Coronavirus update: Open vaccinations to begin April 19, COVID-19’s effect on mental health studied

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Dr. Fauci sounds a more optimistic note

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

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 30,851,290 (30,798,418)

Total U.S. deaths: 556,578 (555,777)

Total global cases: 132,605,091 (132,019,041)

Total global deaths: 2,876,691 (2,864,366)

Biden confirms April 19 as the date to open vaccinations for all

President Biden has made it official. He is asking that all states open coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccinations to all adults by April 19. Previously, he set May 1 as the target date for universal vaccinations.

Biden had previously suggested April 19 might be possible as the date to significantly increase vaccinations. He said the rollout out is going well, with 150 million people vaccinated since he took office. But he urged people not yet vaccinated to remain cautious.

“There is a lot of good news. But there’s also some bad news,” Biden said. “The virus is spreading because we have too many people who’ve seen the end in sight, think we’re at the finish line already. Let me be deadly earnest with you, we’re still in a life and death race against this virus.”

Study links COVID-19 to mental issues

A study of nearly a quarter-million COVID-19 survivors found nearly one in three suffered either neurological or psychiatric disorder symptoms after they recovered. The study, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, said the symptoms occurred within six months of infection.

The researchers pointed out that many of the patients had a previous diagnosis of neurological or mental health issues. For 13 percent of the survey group, it was their first recorded neurological or psychiatric diagnosis. The top three symptoms were anxiety, mood disorders, and substance misuse.

“Our study provides evidence for substantial neurological and psychiatric morbidity in the six months after COVID-19 infection,” the authors wrote. “Risks were greatest in, but not limited to, patients who had severe COVID-19.”

Fauci doubts a fourth wave is forming

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s principal adviser on COVID-19, now says he doesn’t think the U.S. will face a fourth wave of the virus. Only weeks ago, Fauci, who heads the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), expressed strong concern at the rise in new infections.

The reason for the turnaround? Fauci says he is impressed with the speed at which states are vaccinating their populations.

"As long as we keep vaccinating people efficiently and effectively, I don't think that's gonna happen," Fauci told MSNBC. "That doesn't mean that we're not going to still see an increase in cases." 

Poll shows less worry about catching the virus

Over the last 12 months, most Americans have had at least some concern about becoming infected with COVID-19, which has killed more than 550,000 Americans. A Gallup Poll now shows that concern has dropped sharply.

The poll shows only 35 percent of U.S. adults say they are “very” or “somewhat” worried about contracting COVID-19. That’s the smallest percentage since Gallup began asking the question a year ago.

Gallup officials say the decline in worry may be tied to the increase in the percentage of Americans who are fully vaccinated.

A third of remote workers would quit rather than return to the office

There could be a lot of job openings later this year. A survey conducted by the personnel staffing firm Robert Half found that 34 percent of current remote workers said they would quit their jobs if they are required to return to the office.

Nearly half of all employees surveyed said they would like a hybrid work arrangement, where they can divide time between the office and another location. Even if given the opportunity to be fully remote, professionals acknowledged that productivity could suffer.

"After a year of drastic change, many business leaders are eager to restore a sense of normalcy and welcome staff back to the office," said Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half. "But reopening doors will bring new obstacles for companies to navigate. Not all employees will be ready — or willing — to return to the workplace, so staying flexible and responsive to their needs will be critical."

Around the nation

  • Rhode Island: Rhode Island’s COVID-19 case numbers are down, and officials want to keep it that way. Visitors from states with a COVID-19 positivity rate greater than 5 percent are required to quarantine for 10 days while in the state unless there is proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken in the previous 72 hours.

  • Texas: Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order on Tuesday to ban the state government and some private entities from requiring COVID-19 “vaccine passports” to access services. The order prohibits any entity from requiring proof of vaccination.

  • California: Gov. Gavin Newsom says he has plans for the state to fully reopen on June 15. The full reopening is contingent on two criteria: that California’s COVID-19 vaccine supply is sufficient for all adults who wish to receive the shot and that hospitalization rates remain stable and low.

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