‘help Us And Each Other’
To reach herd immunity which is when enough of the community is vaccinated that the disease’s spread becomes less likely officials are urging the public to get vaccinated, wear a mask and return to social distancing protocols.
As of Friday, about 54% of people 12 and older statewide were fully vaccinated, according to data from the Department of State Health Services.
Locally, Hays Country reported nearly 56% of people 12 and older were fully vaccinated, Travis County reported about 64.5% Williamson County reported about 63% and Bastrop County reported 48.2% fully vaccinated.
Earlier this week, Austin and Travis County implemented mask mandates at all county public schools, public colleges and city and county facilities.
Mask mandates have not been issued for Williamson, Bastrop or Hays counties, but city officials have urged caution and continue to encourage vaccinations.
As Americans and Texans, we enjoy our personal freedoms. With those freedoms come the personal responsibility to make good choices for ourselves and those we care about, County Judge Paul Pape told the Bastrop Advertiser. To all who have been vaccinated, I say thank you for doing what you can to protect yourself. To others, I again plead that you take this deadly disease seriously and reconsider accepting the vaccine. It is your best defense against a very aggressive virus.
What Will It Take To Get Rid Of Delta And Covid
There are three things everyone can do: mask, test and vaccinate.
“The way out is collective action,” Bhavnani said. “We have the power to make good decisions for our loved ones, but also for our community. Every decision we make impacts those around us.”
This whole pandemic, she said, has relied on the honor system to do the right thing, such as isolating if you’ve been exposed.
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Omicron Might Mark The End Of Covid
World Economic Forum
Its still too early to predict whether Omicrons rapid spread will help push coronavirus from the pandemic phase to a more manageable endemic phase but I would hope that thats the case, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday.
A disease that is endemic has a constant presence in a population but does not affect an alarmingly large number of people or disrupt society, as typically seen in a pandemic.
Since Omicron is highly transmissible but apparently less likely to cause as severe disease as some previous variants, it could mark a transition from this Covid-19 pandemic chapter to an endemic phase.
But that would only be the case if we dont get another variant that eludes the immune response to the prior variant, Fauci told the Davos Agenda, a virtual event this week held by the World Economic Forum.
We were fortunate that Omicron did not share some of the same characteristics as Delta, Fauci said. But the sheer volume of people who are getting infected overrides that rather less level of pathogenicity.
It is an open question as to whether or not Omicron is going to be the live virus vaccination that everyone is hoping for because you have such a great deal of variability with new variants emerging, he said.
That doesnt mean people should intentionally try to get the Omicron variant. Doctors say thats a terrible idea for several reasons.
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Pandemic Supply Chain Woes Could Worsen With New Lockdowns In China
Companies are bracing for another round of potentially debilitating supply chain disruptions as China, home to about a third of global manufacturing, imposes sweeping lockdowns in an attempt to keep the Omicron variant at bay.
The measures have already confined tens of millions of people to their homes in several Chinese cities and contributed to a suspension of connecting flights through Hong Kong from much of the world for the next month. At least 20 million people, or about 1.5 percent of Chinas population, are in lockdown, mostly in the city of Xian in western China and in Henan Province in north-central China.
The countrys zero-tolerance policy has manufacturers already on edge from spending the past two years dealing with crippling supply chain woes worried about another round of shutdowns at Chinese factories and ports. Additional disruptions to the global supply chain would come at a particularly fraught moment for companies, which are struggling with rising prices for raw materials and shipping along with extended delivery times and worker shortages.
China used lockdowns, contact tracing and quarantines to halt the spread of the coronavirus nearly two years ago after its initial emergence in Wuhan. These tactics have been highly effective, but the extreme transmissibility of the Omicron variant poses the biggest test yet of Chinas system.
One of them, Simon Avramov, came with his wife and two small children.
What Does Successful Pandemic Control Look Like
Some new data coming out of Ontario, Israel and Scotland points to the vaccine losing some of its effectiveness when you measure infection rates, but not when measuring severe disease or hospitalizations.
With COVID-19, we might be looking at a scenario where we tolerate some level of infection in the community and focus on keeping people out of hospitals.
As an epidemiologist, Bhavnani said, “my end point is preventing infection” and not being satisfied with just focusing on hospitalizations.
She’s concerned that we don’t know the long-term effects of COVID-19, and there will always be people who cannot be vaccinated.
She returns to the ways we can control the spread: masking, testing, vaccinating and making other choices that reduce our personal risks.
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Will Omicron Cause Herd Immunity
There are many reasons why herd immunity against COVID-19 is unlikely. One is that the virus evolves variants very quickly, which can weaken immunity build-up as the world has already seen with Omicron, said Erin Mordecai, associate professor of biology at Stanford University.
Another is that antibody immunity against COVID-19 reduces substantially within a few months, “so even though other components of our immune systems like T-cells still provide strong protection against severe disease, our bodies are less quick to fight off infection immediately,” Mordecai told Newsweek.
This point was echoed by Caroline Wagner, assistant professor of bioengineering and expert in infectious disease dynamics at McGill University, and Chadi Saad-Roy, an ecology and evolutionary biology PhD student at Princeton University.
They told Newsweek in a joint email: “It appears that immunity against infection with SARS-CoV-2 wanes over time, through a combination of decreasing in-host immunity and antigenic evolution.
“So, it does seem that the idea of achieving a level of immunity where SARS-CoV-2 will no longer circulate is unlikely.”
This is in addition to the refusal by some people to get vaccinated and the unequal vaccine distribution around the world, meaning large pockets of the world have less protection than others, giving opportunity for more mutations to arise.
How To Prevent This Stage Of The Us Outbreak From Being Any Worse Than Necessary
The effect of these restriction rollbacks remains to be seen. Reeves said that local governments in Mississippi could reestablish their own mandates if they thought it was best for their communities. Businesses would be allowed to maintain restrictions if they so choose. The governor portrayed his action as delegating the responsibility to cities, businesses, and individuals. But the state would no longer be the primary enforcer. Abbott likewise urged Texans to be safe, even as he rolled back the states pandemic rules.
Already, mask adherence varies, even within a state. About 95 percent of people surveyed in urban Harris County, Texas, say they wear masks most or all of the time when they go out in public, according to Carnegie Mellon Universitys Delphi Group. In Abilene, a small city in the middle of the state, the number is closer to 85 percent.
The compulsion to give people outlets to escape quarantine and to allow businesses to begin recouping is understandable and even desirable. We are in fact living in a new reality: Cases have dropped 82 percent among nursing home residents since vaccinations began.
The worst outcomes deaths and hospitalizations should continue to drop as more people gain protection, so long as these new variants arent allowed to run wild because some stop taking precautions just because a state mask mandate is no longer technically in place.
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Oregon Reinstates Indoor Mask Mandate To Slow Delta Variant
Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon said both vaccinated and unvaccinated people must wear masks again indoors starting on Friday. She warned that rising cases driven by the Delta variant could overrun hospitals in weeks.
We continue to work to reach Oregonians with information and a vaccine, but its clear the current situation requires immediate action to stop the Delta variant from spreading further. Thats why moving forward for the immediate future, masks will be required in all indoor public settings effective this Friday, Aug. 13. Yesterday, we had over 2,300 cases reported, the highest number since the virus first landed in Oregon. Hospitalizations are also at a record high. Across the state, our I.C.U. beds are about 90 percent filled. Some of our hospital regions have fewer than five I.C.U. beds available to start the day. These numbers are because of the Delta variant. These numbers are despite the fact that nearly 73 percent of Oregons adults are vaccinated. Modeling from the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Health and Science University project that without new safety interventions, Covid-19 hospitalizations will completely overwhelm our doctors and nurses in the coming weeks. Without safety measures, we could be as many as 500 staffed hospital beds short of what we need to treat patients by September.
Oregon is restoring a statewide mandate ordering both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to use face coverings when gathering indoors.
Virus Misinformation Spikes As Delta Cases Surge
In late July, Andrew Torba, the chief executive of the alternative social network Gab, claimed without evidence that members of the U.S. military who refused to get vaccinated against the coronavirus would face a court-martial. His post on Gab amassed 10,000 likes and shares.
Two weeks earlier, the unfounded claim that at least 45,000 deaths had resulted from Covid-19 vaccines circulated online. Posts with the claim collected nearly 17,000 views on Bitchute, an alternative video platform, and at least 120,000 views on the encrypted chat app Telegram, where it was shared mostly in Spanish.
Around the same time, Britains chief scientific adviser misstated that 60 percent of hospitalized patients had been fully vaccinated. He quickly corrected the statement, saying the 60 percent had been unvaccinated. But anti-vaccine groups online seized on his mistake, translating the quote into French and Italian and sharing it on Facebook, where it collected 142,000 likes and shares.
Coronavirus misinformation has spiked online in recent weeks, misinformation experts say, as people who peddle in falsehoods have seized on the surge of cases from the Delta variant to spread new and recycled unsubstantiated narratives.
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How Long Immunity From Vaccine Will Last
There are currently three authorized vaccines on the market in the U.S. – manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.
Studies have shown a steady decline of antibody levels among vaccinated individuals. Long-term follow-up of vaccine trial participants has revealed a growing risk of breakthrough infection. Records from countries such as Israel, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere show that COVID-19 vaccines are losing their strength, at least when it comes to keeping a lid on transmissible disease.
When Might An Endemic State Be Reached
The time frame for this is uncertain, and it’s also unclear whether Omicron will be the variant that leads to an endemic state.
Mordecai thinks COVID-19 becoming endemic is “unlikely to occur in the next few months, but it is likely in the next year or two.” Other experts did not propose a time frame.
“It’s far too early to say whether Omicron brings us closer to the end of the pandemic,” David Robertson, head of viral genomics and bioinformatics, University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, told Newsweek at the end of December.
“It’s certainly the case that Omicron is appearing to be less harmful at an individual level but how this will play out on a population scale is worrying.
“Importantly there’s nothing inevitable about a virus becoming milderfor example a SARS-CoV-2 variant that’s as or more transmissible than Omicron could emerge with different properties.”
According to Wagner and Saad-Roy, it will depend on how quickly the world can be vaccinated to change viral replication patterns and the emergence of new variants.
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Why Experts Are Worried About States Reopening Too Quickly
The improvement in Americas Covid-19 outbreak over the past few weeks is significant.
Texas is down from averaging about 23,000 daily cases in mid-January to 7,700 today. About half as many people are in the hospital now as there were six weeks ago. Mississippi has seen its numbers fall to roughly the same degree
Nationwide, the trends have been downward but that progress may be slowing. The number of new cases has barely budged over the past week: The daily average for new cases was 68,038 on February 23 and was 65,468 on March 2. Hospitalizations are still falling at a steady pace , but they may soon start to plateau too if cases do. Current case numbers are still at about the same level as the summer surge last year.
And the ongoing loss of life is still at a level most people would have considered unacceptable as recently as last fall, before the terrible winter surge, with 2,000 deaths still being reported on average every day. The Biden administration is now saying the US will have enough vaccines for every adult by May, but at a 2,000-deaths-per-day pace, that would mean by the end of May another 175,000 deaths would be added to the 515,000 already dead if fatalities plateau at current levels.
As the new virus variants, which appear more infectious, continue to become more dominant, the risk is that spread could accelerate again before the country has time to vaccinate enough people to reach herd immunity.
China Decides Not To Sell Olympics Tickets To The Chinese Public
China had already barred foreign spectators from attending the Winter Games that begin in Beijing in less than a month. On Monday, it announced that most Chinese people wont be able to attend either.
Citing the evolving threat from the coronavirus pandemic, the Beijing 2022 organizing committee announced that it was ending ticket sales to the events to ensure the safety of all participants and spectators.
The decision came less than two days after health authorities reported Beijings first case of the Omicron variant and ordered an immediate lockdown and mass testing in one of the capitals neighborhoods.
The outbreak, though so far limited, pierced the extraordinary efforts to isolate Beijing, including a ban on travel into the city, in part to assure that the Olympics would be affected as little as possible.
The organizers committee said they had created an adapted program to allow some spectators, suggesting that groups that had been sufficiently screened and quarantined would be invited to attend.
Those could involve government workers, sponsors or government officials, but the committee did not elaborate except to make clear that the public would not be able to buy tickets, which had not yet gone on sale.
The International Olympic Committee later released a statement that largely echoed Beijings.
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And One Final Word On Our Flu Season
Flu activity is still low across our nation but cases are steadily increasing.
Most flu infections have occurred among children and young adults ages 5 through 24 years old, but infections occurring among adults ages 25 years and older have been steadily increasing.
Hospitalizations for flu have also started to increase.
Flu season is just getting started so there is still time to get vaccinated. So please check with your healthcare provider or go to your local pharmacy that provides flu vaccines.
CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine.
Thank you. Stay safe and healthy.
Dallas County Judge Issues Mask Mandate
A Texas judge ordered indoor mask-wearing in the Dallas area after rising coronavirus cases fueled by the Delta variant brought the levels of virus transmission and hospitalizations to those seen during the height of the pandemic.
From the date of this executive order, all child care centers and pre-K through 12 public schools operating in Dallas County must develop and implement a health and safety policy. The health and safety policy must require, at a minimum, universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to child care centers and pre-K through 12 schools, regardless of vaccination status, except for children under the age of 2 years. From the date of this executive order, all commercial entities in Dallas County providing goods or services directly to the public must develop and implement a health and safety policy. The health and safety policy must require, at a minimum, universal indoor masking for all employees and visitors to the commercial entities, business premises or other facility. Your personal freedom is very important to me and to everyone. But your personal freedom does not extend to hurting your neighbors, particularly at a time of a public health disaster like this.
Two court rulings on Tuesday cleared the way for local leaders who oppose a ban by Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, a Republican, on mask mandates to at least temporarily require face coverings to help curb a rise in coronavirus cases.
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