Coronavirus update: Johnson & Johnson vaccine gets a review

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Flu and COVID-19 could be a ‘perfect storm’

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 50,381,441 (50,268,561)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 802,542 (801,078)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 272,382,144 (271,827,830)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 5,333,237 (5,326,198)‌

CDC to review Johnson & Johnson data

An advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is meeting today to review the benefits and risks of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. An agenda posted online said the group will have “updated” recommendations for using the COVID-19 vaccine.

The current policy authorizes the vaccine for 18-year-olds and older and allows it to be used as a booster shot. People who got the Johnson & Johnson shot are urged to get another dose two months after the first.

Specifically, the advisers today will review data and listen to presentations about thrombosis and thrombocytopenia syndrome. That’s a rare but serious condition that produces blood clots and has been linked to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Health experts fear mixture of COVID-19 and flu

The flu season was nearly non-existent last year because everyone was wearing masks, washing their hands, and social distancing. This year, many health experts fear flu will make a comeback.

Making things worse, they say there could be a rise in flu cases that coincides with a nationwide increase in COVID-19. They’re concerned about what an increase in both viruses could do to the health care system.

"It's the combination. It's kind of the perfect storm of public health impacts here with Delta already impacting many areas of the country and jurisdictions," Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive officer of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), told CNN. "We don't want to overwhelm systems more."

How to safely celebrate the holidays

Family holiday gatherings, limited by the pre-vaccine pandemic last year, are likely to be more prevalent this holiday season. Health experts at the University of Michigan (UM) say there are four things people can do to reduce the risk of infection.

Vaccinations and COVID-19 tests top the list of things to do before participating in large gatherings. The UM doctors also say rooms should be well-ventilated and people should wear masks.

“Wearing a mask among a totally vaccinated group if they are people that you commonly interact with may not be as important,” said Dr. Laraine Washer, a clinical professor of infectious diseases. “But if it’s a gathering of a large number of people that you don’t commonly interact with, you may choose to wear a mask even if everyone is vaccinated if you’re in an indoor space that is not well ventilated.”

Around the nation

  • New York: The lights of Broadway were turned off for months during the pandemic, and now, months after reopening, the latest outbreak is causing them to flicker. Several Broadway shows have canceled performances after positive COVID-19 tests among the cast and crew.

  • Massachusetts: Some state legislators are urging Gov. Charlie Baker to reimpose an indoor public mask mandate across the state because of a sudden rise in new cases. This week, Baker said he was not inclined to reimpose mandatory masking.

  • California: State officials are exempting the City of San Francisco from its statewide mandate requiring people to wear masks in indoor public places. “It’s a recognition of all of the thought and care that San Francisco residents have been putting into staying as safe as possible,” Dr. Susan Philip, San Francisco’s health officer, told KTLA-TV.

  • Colorado: Gov. Jared Polis says if unvaccinated people get COVID-19, “it’s their own darn fault.” In an interview with Colorado Public Radio this morning, Polis also said vaccines have changed the COVID-19 landscape, making masks useful but not required to fight the pandemic.

  • New Mexico: San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari is also the town’s undertaker, having taken over the family’s funeral home after his father died of COVID-19. Ferrari said he is also running out of coffins because his county is experiencing one of the highest per-capita COVID-19 death rates in the state.

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