Welcome to Monday’s Overnight Health Care. The Easter Bunny showed up in the White House press briefing room today…and was even wearing a mask.
Today: A CDC study shows the risks of large indoor gatherings. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: 46 COVID-19 cases linked to one indoor bar event in rural Illinois | CDC says risk of COVID-19 transmission on surfaces 1 in 10,000 | Fauci suggests no federal mandate on vaccine passports Twitter says it mistakenly suspended Marjorie Taylor Greene account for second time Fauci says federal government won’t mandate vaccine passports MORE suggested that despite the GOP hype, there isn’t going to be a federal mandate on vaccine passports. And updated CDC guidance ought to finally put an end to pandemic hygiene theater.
We’ll start with the study on spread:
The ripple effects of one event: 46 COVID-19 cases linked to one indoor bar event in rural Illinois
An indoor bar opening event in rural Illinois in February was linked to 46 cases of COVID-19, a new study finds, highlighting the dangers indoor gatherings in places like bars can pose.
The study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the event was linked to 26 COVID-19 cases in patrons at the bar opening and three in bar staff, who then spread the virus on to an additional 17 people who were not at the bar opening, known as “secondary cases.”
Showing the ripple effects one event can have, those secondary cases included 12 people across eight households with children, two on a school sports team, and three in a nursing home, the study found. A school serving 650 students was closed as a result of the outbreak, and one nursing home resident was hospitalized.
The takeaway: The results serve as a warning as many states lift restrictions on bars and other businesses. Illinois recently delayed a further reopening step as hospitalizations rose, but bars and restaurants are currently open with capacity limits.
“These findings demonstrate that opening up settings such as bars, where mask wearing and physical distancing are challenging, can increase the risk for community transmission,” the study states.
Read more here.
A little less disinfecting is fine: CDC finds low risk of COVID-19 transmission on surfaces
More than a year into the pandemic, and establishments continue to tout their cleaning protocols as a way to prove how safe it is to, say, eat in a restaurant, go to the store, or ride the subway. New guidance released by the CDC Monday ought to put that so-called “hygiene theater” to rest.
According to the guidance, the risk of getting a COVID-19 infection from contaminated surfaces is extremely low.
The principal mode by which people are infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus is through exposure to respiratory droplets, the CDC said.
How low? While not impossible, the agency said the risk of infection through fomites is “generally less than 1 in 10,000.”
“There is little scientific support for routine use of disinfectants in community settings, whether indoor or outdoor, to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission from fomites,” the agency said. “In public spaces and community settings, available epidemiological data … indicate that the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission from fomites is low—compared with risks from direct contact, droplet transmission or airborne transmission.”
Read more here.
Fauci chimes into vaccine passport debate: No federal mandate
President BidenJoe BidenJoe Biden’s surprising presidency The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden, McConnell agree on vaccines, clash over infrastructure Republican battle with MLB intensifies MORE’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said in a Monday podcast that the federal government will not mandate passports that show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations.
“I doubt that the federal government will be the main mover of a vaccine passport concept,” Fauci told the “Politico Dispatch.” “They may be involved in making sure things are done fairly and equitably, but I doubt if the federal government is gonna be the leading element of that.”
But the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases podcast said that he expects “individual entities,” such as theaters and colleges, may require them.
“I’m not saying that they should or that they would, but I’m saying you could foresee how an independent entity might say, ‘Well, we can’t be dealing with you unless we know you’re vaccinated,’ ” Fauci said. “But it’s not going to be mandated from the federal government.”
What this means: Fauci’s comments, which align with other Biden officials, may alleviate some concerns from conservatives about the possibility of a government-issued mandate to provide proof of vaccination for services.
Read more here.
No fourth wave? Gottlieb says he thinks vaccinations going fast enough to prevent one
Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Sunday that he does not think there will be a “true fourth wave” of COVID-19 in the United States as vaccination rates accelerate.
The United States in recent days hit 4 million vaccinations in a day, and the numbers are on their way up as supply increases. Gottlieb said the increasing vaccinations combined with the existing immunity from people who have already had the virus should be enough to stop a major new spike in cases.
“I think that there’s enough immunity in the population that you’re not going to see a true fourth wave of infection,” Gottlieb said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“What we’re seeing is pockets of infection around the country, particularly in younger people who haven’t been vaccinated and also in school-age children,” he continued.
Don’t throw out all precautions yet though: The country is not out of the woods yet, as new cases per day have been ticking up, reaching about 64,000 per day in the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. As more vulnerable people get vaccinated, deaths are declining, though they are still averaging about 800 people every day.
“I think we should continue to be cautious,” he noted, especially given the spread of new variants that add an element of unpredictability.
This is the fourth straight week of increasing COVID-19 cases, CDC director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyOvernight Health Care: 46 COVID-19 cases linked to one indoor bar event in rural Illinois | CDC says risk of COVID-19 transmission on surfaces 1 in 10,000 | Fauci suggests no federal mandate on vaccine passports CDC says risk of COVID-19 transmission on surfaces 1 in 10,000 33 states now offering COVID-19 vaccination to all adults MORE said during a White House briefing Monday. She attributed the rise in part to new, more contagious variants.
Read more here.
Maryland to open vaccine eligibility to all at mass vaccination sites
Maryland will expand eligibility for coronavirus vaccinations to all adults over the age of 16 effective Tuesday, but initially only at the state’s mass vaccination sites, Governor Larry Hogan (R) said.
Beginning next Monday, April 12, all eligible Marylanders will be able to get a vaccine from any provider, Hogan said.
Teenagers aged 16 and 17 will only be able to get appointments at sites that use Pfizer’s vaccine, because it is the only one of the three vaccines on the market authorized for children under age 18.
The timing accelerated because Hogan said the state has been receiving more doses, and has been efficient at putting them into people’s arms. Hogan previously said that all Marylanders age 16 and over could get shots starting April 27.
More states allowing everyone a shot: Twelve additional states on Monday opened coronavirus vaccinations to everyone over the age of 16, bringing the nationwide total to 33. Later this week, Delaware, New York, Maine, North Carolina and Missouri will also open up vaccines to everyone over 16 years old. Including Maryland will bring the total to 39 states.
The moves are helping the Biden administration towards its goal of having 90 percent of U.S. adults eligible for the coronavirus vaccine by April 19. President Biden had previously set a goal of all U.S. adults being eligible for the vaccine no later than May 1.
Read more here.
What we’re reading
Researchers are hatching a low-cost coronavirus vaccine (New York Times)
Brazil has become South America’s superspreader event (Washington Post)
India breaks its single-day case record with more than 100,000 new infections (NPR)
State by state
Kathryn Power resigns as head of embattled RI agency that runs Slater Hospital (WPRI)
Tampa Bay clinics tackle language, residency barriers to coronavirus vaccine (Tampa Bay Times)
Vermont to give minority residents vaccine priority (Kaiser Health News)