Coronavirus update: COVID-19 linked to blood clots, more companies may penalize unvaccinated employees

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Experts think the latest wave may have peaked

Coronavirus‌ ‌(COVID-19)‌ ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 38,422,999 (38,249,118)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 633,870 (632,475)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 214,962,872 (214,185,805)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 4,479,309 (4,468,507)‌

Study finds COVID-19 is linked to blood clots

News reports of rare cases of blood clots forming after people got vaccinated may have contributed to vaccine hesitancy. But a new study puts those reports in a different light.

Researchers at Oxford and other British universities have concluded that you have a greater chance of suffering blood clots from catching COVID-19 than from being vaccinated. They analyzed data from more than 29 million people who got either the AstraZeneca vaccine or the one produced by Pfizer and BioNTech.

They compared the rate of blood clotting after the first dose of a vaccine with clotting after a positive COVID-19 test. The researchers say the risk of blood clots was “substantially higher” following infection than it was after receiving either vaccine.

More companies consider penalizing unvaccinated employees

Delta Air Lines was the first to hit unvaccinated employees with a $200 a month health insurance surcharge. The Wall Street Journal reports that other companies are edging closer to following its example.

Human resources experts say the financial penalty allows companies to pressure their employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 without mandating vaccinations.

“The measures [businesses] have taken so far aren’t leading to the levels of vaccination in the workforce that they want,” Wade Symons, a regulatory resources consultant, told the Journal. “They are starting to think about some of the more strict measures they can take.”

Deaths rise while new cases slow

Epidemiologists carefully watch the COVID-19 numbers compiled in real-time by the COVID-19 Tracking Project at Johns Hopkins University. The numbers have recently shown a rise in deaths from the virus, but the pace of new cases has slowed this week.

Over the last seven days, new cases have averaged around 152,000 a day -- the highest level since January. But that’s only an 11% increase, a decline from the 30% growth rate that the U.S. experienced just two weeks ago.

Dr. Bruce Farber, chief of infectious disease at Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York, told CNBC that unvaccinated and uninfected people have been fueling the latest wave. He says the combination of new cases and additional people getting vaccinated means the virus has fewer people to infect.

Around the nation

  • Illinois: Gov. J.B. Pritzker has reinstated the state’s mask mandate and will require masks in indoor public places. He says the move is necessary as hospitals fill up with COVID-19 patients. "Illinois will join several other states that have reinstituted statewide indoor mask requirements, regardless of vaccination status, effective on Monday," Pritzker said. "Masks work. Period."

  • Kentucky: Gov. Andy Beshear said Wednesday was a particularly bad day in the Bluegrass State. There were more than 5,000 new COVID-19 cases, the third-highest daily caseload since the pandemic began. He said the state’s inpatient, ICU, and ventilator rates are continuing to rise at an alarming rate.

  • Texas: A 38-year-old army veteran near Houston died from gallstones because officials say there were no available hospital beds in the state. CBS News cites doctors as saying that the simple procedure to remove the stones could have been performed in minutes, but hospitals were full of mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients. They say his condition had become critical by the time a bed was secured at a VA hospital.

  • New Jersey: The Wayne County School Board meeting this week was the scene of an emotional debate over COVID-19 protocols. One parent claimed that masks and vaccinations amount to “child abuse.” Other parents joined teachers in urging exceptional steps to contain the deadly virus.

  • Iowa: Gov. Kim Reynolds remains a supporter of a state law barring mask mandates, telling reporters she’s not sure that masks would stop the spread of the virus. Most experts disagree. "There's definitely a benefit," Dr. Ashlesha Kaushik, a national spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics and a board member for the academy's Iowa chapter, told the Des Moines Register. "Scientific evidence is pretty strong in favor of masks." 

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