Biden arrives at working on the pandemic, the CDC adjusts vaccination guidelines and the death toll is rising around the world. Here’s what you need to know:
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Biden institutes sweeping pandemic measures in his first days in office
Joe Biden wasted no time tackling the public health crisis that invariably will define your presidency. On Wednesday, just hours after taking the oath of office as the 46th US president, he signed three decrees the next day he issued 10 decrees and published his administration’s 198-page plan for handling the coronavirus. The new provisions cover everything from improving data collection and increasing testing capacity to boosting vaccine supply manufacturing using the Defense Production Act. . Biden described the strategy as “a wartime enterprise”.
Among those depicted in Biden’s first wave of executive orders are essential workers. The new president has ordered OSHA to enforce more strictly workplace safety rules to curb the spread of the virus and possibly issue a new measure that would force employers to take more precautions. Today he plans to sign another order that would boost protections for federal workers. New safety rules are also in place inside the White House. Those who work closely with the president wear bracelets indicating they were tested that day, and N95s are mandatory for anyone working in the White House.
CDC Updates Vaccine Administration Guidelines As Improving Efficacy Continues To Be A Challenge
Yesterday the CDC updated the vaccination guidelines on its website, indicating that the second doses of Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech vaccines can be given up to six weeks after the first dose if the recommended time frame is not achievable. This change is part of the Biden administration’s plan to release all available doses of the vaccine rather than withholding half of it to ensure those who received the first installment get the second at the right time. Opponents of the change expressed concern about the deviation from the way vaccines were administered during clinical trials.
Biden is releasing these doses as part of his pledge to vaccinate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office. Data from the CDC suggests that the country has already hit a rate of around one million vaccines administered several times per day in recent weeks, but it also indicates that states and cities are administering less than half of the doses they they received. Prompt vaccination is more important than ever because new strains of the virus emerge. Mutations develop when a virus spreads: the more people are vaccinated, the easier they will be to remove.
One year after the arrival of the coronavirus in the United States, the pandemic is barely under control
Exactly one year ago, WIRED reporter Megan Molteni asked: “Could the new Chinese coronavirus become a global epidemic?” Now we know. As of this week, more than 400,000 Americans have been killed by the virus, a dark milestone Joe Biden marked in a memorial service on the eve of his inauguration. Even though hundreds of thousands of Americans are vaccinated every day, there are still many areas – from reopening of schools at travel safely– where Americans find their way in the dark.
Around the world, the state of the pandemic remains relevant. Germany, once touted for its effective response to the pandemic, has seen the death toll is rising rapidly in recent weeks, after cases peaked last month. In the UK, the situation continues to worsen: its number of deaths per inhabitant daily is currently second only to Portugal. Even China, where life had largely returned to normal during the fall, now faces a new epidemic.
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Something to read
Donald Trump is no longer online. And even if his accounts are reactivated, he will no longer be at the center of the national discourse. But, WIRED’s Jason Parham writes, we are now faced with a new question: what will fill the void left by the deranged tweets of the former president?
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What community resources can be used to help more people get immunized?
To vaccinate as many people as possible, authorities will need to meet them where they are – in their communities. Fire departments and emergency medical services agencies could be instrumental doing so, according to some doctors. Both respond to emergencies in their communities on a daily basis and are spaced out according to population density. In addition, the vast majority are made up of paramedics and communicate regularly and well with public health authorities. Giving fire stations and EMS teams the resources to administer Covid-19 vaccines may be an option to explore as our national immunization program seeks to scale up.
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