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Topic subject05/05/2023
Topic URLhttp://board.okayplayer.com/okp.php?az=show_topic&forum=4&topic_id=13477453&mesg_id=13484023
13484023, 05/05/2023
Posted by handle, Fri May-05-23 08:46 AM
WHO downgrades COVID pandemic, says it’s no longer emergency


The World Health Organization said Friday that COVID-19 no longer qualifies as a global emergency, marking a symbolic end to the devastating coronavirus pandemic that triggered once-unthinkable lockdowns, upended economies worldwide and killed at least 7 million people worldwide.

WHO said that even though the emergency phase was over, the pandemic hasn’t come to an end, noting recent spikes in cases in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The U.N. health agency says that thousands of people are still dying from the virus every week.

“It’s with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“That does not mean COVID-19 is over as a global health threat,” he said, adding he wouldn’t hesitate to reconvene experts to reassess the situation should COVID-19 “put our world in peril.”

Tedros said the pandemic had been on a downward trend for more than a year, acknowledging that most countries have already returned to life before COVID-19. He bemoaned the damage that COVID-19 had done to the global community, saying the virus had shattered businesses and plunged millions into poverty.

“COVID has changed our world and it has changed us,” he said, warning that the risk of new variants still remained.

(more at link)

900,000 New Yorkers Lost at Least 3 Loved Ones to Covid

An estimated two million New Yorkers — nearly one in four — lost at least one person close to them to Covid within the first 16 months of the virus’s arrival, according to the data, which was collected in mid-2021 by federal census workers on behalf of the city. Nearly 900,000 New Yorkers lost at least three people they said they were close to, an open-ended category that included relatives and friends, the survey found.

(more at link)

COVID dropped to 4th leading cause of death in U.S. last year

COVID-19 deaths trailed those caused by heart disease, cancer and injuries such as drug overdoses, motor vehicle fatalities and shootings. In 2020 and 2021, only heart disease and cancer were ahead of the coronavirus.

U.S. deaths usually rise year-to-year, in part because the nation's population has been growing. The pandemic accelerated that trend, making 2021 the deadliest in U.S. history, with more than 3.4 million deaths. But 2022 saw the first drop in deaths since 2009.


Free at-home COVID tests end May 11 for some. Here’s how to stock up

The expiration of the national COVID-19 public health emergency Thursday evening will mean the end of free at-home tests for some, though many Californians will still be able to get their hands on screening kits.

At the end of the scheduled May 11 sunset date, a federal rule requiring insurers to reimburse policyholders for the cost of up to eight at-home COVID tests per month will end.

This tightening of the testing tap will affect some Medicare beneficiaries and threatens to limit or cut off access to no-cost testing across a swath of the country.

But in California, state lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom have taken steps to avoid that scenario.

How will testing access change?
For many in California, there won’t be any near-term changes. State legislators have already ordered health insurers to continue reimbursement for eight monthly at-home tests for most health plans.

What are the details?
Following the passage of Senate Bills 510 and 1473, health plans regulated by the California Department of Managed Health Care will still be required to cover the costs of eight over-the-counter rapid tests a month for each person insured.

Besides employer-based healthcare coverage, this includes Medi-Cal-managed plans and Covered California plans.

Starting Nov. 11, insurers regulated by the state Department of Managed Health Care still must cover COVID tests if they’re provided in network, but can charge for tests purchased out of network.

This covers most insured Californians, including those with plans through their employers — but not everyone. For instance, it’s possible Medicare beneficiaries in the state could lose access.

Edit:Adding this

CDC opens probe after 35 test positive for covid following CDC conference
Attendees say many people did not mask, socially distance or take other precautions recommended earlier in the pandemic


Disease detectives at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are probing a new outbreak: the roughly three-dozen coronavirus cases linked to their own annual conference last week.

“CDC is working with the Georgia Department of Health to conduct a rapid epidemiological assessment of confirmed COVID-19 cases that appear to be connected to the 2023 EIS Conference to determine transmission patterns,” CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund said in an email.

Nordlund said the CDC reported the cases to state health officials who have authority over the location where the conference occurred. Attendees said many people at the gathering did not mask, socially distance or take other precautions that the CDC had recommended earlier in the pandemic.

Fewer than 100,000 confirmed coronavirus cases were reported across the United States last week — the lowest levels in nearly two years. But public health experts have cautioned that the vast majority of cases are not being tracked, with many Americans testing at home, if at all, and opting not to report the results. The virus also remains on pace to be one of the top 10 causes of death this year, with fatalities concentrated among older and immunocompromised individuals.

Experts said an outbreak of coronavirus cases at a CDC conference — the first time the meeting of disease detectives was held in person in four years — illustrates the persistence of an evolving virus. The four-day conference for epidemic intelligence service officers and alumni, held near CDC headquarters in Atlanta last week, drew about 2,000 attendees who were likely to be fully vaccinated.

“This is, unfortunately, the new normal,” Jay Varma, an infectious-disease expert at Weill Cornell Medicine, wrote in a text message. “While it is unsettling to see widespread COVID-19 transmission at CDC’s premier public health conference, it’s probably the clearest example yet” of the global situation.

Varma added that individuals and organizations should continue to take coronavirus precautions to protect themselves and the most vulnerable as needed. “I hope that organizers of large conferences, especially for health professionals, should, at a minimum, make high-quality masks as abundant and available as toilet paper and ensure that there is adequate ventilation and/or disinfection of air,” he wrote.

Nordlund said about 35 people linked to the conference had reported testing positive as of Tuesday.

“Conducting a rapid investigation now will help understand transmission that occurred and assist in refining future public health guidance as we move out of the public health emergency and to the next phase of COVID-19 surveillance and response,” she wrote. “Whenever there are large gatherings, especially indoors, such as at a conference, there is the possibility of COVID-19 spread, even in periods of low community spread.”

Conference attendees also received an email from the CDC that encouraged them to participate in the survey with the Georgia health department, according to an email shared with The Washington Post.

“If you attended the conference in person, you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19,” the email read. “If you are experiencing symptoms, we recommend you follow CDC guidance for isolation and testing.”

The Biden administration has been winding down its pandemic response, with most federal vaccine mandates and the coronavirus public health emergency set to be lifted next week. Public health experts say that while the pandemic’s perils have largely receded, they remain wary of future variants and note that the virus continues to evolve.

For instance, a new omicron subvariant, XBB.1.16, nicknamed Arcturus, is becoming more prevalent throughout the United States. The latest CDC tracker shows the variant made up almost 12 percent of cases nationwide for the week ending April 29, up from about 7 percent the week ending April 15. Most of the infections in the United States right now come from XBB.1.5, also an omicron subvariant.