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Covid-19 Update: Kentucky Calls in National Guard, DeSantis Wins No-Mask Case, More Like the Flu

Covid might become more like the flu but even if so, the path to that point will be rocky.
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Medical Assistant in Houston

Microsoft Scraps Return-to-Office Plan

Bloomberg reports Microsoft Scraps Return-to-Office Plan as Delta Variant Rages

Microsoft Corp. is scrapping plans to fully reopen offices by Oct. 4, saying it can no longer give a date for returning to work because the pandemic is too unpredictable.

“Given the uncertainty of Covid-19, we’ve decided against attempting to forecast a new date for a full reopening of our U.S. work sites in favor of opening U.S. work sites as soon as we’re able to do so safely based on public health guidance,” the Redmond, Washington-based software maker said in a blog post Thursday. “From there, we’ll communicate a 30-day transition period that provides time for employees to prepare.”

The strategy is similar to one adopted by fellow tech giant Apple Inc., which has delayed its own return-to-office plans multiple times. It has told employees it will give them a one-month warning on a return deadline as it copes with Covid-19’s delta variant, which has led to a resurgence in cases.

Delta Will REmain the King

The Wall Street Journal reports Covid-19 Virus Variants Mu and Lambda Unlikely to Supplant Delta

Delta accounts for 99% of new Covid-19 cases in the U.S. and roughly 88% of cases globally, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Nextstrain, an open-source pathogen-tracking service. Virologists expect Delta to outcompete new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including Lambda and Mu, in their hunt for people susceptible to Covid-19.

The scientists say new case waves would likely be driven by Delta and its sub-variants rather than a new virus lineage. That’s because Delta has evolved to be so transmissible that other variants can’t keep up with the pace of its spread. 

Some virologists believe that the Delta variant evolved to maximize transmissibility and that its ability to spread rapidly will eventually reach a ceiling as more of the global population gets vaccinated.

F.D.A. Warns Parents Against Getting Children Under 12 Vaccinated

The New York Times reports F.D.A. Warns Parents Against Getting Children Under 12 Vaccinated

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is “working around the clock” to make Covid vaccines available to young children, it said in a statement on Friday. In the meantime, however, the agency urged parents not to seek out the shots for children who are under 12, and therefore not yet eligible for vaccination.

The available vaccines, none of which have been cleared for children under 12, may not be a safe or effective dose for young children, the agency noted. Pediatric clinical trials, which will help determine the right vaccine dose for children under 12, are still underway.

Unvaccinated Americans are 11 Times More Likely to Die of Covid

Three studies that drew data from different U.S. regions evaluated the protective power of the vaccines. One looked at more than 600,000 virus cases in 13 states, representing about one quarter of the U.S. population, between April and July, and concluded that individuals who were not fully vaccinated were far more susceptible to infection and death from the virus.

They were 4.5 times more likely than vaccinated individuals to become infected, 10 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 11 times more likely to die from the coronavirus, the study found.

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‘See you in Court’

Florida Wins Mask Mandate Freeze

Bloomberg reports Florida Wins Mask Mandate Freeze

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis can enforce for now a ban on school mask mandates, a court ruled. Earlier in the day, President Joe Biden reprimanded Republican leaders for fighting rules on face coverings and other Covid-19 precautions in schools.

Vaccines for younger children will be reviewed as quickly as possible, U.S. regulators said Friday, amid concern about the infection risks faced by kids. Top health officials believe the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE shot could be approved for the 5-11 age group next month, Reuters reported.

Top U.S. health officials believe the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BionTech SE could be approved for children 5 to 11 years old by the end of October, Reuters reported, citing two source familiar with the situation.

That timeline is based on the expectation that Pfizer will have enough clinical trial data to seek emergency use authorization from regulators by the end of September. The Food and Drug Administration could make a decision within three weeks of the EUA submission, Reuters said.

Kentucky Governor Call National Guard

Governor Andy Beshear called in another 310 Kentucky National Guard members to help with nonclinical duties at hospitals on top of more than 100 already deployed. “This shows that every hospital is bursting at the seams, that they desperately need help and that we are a state full of more desperately sick people than we have ever seen,” he said Thursday.

Kentucky’s Republican-controlled House and Senate held veto override votes that blocked Democratic Governor Andy Beshear from issuing statewide mask mandates, shifting that power to local government units, such as school boards.

Covid-19 Could Become Like the Flu if More People Get Vaccinated

The Wall Street Journal reports Covid-19 Could Become Like the Flu if More People Get Vaccinated

Covid-19 may become a routine illness like a common cold or the flu one day, virologists and epidemiologists say. But it will take a lot to get there, and the ferocious spread of the Delta variant that is filling hospitals again shows how treacherous that path could be.

The supercontagious Delta variant has made the virus virtually impossible to get rid of. It has fueled surges in cases across the globe, even in countries like Australia that had largely kept the pandemic out.

Among the most contagious of known disease-causing pathogens, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is now zeroing in on people who haven’t been vaccinated, pushing hospitalizations and deaths in some places in the U.S. to their highest points yet.

While surges are easing in some states, cases are rising in others. Delta is moving the world toward immunity against the virus at huge cost. With every new infection it is raising the risk of incubating a variant that might spread even faster, sicken with greater ferocity or evade vaccines.

“This virus will never leave us,” Catherine O’Neal, chief medical officer of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, La., said during a long recent day caring for Covid-19 patients. The hospital is in its biggest surge since the beginning of the pandemic.

When or even whether Covid-19 settles into that status depends on how many more people get vaccinated and how soon, said Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, director of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. “The more people who are vaccinated, the less problems there are going to be,” Dr. Garcia-Sastre said.

To stop spreading, the virus needs to run short of people susceptible to infection. It has a long way to go. About 2.3 billion of the world’s 7.8 billion people have been fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data, a project based at Oxford University. About 1.1 billion people have been infected, some epidemiologists estimate.

Message From Texas

The above from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

It's been a slow news day otherwise but a lot's happening with Covid.