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Calls Grow For Trump To Urge Hesitant Supporters To Get COVID-19 Vaccine

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The latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey found that nearly half of former President Donald Trump’s supporters said they would not get a COVID-19 vaccine if one becomes available to them. Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Republicans and supporters of Donald Trump are the least likely to say they will seek a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available to them.

That has led to calls for the former president to speak out more forcefully to encourage his supporters to get vaccinated.

“I think it’s very important for former President Trump, as well as the [former] vice president [Mike Pence], to actively encourage all of their followers to get the vaccine,” Adm. Brett Giroir, who was the coronavirus testing czar in the Trump administration, said Monday afternoon on CNN.

“We all have to get together and urge every American,” Giroir added. “The people who follow the former president are very committed to President Trump, and I think his leadership still matters a great deal.”

The push follows an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey last week that found that 49% of Republican men, 47% of Trump supporters and 41% of Republicans overall said they would not get a vaccine if one is made available to them.

A CNN poll released the same day showed an even higher 57% of Republicans saying, no, they will not try to get inoculated now that vaccines are authorized.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference last month, Trump did urge people to get the vaccine — in a line sandwiched between insults of President Biden.

“He [Biden] got his vaccine,” Trump said. “He forgot. It shows you how unpainful all that vaccine shot is. So, everybody, go get your shot. He forgot, so it wasn’t very traumatic obviously, but he got his shot, and it’s good that he got his shot.”

Biden didn’t forget, and he purposely got his shot publicly to encourage all Americans to get it and show them that it is safe.

Trump and former first lady Melania Trump, on the other hand — who both were diagnosed with the coronavirus — were vaccinated in private before leaving office. That was something only confirmed after Trump’s CPAC speech.

Pence received his vaccine publicly.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has become the leading public face of scientists on the pandemic, was shown the NPR survey data on Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press, and said he thinks Trump should speak out.

“I hope he does, because the numbers that you gave are so disturbing,” Fauci said. “How such a large proportion of a certain group of people would not … want to get vaccinated merely because of political consideration, it makes absolutely no sense. … We’ve got to dissociate political persuasion from what’s commonsense, no-brainer public health things.”

On Fox News Sunday, Fauci called it “puzzling” that Trump hasn’t been more out front on the issue, including not participating in a public service announcement that included former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and even Jimmy Carter, who is 96.

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“I think it would make all the difference in the world,” Fauci said. “He’s a very widely popular person among Republicans. If he came out and said, ‘Go and get vaccinated; it’s really important for your health, the health of your family and the health of the country,’ it seems absolutely inevitable that the vast majority of people who are his close followers would listen to him.”

Of course, Trump doesn’t have a long track record of speaking out in favor of the science of vaccines. During a 2015 presidential primary debate, he lent credence to the false conspiracy that vaccines can lead to autism. They do not.

Giroir and Fauci seemed to offer Trump something of a playbook to help in the public vaccination effort — take a measure of credit, given that vaccine development and distribution began during his administration.

“This is something that the Trump administration developed under its time,” Giroir noted on CNN, “and I think all of the above, including the former president speaking out would be very important.”

“I mean clearly Operation Warp Speed started in the Trump administration,” Fauci said on Fox. “It was very successful in getting us the vaccines we have right now. It seems like an intrinsic contradiction, the fact that you had a program that was started during his presidency and he’s not out telling people to get vaccinated. I wish he would.”

An adviser close to the president did not immediately respond when asked if the president has any plans to do more to encourage his followers to get vaccinated.

For his part, Biden is not among those saying it is necessary for Trump to speak out.

When asked by a reporter Monday if his predecessor should help promote vaccines, Biden responded: “I discussed it with my team, and they say the thing that has more impact than anything Trump would say to the MAGA folks is what the local doctor, what the local preachers, what the local people in the community say. So I urge all local docs and ministers and priests … to talk about why — why it’s important to get it — to get that vaccine, and even after that, until everyone is in fact vaccinated, to wear this mask.”

Despite the hesitancy in some corners, more Americans are getting a vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 71 million Americans, or about 21% of the U.S. population, have gotten at least one shot, as of Monday afternoon.

Two-thirds of respondents in the NPR poll said they have either already been vaccinated or plan to when one comes available, which is higher than it had been in the survey previously.

But the numbers need to be even higher than that, scientists say, to feel comfortable with American society getting fully back toward normal.

With vaccines as safe, effective and potentially “lifesaving for millions of people” as the ones authorized are, Fauci said on Meet the Press he couldn’t “comprehend” why some are digging in and opposing it for political reasons.

“I just don’t get it,” he said.

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Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/03/16/977587441/calls-grow-for-trump-to-urge-hesitant-supporters-to-get-covid-19-vaccine

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UC And Cal State Systems To Require COVID-19 Vaccinations For In-Person Fall Classes

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“Receiving a vaccine for the virus that causes COVID-19 is a key step people can take to protect themselves, their friends and family, and our campus communities while helping bring the pandemic to an end,” said Dr. Michael Drake, president of the University of California. Damian Dovarganes/AP hide caption

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Damian Dovarganes/AP

The California State University and University of California systems announced on Thursday that all 33 campuses will require students and staff returning for in-person instruction this fall to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The new directive will go into effect once the Food and Drug Administration gives “full approval” to a COVID-19 vaccine. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots currently going into people’s arms only have an Emergency Use Authorization.

CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro said the two higher education systems enroll and employ more than 1 million students and employees, and called the directive “the most comprehensive and consequential university plan for COVID-19 vaccines in the country.”

“Receiving a vaccine for the virus that causes COVID-19 is a key step people can take to protect themselves, their friends and family, and our campus communities while helping bring the pandemic to an end,” said Dr. Michael Drake, president of the University of California, in the joint statement.

The university leaders said the timing of the announcement is intended to give students, faculty and other staff ample time to obtain vaccinations before the start of the fall term. Both UC and Cal State have said schools are preparing for mostly in-person instruction and activities this fall.

Students will be required to update immunization documents with their respective universities as they do with other infectious diseases, including measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox. Medical exemptions or approved exceptions will have to be cleared prior to campus arrival, according to the latest notice.

Universities across the country have been facing similar decisions as they plan to resume in-person instruction and vaccine availability has become more widespread. As of April 19, all states in the U.S. are offering vaccinations to people ages 16 and up.

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Source: https://www.npr.org/2021/04/22/990015740/uc-and-cal-state-systems-to-require-covid-19-vaccinations-for-in-person-fall-cla

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People With Severe COVID-19 Have Higher Risk Of Long-Term Effects, Study Finds

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Intensive Care Unit nurse Subramanya Kirugulige prepares a bed for an arriving COVID-19 patient at Roseland Community Hospital in Chicago in December. A large study has found that people with severe initial cases of COVID-19 tend to be at greater risk of more health problems later on. Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption

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The potential lasting effects of COVID-19 infection are many — and people with more severe initial infections are at greater risk for long-term complications, according to a study published Thursday in Nature.

The study, thought to be the largest post-acute COVID-19 study to date, sheds more light on the lingering effects of COVID-19 known as “long COVID.”

Ziyad Al-Aly and his colleagues used the databases of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to examine health outcomes in more than 73,000 people who’d had COVID-19 and were not hospitalized, comparing them with nearly 5 million users of the VA health system who did not have COVID-19 and were not hospitalized.

Six months later, those who’d had COVID-19 were found to be at higher risk of new onset heart disease, diabetes, mental health disorders including anxiety and depression, substance use disorders, kidney disease and other problems.

Al-Aly, chief of research and development service at the VA St. Louis Health Care System, said it was shocking to see that the toll of long COVID is so substantial and multifaceted.

“We knew people have fatigue, we knew people have weakness, we knew about the memory problems or brain fog,” he said. “But when you put it all together, the diabetes and heart problems and kidney problems and liver problems and stroke and brain fog and fatigue and anemia and depression and anxiety — and it’s actually quite jarring.”

It remains difficult for researchers to distinguish which effects are a direct consequence of the viral infection itself, and which are indirect.

Some consequences could be a result of inflammation provoked by the virus, while others could be linked to life changes that might accompany the disease. “When people get COVID and they have to self-isolate and stay at home in quarantine, maybe that is associated with less physical activity, changes in diet, other changes that might also bring about some of those clinical manifestations,” Al-Aly said.

Aftereffects from COVID-19 were seen in the respiratory system, as well as nervous system disorders, mental health problems, metabolic and cardiovascular disorders, malaise, fatigue, musculoskeletal pain and anemia. The authors also found increased use of therapeutics including pain medications (such as opioids), antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications.

The authors also analyzed the health outcomes of more than 13,600 people who had been hospitalized with COVID-19, and compared them with nearly 14,000 people who had been hospitalized with influenza. They found that compared to those who’d been hospitalized with the seasonal flu, COVID-19 survivors who’d been hospitalized saw increased risk and magnitude of post-infection lung problems and other disorders.

The findings do not suggest that everyone who gets COVID-19 will have long-term health effects.

“The majority of people will have no problems and no consequences down the road. They’ll get maybe sick for a day or two or three or four. They’ll get over the hump. They’ll regain their energy, cough will go away, shortness of breath will go away, fever will go away, and they will feel fine,” he says.

“But it is true, though, that a minority of people, even if they have mild disease, they are at higher risk of developing some of the consequences that we described here. So the risk is not zero – it’s small, but it’s not trivial.”

The study’s subjects skewed male, given the veterans who use VA health care. But while the VA population is about 88% male, the study’s large size means that it still included more than 8,800 women who contracted COVID-19.

The U.S. has had at least 31 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus. It’s not clear exactly what portion of patients experience its lingering symptoms, but Al-Aly says it’s estimated to be 8-10%.

The takeaway from this study, Al-Aly says, is that the health care system needs to get ready for a lot of people living with the consequences of long COVID-19.

“That really represents a significant burden on the health care system that we need to be prepared for,” he says. “We shouldn’t really act surprised two or three years down the road, when people are having of a lot more diabetes or a lot more people with heart disease show up. We shouldn’t really act surprised. We should prepare for it now.”

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Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/04/22/989874986/people-with-severe-covid-19-have-higher-risk-of-long-term-effects-study-finds

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Vaccine Passports: Israel, Bahrain Reach Landmark Agreement

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A picture taken on March 29, 2021, shows the new passenger terminal of Bahrain International Airport. Bahrain established diplomatic ties with Israel last year. In Israel and Bahrain, vaccine passports will be entirely digital: a QR code on one’s phone, recognized at both countries’ passport control, according to an Israeli official. Giuseppe Cacace/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Giuseppe Cacace/AFP via Getty Images

Israel and Bahrain on Thursday reached what Israel calls the world’s first bilateral agreement for mutual recognition of COVID-19 vaccine passports for quarantine-free travel between two countries, an Israeli diplomat who helped forge the deal tells NPR.

“This is the most effective way to enable movement of people between countries,” says Ilan Fluss, head of the Israeli foreign ministry’s economic division. “A lot of countries are looking at testing, but it is not enough.”

Israel, one of the world’s most vaccinated populations per capita, is a leading proponent of vaccine passports — documents or digital forms confirming that a person is vaccinated against COVID-19 — arguing they are key to reopening economies for tourism and business travel. In some countries, there is opposition to the concept, seen as a violation of privacy and civil liberties.

In Israel and Bahrain, the vaccine passports will be entirely digital: a QR code on one’s phone, recognized at both countries’ passport control, Fluss says. The passports will only contain COVID-19 vaccination information. Personal health records will not be included.

Israel will recognize Bahraini vaccine passports not only for entry, but also to gain access to an Israeli domestic vaccine pass, called the Green Pass, which allows those who are vaccinated against COVID-19 or recovered from the virus to access restaurants, gyms, theaters and other venues.

Israel also grants these passes to citizens who do not wish to be vaccinated, but only for 48 hours and only after they test negative for the virus.

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said in a statement that Israel would reach similar agreements with other countries in the coming days. Israel is in talks with the U.S., U.K. and others for mutual vaccine document recognition. The U.S. poses challenges for Israel because its vaccination certificates are often handwritten and not centrally stored digitally.

The pact with Bahrain, a country that established diplomatic ties with Israel last year, paves the way for new Gulf Arab travel to Israel after Israel gradually reopens to foreign visitors in late May, starting with tour groups.

Israel currently recognizes the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines, but not other vaccines available in Bahrain, and is seeking a solution to allow all Bahrainis to enter once the country reopens.

Several countries have already unilaterally recognized Israeli vaccine certificates in a bid to attract Israeli tourists without quarantine requirements, including Greece and Cyprus. Those countries have also announced efforts to forge bilateral travel agreements, as the European Union is working to unveil vaccine passports for EU-wide travel in mid-June.

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Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/04/22/989891650/vaccine-passports-israel-bahrain-reach-landmark-agreement

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U.S. Issues More Than 115 ‘Do Not Travel’ Advisories, Citing Risks From COVID-19

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Global travel continues to be risky because of the coronavirus. Earlier this year, passengers from Taiwan wear protective gear as they arrive at France’s Charles de Gaulle Airport, and just this week, the U.S. issued over 100 new travel advisories. Francois Mori/AP hide caption

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Francois Mori/AP

The U.S. State Department has vastly expanded its “Do Not Travel list,” issuing new Level 4 advisories for more than 115 countries and territories this week. The agency cites “ongoing risks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The U.S. Do Not Travel list now includes Canada, Mexico, Germany and the U.K. A Level 3 warning is in place for a smaller group of nations, such as China, Australia and Iceland. Japan is also on the Level 3 list, despite a worrying rise in new coronavirus cases there.

Just a week ago, only 33 countries were on the U.S. Do Not Travel list, according to a cached version of the advisory site. But the State Department warned on Monday that the list would soon include roughly 80% of the world’s countries.

More than 150 highest-level travel advisories are in effect — more closely reflecting guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the State Department says.

The CDC’s own travel health notices also use a four-tier warning system. For many countries newly added to the State Department’s Level 4 list, the CDC cites “a very high level of COVID-19.”

As of last week, Brazil and Russia were two of the only large COVID-19 global hotspots on the State Department’s most serious warning list. They’re now joined by India and virtually all of Europe — places that have seen alarming spikes in new cases.

Bhutan is the only international destination designated as Level 1 — “exercise normal precautions” — on the State Department’s travel advisory list.

Sixteen countries are categorized as Level 2 — meaning travelers should exercise increased caution when visiting places such as Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, Belize and Grenada.

Many of the new or updated Do Not Travel notices cite high levels of coronavirus transmission in the relevant country. But the State Department says it also takes other factors into account, from the availability of coronavirus testing to any travel restrictions the countries might have against U.S. citizens.

In roughly 35 countries or destinations, the CDC says, details about the level of COVID-19 risk are unknown. The health agency urges Americans to avoid traveling to those spots, which include Afghanistan, Nicaragua and the Solomon Islands.

Regardless of a particular country’s advisory status, the State Department wants all U.S. citizens to reconsider any travel abroad.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose unprecedented risks to travelers,” the agency said.

More than 3 million people have died from COVID-19 worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Nearly 144 million coronavirus cases have been reported globally, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/04/22/989809103/u-s-issues-more-than-115-do-not-travel-advisories-citing-risks-from-covid-19

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