Associated Press photographer Emilio Morenatti spent some time with mortuary workers in Spain as they tended to the deceased. Although Spain trails the United States in numbers of cases and deaths, they still have more than a million cases and over 40,000 dead. Morenatti’s photos serve as a terrible reminder that both the pandemic and its consequences are very real. Behind every number cited is a mother, father, brother, sister, cousin, grandfather, grandmother and friend. Losing them is very real.
The best photographers know how to use light to help express the weight of the subject they are photographing. Morenatti is no exception. His work goes far beyond the basic need to present a situation. His images are carefully constructed to impart a heavy emotional punch. At its best, that’s what photojournalism does — cuts through the noise to deliver the essence of the subject to the general public.
NEW DELHI — The wedding that Liza Maria had carefully planned was not one but two ceremonies: one at a church and one in a Sikh temple, a nod to her interfaith love story. The revelries would span days. There would be elaborate choreographed dances, music recitals — and 300 guests.
Instead, Maria got married on Dec. 2 in a small and intimate ceremony at a Sikh temple with 25 people in attendance. As she walked around the sanctum in a shimmering pink Indian wedding dress, dozens of relatives — from the United States to Australia — watched on Zoom. Everyone present wore masks that they slipped off for photos. There were few hugs and lots of fist bumps.
A typical big, fat Indian wedding can last for days with multiple raucous events. These affairs disappeared overnight when the country went into a lockdown in late March. Even when most restrictions were lifted nearly three months later, several limitations remained, including a cap on the number of wedding guests.
Certain gene variants are linked to severe coronavirus infections, according to a team of scientists in Europe who studied the genomes of 2,200 critically ill covid-19 patients. Their results provide robust support that genetic makeup plays a role in the potentially fatal illness experienced by some people infected by the coronavirus.
Diving into people’s DNA is an approach that could help answer one of the pandemic’s biggest mysteries: Why do some people have mild coronavirus cases, or no symptoms at all, while others rapidly fall ill and die? Evidence is clear that older age and underlying conditions are risk factors for increased covid-19 severity. But genetic predispositions to runaway inflammation or other harmful immune responses could also contribute to worse disease.
Knowing this, researchers are working to uncover genes closely linked with biological systems to accelerate drug development for covid-19.
As the coronavirus surge continues, Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s leading infectious-disease expert, warns that Christmas travel may create more spread than Thanksgiving. However, AAA estimates that while holiday travel will be down this winter compared to years past, even more people are expected to travel for Christmas than they did for Thanksgiving.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging all Americans stay home. For those that do venture out, some health experts say that traveling by car may be the safest option — but road trips still come with risks. Particularly: rest stops. This is where travelers are going to encounter other people, touch things touched by other people and have more chances for coronavirus exposure.
Florida forward Keyontae Johnson remained in critical but stable condition Monday after being transferred to a hospital in Gainesville, Fla. The 21-year-old junior collapsed Saturday afternoon during a game against Florida State, and he was initially taken to a medical facility in Tallahassee.
Johnson was “following simple commands and undergoing further tests,” a Florida spokesman said Monday.
According to Johnson’s grandfather, who spoke with USA Today, doctors were hoping to bring the 6-foot-5 forward from Norfolk out of a medically induced coma Monday.
“To our knowledge, this is the 1st free-ranging, native wild animal confirmed with SARS-CoV-2,” the agency said in a statement.
The mink was part of wildlife surveillance for the virus in mesocarnivores and other species around infected mink farms in Utah, Michigan and Wisconsin between Aug. 24 and Oct. 30, according to the agency.
“The sequence of the viral genome obtained from the wild mink sample at NVSL was indistinguishable from those obtained from the farmed mink,” researchers noted.
The news comes weeks after Oregon became the fourth state — behind Utah, Wisconsin, Michigan — to confirm an outbreak of the virus among farm minks, The Washington Post reported. The USDA confirmed that an unspecified number of farmworkers and at least 10 minks had tested positive for the virus following the Oregon outbreak.
Denmark was forced to cull about 15 million minks after discovering that the animals had a mutated version of the coronavirus. The world’s largest exporter of minks is dealing with the aftermath of burying minks that could have polluted water sources, the Guardian reported.
Global health leaders are examining risks to virus exposure to humans following Denmark’s mink problem, Reuters reported.
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Vaccinations begin in California — a glimmer of hope during the pandemic’s darkest days
In California, a state that has reported more new coronavirus infections than anywhere else in the country, residents began receiving the first vaccine doses on Monday, marking a hopeful moment at a dire time in the pandemic.
Helen Cordova, a nurse in the intensive care unit at a Kaiser Permanente hospital in Los Angeles, was the state’s first recipient of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, officials said.
“I’m feeling great,” Cordova said afterward. “I’m excited, I’m hopeful and I really encourage everyone to consider receiving the vaccine so we can start putting an end to this pandemic.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) heralded the vaccine’s arrival and promised a swift rollout of California’s first 327,000 doses to health-care workers across the state. But, he warned, “it is so important that we continue to be vigilant.” Even as people are inoculated, California is fighting an unprecedented surge in new infections and hospitalized patients.
The state’s seven-day average of new cases topped 31,000 on Monday, nearly triple the rate of Arizona, the state with the second-highest number. On its own, California is recording more new cases than nearly every other country, outpacing India, Germany and Britain. Hospitals are packed with covid-19 patients like they’ve never been. Every ICU bed in the state’s sprawling San Joaquin Valley region filled up over the weekend and is now operating at “surge capacity,” Newsom said.
“We are in the midst of the worst moment of this pandemic,” he said at a news conference Monday. “Today is hopeful and there’s reason to be optimistic, but let’s be mindful of where we really are.”
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Rep.-elect Bob Good calls the pandemic ‘phony.’ Covid-19 has killed more than 300 in his district.
Rep.-elect Bob Good took the stage at Freedom Plaza on Saturday afternoon and looked out at a sea of masklessness. Thousands had come to march for President Trump — some carrying signs declaring the novel coronavirus a hoax.
They were just the kind of group, Good told the crowd, who “gets that this is a phony pandemic.”
“It’s a serious virus, but it’s a virus. It’s not a pandemic,” said Good (R), who will become Virginia’s newest congressman in the 5th Congressional District on Jan. 3. “It’s great to see your faces. You get it. You stand up against tyranny.”
She is a critical-care nurse, among the health-care workers who have spent more time than any caring for the pandemic’s sickest victims — working at a New York hospital system that was on the front lines of the pandemic this spring and has treated thousands of covid-19 patients.
But what made Lindsay an especially poignant choice, her brother said, was that she had dreamed her whole life — since a 6-year-old in their home country of Jamaica — of finding a way to help others.
The scammers follow current events and create schemes accordingly. So, expect more scams involving coronavirus vaccines.
The FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Inspector General have also been issuing alerts about the increase in coronavirus fraud as consumer and government agencies ramp up their efforts to protect the public from predators looking to make money off people’s fears about getting the virus.
Scammers aren’t just using email or telemarketing calls. They are also coming at people via messages on social media platforms, and they’re even performing door-to-door visits, HHS says.
Tressler said this is what you need to know to avoid a coronavirus-vaccine-related scam.
The coronavirus has now killed more than 300,000 Americans. It’s a death toll bigger than the largest cities in 20 states. And it is rising faster than at any other point in the pandemic.
The United States marked the milestone on a day that offered a glimmer of hope: Front-line health-care workers began receiving the country’s first doses of a coronavirus vaccine. But even as some were getting inoculated, many more were dying.
As of Monday evening — after two weeks in which daily reported deaths topped 1,000, then 2,000 and finally 3,000, shattering previous records — the country’s count stood at 300,024, according to data tracked and analyzed by The Washington Post.
Covid-19 is now the country’s most prolific killer, taking more lives than heart disease and Alzheimer’s. More than 17,000 infected people died last week and more than 15,000 the week before, according to The Post’s analysis.
At the same time, new infections also have increased at an alarming rate. Because spikes in deaths often follow surges in cases by several weeks, experts expect daily death tolls to keep growing.
The country’s seven-day average of newly reported cases has been above 200,000 for more than a week, nearly three times the highest rates during the summer surge.
More than 100,000 people have been in hospitals battling covid-19 every day for nearly two weeks.
Lightning-fast development of two vaccines happened both because of and despite Trump
In fact, the lightning-fast development of two leading coronavirus vaccines happened both because of and despite President Trump — perhaps the most anti-science president in modern history, who has previously flirted with anti-vaccine views and savaged those who cited scientific evidence to press for basic public health measures in response to the pandemic.
The lifelong businessman who refused to wear a mask himself was able to understand vaccines as something else entirely: a deliverable that he could make happen with money. Unlike a mask, a vaccine represented a display of American technological prowess, an appealing solution that didn’t require painful steps like closing small businesses. For the president, it exerted an increasingly strong pull as the election approached.
“I do think the urgency for Operation Warp Speed was heightened by the fact that we were in the middle of an election year,” said Daniel Carpenter, a political scientist at Harvard University. “On the whole, it was a good thing — it led a potentially anti-science, anti-vaccine administration to push harder for a vaccine. What we will end up seeing in the long run is this is an unparalleled private and public sector mobilization that happened.”
That mobilization, which is pushing out the first 2.9 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week, is a testament to the power of science, and also of a global collaboration involving drug companies and government coordinated by political appointees and civil servants across the government — players and a process that Trump has at times disparaged.
Wall Street logged a mixed session Monday as investors weighed stimulus hopes and a momentous vaccine rollout against the possibility of renewed shutdowns as the country’s coronavirus death toll passed 300,000.
U.S. markets opened higher as investors applauded the delivery of the first doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine, with the Dow climbing more than 250 points in morning trading. But stocks cut gains in the afternoon after New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) warned New Yorkers that a “full shutdown” could be coming as infections soar.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed down nearly 185 points, or .6 percent, at 29,861 after brushing a new intraday high earlier. The S&P’s 500 index slumped .44 percent to 3,647. The Nasdaq gained .5 percent as investors continued to bet on tech stocks that have prevailed throughout the pandemic, while companies that stand to gain from a quick return to normalcy saw their stocks sink. Disney stock fell 3.6 percent, Chevron’s stock fell 3.2 percent, and United Airlines fell 3.4 percent.
Despite the rollout frenzy, Pfizer’s stock slumped 4.6 percent on news that the company is still negotiating with the federal government to provide an additional 100 million doses of its vaccine next year. Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla told CNBC that the company could provide many of those doses in the third quarter of 2021, but the U.S. government is pushing for it in the second quarter.
Investors are looking toward the Federal Reserve’s final meeting of the year later this week for the central bank’s take on how the economy is faring in the pandemic’s second wave. Fresh retail sale data from the Commerce Department will show whether consumers are reining in spending during the holiday shopping season.
Health-care workers first to receive Pfizer vaccine in nation’s capital
Five health-care workers at George Washington University Hospital were the first people in the nation’s capital to receive the Pfizer vaccine Monday afternoon.
The group of workers included emergency medicine nurses, an anesthesiologist, and labor and delivery nurses.
Shylee Stewart, a labor and delivery nurse who received the vaccine Monday, said she was initially hesitant to get the vaccine. She was nervous about possible side effects.
“I was hesitant because I was uneducated,” Stewart said. “And then I did my own research and talked to my colleagues, but a lot of it was just reading the studies and reading the reputable sources, and I had no doubt once I educated myself.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams spoke before the workers received their shots as part of the National Ceremonial Covid-19 Vaccination Kick-Off Event.
Adams said the vaccine was an important first step but that more needed to be done to overcome vaccine hesitancy, especially in communities of color.
“We must now move from vaccines to vaccinations, and it would be a great tragedy if disparities actually worsened because the people who could most benefit from this vaccine won’t take it,” Adams said.
The health-care workers began receiving their shots right before 3 p.m. They were asked to confirm their birth date listed on a sheet in a blue folder and confirm that they received educational material on the vaccine. One at a time, they noted the arm they wanted to receive the shot in, took deep breaths and got the shots.
They were monitored for 15 minutes before exiting the hospital to speak to the news media.
The hospital received a shipment of 975 doses of the vaccine Monday morning. It is storing 50 of the doses for the Psychiatric Institute of Washington.