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Djokovic saga shows the absurd confusion of Australia’s Covid-19 fortress

Many tennis commentators say Novak Djokovic is all but unbeatable in Australia. He is, after all, the winner of a remarkable nine Australian Open Grand Slam titles. And, as the Australian government discovered this week, it hasn’t proven easy to defeat him in a court of law, either

It remains unclear whether Djokovic will defend his title in next week’s Australian Open. But the world has learned a lot more about Australia’s border controls, much of which it will take a long time to forget.
For now, Djokovic remains in the country, hoka shoes for women following his court victory against the Australian Border Force’s attempt to deny him entry. Yet the Australian government could still deport him. The ball remains in the court of Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who is considering whether to use his executive power to cancel Djokovic’s visa. The tennis star’s admission that he made a false travel declaration upon arrival in Australia, along with revelations he failed to isolate after testing positive for Covid-19 last month, provide the minister with potential justifications. Djokovic denied knowing he had the virus when attending public events, and apologized for the false travel declaration, saying it had been submitted on his behalf by a member of staff.
At this stage, you can’t rule anything out. The episode has already proven to be an absurd political drama befitting of a Netflix saga during lockdown. The Djokovic family has played a fine supporting role, with patriarch Srdjan Djokovic declaring his son Novak the “Spartacus of the new world.” Never one to miss out, British politician and high-profile Brexiteer Nigel Farage even flew to Belgrade to offer his support to the Djokovic clan.
The Novak Djokovic saga has turned the spotlight on deep divisions in Australian society
Much of the saga’s ridiculousness, however, is rooted in Australia’s own peculiar reaction to the Covid-19 experience.
Perhaps most absurd of all has been the utter confusion in Australian governance. Was there a visa exemption granted? Did the unvaccinated Djokovic qualify for an exemption? Who had the authority to decide? The answers to these questions should, of course, be straightforward. But they have not been clear to anyone, even the Australian Prime Minister.
The organizers of the Australian Open, who convened an expert panel of medical advisers to assess exemptions from vaccination, believed everything was all in order. So did a medical panel of the Victorian state government. Before Djokovic’s hoka shoes arrival in Melbourne, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the country that was all that mattered. Just hours later, Morrison seemingly changed his mind and declared that the federal government made the rules. All of this played out while Djokovic was in the air traveling to Australia. It was then presented to the superstar at border control in the very early hours of the morning.
This echoes the broader experience of the pandemic. Australia has resembled less of a nation-state, with a clear-sighted leader at its helm, as it has a collection of states led by warring premiers from different parties and different factions over these past three years. Whether it is between federal and state governments, or between the various state governments, health advice and policy have at times varied wildly.
More fundamentally, the episode reveals how intense Australia’s border politics have become during the pandemic.
At the start of the pandemic, Prime Minister Morrison declared that the virus was foremost a threat to Australia’s sovereignty. In March 2020, Australia cut itself off from the world. Foreigners were not allowed in. Citizens and permanent residents had to apply for permission to access an ever-diminishing number of rooms in quarantine facilities.
Later in the year, no one was even allowed out of the country without express permission, which was far more often denied than granted. Many Australians felt they had little hope of navigating these restrictions, short of having the luxury of special exemptions or an army of lawyers at their disposal.
I was relieved when my sons got mild Covid-19. Then I thought about this
Accompanying these border restrictions were some of the longest and strictest lockdowns in the world. Both major parties supported them, with state premiers requesting the army be sent onto the streets and stopping people leaving their homes even for exercise or essential shopping.
These restrictions would have been unthinkable anywhere in the democratic countries of the northern hemisphere. And yet there was almost no resistance here in Australia. Quite the contrary, many — if not reveling in them — believe they were absolutely necessary. Public acceptance of border closures and lockdowns have reflected Australia’s deep aversion to biosecurity risk, and Australians’ tendency to see their country as a sanctuary from the rest of a troublesome world.
Such attitudes or mindsets have not just emerged from the pandemic. They have deeper cultural and historical roots. For a couple of decades, the rise of affordable international aviation connected Australia to the rest of the world. Covid-19, though, has returned the nation to an older national psyche.
Migrants missing family or their homelands, olukai shoes for example, have been frequently chastised and reminded that earlier generations of migrants were unable to have the luxury of travel, restricted by the cost and the technology; it should be no great burden for them to be stuck in the greatest country on Earth.
During the past week, Australian player Nick Kygrios took to social media to say that he couldn’t work out why people wanted to travel the world anyway. Apparently being at home in Canberra, secure from the worst of the pandemic, was the greatest gift there was.
Indeed, if this Djokovic saga does say anything about Australia, it is that the country remains attached to a belief in “Fortress Australia.” For many Australians, it is a political article of faith that “we decide who comes to this country, and the circumstances in which they come,” as former Prime Minister John Howard put it at his election launch in 2001.
It was no accident that when the Australian government moved to detain Djokovic, it did so in a Melbourne hotel used to detain asylum seekers, some of whom have been incarcerated for nearly a decade, largely ignored and forgotten by the Australian public. Given what we now know, Djokovic is clearly not without blame himself. But what happened to him happens many times over with others who are not as fortunate to enjoy his riches or profile — and whose causes are more worthy.
As to what happens next, the Australian government has put itself in an invidious position. If it allows Djokovic to remain, there’s every likelihood Djokovic will go on to win the Australian Open and claim the mantle as the greatest tennis player of all time.
Deporting him would outrage opinion across the world. Either way, Australia comes out of this much diminished. Whatever it does, in this battle of “Fortress Australia,” the score remains the same: Advantage Djokovic.

Do you have a cold, the flu or Covid-19? Experts explain how to tell the difference

Do you have a sore throat, a runny nose and muscle aches? It could be a common cold, a case of the flu — or Covid-19.

The illnesses all share similar symptoms, sometimes making it hard to distinguish which is putting you under the weather.
Case rates of Covid-19 have been on the rise as the Omicron variant has spread, but hospitalization numbers appear to be staying relatively low. For vaccinated people, evidence suggests that infection with this variant seems less likely to be severe, epidemiologist and former Detroit Health Department executive director, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed said.
Daily Covid-19 case rates have now surpassed Delta's surge. Hospitalizations so far have yet to match
“The important thing to remember is a vaccine is like giving a ‘be on the lookout’ call to your immune system. So its capacity to identify, target and destroy viruses is so much higher every time we take another boost of the vaccine,” El-Sayed said. “It makes sense that the symptoms you would experience are milder if you have been vaccinated.”
That does not mean, however, that infections shouldn’t be taken seriously, he added, especially when considering the risk of overwhelming health care systems.
“Just because the per-individual risk of severe illness may be lower, that doesn’t mean on a societal level Omicron doesn’t pose a real risk,” he said. “Even a small proportion of a relatively large number can be a relatively large number.”
Many Covid-19 infections may look like a cold or flu. The best way to know is to get a test, said Dr. Sarah Ash Combs, attending physician at Children’s National Hospital.
“Short of getting a test, I would say it’s really tricky to distinguish right now,” Combs said. “We need to just treat cold-ish symptoms in pretty much the same bucket” as Covid-19.

What symptoms to look for

Early signs of cold, flu and Covid-19 tend to be similar, El-Sayed said.
Both Covid-19 and the flu often cause symptoms such as fever, fatigue, body aches, sore throat, shortness of breath and vomiting or diarrhea, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Covid-19 infection can be distinguished, however, by the headache and dry cough that often go along with it. The loss of taste and smell that has been the biggest warning sign of a Covid-19 infection is still a possible symptom, though it is less prevalent now than it has been with other variants, El-Sayed said.
Between Christmas and New Year's, doctors expect the US Omicron surge to grow
“For people who are feeling serious chest pain, particularly with a dry cough that has gotten worse, that’s when you really ought to seek medical attention,” he warned.
The most important factor to consider is exposure.
“If you are starting to feel any of these symptoms, it’s worth asking: Has anybody with whom I’ve come into contact been infected with Covid? It’s also worth isolating and taking a rapid test,” he advised.
Even if you’re not feeling symptoms yet, it may be best to exercise caution if you have been around someone who tested positive for Covid-19.
“I do think it is worth keeping a high suspicion that it could be Covid considering that we have the Omicron variant spreading like wildfire,” El-Sayed added.
At this point, it is safest to treat all cold symptoms carefully, Combs said.

When to test for Covid-19

It is often good to address your suspicions of Covid-19 by taking a test, although when you do it makes a difference.
If you are feeling symptoms, now is the time to take a test, El-Sayed said.
For those who have been exposed but aren’t feeling symptoms, there is a possibility that the virus hasn’t developed enough to show up on a rapid test, he explained. In those cases, it is best to wait five days after exposure before testing and to remain on the lookout, according to the CDC.
“Just because you get a negative test doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not Covid,” El-Sayed said. “The best approach is to test and then maybe test again in 12 to 24 hours, and if you get two negatives, you can be more certain that it’s not.”
Whether it is Covid-19 or the common cold, it has always been a good idea to isolate while you fight a viral illness, he said. It has become even more important with the risk of spread increasing with Covid-19.

What to do if your child starts sniffling

Looking ahead to the return to school after the winter break, the US is at a point where people need to treat cold or flu symptoms the same as Covid-19, Combs said.
When a family comes into her emergency room with a child that has sniffles and a sore throat and asks what it is, she is honest: She can’t know for sure without a test, said Combs.
Children are experiencing Omicron much in the same way adults are in that the symptoms are much more wide-ranging and often milder, like a cold, she said.
Getting a flu shot for your child is important to reduce the chance of adding another virus to the mix, Combs said. Children under 5-years-old are still waiting on Covid-19 vaccine approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, but those older can get vaccinated to reduce the risk of spread and serious disease.
As they go back to a school environment, testing is going to be essential to protecting against outbreaks, Combs said.
The latest on coronavirus pandemic and Omicron variant
“If you’re looking to be really careful, if you’re looking at a child going back to a school environment is to spread to other people, I would say really the only way to know is taking that test,” Combs said.
The good news is we know how to manage infections when children return to school, Combs said. When it isn’t clear if your child was exposed or if their test is still pending, protocols like masking, sanitizing, distancing and reducing indoor gatherings are still believed to be effective in reducing spread, she added.
And know that advice may evolve as time goes on, El-Sayed cautioned.
“It’s changing quickly. We’re learning a lot more,” he said. “Omicorn is a variant we’ve really only known for about a month.”

The Covid-19 case surge is altering daily life across the US. Things will likely get worse, experts warn

The US is ringing in the new year amid a Covid-19 surge experts warn is exploding at unprecedented speed and could alter daily life for many Americans during the first month of 2022.

“Omicron is truly everywhere,” Dr. Megan Ranney, a professor of emergency medicine at Brown University’s School of Public Health, told CNN on Friday night. “What I am so worried about over the next month or so is that our economy is going to shut down, not because of policies from the federal government or from the state governments, but rather because so many of us are ill.”
The nation broke records at least four times this week for its seven-day average of new daily Covid-19 cases, reporting an all-time high of more than 386,000 new daily infections Friday, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. The high case count is already causing disruptions in the country.
US shatters its average daily Covid-19 case record again. Experts describe coming weeks as a 'tidal wave' and 'blizzard'
In New York City, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is plagued with staffing issues and announced three subway lines — the B, Z and W — which service various parts of the boroughs, have been suspended.
“Like everyone in New York, we’ve been affected by the COVID surge. We’re running as much train service as we can with the operators we have available,” the MTA wrote on Twitter Thursday.
New York continues to break its own record, adding 85,476 reported Covid-19 cases, according to Saturday’s briefing from New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Hospitalizations jumped to 8,451, up from around 8,000 in the report released Friday, according to the latest data. The state’s seven-day positivity rate is 19.79%.
The number of one day case additions has hoka shoes for women increased 219% since Monday, when the state reported an addition of 26,737 cases.
Healthcare services — exhausted after several surges of the virus and now stretched thin again by a growing number of Covid-19 patients — are also already feeling impacts. The University of Maryland Capital Region Health this week joined a growing list of medical centers in the state to activate emergency protocols after a sharp rise in cases fueled staffing shortages and overwhelmed emergency departments.
“The current demand for care is depleting our available resources, including staffing,” UM Capital Region Health said in a statement on Friday.
In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday announced the deployment of about 1,250 National Guard members as hospitals struggle with staffing shortages.
FAA warns it may be forced to delay flights because of Covid
On the same day, the mayor of Cincinnati declared a state of emergency due to staffing shortages in the city’s fire department following a rise in Covid-19 infections. The mayor’s declaration said if the staffing problem goes unaddressed, it would “substantially undermine” first responders’ readiness levels.
“Get ready. We have to remember, in the next few weeks, there’s going to be an unprecedented number of social disruptions,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of Baylor University’s National School of Tropical Medicine, told CNN.
Those include flight disruptions as well, he said, because of TSA agent and air crew absences.
Thousands of flights have already been canceled or delayed throughout the holiday season as staff and crew called out sick. On Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration said an “increased number” of its employees were testing positive for the virus, and “to maintain safety, traffic volume at some facilities could be reduced, which might result in delays during busy periods.”
Your top questions about Covid-19, answered

Previous rules of virus are ‘out the window’

The latest surge, which has sent case numbers exploding across the globe, is fueled by the Omicron variant, the most contagious coronavirus strain yet, health experts say.
The virus is now “extraordinarily contagious” and previous mitigation measures that used to help now may not be as helpful, CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner told CNN on Friday.
Is a fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose needed? US health officials say not yet
“At the beginning of this pandemic… we all were taught, you have a significant exposure if you’re within six feet of somebody and you’re in contact with them for more than 15 minutes. All these rules are out the window,” Reiner said. “This is a hyper-contagious virus.”
Now, even a quick, transient encounter can lead to an infection, Reiner added, including if someone’s mask is loose, or a person quickly pulls their mask hoka shoes down, or an individual enters an elevator in which someone else has just coughed.
“This is how you can contract this virus,” Reiner said.
The variant’s transmissibility helps explain the staggering number of infections reported globally, including in the US. in the past week, several states have reported new case and hospitalization highs, shattering previous records.
New Jersey recorded more than 28,000 new Covid-19 cases through PCR testing, Gov. Phil Murphy wrote on Twitter Friday. In a news conference, the governor said the number was roughly “quadruple from just two weeks ago, and four times as many cases than during the height of last winter’s surge.”
Child hospitalizations are surging in this Chicago hospital. Only one of the young patients was fully vaccinated, doctor says
“Our hospitals right now are at roughly the same numbers they were on the worst day of last winter’s surge,” he added. “The problem is that right now we don’t see any sign of let up.”
Other states, including Arkansas, Maryland and New York, also reported new records for case numbers.
And a sharp rise in infections — especially in children — could soon lead to a spike in hospital admissions, infectious diseases expert Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo said.
“The explosive rise in cases is really fueling what normally might be a relatively small proportion … of kids who are experiencing these severe outcomes,” she told CNN’s Amara Walker on Friday. “But you put the gigantic numbers of cases together with the small number affected, plus the proportion of unvaccinated, and I’m really worried that we’re going to be in for a tidal wave of admissions, particularly for kids in the coming weeks.”
Child Covid-19 hospital admissions already reached an all-time high this week, with a record average of 378 children admitted to hospitals on any given day over the week ending December 28, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Children younger than 5 are not yet eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine, and a shot for those groups likely won’t be available until mid-2022, experts say.

Concerns about returning to school

With the virus spreading, some staff members and experts are expressing concern about what school reopenings could mean.
“There will be pediatric hospitalizations,” Hotez said. “And what’s going to be the other tough piece in the next weeks, keeping the schools open, because of this high transmissibility — especially if you start seeing absences of school teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria staff.”
The Massachusetts Teachers Association, New England’s largest public sector union, urged the state education commissioner this week to keep schools closed on Monday, except for staff Covid-19 testing.
Colleges and K-12 schools adapt schedules and requirements as Covid cases rise
“Using Monday as a day for testing and analyzing data will allow our school districts to make prudent decisions around staffing needs so they can continue in-person learning for students if it is safe or develop contingency plans if a district deems it to be necessary,” Merrie Najimy, the association’s president, said in a statement.
The state’s Executive Office of Education said Friday schools will be open on Monday, despite the teacher union’s request.
“The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education worked hard this week to make at-home rapid tests available to all public school teachers and staff in light of the testing shortages being experienced around the country. Massachusetts is one of only a handful of states supplying rapid tests to its teachers. It is a not a requirement for teachers to return to work, or necessary to reopen schools after the holiday break,” Colleen Quinn, a spokesperson for the office, said in a statement.
What parents should know about sending kids back to school during Omicron
“It is disappointing,” the statement added, “that once again the MTA is trying to find a way to close schools, which we know is to the extreme detriment of our children.”
Atlanta Public Schools (APS) announced all district schools will operate virtually through Friday, January 7, for all students and staff, according to a statement on Saturday.
Citing the surging Covid-19 cases, APS said the district elected to postpone in-person learning until Monday, January 10. The move will allow students and staff to be tested and if needed, to isolate and quarantine, per CDC and Department of Health Guidelines, according to APS.
All APS staff members are required to report to their workplaces on Monday for Covid-19 testing, the statement said.
Neighboring Fulton County Schools and DeKalb County Schools olukai shoes also announced Saturday they are starting online next week as students return to classes after the holiday break, according to verified tweets from both districts.
Fulton and DeKalb also aim to return to in-person instruction on January 10.
Meanwhile, a growing number of colleges and universities across the country are making changes to the beginning of the 2022 spring semester as a result of the case surge.
Duke University extended its plan for remote classes by another week because of an “incredibly high” positive case count among faculty and an increasing number of cases among students who are already in the area, the school said Friday.
Michigan State University announced Friday that classes will start primarily remotely on January 10 and will stay remote for at least three weeks.
“I realize that students prefer to be in person, and so do I,” Samuel L. Stanley Jr., the university’s president, said in a statement. “But it is important that we do so in a safe manner. Starting the semester remotely and de-densifying campus in the coming weeks can be a solution to slowing the spread of the virus.”

Brian May details ‘horrendous’ Covid-19 battle as he begs fans to get vaccinated

Rock music icon Brian May has urged the public to get the Covid-19 vaccine, after telling fans on Instagram he’s been having a “truly horrible” time since testing positive for the virus last week.

In a series of posts and videos on Instagram, the 74-year-old has been documenting how he’s been affected by coronavirus in the last few days.
Taking to Instagram at the weekend, May said that he and his wife, Anita Dobson, hoka shoes for women had recently made the decision to go to a birthday lunch with some friends.
He told followers that the lunch seemed like a “safe situation,” as he’d taken a lateral flow test that morning and he and Dobson have both been vaccinated. But he added that, as the Omicron variant spreads across the UK at a rapid rate, the couple were taking a “risk” in attending a party.
'An event canceled is better than a life canceled,' WHO chief warns ahead of holiday season
The Queen guitarist then delivered a message directly to “the few of you out there who haven’t had this” — in reference to contracting the virus — about what it has felt like for him since testing positive. He described a few of the days as “horrendous” and said it has been like having “the worst flu you could imagine.”
May said that he almost used Instagram when he felt at his worst to show followers how “pathetic” he looked and felt, but he was worried it would “frighten people.” He told fans that, for a while, he “couldn’t get out of bed” and was “filled” with flu symptoms.
Towards the end of the video, May turned his attention directly towards the unvaccinated and said: “There are so many people in hospitals right now who weren’t jabbed who are right on the line between life and death.” He added that he doesn’t think hoka shoes he would have recovered as well as he has were it not for having had three jabs.
“I beg you and implore you to go and get jabbed,” the musician told fans.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that the United Kingdom is experiencing “cases of Omicron surging across the country,” with “hospitalizations rising quite steeply in London.”
The UK reported its second-highest number of daily Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic on Monday, at 91,743.

Sens. Warren and Booker test positive for Covid-19

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker tested positive for the coronavirus, according to tweets Sunday from their official accounts.

The Massachusetts Democrat, who is vaccinated and boosted, said she is experiencing mild symptoms. The New Jersey Democrat, who is also vaccinated and boosted, also reported mild symptoms.
Warren was on the Senate floor last week before the chamber went on recess.
“I regularly test for COVID & while I tested negative earlier this week, today I tested positive with a breakthrough case. Thankfully, I am only experiencing mild symptoms & am grateful for the protection provided against serious illness that comes from being vaccinated & boosted,” Warren tweeted. “As cases increase across the country, I urge everyone who has not already done so to get the vaccine and the booster as soon as possible – together, we can save lives.”
The announcements came as the emergence of the Omicron variant has thrust the nation — and the White House — back into an uncertain pandemic reality, posing both public health and political challenges.
There's a new coronavirus variant circulating. Here's what you can do to stay safe
The US is now facing a resurgent coronavirus as the pandemic marches into its third year: The country was averaging 126,967 new cases per day as of Saturday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University — up from an average of just more than 70,000 new cases per day at the beginning of November.
The country is likely in for a hard winter as the new variant strains a health care system already battered by the Delta variant, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday.
“It’s going to take over,” Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said of the Omicron variant on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, urging Americans to get vaccinated and get their booster shots. “And be prudent in everything else you do: When you travel in your indoor settings that are congregated, wear a mask.”
Dr. Fauci: 'We got to do better' with virus testing
According to the World Health Organization, Omicron cases are doubling every 1.5 to 3 days with documented spread. And in the US, it’s expected to become the “dominant strain” in the coming weeks, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said Friday.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa tests positive for Covid-19 with mild symptoms

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during former South African President FW de Klerk's state memorial service at the Groote Kerk church in Cape Town on December 12, 2021.

Johannesburg (CNN)South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is receiving treatment for mild Covid-19 symptoms after testing positive on Sunday, the office of the presidency said in a statement.

He has delegated all responsibilities to Deputy President David Mabuza for the next week.
Ramaphosa “started feeling unwell after leaving the State Memorial Service in honor of former Deputy President FW de Klerk in Cape Town earlier today,” the presidency statement said.
He is however “in good spirits” and is being monitored by the South African Military Health Service of the South African National Defence Force.
“President Ramaphosa says his own infection serves as a caution bluetooth headphones to all people in the country to be vaccinated and remain vigilant against exposure. Vaccination remains the best protection against severe illness and hospitalization,” the statement said.
South Africa, where scientists identified the new Omicron variant, has recently entered its fourth wave of the pandemic. Just over 25% of the country has been fully vaccinated, with an additional 5% partially vaccinated, according to CNN’s global vaccine tracker.
Ramaphosa, who is fully vaccinated, recently returned from a trip in West Africa. He tested negative for Covid-19 upon his return to Johannesburg on December 8, according to his office.
The President is now in self-isolation in Cape Town.

Fourth-Year Medical Students Join the Fight Against COVID-19

As more and more COVID-19 patients pour into hospitals around New York City, fourth-year Einstein medical students are volunteering for a program to help healthcare workers cope with the increasing demand for care.

Launched just one week ago, the program started with four students who were assigned to a special floor at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM), where elective surgeries have been canceled to accommodate the influx of adult COVID-19 patients. (Four additional fourth-year medical students started working keen shoes with pediatricians earlier this week—two on the Moses campus and two at Jacobi Medical Center.)

Working as subinterns in tandem with hospital teams, the four CHAM volunteers are taking on 12-hour shifts, supporting pediatricians in the care of adult patients. Currently, it is the only program where Einstein medical students are working on the wards, and it is entirely voluntary.

“Everyone in the medical community is going above and beyond to help these patients,” said one of the fourth-years at CHAM, Corin Kinkhabwala. “This is where Einstein and Montefiore thought we would be most utilized and provide the best assistance. There are a lot of moving pieces. It’s very fluid, and you have to be adaptable.”

Todd Cassese, M.D., assistant dean for clinical sciences at Einstein, said each fourth-year “is caring for three to four patients and reporting back to the resident and attending physicians. The students are also providing advice on other patients on their teams.”

CHAM’s pediatric hospital medicine division chief, Patricia Hametz, M.D., said the fourth-year volunteers “have been truly amazing. They have stepped right up and become fully integrated members of the team. We are extremely grateful for the help as we all learn together how to care for this patient population.”
A Call for Action

When the COVID-19 pandemic started escalating in the Bronx in early March, medical school graduation was less than three months away. By mid-March, Einstein sent an email to gauge interest among the fourth-years in helping care for patients with COVID-19. “The fact that they reached out made me realize how dire the situation was,” Mr. Kinkhabwala said. Dozens of fourth-years volunteered.

Using a random name nike outlet generator, Dr. Cassese, working with the office of student affairs, selected four students: Mr. Kinkhabwala, Keara English, Michael Longo, and Marika Osterbur-Badhey. “We decided to start small and then grow the effort,” Dr. Cassese explained.

Josh Nosanchuk, M.D., Einstein’s senior associate dean for medical education, said the four piloting the program are “displaying their passion and compassion for our community. I couldn’t be more impressed or proud as they beautifully represent the heart and soul of Einstein”

Some of the adult patients who present with COVID-19 symptoms in the emergency departments at Montefiore are being sent to the converted floor at CHAM, where patients are sick enough to be hospitalized but do not require a ventilator. Patients who grow more ill are transferred to a different care team or the intensive-care unit.

Fourth-year volunteer Keara English says things were changing constantly due to need to accommodate the rapid influx of new patients, “but all the physicians—the attendings, residents, and interns—adapted quickly. I am proud to be able to work with them. Everyone is really trying to do their best to help our patients.”

To minimize the number of times healthcare staff go in and out of hospital rooms, a lot of the care is done by checking patient monitors connected to screens in the hallway and communicating with patients by telephone. “We are being paired with pediatric interns,” Ms. English said, “and basically just take the load off of them by checking the patients’ charts, making sure the lab reports come back, writing progress notes and discharge summaries, and communicating with the nursing staff, respiratory therapists, social work staff, and the family.”

Rhonda Acholonu, M.D., Montefiore’s vice chair for education in the department in pediatrics, said she worked alongside some of the fourth-years on overnight shifts at CHAM. “They were incredibly engaged and helpful. They spent time talking to the patients via the phone and gathering outstanding histories. It just goes to show you that the spirit to help is deeply engrained in the Einstein student.”
A Connection to Their Team

The CHAM COVID-19 schedule involves working from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for three days, 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. the following three nights, and then skechers outlet three days off. “In times like these having continuity of teams is critical and can save lives,” Dr. Cassese said. “But we wanted the students to choose their schedules. They discussed it on their own and they decided to stick with their teams, and I think it was a great choice, but it was theirs.”

Mr. Kinkhabwala, who will start a residency in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina later in June, said, “Some patients are sicker than others. It’s tiring, but I love it. This is what I signed up for. The patients are great. They are so resilient. It helps me get up in the morning.”

Ms. English, who will begin her internship this summer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center before starting her radiation oncology residency at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore next year, said she was motivated to volunteer at CHAM because of what she heard about the need for help from close friends who are interns in emergency medicine and internal medicine in New York City. “I knew that if there was anything I could do, I wanted to try and relieve that burden.”

She also felt a special kinship to the Bronx. “I love our community here,” Ms. English said. “There are a lot of patients here that, on a good day—with no COVID-19—struggle with their health. They deserve our best efforts.”

Pfizer says its COVID-19 antiviral pill reduces risk of serious illness: What we know about US approval

The oral drug, called Paxlovid, reduces the risk of hospitalization or death by almost 90% in early tests, according to Pfizer.


Pfizer has asked for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 antiviral pill could be up consideration.

A day after Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics received approval in the UK for their COVID-19 antiviral pill, Pfizer said Friday it has an antiviral drug that can cut the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID by 89%, according to data from clinical trials.

Called Paxlovid, Pfizer’s pill would be taken orally to skechers outlet fight the severe symptoms. Currently, the only antiviral medication authorized in the US requires a health care professional to administer the medication intravenously, through a needle, over five to 10 days. An easy-to-take pill could become part of a growing toolkit that doctors could use to fight COVID, which already includes the three COVID vaccines authorized for use in the US.

In September, data from Johns Hopkins University showed that around 1 in 500 Americans have died from the coronavirus. While the available COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective, millions of Americans have not been vaccinated. According to a September report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unvaccinated people are over 10 times more likely to get hospitalized and die from the disease than fully vaccinated people.

Here’s what we know about Pfizer’s antiviral pill. We’ll update this story as more details emerge. For more on COVID-19, here’s the latest on vaccine mandates, keeping your vaccine card hanovembndy and this year’s flu season.

What is Pfizer’s COVID-19 antiviral drug?

In the US, the three approved COVID vaccines from ModernaPfizer and Johnson & Johnson can protect you from infection. But for those already infected, antiviral drugs could reduce the chance of serious illness and reduce the risk of hospitalization and death.

If approved, Pfizer’s drug won’t replace the need for vaccines. Health officials see the vaccines and antiviral drugs working in tandem to nike outlet tame the pandemic: Vaccines can prevent infection and lessen the severity of illness if you get infected. Antiviral drugs can lessen the effects of the illness, including for those unvaccinated.

In clinical trials, Paxlovid reduced  the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% when taken three days of symptoms for those who are at a higher risk of serious infection, Pfizer said.

The pharmaceutical giant said it intends to request emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration “as soon as possible.” During its clinical trials, Pfizer said, reported side effects between those taking the antiviral drug and those taking the placebo were about the same.

How does it compare with molnupiravir, Merck’s COVID pill?

Merck applied for an emergency use authorization of its antiviral pill with the FDA in mid-October.

If given the go-ahead, the Merck antiviral drug molnupiravir would be the first approved in the US to be taken orally at home. Merck has said its pill can reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by 50% if taken within five days of the onset of symptoms for people who have tested positive and are at higher risk of serious illness.

An FDA advisory committee plans to meet at the end of November to consider Merck’s emergency use application for molnupiravir.

When could Pfizer antiviral pill be available in the US?

The New York Times reported that Pfizer’s pill could be available in the next few months, if approved by the FDA.

What would be Pfizer treatment course for its antiviral pill?

During Pfizer’s tests on the drug, patients took the pill orally every 12 hours for five days.

Will Pfizer’s drug be free?

Pfizer expects to produce enough pills for more than 180,000 people by the end of 2021 and for more than 21 million people by the middle of 2022, The New York Times reported. The US government is negotiating with Pfizer to buy enough pills for 1.7 million courses of treatment.

Pfizer hasn’t said whether that deal keen shoes means that the pill will be free to patients in the US. A Pfizer spokesperson told CNET: “Pfizer’s goal is to deliver safe and effective oral anti-viral therapeutic(s) as soon as possible and at an affordable price, subject to regulatory authorization.”

Separately, the US government is purchasing 1.7 million courses of Merck’s antiviral drug to provide if and when it is approved by the FDA.

For more on COVID-19, here’s the latest on COVID-19 vaccines for kids, what to know about mixing and matching vaccines and what is happening with booster shots.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

COVID Cases Keep Falling

Benigno Enriquez, right, elbow-bumps Miami Mayor Francis Suarez as Suarez hands out masks to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, at a mask distribution event, Friday, June 26, 2020, in a COVID-19 hotspot of the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami. Florida banned alcohol consumption at its bars Friday as its daily confirmed coronavirus cases neared 9,000, a new record that is almost double the previous mark set just two days ago.

The number of new daily COVID-19 cases in the United States has plunged 57% since peaking on Sept. 1. Almost as encouraging as the magnitude of the decline is its breadth: Cases have been declining in every region.

Forecasting COVID’s future is extremely difficult, and it’s certainly possible that cases will rise again in the coming weeks. But the geographic breadth of the decline does offer reason for optimism.

Past COVID increases have generally brooks shoes started in one part of the country — like the South this summer or the New York region in early 2020 — and then gone national. Today, there is no regional surge that seems to have the makings of a nationwide surge.

Yes, there are some local hot spots, as has almost always been the case since the pandemic began. Several of the hot spots are in northern parts of the country, like Alaska, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and a few counties near the Canadian border in New Hampshire and Vermont. This pattern has led to some speculation that the onset of cold weather is causing the increases by moving more activity indoors — and that the entire country will soon experience a rise in caseloads.

That does not seem to be the most likely scenario, however. In most colder regions, including both Canada and the densely populated parts of the northern U.S., cases are still falling. The biggest problem for Alaska and the Mountain West is probably not the weather; it’s the vaccine skepticism. Idaho is the nation’s least vaccinated state, and several other Western states are only slightly ahead of it.

The CDC tracks a range of COVID forecasting models. On average, the models predict that new daily cases in the U.S. will fall roughly another 20% over the next three weeks.

The bottom line: There is no reason to expect another COVID surge anytime soon, but surges don’t always announce themselves in advance.

When the delta variant began spreading this summer, many people worried that it was both much more contagious than earlier versions of the virus and much more severe. Only one of those two fears seems to be true.

Delta is clearly more contagious, which is the main reason that every metric of the pandemic — cases, hospitalizations and deaths — soared this summer. But a typical COVID case during the delta wave was about as severe as a typical case during the earlier stages of the pandemic. During the wave in late 2020 and clarks shoes uk early this year, about 1.2% of positive cases led to death; during the delta wave, the share was 1.1%.

Scientific studies trying to answer the severity question more precisely have come to conflicting conclusions. Some have found delta to be more severe than other versions of the virus, and others have found that it is not. Until the research becomes clearer, the best guess may be that delta is modestly more severe, which could explain why hospitalizations and death rates have held steady even as vaccination rates have risen.

“Delta may be a little more serious, but not materially so,” Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said.

This pattern can influence how you think about your day-to-day activities. If you are vaccinated (and boosted, if eligible) and you were comfortable socializing indoors and without a mask last spring, you can probably feel comfortable doing so again, now or soon. Wachter adds: “Some older people or those with medical conditions may want to be sure that everybody else indoors with them is vaccinated before removing their mask.”

Despite all the encouraging news, one shadow still hangs over the U.S.: The pandemic does not need to be nearly as bad it is.

About 1,500 Americans have died of COVID every day over the past week. For older age groups, the virus remains a leading cause of death. And the main reason is that millions of Americans have chosen to remain unvaccinated. Many of them are older and have underlying medical conditions, leaving them vulnerable to severe versions of COVID.

For older people, the effects of vaccination are profound. In late August, near the height of the delta wave, 24 out of every 10,000 unvaccinated Americans 65 and above were hospitalized with COVID symptoms, according hey dude shoes to the CDC. Among fully vaccinated Americans 65 and above, the number was 1.5 per 10,000.

Even so, many Americans are saying no to a shot. Among affluent countries, the U.S. is one of the least vaccinated, trailing Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and others. Less vaccination means more death.

The low vaccination rate in the U.S. is another consequence of the country’s polarized politics and its high levels of socioeconomic inequality. Only 67% of American adults without a four-year college degree have received a shot, compared with 82% of college graduates, according to the most recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll. And only 58% of self-identified Republicans are vaccinated, compared with 90% of Democrats.

It is a triumph of misinformation: Offered a lifesaving vaccine to counteract a highly contagious virus, many Americans are instead choosing to take their chances.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell dies from Covid complications

WASHINGTON — Colin Powell, the retired four-star general who became the country’s first Black secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, died Monday due to complications from Covid-19, his family said in a statement on Facebook.

Powell, 84, was fully vaccinated from Covid-19, his family said, and had been treated at Walter Reed National Medical Center, but was suffering from serious underlying conditions.

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” the family said.

Powell and his wife, Alma, were tested for Covid last Monday skechers outlet and both tested positive, a family spokesperson told NBC News. Powell was then hospitalized at Walter Reed. Powell had multiple myeloma, a cancer of a type of white blood cell, which can harm the body’s immune system, surgery for prostate cancer when he was Secretary of State and, more recently, Parkinson’s disease.

Powell became the first Black secretary of state under President George W. Bush. As the nation’s chief diplomat, Powell delivered a well-known speech to the United Nations Security Council in February 2003 laying out the White House argument for invading Iraq and stating that there was intelligence that the country had weapons of mass destruction.

U.S. troops launched an invasion the following month. The evidence he presented about Iraq having biological weapons was later proven to be incorrect. Powell left the administration shortly after Bush’s re-election in 2004.

Powell later expressed regret over the remarks before the U.N., saying in a 2005 interview with ABC News’ Barbara Walters that it would tarnish his reputation and describing it as a “blot” on his record that “was painful then” and “painful now.”

Bush said in a statement Monday that he and former first lady Laura Bush were “deeply saddened” by Powell’s death.

“He was a great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam,” Bush said. “Many presidents relied on General Powell’s counsel nike outlet and experience. He was such a favorite of presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom — twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend.”

Secretary of State Colin Powell holds up a vial he said could contain anthrax as he presents evidence of Iraq's alleged weapons programs to the United Nations Security Council in this Feb. 5, 2003 file photo. (Elise Amendola / AP file)
Secretary of State Colin Powell holds up a vial he said could contain anthrax as he presents evidence of Iraq’s alleged weapons programs to the United Nations Security Council in this Feb. 5, 2003 file photo.

After rising through the military ranks, Powell became a four-star general and then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush. He had served as U.S. national security adviser and deputy national security adviser for President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Powell served twice in Vietnam — during the first tour, he was wounded in action and on the second tour, he received the Soldier’s Medal for rescuing several men from a burning helicopter.

In a statement Monday, former Vice President Dick Cheney called himself “fortunate” to work with Powell, and said during both wars with Iraq he saw Powell’s “dedication to the United States and his commitment to the brave and selfless men and women who serve our country in uniform.”

President Joe Biden, who ordered flags to be flown at half-staff, said in a statement Monday that when he served in the Senate, he worked closely with Powell, whom he called a friend.

“Easy to share a laugh with,” the president said. “A trusted confidant in good and hard keen shoes times. He could drive his Corvette Stingray like nobody’s business — something I learned firsthand on the race track when I was vice president. And I am forever grateful for his support of my candidacy for president and for our shared battle for the soul of the nation. I will miss being able to call on his wisdom in the future.”

Despite serving Republican presidents, Powell said days after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that he could no longer call himself a Republican.

“I’m not a fellow of anything right now,” he said in an interview on CNN. “I’m just a citizen who has voted Republican, voted Democrat throughout my entire career. And right now I’m just watching my country and not concerned with parties.”

Powell broke with his party on several occasions in recent years, including when he endorsed Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., for president in 2008 over then-Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Powell endorsed Obama again in 2012 over the GOP’s nominee that year, Mitt Romney, and later became a vocal critic of President Donald Trump.

Former President Obama expressed his condolences in a statement Monday, saying that he appreciated Powell’s endorsements, especially in 2008.

“At a time when conspiracy theories were swirling, with some questioning my faith, General Powell took the opportunity to get to the heart of the matter in a way only he could,” Obama said, repeating Powell’s remark on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” at the time about the conspiracy theories that were swirling about Obama’s faith.

“’The correct answer is, he is not a Muslim; he’s a Christian,’ General Powell said. ‘But the really right answer is, ‘What if he is?’ Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America,’” Obama wrote.

In 2016, it was revealed in leaked emails that Powell called the then-GOP presidential candidate a “national disgrace.” In June 2020, Powell and other retired military leaders blasted Trump for threatening to use military force against protesters. Powell said in an interview on CNN that Trump had turned away from the Constitution and that he was a habitual liar.

“We have a Constitution. We have to follow that Constitution. And the president’s drifted away from it,” said Powell, who made clear that, like in 2016, he would not vote for Trump for president and instead planned to vote for Joe Biden.

Powell was born in 1937 in Harlem, New York, to immigrants from Jamaica and grew up in the South Bronx, going on to get a bachelor’s degree from the City College of New York.

He is survived by his wife, their three children and multiple grandchildren.