News Update

80% of Americans 12 and over have first dose; Michigan is nation’s hot spot as infections rise in 33 states: COVID-19 updates

The U.S. reached an encouraging milestone Wednesday with 80% of Americans ages 12 and older having received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, President Joe Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator said.

Jeff Zients, speaking at a White House briefing, estimated that in the last 10 days at least 2.6 million kids ages 5-11 have received their first shot, about 10% of the children that age in the country. He said it took about 50 days to reach 10% of adults, who make up a much larger number.

“We know there is more work to do,” Zients said. “But these milestones represent critical progress and shows we are on the right track in our fight against the virus.”

The U.S. will invest billions of dollars into vaccine manufacturing capacity with the goal of producing at least one billion doses a year, Zients said. The goal is to be prepared to roll out a vaccine for future pathogens within nine months of an outbreak, he said. The investment, first reported in the New York Times, calls for the government to partner with industry to address immediate vaccine needs at home and abroad and to prepare for future pandemics.

Zients said the U.S. already has provided 250 million vaccine doses to 110 countries “for free, no strings attached.”

Still avoiding elevators? Study suggests they may be low-risk for COVID transmission

For much of the pandemic, some Americans fearful of contracting COVID-19 have steered clear of elevators and opted for the stairs. A recent report suggests elevators  likely aren’t a high source of coronavirus transmission.

Purdue University researchers simulated airborne particle exposure for people riding a typical elevator with a person who is infected with COVID-19, according to the study published last week in the peer-reviewed journal Building and Environment and commissioned by Otis Elevator.

Researchers ran seven simulations that analyzed different airflow directions and ventilation rates. In each simulation, the elevator began at the ground floor with six passengers and made two stops at the 10th and 20th floors before reaching the 35th floor. The person infected with COVID-19 made the whole trip to the top floor, but in one simulation, the individual coughed upon entering the elevator.

Researchers determined that due to the short trip duration and high ventilation rate, there is low risk of COVID-19 transmission in elevators. Although the study analyzed particle concentration, air flow and exposure, study authors say more research is needed to account for other factors and “one should not neglect the impact of exposure.”

— Adrianna Rodriguez

Michigan is now the worst COVID hot spot in nation as cases increase in 33 states

Michigan catapulted Tuesday to the worst COVID-19 hot spot in the nation, as the seven-day case rate rose to 503.8 per 100,000 residents, according to the CDC. Cases are rising in 33 states, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. Cases for the week ending Monday were at 584,449, up 15% from a recent low in the week ending Oct. 26.

Michigan hospitals say they’re feeling the pressure as the number of COVID-19 patients has climbed nearly 50% in the last month – from 2,097 admitted Oct. 18 to 3,082 on Monday, according to state data.

“We have both this stark surge of COVID-19 patients, but we also have hospitals that have been dealing with staffing challenges and staffing shortages, as well as high volumes of non-COVID patients,” said John Karasinski, a spokesman for the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, which represents all 133 community hospitals in the state.

That means potentially long waits at emergency rooms, hospitals that have to postpone non-emergency medical procedures and some that can’t accept new patient transfers, he said. Most COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths both in Michigan and nationwide are among the unvaccinated.

– Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press

Moderna seeks FDA clearance of boosters for all adults

Moderna has once again asked the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 booster shot for all U.S. adults, just as Pfizer is expected to get such clearance this week.

As Moderna noted in a statement Wednesday, the FDA has already granted its booster authorization for seniors 65 and older, for the immunocompromised and for those whose living or work conditions may put them at high risk of exposure to the virus. But the agency has yet to clear the Moderna booster for everybody ages 18 and older.

Also Wednesday, Moderna requested authorization from Health Canada for its COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6-11.

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