Jan. 12 Coronavirus updates: New York Mets stadium to become vaccination site

‘Substantial rates’ of mental trauma among ICU workers in England, new study reveals

A study published in the United Kingdom on Wednesday found “substantial rates of probable mental health disorders” among intensive care workers during the pandemic.

It surveyed 709 doctors, nurses and other staff in England and found that almost half displayed symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder, severe depression or anxiety, or “problem drinking.”

Around one in seven reported thoughts of self harm or feeling they would be “better off dead,” according to the study led by King’s College London. It conducted the surveys in June and July and its peer-reviewed results were published Wednesday.

The U.K. is currently struggling with one of the worst outbreaks in the world, with a faster infection rate and higher deaths per capita than the U.S. and most other countries.

Protesters in Israel demonstrate against prime minister’s handling of pandemic

Protesters shout during a demonstration against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s alleged corruption, the postponement of his trail and his handling of the Covid-19 crisis outside his residency in Jerusalem on Tuesday.Ronen Zvulun / Reuters

Hospitalization rate for children up 800 percent in six months

Jan. 12, 202101:35

Operation Warp Speed chief will reportedly leave after transition

Operation Warp Speed Chief Adviser Dr. Moncef Slaoui has submitted his resignation at the request of the incoming Biden team, under a plan that would see him stay in the role for a month to help with the transition, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Slaoui’s role leading vaccine development for the unprecedented government effort is expected to be diminished after Jan. 20, said the people, who declined to be named because the plan isn’t yet public. It would end by Feb. 12.

It’s not clear who will take the scientific lead for the Biden team focused on Covid vaccines after that, or if someone will be appointed into that role. There are already two vaccines authorized in the U.S., with three more in late-stage clinical trials. Jeff Zients is Biden’s coordinator of the Covid-19 response, while Bechara Choucair will be Covid-19 vaccine coordinator, focused on speeding vaccine delivery.

Read the full story here. 

With season set to start, 27 NHL players have tested positive for Covid

Twenty-seven players in the National Hockey League have tested positive for Covid-19, the league said Tuesday — with 17 of those on the Dallas Stars.

The NHL said in a statement that most of the Stars players are asymptomatic and “are currently recovering without complication.” The 27 players who are positive for the illness are across nine teams.

The NHL season starts Wednesday, but it will be a condensed 56-game regular season that ends May 8. Normally, there are 82 regular-season games.

The Stars had been set to open their season Thursday in Florida against the Panthers, but the first three games have been postponed and the next one on their schedule is Jan. 19. The NHL made the announcement Jan. 8 after six Stars players and two staff members had tested positive.

Rick Bowness, the Stars head coach, told reporters Tuesday that they knew with Covid-19 there could be some uncertainty with the roster. “We work with the players that we have,” he said, adding that decisions would be made as players return.

CDC will now require international passengers to test negative on flights to U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday that it will require all international air travelers to test negative for Covid-19 before entering the U.S. 

“A required test, combined with the CDC recommendations to get tested again 3-5 days after arrival and stay home for 7 days post-travel, will help slow the spread of COVID-19 within US communities from travel-related infection,” the agency said in a statement.

The CDC said the new policy, which will go into effect on Jan. 26, is in part a result of “variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus [that] continue to emerge in countries around the world.”

Mexico sees U.S. tourist bump amid Covid pandemic surge

TULUM, Mexico—The friends from Jackson, Mississippi, relaxed on lounge chairs dug into a white sand beach and romped in the turquoise Caribbean waters, grateful for a break from the pandemic winter in the United States.

They were among tens of thousands of American tourists who descended on Mexico’s glittering Caribbean beaches at the close of 2020 and start of this year. Quintana Roo state, the country’s tourism crown jewel, home to Cancun, the Riviera Maya and Tulum, received 961,000 tourists during that stretch — nearly half from the U.S. — down only 25% from the previous year.

“You come here and it’s a sigh of relief from all the turmoil of the COVID,” said Latron Evans, a 40-year-old Jackson firefighter.

But concern is spreading that the winter holiday success could be fleeting, because it came as COVID-19 infections in both Mexico and the United States, the main source of the foreign tourists, were reaching new heights — and as a new, more easily spread variant was beginning to emerge in the U.S. If a sharp rise in infections forces a new shutdown of the tourism sector, the effects would be devastating.

Click here to read the full story.

QAnon falsehoods move to text message chains

As social networks and app stores crack down on disinformation purveyors and calls for violence, sensational, QAnon-based lies have found a new way to go viral: forwarded text messages.

It’s not clear just how many people have sent or received the texts, as person-to-person messaging services are difficult for researchers to track. NBC News received numerous tips and screenshots of the messages from people who say they were forwarded from friends or family. The messages have already made their way to some prominent conservatives, who have amplified them on social media.

The text messages come after Twitter permanently banned President Donald Trump and has taken particular aim at users who promote QAnon. Twitter said Monday that it has suspended 70,000 accounts since the riots.

One viral, false conspiracy theory shared across the U.S. implores users to disable automatic software updates on their cellphones, claiming that the next patch will disable an Emergency Broadcasting Systems message from President Donald Trump. The false rumors are usually attached to another urban legend about a blackout coming in the next two weeks and that people need to be “prepared with food and water.”

Read the full story here.

NBA issues new Covid-19 guidelines

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association released new health and safety measures for the 2020-21 season on Tuesday after numerous games were canceled amid outbreaks among players and a growing number of cases across the country.

They include a requirement that players and staff of visiting teams can’t leave their hotel or interact with non-team guests. Players are also prohibited from getting to the arena more than three hours before game tip-off, can only elbow or fist bump and must wear face masks on the bench at all times. 

The NBA can also require players and team staff to undergo five consecutive days of twice-daily Covid-19 testing if there are positive cases.

Since starting its 2020-21 season, the NBA has faced numerous positive cases among players, who are no longer confined to the bubble the league used during its playoffs over the summer.

In the playoffs bubble, players and league personnel were required to undergo daily testing, had to wear masks and were isolated from the outside. While it proved successful at keeping out Covid-19, many players spoke about the challenge of being isolated from families, friends and their homes and adopting a bubble model for the entirety of the league’s regular season wasn’t pursued.

New York Mets stadium to host 24/7 vaccination site

The city that never sleeps is getting another Covid-19 vaccination center that will be open around the clock, courtesy of the New York Mets.

Starting the week of Jan. 25, New Yorkers will be able to head out to Citi Field in the borough of Queens at any time of the day or week to get a shot, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced.

“By making City Field a 24/7 vaccination site, they’re stepping up to the plate for New Yorkers across our city,” de Blasio said.

When it’s up and running, the Citi Field site will be able to vaccinate between 5,000 and 7,000 people per day.

In addition, a 24/7 vaccination site opened Tuesday in Manhattan, and another will be up and running in Staten Island starting Friday, and one more will makes its debut Saturday in Queens. 

Round-the-clock vaccination sites have already been operating in Brooklyn and The Bronx.

Philadelphia to restart indoor dining Saturday at 25% capacity

Philadelphia health officials say that some Covid-related business closures will be lifted on Saturday.

For the first time since November, indoor dining, in-person college classes, theaters and performance spaces will be permitted to reopen — but at significantly reduced capacity.

Indoor dining will be capped at 25 percent capacity, while theaters will be capped at 10 percent capacity and prohibit food and drink.

“Your restaurant cannot have entertainment and your theater cannot have food,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said, according to NBC News Philadelphia.

Indoor, senior and catered events remain restricted, the city said

Mask mandates remain in effect, and next Tuesday, Jan. 19, some branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia will reopen to the public — including crucial computer access, according to interim Director Leslie M. Walker.

“The Free Library is an important resource for our communities, and our staff has worked tirelessly to ensure those resources are available in a safe setting during the pandemic,” Walker said in a press release.

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