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San Francisco and Alameda drop Verilys COVID-19 testing service – Engadget

https://www.engadget.com/san-francisco-alameda-verily-covid-19-053108859.html

San Francisco and Alameda drop Verilys COVID-19 testing service - Engadget

The task force also raised concerns about the fact that people have to provide sensitive personal information, including their addresses and whether they have chronic health conditions, when they sign up. Verily uses language in its privacy policy that says it can share people’s information with third parties involved in the testing program.

Dr. Noha Aboelata, CEO of Roots Community Health Center in Oakland who worked with Verily to establish a walk-up site at her clinic, echoed the task force’s concerns. She found that the people who registered through Verily for testing tended to be white — her clinic mostly serves African Americans and other PoCs — and to come from wealthier ZIP codes outside of East Oakland. The doctor severed her ties with Verily after only six days.

Dr. Jonathan Fuchs, who leads San Francisco County’s testing strategy, confirmed to Kaiser that the partnership with Verily is “currently on hold.” Verily spokesperson Kathleen Parkes told the publication, though, that conversations with San Francisco and Alameda remain “active.” In addition, she explained that the testing program requires a Gmail account so that it can use Google’s authentication procedures to protect people’s sensitive data.

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With hope high for vaccine, Britain prepares to roll it out – Associated Press

https://apnews.com/article/science-coronavirus-pandemic-london-boris-johnson-europe-9ee117e77a3acfc92b42af31276afe19

With hope high for vaccine, Britain prepares to roll it out - Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — With major COVID-19 vaccines showing high levels of protection, British officials are cautiously — and they stress cautiously — optimistic that life may start returning to normal by early April.

Even before regulators have approved a single vaccine, the U.K. and countries across Europe are moving quickly to organize the distribution and delivery systems needed to inoculate millions of citizens.

“If we can roll it out at a good lick … then with a favorable wind, this is entirely hypothetical, but we should be able to inoculate, I believe on the evidence I’m seeing, the vast majority of the people who need the most protection by Easter,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday after vaccine makers in recent weeks have announced encouraging results. “That will make a very substantial change to where we are at the moment.”

The U.K. has recorded more than 55,000 deaths linked to COVID-19, the deadliest outbreak in Europe. The pandemic has prevented families from meeting, put 750,000 people out of work and devastated businesses that were forced to shut as authorities tried to control the spread. England’s second national lockdown will end Dec. 2, but many restrictions will remain in place.

The British government has agreed to purchase up to 355 million doses of vaccine from seven different producers, as it prepares to vaccinate as many of the country’s 67 million people as possible. Governments around the world are making agreements with multiple developers to ensure they lock in delivery of the products that are ultimately approved by regulators.

The National Health Service is making plans to administer 88.5 million vaccine doses throughout England, according to a planning document dated Nov. 13. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are developing their own plans under the U.K.’s system of devolved administration.

The first to be vaccinated would be health care workers and nursing home residents, followed by older people, starting with those over 80, according to the document, first reported by the London-based Health Service Journal. People under 65 with underlying medical conditions would be next, then healthy people 50 to 65 and finally everyone else 18 and over.

While most of the injections would be delivered at around 1,000 community vaccination centers, about a third would go to 40 to 50 “large-scale mass vaccination centers,” including stadiums, conference centers and similar venues, the document indicates.

The NHS confirmed the document was genuine but said details and target dates are always changing because the vaccination program is a work in progress.

Professor Mark Jit, an expert in vaccine epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said Britain has the advantage of having a well-developed medical infrastructure that can be used to deliver the vaccine.

But this effort will be unlike standard vaccination programs that target individuals one at a time.

“The challenge now is to deliver the biggest vaccine program in living memory in the U.K. and other countries around the world,” Jit said. “We’re not vaccinating just children or pregnant women like many other vaccination programs…. We’re trying to vaccinate the entire U.K. population. And we’re trying to do it very quickly.’’

Other European countries are also getting ready, as are the companies that will be crucial to the rollout.

For example Germany’s Binder, which makes specialized cooling equipment for laboratories, has ramped up production of refrigerated containers needed to transport some of the vaccines under development. Binder is producing a unit that will reach the ultra-cold temperatures needed to ship the Pfizer vaccine.

The German government has asked regional authorities to get special vaccination centers ready by mid-December. France, meanwhile, has reserved 90 million vaccine doses, but has not yet laid out its plan for mass vaccination. A government spokesman said last week that authorities were working to identify locations for vaccination centers, choose companies to transport vaccines and set the rules for shipping and storage.

In Spain, health workers will get priority, as will residents of elder care homes. Spain hopes to vaccinate some 2.5 million people in the first stage between January and March and have most of the vulnerable population covered by mid-year. The vaccinations will be administered in 13,000 public health centers.

But sticking syringes in people’s arms is just the last part of the enormous logistical challenge the worldwide mass vaccination campaign will pose.

First, drugmakers must ramp up production, so there is enough supply to vaccinate billions of people in a matter of months. Then they have to overcome distribution hurdles such as storing some of the products at minus-70 degrees Celsius (minus-94 Fahrenheit). Finally, they will need to manage complex supply chains reminiscent of the just-in-time delivery systems carmakers use to keep their factories humming.

“It will be the challenge of the century, basically, because of the volumes and everything else which are going to be involved … ,″ said Richard Wilding, a professor of supply chain strategy at Cranfield School of Management. “It’s just the absolute scale.″

Vaccines from three drugmakers are considered leading candidates. Pfizer and Moderna have released preliminary data showing their vaccines were about 95% effective. AstraZeneca on Monday reported interim results of its vaccine developed with Oxford researchers that were also encouraging. Dozens of other vaccines are under development, including projects in China and Russia.

Britain and other Northern Hemisphere countries may also get a boost from the weather, said Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer. Transmission of respiratory viruses generally slows during the warmer months.

“The virus will not disappear, but it will become less and less risky for society.”

But Johnson, who credited NHS nurses with saving his life after he was hospitalized with COVID-19 earlier this year, warned restrictions will continue for months and Christmas celebrations will be curtailed this year.

“We can hear the drumming hooves of the cavalry coming over the brow of the hill, but they are not here yet,” Johnson said.

___

Associated Press writers David Rising and Geir Moulson in Berlin, Angela Charlton in Paris and Ciarán Giles in Madrid contributed.

___

Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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Virus Updates: Nursing Home Outbreaks Hit Record High; CDC to Shorten Length of Quarantine – NBC Chicago

https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/coronavirus/virus-updates-nursing-home-outbreaks-hit-record-high-cdc-to-shorten-length-of-quarantine/5593145/

Virus Updates: Nursing Home Outbreaks Hit Record High; CDC to Shorten Length of Quarantine - NBC Chicago

Governors and mayors are ratcheting up mask mandates and imposing restrictions on small indoor gatherings that have been blamed for accelerating the spread of the coronavirus. But such measures are largely unenforceable, and officials are banking on voluntary compliance.

Experts say that if people disregard the new state and local restrictions and socialize anyway, that could put greater stress on overburdened hospitals and lead to an even bigger spike in sickness and death over the holidays.

The warning comes as 10 states reported single-day records of new infections on Tuesday. The U.S. has averaged 173,766 cases of the coronavirus per day over the last seven days, up from an average 87,340 cases per day four weeks ago, according to a tally by NBC News. In all, more than 12 million cases have been confirmed in the U.S. and the virus is blamed for more than 260,000 deaths.


COVID-19 Outbreaks in Nursing Homes Hit Record High

The latest surge of coronavirus cases is fueling a record number of nursing home outbreaks, as the virus is spreading quickly inside long-term care facilities in the Midwest and the Great Plains while also re-emerging in facilities swamped by the first wave of the virus, NBC News reports.

More than 1,300 nursing homes across the U.S. reported having three or more confirmed COVID-19 cases during the first week of November — the highest number ever reported in a single week, according to an NBC News analysis of federal data. The figure does not include outbreaks at assisted living facilities, which the federal government does not track.

Many of the new nursing home infections are emerging in the Midwestern states where the virus is besieging the broader community, including Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa, which reported some of the country’s biggest weekly increases in suspected and confirmed cases among residents, the data showed. (Facilities report suspected cases when residents exhibit COVID-19 symptoms but have yet to receive positive test results.)

However, new outbreaks are also emerging in facilities that were pummeled by the first wave of the pandemic — which killed tens of thousands of residents in the Northeast and other early hot spots — only for the virus to return.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar gave an update on Operation Warp Speed on Tuesday and suggested that if vaccine data continues to be promising, vaccines could be deployed to the most vulnerable Americans before the end of the year.

Read the full story on NBCNews.com


CDC to Shorten Length of Quarantine for Those Exposed to COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is finalizing plans to shorten the recommended length of quarantine for those exposed to COVID-19, NBC News reports.

The CDC currently recommends that individuals quarantine for 14 days after being exposed to people with the coronavirus. The two weeks is based on how long scientists believe it can take the virus to incubate in the body.

What the eventual recommendation will be is unknown, but CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in an October briefing that the agency was considering shortening the length of quarantine by up to a week.

Read the full story on NBCNews.com



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Perspective | Ask Amy: Coronavirus concerns threaten decades-long friendship – Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/advice/ask-amy-coronavirus-concerns-threaten-decades-long-friendship/2020/11/19/6aecc0b8-255e-11eb-8672-c281c7a2c96e_story.html

Perspective | Ask Amy: Coronavirus concerns threaten decades-long friendship - Washington Post

She refuses to wear a mask around me and says I “look ridiculous” wearing one around her. Everyone locally that we are close to, all people in their 70s and 80s (some with comorbidity issues), are doing exactly what they want. They regularly see outside family members, neighbors, friends, workers they’ve hired, etc. without the benefit of masks. They have been doing this for months, and all are fine. They seem to think that if you know a person, then masks/social distancing is not necessary, and so far, in all cases, this has proved true.

After all these months of the pandemic, everyone is fine.

Am I indeed being “paranoid” to avoid people not living in my household, social distancing, always wearing a mask? Maybe I should just start wearing a mask only when among strangers? I am starting to become very resentful.

Resentful: You and your cohort could be in for a very long winter. I am genuinely sorry that your friends either don’t understand or don’t care about how this virus is spread. Given the number of tragic stories of friends and family members spreading the virus to one another, their logic — that one needs to be careful only among strangers — is backward. The virus is carried in and then spread among close groups.

For a famous example, how did President Trump become infected and land in the hospital? (Not from a stranger, but from a person in his inner circle.)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in up to 40 percent of cases, people who have the new coronavirus are asymptomatic, may not be aware that they have the virus, and may never develop symptoms, but could potentially infect others.

In my view, it is one thing to disregard risks when it comes to your own health and safety, but to deride and criticize you for taking the pandemic seriously is not what loving friends do. I can imagine how hurt you feel. By following medical advice now, you are betting on having a future with your friends. I hope that they are there to join you and that your friendship somehow survives this disrespect.

Dear Amy: I’ve been married for almost 40 years, pretty much happily.

My husband and I still enjoy an active sex life. We are comfortable empty-nesters with good lives.

So why do I crush on guys at the gym? I’ve had crushes on two men I see regularly while working out.

My current crush is not a youngster — he is definitely older than my kids (30+) — but I’m so attracted to him.

Honestly, it makes my day when I see him there. We’ve never spoken, but we recognize each other. Seeing him there is exciting.

I know this is silly, but I look forward to going to the gym just in case he’s there.

I want to do more than just look, but I know that nothing would ever happen between us.

Perplexed: Crushing on, or being attracted to, people other than your partner means that you are a human being in the prime of your life — healthy, and presumably feeling good. Your eyes still work, your pheromones are doing their job (his, too!), your workouts are giving you energy, and you are feeling attractive, and attracted.

The clinical term I’ve assigned to this is: The Ryan Gosling Effect.

The trick here is not to leave this at the gym, but to take all of this energy back home to your partner.

Dear Amy: You handle lots of questions from people who wonder why they should remember others’ special occasions if they don’t feel adequately thanked.

Recently, a reader questioned continuing to send birthday cards and gifts to others who only honored her birthday with a text.

You counseled her to continue sending a warm note and gift.

Your advice was spot on! We don’t do nice things for people because THEY are nice. We do them because WE are nice.

— Alan, in Aurora Colorado

Alan: You framed this giving concept much better than I did, and I owe you a very sincere thank you! (The note’s in the mail.)

2020 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency

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CDC Likely To Recommend Shortening Coronavirus Quarantine Period – NPR

https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/11/25/938744923/cdc-likely-to-recommend-shortening-coronavirus-quarantine-period

CDC Likely To Recommend Shortening Coronavirus Quarantine Period - NPR
CDC Likely To Recommend Shortening Coronavirus Quarantine Period - NPR

The doorway to Jones Hall is shown at Utah State University in September, where about 300 students were being quarantined to their rooms as a precaution.

Rick Bowmer/AP


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Rick Bowmer/AP

CDC Likely To Recommend Shortening Coronavirus Quarantine Period - NPR

The doorway to Jones Hall is shown at Utah State University in September, where about 300 students were being quarantined to their rooms as a precaution.

Rick Bowmer/AP

Federal health officials are likely to shorten their recommendation for how long people should quarantine to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus from the current 14 days to as few as seven.

Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations call for two weeks of isolation from the last contact with a person known to have COVID-19. However, Adm. Brett Giroir, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said Tuesday that health officials were rethinking that recommendation, citing “a preponderance of evidence that a shorter quarantine complemented by a test might be able to shorten that quarantine period.”

“We are actively working on that type of guidance right now, reviewing the evidence, but we want to make absolutely sure,” he said, adding that “these kind of recommendations aren’t willy nilly.”

The exact language of the new guidelines and when they might be announced remains unclear, but according to a federal official who asked not to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the issue, the recommended quarantine time is likely to be just seven to 10 days for people who then test negative for the virus.

Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said she would welcome such a revision.

“I was really glad to hear CDC is considering this,” she told NPR in an email. “Shortening quarantine recommendations to focus on the period of time during which the vast majority of people who are exposed to the virus are likely to become contagious is a smart, pragmatic move that is likely to boost compliance.”

“Right now, contact tracing efforts in the U.S. are severely hindered by deep disincentives for contacts of cases to quarantine,” Nuzzo said. “A seven or ten day quarantine recommendation may be easier for people to bear and hopefully may help get more contacts of cases to comply.”

Last month, the CDC revised its language on what it defines as “close contact” with a COVID-19 infected person. Previously, health officials considered close contact to be spending 15 consecutive minutes within 6 feet of a person with a confirmed case. But the CDC changed its definition to being within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.

The change followed a study by the CDC and Vermont health officials finding that multiple short exposures to people confirmed to have COVID-19 led to transmission of the virus.

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Poll: Many people insist they will not get a COVID-19 vaccine – KOMO News

https://komonews.com/news/coronavirus/poll-many-people-insist-they-will-not-get-a-covid-19-vaccine

Poll: Many people insist they will not get a COVID-19 vaccine - KOMO News

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