Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today

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A newsman successful South Africa shares her acquisition with the country’s conflict with AIDS.

Jonathan WolfeAmelia Nierenberg

Nov. 1, 2021, 5:49 p.m. ET


Daily reported coronavirus cases successful  the United States, seven-day average.
Credit...The New York Times

The coronavirus pandemic has present claimed 5 cardinal lives globally, though experts accidental that fig is astir surely an undercount. As we walk this bleak milestone, we asked our workfellow Lynsey Chutel, based successful Johannesburg, to bespeak connected the bequest of different pandemic.

Summer is approaching successful South Africa, and similar the purple jacaranda trees blossoming each implicit Johannesburg, the state is yearning to unfastened up. South Africa has been nether varying levels of lockdown since March 2020, and has had the highest fig of Covid-19 infections and deaths successful Africa.

It is not the archetypal clip successful caller representation that a pandemic has made South Africans look our corporate mortality. In the aboriginal 2000s, South Africa was astatine the halfway of the H.I.V./AIDS pandemic. If the coronavirus turned our satellite upside down successful little than 2 years, H.I.V./AIDS shook South Africa’s instauration for much than a decade.

The 2 pandemics moved astatine precise antithetic speeds done society, creeping into every aspect of the culture. While the coronavirus pandemic rapidly ripped done the world, AIDS moved stealthily, softly sidesplitting thousands earlier doctors and officials could determine however to respond.

The lessons from the earlier pandemic helped to pass South Africa’s combat against Covid-19. Many of the scientists who person led the effect were the aforesaid faces we saw trying to marque consciousness of H.I.V./AIDS. Covid besides primed South African nine to much readily judge a science-based response. While misinformation has inactive been common, it was not arsenic wide arsenic it was 2 decades ago, erstwhile the country’s wellness curate suggested that effect and vegetables could beryllium utilized to dainty AIDS.

Death from AIDS often took galore months oregon years. At funerals, fewer dared to sanction the origin of death, which carried a dense stigma. By contrast, Covid-19 deaths were often speedy and lonely, with victims isolated successful infirmary rooms distant from friends and family. By December, arsenic South Africa struggled to incorporate a 2nd question driven by the Beta variant, which was archetypal discovered here, we learned however to mourn successful small, muted funerals.

In some pandemics, caller graves mushroomed. During the 2nd and 3rd waves of the coronavirus pandemic, the sprawl of cemeteries felt relentless, arsenic my colleague, seasoned lensman Joao Silva, has documented. Silva was besides successful South Africa years agone to document the AIDS crisis.

This is besides wherefore the gait astatine which vaccines person arrived has been reassuring. About 21 percent of South Africans person been vaccinated. And though less than 6 percent of Africans have been afloat vaccinated, this is inactive faster than the accomplishment of antiretroviral drugs successful Africa during the H.I.V./AIDS pandemic.

“With H.I.V. determination was nary governmental will,” said Sibongile Tshabalala, the chairwoman of the Treatment Action Campaign, the radical that lobbied for entree to H.I.V./AIDS drugs. Although immoderate of the stigma against AIDS remains, she said that this clip the authorities has worked hard to get Covid-19 vaccines, with limited but tangible success.

Scientists person warned that we whitethorn ne'er beryllium afloat escaped of Covid-19. But by ensuring that the lessons of the past bash not spell unheeded, South Africa seems amended equipped to grip the nationalist wellness disasters of the contiguous — and of the future.

About 9,000 unvaccinated New York City municipal employees were placed connected unpaid permission today.

The Police Department estimated that arsenic galore arsenic 2,500 employees retired of its unit of 55,000 would beryllium placed connected leave, but officials were assured they could negociate the absences. The Sanitation Department enactment workers connected 12-hour shifts and told galore to program to travel successful connected Sundays.

An further 12,000 workers, including astir 6,500 constabulary officers, person applied for a aesculapian oregon spiritual exemption from the vaccine. They are allowed to proceed to work, portion being tested weekly, until their cases are decided.

The vaccine mandate has been particularly contentious wrong the Fire Department. More than 2,000 New York City firefighters — retired of a full uniformed unit of astir 11,000 — person taken sick days implicit the past week successful what metropolis officials picture arsenic a large-scale protestation against the mandate.

Some 91 percent of municipal workers had gotten astatine slightest 1 changeable by Monday, the politician said. About 84 percent of the Police Department had received astatine slightest 1 dose of the vaccine, up from 70 percent connected Oct. 19.

In Chicago: A justice blocked a vaccine mandate for constabulary officers until the contented tin beryllium addressed successful arbitration.

What to Know About Covid-19 Booster Shots

The F.D.A. has authorized booster shots for millions of recipients of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Pfizer and Moderna recipients who are eligible for a booster see radical 65 and older, and younger adults astatine precocious hazard of terrible Covid-19 due to the fact that of aesculapian conditions oregon wherever they work. Eligible Pfizer and Moderna recipients tin get a booster astatine slightest six months aft their 2nd dose. All Johnson & Johnson recipients volition beryllium eligible for a 2nd changeable astatine slightest 2 months aft the first.

Yes. The F.D.A. has updated its authorizations to let aesculapian providers to boost radical with a antithetic vaccine than the 1 they initially received, a strategy known arsenic “mix and match.” Whether you received Moderna, Johnson & Johnson oregon Pfizer-BioNTech, you whitethorn person a booster of immoderate different vaccine. Regulators person not recommended immoderate 1 vaccine implicit different arsenic a booster. They person besides remained soundless connected whether it is preferable to instrumentality with the aforesaid vaccine erstwhile possible.

The C.D.C. has said the conditions that suffice a idiosyncratic for a booster changeable include: hypertension and bosom disease; diabetes oregon obesity; crab oregon humor disorders; weakened immune system; chronic lung, kidney oregon liver disease; dementia and definite disabilities. Pregnant women and existent and erstwhile smokers are besides eligible.

The F.D.A. authorized boosters for workers whose jobs enactment them astatine precocious hazard of vulnerability to perchance infectious people. The C.D.C. says that radical includes: exigency aesculapian workers; acquisition workers; nutrient and agriculture workers; manufacturing workers; corrections workers; U.S. Postal Service workers; nationalist transit workers; market store workers.

Yes. The C.D.C. says the Covid vaccine whitethorn beryllium administered without respect to the timing of different vaccines, and galore pharmacy sites are allowing radical to docket a flu changeable astatine the aforesaid clip arsenic a booster dose.

Our workfellow Jessica Grose, who precocious moved her sum of parenting from the newsroom to the Opinion desk, has been looking into erstwhile — or if — schools should halt requiring children to deterioration masks.

“Because the masking contented has been truthful divisive, I fearfulness we haven’t been capable to person a practical, nuanced and data-driven speech astir what a bully masking argumentation would look similar present that astir each school-age kids can soon beryllium vaccinated,” she wrote.

Some experts judge that schoolhouse masks are inactive necessary, particularly to support immunocompromised children and those nether 5. But others constituent retired that determination is simply a outgo to children wearing masks — particularly those with code difficulties, autism oregon sensory challenges.

“We request to fig this out,” Linsey Marr, an engineering prof astatine Virginia Tech who studies the airborne transmission of viruses, told Jessica. “The vaccine should alteration things for us, and we don’t privation kids to deterioration masks successful schoolhouse indefinitely.”

We promote you to read Jessica’s portion successful full, but present are a fewer cardinal takeaways:

  • Set a date: Some experts suggested opening to assistance disguise mandates aft children person clip to get some doses of Pfizer’s vaccine. (That’s astir 8 weeks aft authorization.) Marr suggested waiting until aft the holidays, erstwhile kids could prime up different bugs. Others projected tracking variants earlier laying retired a timeline.

  • Flexibility: Some experts espoused data-driven disguise policies based connected the level of microorganism dispersed successful communities. Nevada has some an off-ramp and an on-ramp for schoolhouse masking, contingent connected surges and lawsuit numbers.

  • A measurement of certainty: Concrete benchmarks are indispensable to crushed a assemblage aft a shaky year. Parents are suffering from determination fatigue, and a committedness of certainty could marque the contiguous consciousness little stressful.

In general, though, experts were unanimous successful urging parents to vaccinate their children.

“Every idiosyncratic I spoke to said children 5 and up should get the vaccine,” Jessica wrote. “Maybe the carrot of mask-free schools volition animate immoderate much hesitant families to get their children vaccinated.”

Related: A White House authoritative said the Pfizer pediatric vaccination programme is acceptable to beryllium “at afloat strength” adjacent week.

My lad graduated from assemblage during the pandemic successful 2020 and managed to get a occupation moving virtually for a tech company. After a fewer months, and galore dozens of Zoom sessions with his caller colleagues, 1 of his online calls began with a team-building workout successful the signifier of the game, “Two truths and a lie.” My lad told 2 truths astir himself and, having ne'er met immoderate of his chap employees successful person, chose arsenic his lie: “I’m 6 ft 8.” Apparently, Zoom tin beryllium deceptive due to the fact that nary of his co-workers knew that was his lie.

— Robert Golden, Greenwich, Conn.

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