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Most Americans Have Had COVID

COVID-19 case counts in D.C. have recently dropped, but at an average of 181 cases per day, they’re still pretty high, the New York Times reports. (DC Health hasn’t released data since April 17.)

As Moderna asked the FDA this week to authorize two doses of its vaccine for children under 6, federal health data shows that about 75 percent of American children have been infected with the virus, in addition to 60 percent of adults. COVID infections and hospitalizations nationwide are on the rise over the past two weeks. Mixed messages from the White House and the District aren’t helping.

On Tuesday, Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive for COVID, and on the same day White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci told PBS NewsHour that “we are certainly, right now, in this country, out of the pandemic phase.” He then clarified to NPR on Wednesday that “we are no longer in the acute fulminant accelerated phase of the outbreak.” 

“We’re in a somewhat of a transitional phase where the cases’ numbers have decelerated—and hopefully we’re getting to that phase of somewhat better control, where we can begin to start resuming more easily normal activities,” Facui told NPR.

Confusion spread online about the distinction between pandemic and endemic phases after Fauci told the Post on Wednesday that the nation is “in a transitional phase, from a deceleration of the numbers into hopefully a more controlled phase and endemicity.” 

But there’s no metric for when you’re in a pandemic or endemic phase, Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, and Dr. William Schaffner, Vanderbilt University professor of medicine, tell WUSA9. COVID-19 is destined to be endemic, “because it’s not a virus that can be eliminated or eradicated,” Adalja says. 

An analysis released this week on the link between climate change and viral transmission risk across species indicates that the climate crisis will drive more and new viral infections in humans, reports Atlantic science reporter Ed Yong.  

“The moment to stop climate change from increasing viral transmission was 15 years ago,” Georgetown University global-change biologist Colin Carlson tells Yong. “We’re in a world that’s 1.2 degrees warmer [than preindustrial levels], and there’s no backpedaling. We have to prepare for more pandemics because of it.”

Fauci has decided not to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner this Saturday, citing his own assessment of his risk level and saying “we’re not out of the woods.” Meanwhile, Biden will skip the meal portion of the event and wear a mask when he’s not speaking, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday. 

The correspondents’ dinner will have some of the strictest COVID protocols of D.C. events right now: Guests are required to show proof of vaccination and a negative same-day test. But it does not appear that staff working the event are being held to the same safety standards, Axios reports

​​Washington Hilton, the venue for the gala, hasn’t talked to the union representing the Hilton’s hospitality workers, Unite Here Local 25, about testing or vaccination requirements for staff working the event, a union spokesperson tells Axios. A Hilton spokesperson declined to talk about the event protocols or its staff’s vaccination status. 

The Kennedy Center announced this week that as of May 15 the venue will no longer require proof of vaccination at its shows and other indoor events. Masks will still be required. Citing an evaluation it did with the Cleveland Clinic and Northern Virginia’s Inova Health System, the Kennedy Center announced the change on its website and vowed to continue to “evaluate and adjust safety policies … as local and national conditions evolve.”

Ambar Castillo (tips? acastillo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • To see today’s COVID-19 data, visit our coronavirus tracker.
  • At a ceremony hosted yesterday by District nonprofit The TraRon Center, residents who have lost loved ones due to gun violence awarded college scholarships to D.C. teen survivors. [NBC4]
  • Another French bulldog, 21-week-old Aurora, was stolen in a Southwest apartment break-in. [WUSA9]
  • The Purple Stride 5K walk/run and the Race for Hope 5K will close some D.C. streets this weekend. [WJLA]
  • After a noncommittal response from D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson about funds for D.C.’s excluded workers, workers and advocates are rallying at Columbia Heights Civic Plaza this Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m. [Twitter]

By Ambar Castillo (tips? acastillo@washingtoncitypaper.com)



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