Truck convoy approaching the nation’s capital; the Pentagon approves the use of the National Guard; Vaccination Drive Halts As Omicron Fades: COVID Updates

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Some 700 members of the National Guard are prepared to take up positions in the country’s capital amid planned protest convoys of truckers that organizers say could bring the city to a standstill without entering it.

Bob Bolus, a trucker from Pennsylvania, says he will lead the Freedom Convoy of trucks from Pennsylvania to Washington on Wednesday. but he said NBC4-TV in Washington that has backed away from immediate plans to block the Capital Beltway, a 64-mile highway through Virginia and Maryland that encircles the District of Columbia. His complaints include vaccination mandates, pandemic-related restrictions and high fuel prices, among others.

“We’re not shutting down traffic today,” Bolus said. “If we don’t have a resolution from the government about the rights that are being taken away from us, I predict that in the future it will be closed.”

The convoys were inspired by truckers and others protesting coronavirus restrictions and other issues in the Canadian capital of Ottawa that brought downtown vehicular traffic to a standstill for three weeks. Similar protests also closed border crossings for days.

The Pentagon approved the use of 400 DC Guard troops and 300 members from other states along with 50 “large tactical vehicles” to help keep traffic flowing, the DC National Guard said in a statement.

Guard vehicles will take up positions at the strategic intersections starting at 1:00 pm on Saturday or as soon as possible, according to the statement. The troops will not be armed and will not be authorized to carry out “internal surveillance activities,” the statement said.

Personnel from other states will be commanded by local guard leaders, but remain under the control of their governors. The mission is approved to continue until March 8 if necessary.

Another group, the People’s Convoy, left California on Wednesday and planned to pick up other truckers before the March 5 arrival at the Capital Beltway. The group said it does not intend to enter DC proper.

“To truckers around the world: now is the time to stand up. Now is the time to usher in a renaissance of freedom,” truck driver and organizer Brian Brase told supporters at a rally before some two dozen trucks and several other vehicles left the city of Adelanto in the Mojave desert. “Don’t bow down.”

Also in the news:

►Los Angeles County, the largest in the country with a population of 10 million and a hurdle that still requires the use of face coverings in closed public places, will stop requiring face coverings for those who can show proof of vaccination or proof recent negative COVID, Los Angeles Times reported. The new rules take effect Friday at 12:01 a.m.

►An arbitrator upheld Chicago’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for police officers, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday, saying she hopes it’s a call to action for those not yet vaccinated.

►Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday he will remove emergency powers police can use after authorities end border blockades and the occupation of Ottawa by truckers and others who oppose to the restrictions by COVID-19.

►Queen Elizabeth II, who has tested positive for the coronavirus, felt well enough on Wednesday to hold her weekly audience with Prime Minister Boris Johnson via phone call, Buckingham Palace said.

►The Africa CDC plans to request a delay in COVID-19 vaccine donations until after the second half of the year, as the continent grapples with logistics issues and vaccine questions. POLITICIAN reported.

📈Today’s Numbers: The United States has recorded more than 78.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 941,000 deaths, according to Data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: more than 428.9 million cases and more than 5.9 million deaths. More than 215 million Americans, 64.8%, are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

📘 What we are reading: The CDC found 21 cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in adolescents who received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. While the report may seem worrying at first, experts say a deeper dive into the data highlights the Importance of the COVID vaccine in children and adolescents since most of the cases occurred in those who were not considered fully vaccinated.

Keep updating this page for the latest news. They want more? Enroll in USA TODAY’s free Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our facebook group.

The current decline in coronavirus infections of the highly transmissible omicron variant has a downside: less motivation for some to get vaccinated.

The average number of Americans receiving their first vaccine has dropped to about 90,000 per day, the lowest point since the early days of the US vaccination campaign in December 2020. exposed to the harshest impacts of COVID- 19.

Vaccination incentive programs have largely run their course, and vaccine mandates have faced court challenges that put them on hold. The declining number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, combined with omicron generally causing milder illness, makes it more difficult for public health officials to convince the tens of millions of unvaccinated Americans, including the 25% of adults to be vaccinated.

In Wyoming, which has the second-lowest vaccination rate in the country at 50%, a total of about 280 people statewide received their first vaccination last week.

“People heard more stories about, well, omicron isn’t that bad,” said Kathy Emmons, executive director of the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department. “I think a lot of people just rolled the dice and decided, ‘Well, if it’s not that bad, I’m going to wait and see what happens.'”

Maternal deaths in the US increased markedly in the first year of the pandemiclargely among women of color, according to a new study from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The maternal mortality rate, referring to deaths during pregnancy or shortly after childbirth, increased by 18.4% in 2020 – from 20.1 to 23.8 per 100,000 live births – compared to 2019, the last year before of the pandemic.

Black women fared worse among the racial and ethnic groups studied, with their maternal death rate rising from 44 per 100,000 to 55.3, almost three times the figure for white women (19.1). The mortality rate for Hispanic women remained below that of white women, as in previous years, but shot up from 12.6 per 100,000 to 18.2.

“It’s discouraging, but not shocking. We’ve been at this for a long time. And we’ve seen these patterns for a long time,” said Dr. Allison Bryant, senior medical director for health equity at Mass General Brigham Health System. “It’s disheartening that we haven’t gotten to where black women deserve to be.”

— Nothing Hassanein

The ideal time between the first and second injection of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines is up to eight weeks for most people, the CDC announced Wednesday in a guidance update. The previous time frame had been four weeks for Moderna, three weeks for Pfizer. CDC officials said those timeframes may work, but research shows the longer interval may provide longer-lasting protection. Research suggests that people ages 12 to 64, especially men ages 12 to 39, may benefit from longer spacing, the CDC said. The agency also said the longer wait could help lessen an already rare side effect of vaccination, inflammation of the heart, seen in some young men.

The change won’t affect many people: The CDC says that 73% of people over the age of 12 have already received two doses.

People who have been infected with the coronavirus are much more likely to find cardiovascular disease compared to those who were never infected, found a new study published in the journal Nature Medicine. Millions of American COVID-19 patients have struggled with the long-term effects of the disease since the start of the pandemic, dubbed “long covid.” The Nature Medicine article focuses on cardiovascular disease and uses data from the US Department of Veterans Affairs to study more than 150,000 veterans who have contracted COVID-19.

Those who had been infected with the coronavirus were 60% more likely to develop a heart problem, including inflammatory heart disease, heart attacks, heart failure, blood clots and other cardiovascular symptoms.

Experts worry that a lack of data may be masking where to focus strategies to vaccinate children of color, who disproportionately experience severe illness from COVID-19 but may lack access to vaccines. Just a third of children ages 5 to 11 nationwide have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and a quarter are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. data sample. About 67% of children over 12 years of age have received a dose and only 57% are fully vaccinated.

But the CDC does not report childhood COVID-19 vaccination rates by race, and inconsistencies and variations persist in how figures are broken down and reported from state to state. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports only seven states publish childhood immunization data by race in a way that allows for statistical comparison. In those states, black children generally lagged behind white children, and the rates for children of other racial groups vary.

– Nada Hassanein, USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press



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