Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19 COVID-19 News from Around the Web

Virus surge worsens in Midwest as states expand boosters

AP - November 19, 2021

A surge in cases in the Upper Midwest has some Michigan schools keeping students at home ahead of Thanksgiving and the military sending medical teams to Minnesota to relieve hospital staffs overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. The worsening outlook in the Midwest comes as booster shots are being made available to everyone in a growing number of locations.

Nearly One Third Of Healthcare Workers In U.S. Hospitals Are Still Not Vaccinated Against Covid-19, CDC Study Finds, As Vaccine Mandate Looms

Forbes - November 19, 2021

As of September 15, 70% of healthcare workers were fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the CDC study of more than 3 million personnel across more than 2,000 U.S. hospitals published in the American Journal of Infection Control. Rates varied based on the type of hospital, the researchers found, with the highest vaccination rates found in children’s hospitals where 77% of workers have both doses.

As Many as 1.6 Million Americans Lost Sense of Smell Due to COVID-19

HealthDay - November 19, 2021

As many as 1.6 million people in the United States will develop olfactory dysfunction or loss of smell from COVID-19, a new study projects. [Some] develop chronic dysfunction that lasts for six months or more. … Once supporting cells in the nose recover, smell returns for about 90% of people with COVID, Piccirillo said. Researchers still aren't sure why some people, like Stern, experience chronic loss of smell.

Pfizer asks US officials to OK promising COVID-19 pill

AP - November 17, 2021

Pfizer asked U.S. regulators Tuesday to authorize its experimental pill for COVID-19, setting the stage for a likely launch this winter of a promising treatment that can be taken at home. … Pfizer’s pill has been shown to significantly cut the rate of hospitalizations and deaths among people with coronavirus infections. The FDA is already reviewing a competing pill from Merck and several smaller drugmakers are also expected to seek authorization for their own antiviral pills in the coming months.

Boosters for all adults in US closer with panel meeting set

AP - November 17, 2021

An influential U.S. advisory panel will discuss expanding eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to all adults Friday, a move that could make the shots available nationwide as early as this weekend. … Pfizer asked U.S. regulators last week to allow boosters of its COVID-19 vaccine for anyone 18 or older. The FDA is expected to sign off on Pfizer’s application before the advisory panel meets Friday. The final step — CDC’s official recommendation — could come soon after the meeting.

US offering investment to boost COVID-19 vaccine capacity

AP - November 17, 2021

The Biden administration is making billions of dollars available to drugmakers to scale up domestic production of COVID-19 vaccines in the hopes of building capacity to produce an additional 1 billion shots per year to share with the world.

U.S. COVID cases start to rise again as the holidays approach

NPR - November 17, 2021

It's a worrying sign for the U.S. ahead of the holiday travel season: coronavirus infections are rising in more than half of all states. Experts warn this could be the start of an extended winter surge. The rise is a turnaround after cases had steadily declined from mid September to late October. The country is now averaging more than 83,000 cases a day — about a 14% increase compared to a week ago, and 12% more than two weeks ago.

Thanksgiving air travel to rebound to 2019 levels, TSA says

AP - November 17, 2021

The number of airline passengers traveling for Thanksgiving this year is expected to rebound to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, but the TSA says it is ready to handle the surge. … He said travelers should expect long lines at airports and plan to spend a little more time getting through security.

Eating disorder hospitalizations doubled during COVID-19 pandemic, new data shows

Good Morning America - November 17, 2021

The number of people who were hospitalized for eating disorders in the United States doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic, new research shows. The increase in in-patient treatment for eating disorders came as early as May 2020, according to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania … Rising cases were seen across anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and unspecified eating disorders, according to the study.

8 lingering questions about the new Covid pills from Merck and Pfizer

STAT - November 15, 2021

Though the topline results are similar, the medicines could have different risks and benefits. The companies have only issued data in press releases, not scientific articles, and doctors need to know a lot more about both. Here is an overview of what we still don’t know about the Covid pills and when we might learn it.

Source: FDA will likely make booster decision without outside advisory committee weighing in

CNN - November 15, 2021

The FDA is unlikely to ask its outside vaccine advisers to weigh in on whether the agency should authorize Pfizer Covid-19 boosters for all adults, a source familiar with the situation told CNN. Pfizer applied to the FDA for emergency use authorization on November 9 to make all adults eligible for boosters. Processing that request could be faster if the agency does not wait for members of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee to meet.

Covid vaccine holdouts are caving to mandates — then scrambling to ‘undo’ their shots

NBC News - November 15, 2021

As mandates spread, anti-vaccine groups have been trafficking in pseudoscience treatments meant to remove or counteract the vaccines. Experts say it's like trying to "unring a bell."

Nursing homes can now lift most COVID restrictions on visits

AP - November 15, 2021

The government on Friday directed nursing homes to open their doors wide to visitors, easing many remaining pandemic restrictions while urging residents, families and facility staff to keep their guard up against outbreaks. The new guidance from the CMS instructs nursing homes to allow visits at all times for all residents. Facilities will no longer be able to limit the frequency and length of visits, or require advance scheduling. Although large groups of visitors are discouraged, nursing homes won’t be allowed to limit the number of loved ones and friends who can pay a call on residents.

People got sicker during the pandemic, even without Covid-19

NBC News - November 15, 2021

A new study found that the number of Americans able to keep their blood pressure at healthy levels dropped significantly in 2020 —either because people avoided the doctor's office or were unable to get care because their physicians closed their offices temporarily during the pandemic … on average, only 53.3 percent of adults in the U.S. had their blood pressure under control last year, compared to 60.5 percent in 2019.

Moderna says Covid vaccine has fewer breakthrough cases than Pfizer’s, but higher myocarditis rates in young men

CNBC - November 12, 2021

Moderna defended the use of its Covid vaccine, saying the protection it offers against severe disease, hospitalization and death outweighs the risk of myocarditis. Reported cases of the rare heart inflammation in men under 30 are relatively higher after Moderna’s vaccine compared with Pfizer’s.

All adults can get a COVID vaccine booster in California, not just those CDC listed

NPR - November 12, 2021

All fully vaccinated adults in California seeking a COVID-19 booster shot should be eligible to get one, California Department of Public Health officials say. In a letter Thursday, officials directed health care providers not to deny booster shots to adult patients. The announcement opened up booster shot eligibility to millions of residents across the state.