for use at home or at test centres, workplaces and schools, is billed as a means to limit any continued community transmission of the virus, in parallel with the vaccination programme, and as a way to track outbreaks of potentially vaccine-resistant Covid variants.
Boris Johnson is to unveil a plan for routine, universal Covid-19 tests as a means to ease England out of lockdown, as the government faced a renewed backlash over the idea of app-based “passports” to permit people entry into crowded places and events.
Six months after Johnson unveiled plans for “Operation Moonshot”, a £100bn mass testing scheme that never delivered on its stated aim of preventing another lockdown, all people in England will be offered two Covid tests a week from Friday.
The prime minister is to announce the rollout of the lateral flow tests at a press conference on Monday afternoon, at which he will also outline a programme of trial events for mass gatherings, as well as proposals for potentially restarting foreign travel.
The testing scheme, involving kits for use at home or at test centres, workplaces and schools, is billed as a means to limit any continued community transmission of the virus, in parallel with the vaccination programme, and as a way to track outbreaks of potentially vaccine-resistant Covid variants.
GP surgeries, hospitals and supermarkets set to be exempt from Covid vaccine passports according to Boris Johnson ahead of announcement | Added April 6
Hospitals, GP surgeries and supermarkets could be excluded from any Covid vaccine passport scheme, according to reports, as Boris Johnson prepares to announce more details of on Monday.
Ministers could create a list of ‘essential’ public buildings which could be banned from excluding members of the public who have not had a jab, according to the Times.
It comes as the Government is said to be looking at the idea of Covid status certificates ‘increasingly seriously’.
negative, or has shown anti-bodies.
Pubs, bars and restaurants have previously been earmarked as businesses which may have to implement a Covid passport system.
NBC: Walgreens to Change COVID Vaccine Scheduler for Some Second Doses After Complaints | Added April 6
Walgreens on Monday said it planned to change the COVID vaccine scheduler on its website following complaints that the pharmacy wasn’t adhering to federal health officials’ recommended timeline for some second doses.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that the two doses for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine be spaced three weeks, or 21 days, apart. That timeframe is shorter than the recommended space between the two doses of Moderna’s vaccine, which is 28 days or one month.
The CDC says the second doses of both “should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible, but not earlier than recommended” and that if a delay in the second dose is “unavoidable,” either can be administered up to six weeks after the first, though limited data is available on the efficacy of the vaccines beyond that window.
Orange tier, more lenient phase of reopening, to begin in Los Angeles County on Monday | Added April 5
Los Angeles County on Monday will relax more restrictions put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus when it moves into the orange tier, the second-most-lenient of the state’s four-phase reopening blueprint.
Still, it’s important for people to continue to take precautions, especially as they start participating in more activities outside their homes, officials said.
“Our numbers have improved dramatically, but we cannot let up,” Barbara Ferrer, the county public health director, said in a statement. “While we are making good progress with vaccination efforts, we have about a dozen more weeks before we can expect to reach 80% vaccine coverage for people 16 and older.”
Here’s what will change Monday when L.A. County’s new rules take effect:
WSJ: Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 Vaccine Emerges as Preferred Shot for Homeless | Added April 5
Johnson & Johnson’s JNJ -0.92% Covid-19 vaccine has found a niche among organizations that work with the homeless, who say the one-dose shot is better-suited for a population that can be difficult to reach twice.
The U.S. homeless population has soared during the pandemic. Shelters have become a source of spread as experts puzzle over how to stem stubbornly high infection rates despite an aggressive national vaccine rollout.
In Chicago, the Night Ministry, a group that serves the homeless, has increasingly used the J&J vaccine since it was approved by U.S. regulators in late February. Before that the group had only the Moderna Inc. MRNA 1.22% vaccine, which requires two shots. But the often-transient population can be tough to find a second time, said Stephan Koruba, a nurse practitioner with the Night Ministry, especially those sleeping on the Chicago Transit Authority train system. Now, the group offers both.
Thousands in Brussels gather for fake music festival touting no Covid restrictions | Added April 5
In an April Fool’s Day joke that went wrong, a fake announcement of a music festival contributed to thousands gathering in a major park in Brussels on Thursday in defiance of Covid-19 restrictions. As the police confronted the crowd, several officers and participants were wounded, and four people were arrested.
The unusually warm weather in the city would most likely have drawn people to the park in higher numbers, but the prank added to the density. The level of frustration, particularly among younger people, is high in Belgium, as new Covid-19 cases are increasing and hospitals become saturated despite months of restrictions.
The hoax festival, announced on Facebook and called “La Boum,” a slang word in French for a party, promised the appearance of famous DJs, including David Guetta, and claimed that no coronavirus rules would be followed.
European Medicines Agency says “no evidence” is available to support suspending the AstraZeneca vaccine | Added April 5
The EMA said that an expert panel – including hematologists, neurologists and epidemiologists – had not been able to identify any specific risk factors including age, gender, or previous medical disorder that predisposed people to “these very rare events.”
Emer Cooke, EMA’s executive director, said that a “causal link” between rare blood disorders and AstraZeneca’s vaccine was not proven, but it was “possible” and analysis was ongoing.
The EMA will aim to reach a “scientific conclusion next week,” she said.
OffGuardian: Scenes from 2030 | Added April 5
“Oh. Hi. How are you?”
“I’m good. How do you like my shoes?”
“Nice. Are those…”
“Yeah. The original Nike Lil Nas X Satan’s Shoes, version 2030.”
“Wow. But don’t those cost a fortune? How can you afford them, with just the Universal Basic Income?”
“Well, duh. I didn’t buy them, dude. I’m just renting them from Amazon Prime, of course. All of my clothes are rented, including the original Calvin Klein underwear.”
“Eew… Well, they did say that ‘you’ll own nothing, and you’ll be happy’…”
“What are you talking about?”
“Nothing, just remembering an old joke here. So, what’s new? What are your plans for next week?”
“Not sure. Maybe I’ll go to the City Hall Yearly Masked Ball. You want to come? The masks are all N95 compliant, so it’s safe.”
“No, thanks. I thought you were travelling to Italy for the holidays?”
“Nah, I can’t board a plane this month. I didn’t get my Moderna monthly booster shots. I wanted to, but the lines were so big, the next appointment available for me is only next month.”
“This Covid-29 is really pesky, isn’t it?”
NPR: CDC Says Travel Is Safe For Fully Vaccinated People, But Opposes Nonessential Trips | Added April 3
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its domestic travel guidance for fully vaccinated people, lifting certain testing and self-quarantine requirements and recommending precautions like wearing a mask and avoiding crowds. But health officials continue to discourage nonessential travel, citing a sustained rise in cases and hospitalizations.
The CDC updated its website on Friday to reflect the latest scientific evidence, writing that “people who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine can travel safely within the United States.”
The announcement comes less than a month after the CDC first released updated guidance about gatherings for fully vaccinated people, which it described as a “first step” toward returning to everyday activities.
The CDC considers someone fully vaccinated two weeks after they receive the last dose of vaccine. Those individuals will no longer need to get tested before or after travel unless their destination requires it, and do not need to self-quarantine upon return.
PBS: Why vaccine passports may be inevitable in next phase of COVID-19 | Added April 3
Certifying a person’s immunity to COVID-19 is inevitable to get life back to normal in the United States, according to a growing number of public health experts. But how to do that, considering the need to protect personal privacy and avoid exacerbating existing inequities, has become an increasing area of debate as more vaccines become available to the public, experts said.
As countries around the world become more eager to reduce public health risks and jumpstart their own economies, vaccine passports are becoming a focus of discussion, and in some cases a reality. The European Union, China, and Japan are working to launch their own digital programs, while Israel recently unveiled its “Green Passport”. These programs are being used to gradually — and safely — reopen the world by allowing people to dine or exercise indoors or cross borders with neighboring countries while not exposing communities to further coronavirus outbreaks.
On Monday, Andy Slavitt, senior adviser for the White House COVID-19 Task Force, said that the U.S. does not plan to create such a passport. Instead, Slavitt said that states can develop their own and the federal government is helping to develop standards for equity and privacy that these programs need to uphold. New York has begun developing its own digital certification, known as the Excelsior Pass, which could allow residents into public establishments.
Because the virus cratered the travel and hospitality industries, closing borders and requiring stay-at-home orders to prevent the virus from spreading, both sectors have been among the loudest advocates for such a system. They argue the need is becoming more urgent as travel ramps up and passengers are confused and concerned about other people’s vaccine status. Airlines have also said they want their staff to be able to authenticate COVID-19 test results and vaccination status.
Florida Gov. DeSantis bans businesses and government agencies from requiring vaccine passports | Added April 3
Florida has banned state and local government agencies and businesses from requiring so-called vaccine passports, or documentation proving that someone has been vaccinated against Covid-19.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, issued an executive order on Friday prohibiting businesses from requiring patrons or customers to show vaccine documentation, or risk losing grants or contracts funded by the state. It was not immediately clear how the order applied to state and local government agencies.
Requiring proof of vaccination, the order says, would “reduce individual freedom” and “harm patient privacy,” as well as “create two classes of citizens based on vaccination.”
There has been much discussion about vaccine passports, a way to show proof that someone has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, though the passports raise daunting political, ethical and privilege questions. The Biden administration has made clear that it will neither issue nor require the passports, but Republicans have seized on the issue as an example of government overreach.
South Korea plans to issue digital vaccine passport supported by blockchain technology | Added April 3
South Korea said on Thursday it will issue so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports to immunized citizens, joining other nations introducing such certificates to revive cross-border travel while keeping infection risks under control.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said a mobile app, which will allow international travellers to show digital proof of vaccination, will be officially launched this month.
“The introduction of a vaccine passport or ‘Green Pass’ will only allow those who have been vaccinated to experience the recovery to their daily lives,” Chung told a government meeting, adding the app uses blockchain technology to prevent counterfeit.
Reuters: CDC updates guidance to cruise ship industry, urges vaccinations | Added April 3
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention on Friday issued new guidance to the cruise ship industry, including the need for COVID-19 vaccinations, a necessary step before passenger voyages can resume.
The new technical instructions, the first update since October, include increasing from weekly to daily reporting frequency of COVID-19 cases and illnesses and implementing routine testing of all crew based on a ship’s COVID-19 status and establishing a plan and timeline for vaccination of crew and port personnel.
“COVID-19 vaccination efforts will be critical in the safe resumption of passenger operations,” the CDC said.
CDC said the next phase of the CDC’s conditional sail order will include simulated voyages to will allow crew and port personnel to practice new COVID-19 operational procedures with volunteers before sailing with passengers.
WSJ: Covid-19 Vaccinations of Pregnant Mothers Also Protect Newborns, Studies Suggest | Added April 3
Pregnant women who get the coronavirus vaccine pass their antibodies on to their newborns, recent studies suggest, a promising sign that babies can acquire from their mothers some protection against Covid-19.
At least three studies have found that women who received either the Pfizer Inc. – BioNTech SE vaccine or the Moderna Inc. shots during pregnancy had coronavirus antibodies in their umbilical-cord blood. That indicates the women’s babies got the antibodies, too.
One of the studies also found antibodies in the breast milk of mothers who had received the vaccine during pregnancy.
The studies didn’t look specifically at the safety of vaccinations, though in one of them, pregnant women who were vaccinated didn’t report more side effects than those who weren’t pregnant.
Reuters: T cells induced by COVID-19 infection respond to new virus variants -U.S. study | Added April 2
A critical component of the immune system known as T cells that respond to fight infection from the original version of the novel coronavirus appear to also protect against three of the most concerning new virus variants, according to a U.S. laboratory study released on Tuesday.
Several recent studies have shown that certain variants of the novel coronavirus can undermine immune protection from antibodies and vaccines.
But antibodies – which block the coronavirus from attaching to human cells – may not tell the whole story, according to the study by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). T cells appear to play an important additionally protective role.
David Martin on The Wise Traditions podcast: It’s Gene Therapy, Not a Vaccine | Added April 2
Dr. David Martin, founder and chairman of M-CAM Inc, challenges our presuppositions about the new mRNA Covid-19 vaccines. Quoting the pharmaceutical companies themselves, David suggests that these are not vaccines, but, in actuality, gene therapy. He explains what the vaccines may do to us, what they are promising they can do for us, and how to distinguish the difference.
KHN: ‘It Didn’t Really Stick With Me’: Understanding the Rural Shrug Over Covid and Vaccines | Added April 2
At 70, Linda Findley has long been active in her small town of Fort Scott, Kansas, which sits more than an hour away from any major city.
Findley, whose husband died in an accident just after the local hospital closed, helps with the Elks and fundraising, and — like many people in this part of the country — doesn’t think covid-19 is that dangerous.
“I don’t even know what I think about it,” Findley said recently. “I don’t know if I trust the testing because it’s so messed up or … I’ve had nieces and nephews, that’ve had it. I’ve lost good friends to it, or supposedly it’s to that.”
Findley said she just isn’t sure that every case reported as the coronavirus really is the virus: “Everything seems to be coronavirus. I mean, it’s just … no matter what somebody has, it’s coronavirus. I don’t know whether it is or isn’t.”
White House aides encourage state governors to get Johnson & Johnson vaccine in apparent campaign to boost confidence in shot | Added April 2
The White House is looking to governors to boost confidence in the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine as the company ramps up supply in the U.S.
Several state leaders have taken the one-dose shot in recent weeks, and some have said it was an intentional decision to show the newest vaccine available to the public is safe and effective.
The decisions came after White House aides told staffers from governors’ offices last month to encourage their bosses to get vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson shot, according to two people on a recent call.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine particularly needs a confidence boost this week, after it was reported that human error at a manufacturing plant ruined 15 million doses. The snafu did not cause issues with any doses already shipped or administered, and Johnson & Johnson maintained it still expects to meet its goal of delivering 100 million doses to the U.S. by the end of June.
ABC News: FDA authorizes rapid, non-prescription COVID-19 tests | Added April 2
From ABC News:
More Americans will soon be able to purchase over-the-counter rapid coronavirus tests without a prescription at their local pharmacy or retail store following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of two more at-home tests that are easy to buy and perform.
The FDA on Thursday authorized BinaxNOW, a COVID-19 antigen self-test by Abbott, a U.S. COVID-19 testing manufacturing company. It also authorized the Quick Vue test by Quidel, a diagnostic health care product manufacturer.
Neither requires a prescription.
— BREAKING NEWS —
Minneapolis Hires Sniper Under City Contract After Eight Maskless Pedestrians Shot Dead | Added April 1
Unusual Move was Successful Public-Private Partnership Till Feds Intervened
MINNEAPOLIS — It started as what seemed like an ordinary mass shooting. Frank Andrews broke into a stairwell in City Hall, set up a sniper’s nest in a remote attic window, and began taking shots at people on the street. In all, eight passers-by lost their lives.
What did they have in common? They were not wearing masks.
Earlier Thursday, Andrews, 47, said in a video posted to his Instagram that he would be “doing my duty as a citizen and saving lives,” in the form of assassinating those who refused to wear a mask.
Within 15 minutes, crowds had gathered on S. 4th Street, demanding that the police not arrest Andrews, a distant relative of the iconic Andrews Sisters singing group. The protest was organized by unions representing teachers and public works employees.
At noon, the City Council held an emergency meeting and unanimously voted to retain Andrews, an Iraq War veteran, for $1.2 million for the rest of the year. This was hailed on CNN as “an innovative public-private partnership.” Within half an hour, there was not a maskless person anywhere in the city or its suburbs, nor in nearby St. Paul.
But the FBI, learning of the scheme from news reports, raided the municipal complex, arresting Andrews and the entire City Council, charging them with murder, contract murder and conspiracy.
This is a developing story. Details as they become available.
Source: NBC News
Rob Brezsny issues Covid-themed horoscope; insists that people wear masks while reading | Added April 1
We received this satirical, Covid-themed horoscope from one of our medical correspondents on the Left Coast earlier this morning. While the authorship is not certain, nobody but Rob Brezsny can write that well. Therefore, we assume that it’s the very Trey Anastasio of horoscope writers. Rob loves April Fool’s Day and has always led the way amongst socially conscious astrologers. We remain proud of him as ever. Thanks Rob, this is brilliant!
Batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines fail quality control, can’t be used | Added April 1
Johnson & Johnson has said that a batch of its Covid-19 vaccines failed quality standards and can’t be used.
The drugmaker didn’t say how many doses were lost, and it wasn’t clear how the problem would impact future deliveries.
The drugmaker said on Wednesday it had found a problem with an ingredient used in the Covid vaccine, which was being produced at a production site in Baltimore, Maryland, belonging to Emergent Biosolutions, one of about 10 companies that J& J is using to speed up manufacturing.
Workers at the plant manufacturing coronavirus shots for J&J and AstraZeneca accidentally conflated the vaccines’ ingredients several weeks ago, the New York Times earlier reported, adding that federal officials attributed the mistake to human error.
France enters third national lockdown | Added April 1
After more than a year of lockdowns and months of sputtering vaccination campaigns, Europe’s efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic entered yet another difficult chapter Wednesday when President Emmanuel Macron of France announced a new set of restrictive measures in a desperate move to halt a deadly wave of infections.
The move imposed a third national lockdown, which Mr. Macron had long tried to avoid. Even so, the measures are not as strict as the national lockdown of a year ago, which kept most people indoors.
Schools and nonessential businesses will be closed across the country, travel between regions will be banned, and outdoor activities will be limited to places within six miles of home, Mr. Macron said. University students will still be allowed to attend classes one day a week.
How conspiracy theorizing may soon get you labelled a ‘Domestic Terrorist’ | Added April 1
If you are starting to feel like forces controlling the governments of the west are out to get you, then it is likely that you are either a paranoid nut job, or a stubborn realist.
Either way, it means that you have some major problems on your hands.
If you don’t happen to find yourself among the tinfoil hat-wearing strata of conspiracy theorists waiting in a bunker for aliens to either strike down or save society from the shape shifting lizard people, but are rather contemplating how, in the 1960s, a shadow government took control of society over the dead bodies of many assassinated patriots, then certain conclusions tend to arise.
The Seattle Times: Feeling unsettled, anxious? Maybe you have COVID-19 vaccine envy | Added April 1
Peter Jacobsen, 64, has made only five trips to Trader Joe’s since the pandemic began. Each time he moved quickly to limit his potential exposure to the coronavirus.
“I know what I’m getting,” he said. “I don’t shop around, just pick it up, bag it and get out of there.”
But on a recent trip to the market in mid-March, he ran into an older friend who wanted to stop and chat.
She had recently received her second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and this was her first visit to Trader Joe’s in a year, she told Jacobsen — another sign of life finally getting back to normal.
As she talked, Jacobsen grew increasingly anxious. He was happy for his friend, but at the same time he wondered when he would experience a similar sense of relief. He also wanted to get back home. And fast.
“I was still in that pandemic mode and she’s relaxed,” he said. “Vaccine envy is real.”
Globe and Mail: Ontario considers move to make remote learning permanent for all boards going forward | Added April 1
The Ontario government is considering legislation that would make remote learning a permanent part of the public-school system, according to a confidential ministry document.
The document from the Ministry of Education, obtained by The Globe and Mail, was shared in a meeting earlier this week with various education groups, including trustees, school administrators and teachers’ unions. It was marked confidential and for consultation purposes.
“If introduced and passed, beginning in September, 2021, parents would continue to have the ability to enroll their child in full-time synchronous remote learning if they choose going forward,” the document stated. “School boards would also be required to provide students with remote learning on snow days and in the event of an emergency that results in a school closure.”
Ontario’s back-to-school plan this academic year after the first COVID-19 lockdown last spring offered families a choice between remote learning and in-class instruction. Roughly 300,000 elementary students and 100,000 secondary students enrolled in remote learning this academic year, representing 20 per cent of the overall student population. Critics have charged that the option to extend virtual learning beyond the pandemic will disrupt the province’s public-education system, and open the door to privatization.
March 2021 | February 2021 | January 2021 | December 2020 | November 2020 | October 2020 | September 2020 | August 2020 | July 2020 | June 2020 | May 2020 |
April 2020 | March 2020 | Timeline of coronavirus test.
The Coronavirus Novel: Full Portfolio of
Original Articles, Videos and Audios by Eric Francis
Ongoing discussion of Covid issues happens every day on my Facebook timeline. Many of these articles are cross-posted.