January 20, 2021

Dr Stuart Weiss: COVID-19 Update Monday 4-Jan-2021

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By Dr. Stuart Weiss
Rapid Test Center of New York

Dr. Stuart Weiss, FACEP, FAAP, CBCP

January 4, 2021

CoViD-19 News and Information you can trust.Welcome new readers from the Rapid Test Center.

Happy New Year to all of our subscribers, old and new

Topics: Times Square New Year’s Eve production, So Where Are We now?

Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball Drop Production

For those of you who have been with us for a while, you know that we were responsible for helping to create a CoViD-19 safe production environment for the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball Drop. I am happy to report that it went really well. We tested everyone who you saw on television from crew to talent. Our two testing sites and concierge services helped ensure that everyone who was working or performing was safe. Thank you to all the staff that helped us accomplish this.
As the New York Times mentioned, the combination of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Rockefeller Center tree lighting and the Times Square Ball Drop together showed that large outdoor events can be done safely. We were proud to be responsible for two of the three events (parade and Times Square).

So Where Are We Now?

Well, its 2021 and hopefully we won’t have to deal with Murder Hornets, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N8 or any stray near miss asteroids for at least a little while. 2020 is finally behind us!

We are however, instore for a few months of worsening pandemic news before things get better. So lets take a look at where we are:

Pandemic Numbers
Things are getting worse in many parts of the country. We are seeing the results of family gatherings from Christmas as well as colder weather forcing folks indoors more. Over the last week, we have seen an average of more than 213,000 new cases each day. We have over 125,000 Americans in hospitals with many hospitals in California and Arizona showing no ICU bed capacity left for new patients. Hospitals are petitioning the Department of Health and Human Services to suspend penalties for hospital infections due to extreme overcrowding and taking care of patients in places that are usually not used for patient care (hospitals are usually penalized if their Healthcare-associated infection rate is elevated). Hospitals are not able to implement the usual safety practices. Some hospitals are also running out of oxygen.
Lastly, we have crossed the grim milestone of 350,000 deaths attributable to CoViD-19. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington predicts that we will see 567,195 COVID-19 deaths by April 1st based on our current trends.

We will not see the full effect of New Year’s gatherings until the third-fourth week of January. Based on the record number of people traveling in the past week, I expect the numbers to get worse. We’ve got a bumpy ride ahead of us.

Viral Variants
To make matters a bit worse, we have at least two variants circulating now. The B.1.1.7 variant from the UK has now been found in several states in people who have not traveled. This clearly indicates that the variant has been circulating for a while in our population and we just didn’t know it. This new variant doesn’t seem to be more lethal but it is much more contagious so more folks will end up in the hospital. Most experts think that this variant will be covered by the vaccines. The other variant is one from South Africa and that one may prove problematic for vaccine immunity. We will have to wait for more research.

Vaccines
Both of the approved vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, seem to be resulting in good antibody production across multiple population groups. They are showing 94%-95% protection rates which is great news. Vaccine rollout has been much slower than promised. That is very problematic. The fact that we have two vaccines developed in less than a year with this efficacy is truly remarkable. Now we just have to get it into people’s arms. Side effects don’t seem to be terrible with the rare exception of a severe allergic reaction in people with underlying severe allergies. If you have a chance to get vaccinated because you are in a group that is allowed, you should do so at this point. I am scheduled to be vaccinated this week.

One big issue with the vaccines is that while they prevent severe illness in protected people, people can still catch and spread the virus. We need more data on how the vaccines do to prevent the spread of the virus. Some of the vaccines seem to do better than others in this regard.

Monoclonal Antibodies
An important treatment for severely ill patients is monoclonal antibodies like those made by Regeneron. However, many hospitals are not using it. A small proportion of doses have been dispensed. There are issues with giving this infusion but that shouldn’t prevent hospitals from using it on really sick patients. I hope that this changes soon.

Crystal Ball Reading
Many of my clients want me to gaze into my crystal ball every so often. So here goes…As I have been saying for quite a few months now, life should get back to normal-ish by late summer. This assumes that we get our act together in giving vaccine widely and the virus doesn’t mutate to evade the vaccine protection. For those of you in the performance space, keep the third quarter in mind when planning.

Stay safe, we will all get through this together.

Warmest regards to you and your families,

Dr. Stu Weiss
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YouTube Channel
The Doctor Stu YouTube channel is up and running but we haven’t added new videos in a little while. I’ll get back to that after the New Year. Go to www.DoctorStu.org to submit questions.
DoctorStu YouTube channel

COVID-19 HEADLINES FOR TODAY

Coronavirus update for January 4, 2021

World Wide Updates

France plans to create new citizens group to advise government on vaccine strategy
Japan’s PM says Covid-19 vaccinations will begin in late February
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces national lockdown for England
South Korea reports another day with over 1,000 Covid-19 cases
Scientists worry mutations in Covid-19 variant first seen in South Africa may affect vaccine response
UK coronavirus alert level should move from Level 4 to Level 5, medical officials say
Most of Scotland will enter lockdown at midnight
European regulator moves meeting on Moderna vaccine up to today
Unions call for “pause” in school reopening as UK infections rise
New UK variant detected in at least 37 countries
German police struggle to keep skiers away despite nationwide lockdown
Delivery of vaccines to Finland is “considerably slower than expected,” says health minister
South African coronavirus variant “more of a problem” than UK strain, health secretary says
India embarks on one of the world’s most ambitious vaccine rollouts
Thailand reports largest daily increase in new Covid-19 cases since start of pandemic
First patient in UK receives Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine
South Korea aims to approve AstraZeneca vaccine in February
Parts of Japan poised for state of emergency as Covid-19 cases soar
North Korean state newspaper calls for tightening of Covid measures ahead of party congress
Australia’s New South Wales reports no local cases for first time since mid-December 
Beijing has vaccinated more than 73,500 people since Jan. 1
India restricts exports of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine
Online teaching extended for Northern Ireland schools
England enters third national lockdown 
Brazil detects cases of new variant
Russia gives over 800,000 people its COVID-19 vaccine
Total Cases Worldwide: 85,994,337
Total Deaths Worldwide: 1,859,091
Total Recovered: 60,935,527

US Updates

6 cases of UK variant strain reported in Southern California, governor says
Upstate New York man has tested positive for the UK strain of Covid-19, governor says
Covid-19 cases are rising in the Georgia county where Trump will hold a rally tonight
130 New York City school buildings are closed due to Covid-19 cases
Only 4 states have administered at least half of their Covid-19 doses, CDC data shows
Texas congresswoman tests positive for Covid-19
CDC says 15.4 million coronavirus vaccine doses distributed in US, but just 4.5 million people immunized
California nurse receives second dose of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine
Someone has died of Covid-19 every 33 seconds in the US over the past week
White House vaccine chief acknowledges the lag in vaccinations
New York surpasses 1 million Covid-19 cases
US considering cutting Moderna vaccine doses in half to speed up roll out
US surgeon general and Fauci push back against Trump’s Covid-19 death toll claim
43 California hospital employees tests positive and one dies in COVID outbreak tied to Christmas costume
SAG-AFTRA, and others urge Hollywood productions to be paused temporarily amid COVID surge
New York City wants to vaccinate all first responders and educators in the next few weeks, mayor says
Los Angeles cops shut down 13 ‘super-spreader’ New Year’s Eve parties and arrest 90 people
Larry King hospitalized with COVID-19, report says
Home prices rising faster in middle of US as people leave coasts
US vaccine chief says ‘we need to improve’ pace of COVID-19 shots
House sets up ‘separate enclosure’ for votes from members exposed to COVID-19
Wisconsin pharmacist who intentionally spoiled COVID-19 vaccines believed they were ‘unsafe’
Raimondo in quarantine after close contact tests positive for COVID-19
Total US cases: 21,270,909
Total US deaths: 361,673
Total Recovered: 12,640,614
Total Tested in US: 252,978,384
Total cases in CA: 2,445,340
Total deaths in CA: 26,720
Total cases in TX: 1,830,839
Total deaths in TX: 28,741
Total cases in FL: 1,376,692
Total deaths in FL: 22,090
Total cases in NY: 1,068,287
Total deaths in NY: 38,549
Total cases in IL: 984,880
Total deaths in IL: 18,412
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