America needs to balance the need to protect people from the coronavirus with growing pandemic fatigue and start “getting closer” to normalcy, says Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“The world and the United States, and especially parts of the United States, are just on the mend with COVID, they just really need to get their lives back,” Fauci said in an interview with Reuters. “You don’t want to be reckless and throw everything aside, but you have to start moving towards it.”
Although more than 2,000 Americans continue to die from the coronavirus each day, the total number of daily deaths fell 9% last week from the previous week, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday. . Deaths are a lag indicator – new infections and hospitalizations have been falling for weeks, and both fell more sharply in the past week.
Fauci said aggressive restrictions could lead to unnecessary infections, but strict mandates can also have harmful consequences.
“The impact on mental health, the impact on children’s development, the impact on schools – is that outweighed by trying to be totally virgin and protect yourself from infection?” he said. “I don’t have the right answer to that.”
Also in the news:
►The United States on Wednesday reached 100,000 reported COVID-19 deaths for 2022, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The 100,000th death of 2020 was reported on May 23 as the first wave ended. The 100,000th death of 2021 was reported on February 2.
► Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky told a White House briefing that the government plans to change its mask guidelines in the coming weeks.
📈Today’s numbers: The United States has had more than 78 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 928,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: Over 418 million cases and over 5.8 million deaths. More than 214 million Americans — 64.5% — are fully immunized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
📘 What we read: Each week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updates its list of countries to avoid due to the risk of COVID-19. After nearly two years of living in the pandemic, travelers are ignoring the agency’s advice.
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California is now poised to go from pandemic to endemic
On Thursday, California officials will unveil a coronavirus coexistence plan, which scientists say could last for years. The plan assumes the state enters an endemic phase, where the virus still exists in a community but becomes manageable as immunity builds. This week, California lifted its last indoor masking mandate, and officials said they would announce at the end of the month when the mask requirement for schools would be dropped.
“The focus will be on preparedness and preparedness,” California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said.
Institute: 73% of Americans are immune to omicron
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates that 73% of Americans are currently immune to the omicron variant of the coronavirus, a number that means future outbreaks could require far less disruption to society, some experts say.
The institute estimates that about half of eligible Americans have received coronavirus booster shots, and there have been nearly 80 million confirmed infections – and many more that have never been reported. . All good signs in the battle for immunity.
The institute estimates that the immunity percentage could reach 80% by mid-March.
The notion of a “herd immunity” that could bring the pandemic to an abrupt end has vanished amid variants, waning immunity and vaccine hesitancy among millions of Americans. But immunity figures should prevent or shorten new illnesses in those protected and reduce the amount of virus circulating overall, likely mitigating the stark impact seen in previous waves, experts agree.
“We have changed,” said Ali Mokdad, a science professor of health metrics at the University of Washington, which houses the institute. “We have been exposed to this virus and we know how to deal with it.”
200 million free home tests have arrived in American homes
More than 50 million American households have received free COVID-19 at-home test kits that began rolling out in late January, according to a White House official. “85% of initial orders have now been placed. And in the next few days, we will finish shipping all initial orders,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said at a press conference Wednesday.
The Biden administration has ordered the mailing of one billion tests through the US Postal Service to Americans who register through COVIDTests.gov. Each household was eligible for four home tests, regardless of the number of household members.
The US Postal Service said the tests will ship within seven to 12 days of ordering and all orders are sent via First Class Parcel Service, but many Americans who ordered tests as soon as they were available to order on January 18 has still not received an email with tracking information once her order has been shipped.
“Once the package is shipped, more than 60% are delivered within 24 hours and 90% within 48 hours,” Zients said.
Organ transplants break records in 2021, despite challenges posed by COVID
In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, organ transplants dropped by half. But the scarcity did not last long.
Last year, a record 41,354 transplants were performed, according to preliminary data from the United Network for Organ Sharing, the first time the United States exceeded 40,000 transplants. Dr. Matthew Cooper, chair of the UNOS board of trustees, said the organization continues to see transplantation “significantly increase”.
“There was a period from early March to late April (in 2020) where it was just in crisis mode and nobody was doing anything,” said Jill Grandas, executive director of DCI Donor Services, which brings together three donor organizations. organ procurement in Tennessee. , New Mexico and California. “Things were pretty dire at the time. But in May, our donor programs quickly rebounded, and transplantation began again. »
Despite the obstacles created by the pandemic, a harmonious combination of technological advances, cooperation among medical institutions and solidarity among Americans has led to life-saving transplants in 2021, experts say.
A summary of data from the Organ Supply and Transplantation Network shows that donors with resolved COVID-19 and testing positive 21 to 90 days after illness onset are unlikely to transmit the infection. So far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported only three cases of COVID-19 from lung donors to recipients.
There have been no cases of transmission of COVID-19 to non-pulmonary recipients.
– Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY
Contributor: Mike Stucka, USA TODAY; The Associated Press