“The question at stake right now is, will we get a fourth raise?” Former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Thursday. “Each uncontrolled spread increases the risk that there are dangerous variants that can be more infectious, more deadly or that can escape immune protection.”
The point is to keep doing what has worked, Friedan said. “Watching very closely and acknowledging masking is here to stay for many more months and avoiding sharing indoor air with others is very important,” he added.
Such measures may help prevent the dreaded potential rise in the variant of the coronavirus first identified in the UK that is believed to be more communicable, said Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.
Ho said Thursday that this could result in a loss of vaccine efficacy, although studies indicate that vaccines can still provide strong protection against variants. He added that the variant could be more contagious, but his team has no evidence to prove it at this time.
States relax restrictions on halls, stadiums and socialization
Despite the caution of paying too much attention to the downtrends of recent weeks, many states are loosening their restrictions.
“We must in no way assume that such a downward slope is inevitable. It could start over,” Collins said.
For example, as of Monday, Wyoming hair and hair salons, including hair, nail and tattoo salons, will no longer have capacity restrictions, Gov. Mark Gordon said in a statement. Over the next month, the state will also ease other health restrictions, such as allowing buffets to resume operation and limiting meetings to 50 people instead of 25.
In response to the “sustained decline in the case count,” the City of New Orleans is also implementing changes: Starting Friday, the city will increase meeting size limits to 75 people indoors and 150 outdoors, as well as raising the limits of the tables and increasing the capacity of the outdoor stadium is limited to 15% and 25%, respectively.
One particular point of contention has been the reopening of schools: while some officials and parents think the need for students to return to the classroom is urgent, there are teachers who are concerned that it is too soon and not enough yet. safe to open campus.
In Virginia, the state Senate on Thursday passed a bill that, if signed by Governor Ralph Northam, would require each school board to offer a full-time in-person instruction option to students enrolled in the local school division, with some exceptions. .
Schools can revert to temporary remote instruction if the school board and local health department determine that the level of transmission in the school is high, according to the bill.
Officials Extend Vaccine Eligibility and Availability
As some states ease restrictions, others are opening vaccine eligibility to more residents, including teachers.
Beginning March 15, teachers and other essential workers in Missouri will be eligible for the vaccine, Gov. Mike Parson said Thursday.
In addition to educators and K-12 student staff, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced Thursday that adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their caregivers and parents of children with complex medical conditions will be eligible for vaccines. The 8th of March.
And as of Thursday, all people over the age of 16 and with certain comorbidities are eligible for vaccines in Utah, Gov. Spencer Cox said.
“We are prioritizing these people, again, based on age and these underlying comorbidities, because they have the highest risk of hospitalization or death,” Cox explained, pleading with Utahns not to get ahead of the line and assuring them that They have so many more shots coming up.
Officials have been working for the past few months to accelerate and optimize vaccine dose distribution as states clamor for more to meet growing demand.
If Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine gets emergency use clearance from the FDA this weekend, President Joe Biden said it will be implemented immediately.
“The FDA will decide on the authorization of emergency use of a vaccine based on science, not due to any political pressure from me or another person, without external factors,” said Biden. “What I’m going to tell the American people is this, yes, if the FDA approves the use of this new vaccine, we have a plan to implement it as soon as Johnson and Johnson can.”
Pfizer’s existing vaccine could also be easier to distribute quickly, thanks to the FDA agreeing on Thursday to allow it to be transported and stored for up to two weeks at “conventional temperatures” typically found in pharmaceutical freezers.
The company and its partner Biotech are also responding to the growing threat of variants with new tests to see how well a third dose protects against them.
Christopher Rios, Lauren Mascarenhas, Nadia Kounang, Andy Rose, Jamiel Lynch, Rebekah Riess, Lindsay Benson, Artemis Moshtaghian, DJ Judd, Jacqueline Howard, and CNN’s Amanda Sealy contributed to this report.