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Mask Mandates + Slow and Careful Reopening Needed

Covid-19 case numbers were falling in most parts of the world after the Christmas surge, but now 15 states are demonstrating an increase and the total number of cases per day are still at least 50,000.  Dr. Tony Fauci said that we would need to see the case number fall below 10,000 in order to control the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  Europe saw the case numbers fall when they implemented lockdowns and other public health measures.  But the variant B.1.1.7 is now quickly spreading across Europe. Yesterday Paris was locked down again!  Critics say the new restrictions in Europe have come too late and can be traced back to the speed of reopening.

Scientists predict that unless each state maintains control of the virus, and reinstitutes masks mandates, social distancing, limited group sizes, and more gradual reopenings, we will follow Europe in the next 4-6 weeks.  This estimate is based on the sequence of virus spread from Europe to the US that already occurred earlier in the pandemic.  Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of Brown School of Public Health, reported yesterday that the B.1.1.7 variant is already 40-50% of virus cases in the US and is now present in every state. This variant has greater transmission and some reported increase in case severity.  Fortunately preliminary studies demonstrated that the current vaccines are still effective against this variant. See Below.


The other variants of concern are also already in the US and the home grown NYC (B.1.526) variant is increasing in frequency in the genomic surveillance tests on New York and each week the percent is higher.  Last week they tested 712 cases in the NY Pandemic Response Lab and the NYC variant accounted for 45.1% of the samples - up from 29.2% 4 weeks earlier. 



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