The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes the disease COVID-19, first surfaced in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. A lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where scientists have conducted extensive research on bat coronaviruses, has long been speculated to be the source of the outbreak, possibly due to an accidental leak.
That theory was declared “extremely unlikely” by World Health Organization (WHO) expert Peter Ben Embarek on Feb. 8. However, within days, WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus appeared to walk back the statement, saying that “all hypotheses remain open and require further study.”
We Can Ease Up on the Disinfectant
Associate Professor Hassan Vally discusses the role of surface contact in the transmission of the CCP virus.
CDC to Consider New Study on Social Distancing
Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday that he and officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are aware of the study that shows that three feet of social distancing may “indeed” be enough to safely reopen schools, adding that officials at the CDC may be issuing new guidance on schools “soon.”
“What the CDC wants to do, is they want to accumulate data and when the data shows that there is an ability to be three feet, they will act accordingly,” Fauci said on CNN. “They’re analyzing that and I can assure you within a reasonable period of time, quite reasonable, they will be giving guidelines according to the data that they have,” he added.
Grassley Urges DOJ to Probe Obstruction of Justice in COVID-19 Nursing Home Probe
Ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is urging Attorney General Merrick Garland to look into whether any state officials, who are subjected to the Justice Department’s CCP virus nursing home probe, had engaged in obstruction of justice.
Grassley, who was joined by five other Republican senators, wrote to Garland on Monday asking him to expand a DOJ inquiry into four states that came under widespread scrutiny for their response last year to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, which may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of nursing home residents.
US Deaths Fall 22%, Daily Vaccinations Set Record
The United States reported a 22 percent decline in deaths from the CCP virus last week, while vaccinations accelerated to a record 2.4 million shots per day, according to a Reuters analysis of state, county, and CDC data.
As of Sunday, 21 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a vaccine, up from 18 percent a week ago. About 11 percent have received two doses, up from 9 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number of new COVID-19 cases being reported each week has dropped for nine straight weeks, falling 10 percent to just under 378,000 in the seven days ending March 14. Deaths linked to the CCP virus dropped below 10,000 last week, the lowest since mid-November.
Arizona Sees No New Deaths From Virus
Arizona health officials are reporting no new CCP virus deaths and 638 more confirmed COVID-19 cases, the disease caused by the CCP virus, in one of the lowest figures in months.
The state Department of Health Services released the latest numbers Monday, bringing the state totals since the pandemic started to 833,381 cases and 16,553 deaths.
Spain Joins Countries Halting AstraZeneca Vaccine
Spain will stop using AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for at least two weeks, the government said on Monday, joining a growing list of European countries putting the brakes on the shot over concerns about possible side effects.
Earlier on Monday, France, Germany, and Italy joined Denmark, Norway, and several others in halting use of the drug after reports of blood clots in some patients who had received the vaccine.
AstraZeneca Plc on Sunday said it had conducted a review of people vaccinated with its COVID-19 vaccine which has shown no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots.
Boston Marathon to Cap Entrants at 20,000
This year’s Boston Marathon will be limited to 20,000 entrants in a bid to allow greater social distancing throughout the course given the COVID-19 pandemic, race organizers said on Monday.
The number of entrants being allowed for this year’s race, scheduled to be held on Oct. 11, is 33 percent below the typical number of runners at one of the world’s most prestigious marathons.
US Prison Guards Refusing Vaccine Despite Outbreaks
A Florida correctional officer polled his colleagues earlier this year in a private Facebook group: “Will you take the COVID-19 vaccine if offered?” The answer from more than half: “Hell no.” Only 40 of the 475 respondents said yes.
In Massachusetts, more than half the people employed by the Department of Correction declined to be immunized. A statewide survey in California showed that half of all correction employees will wait to be vaccinated. In Rhode Island, prison staff have refused the vaccine at higher rates than the incarcerated, according to medical director Dr. Justin Berk. And in Iowa, early polling among employees showed a little more than half the staff said they’d get vaccinated.
Nearly Half of US Students Back to Five Day a Week, In-person Schooling: Tracker
Nearly one out of two K-12 students in the United States are at schools that have resumed five-day-a-week in-person classes, according to updated figures from a tracking organization.
Up from 46.9 percent a week prior, some 49.1 percent of American primary and secondary students are attending so-called traditional schools, Burbio, the organization, said on Sunday.
At the same time, approximately 20.8 percent of students are attending schools that continue only offering virtual classes, down about three percent, while 30 percent attend “hybrid” schools, or schools that offer in-person classes but not five days a week.
Thailand Sticks With AstraZeneca Vaccine After Safety Scare
Thailand will resume inoculating people with the AstraZeneca CCP virus vaccine on Tuesday after a brief delay over safety concerns, officials said, with Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and cabinet members due to be first in line to get shots.
Thailand was on March 12 the first country outside of Europe to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca shot over blood clotting issues.
Pandemic May Have Been Caused by Bioweapon Research Accident in China: Former State Department Investigator
The CCP virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic could have been the result of a bioweapon leak in China, according to David Asher, former lead COVID-19 investigator at the U.S. State Department.
“This might have been a weapons vector gone awry; not deliberately released, but in development and then somehow leaked,” Asher said on March 12 during a panel discussion at the Hudson Institute.
Asher added: “This has turned out to be the greatest weapon in history. You’ve taken out 15 to 20 percent of global GDP. You’ve killed millions of people. The Chinese population has been barely affected. Their economies roared back to being number one in the entire G20.”
Danish Woman Who Died From Blood Clot After AstraZeneca Shot Had ‘Unusual Symptoms’
A 60-year-old Danish woman who died of a blood clot after receiving AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine had “highly unusual” symptoms, according to the Danish Medicines Agency.
The woman had a low number of blood platelets and clots in small and large vessels, as well as bleeding, it said. A few similar cases were found in Norway and in the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) database of drug side effects, the Danish Medicines Agency said.
Facebook Adding Labels to All Posts About Vaccines
Facebook on Monday said it will add labels to all posts about COVID-19 vaccines, as part of its efforts to help more people get a shot.
“We’ve already connected over 2 billion people to authoritative COVID-19 information, and today as access to COVID-19 vaccines expands, we’re going even further and aiming to help bring 50 million people one step closer to getting vaccinated,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement.
Frank Fang, Hassan Vally, Masooma Haq, Janita Kan, Frank Fang, Zachary Stieber, Reuters, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.