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COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations Plummet In Southern US, Rise In Northern States

COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations Plummet In Southern US, Rise In Northern States

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

COVID-19 metrics in southern states like Florida have plummeted in recent weeks while rising…

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COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations Plummet In Southern US, Rise In Northern States

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

COVID-19 metrics in southern states like Florida have plummeted in recent weeks while rising in many northern states, including heavily vaccinated ones.

Medical personnel conduct COVID-19 testing in Miami, Fla., on Sept. 1, 2021. (Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Mississippi, for instance, have plunged some 95 percent from the peak of 5,018 on Aug. 19 to just 268 on Oct. 7. COVID-19 related hospitalizations in the state, one of the worst-hit in the nation, dropped from 1,667 on Aug. 19 to 403 on Thursday.

Similar drops have been recorded in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, and Texas.

At the same time, metrics have been rising in many northern states, including those in New England.

Vermont, for instance, went from one case on July 5 to 286 on Oct. 1, and eight hospitalizations in the month of June to 160 in the month of September, though the metrics have been declining in recent days.

In North Dakota, active cases jumped from 143 on July 5 to 4,485 on Oct. 7 while hospitalizations rose from 9 to 184.

Seasonal Pattern

Experts say the shift is part of a seasonal pattern for Covid-19.

Last year, cases started dropping in the south at the same time they climbed in much of the upper Midwest and other northern areas. The same pattern is playing out again, Dr. Scott Atlas, who advised former President Donald Trump and is now a senior fellow in health care policy at the Hoover Institution, told The Epoch Times.

“We’ve seen some kind of seasonality, or really cycles where we have seen these surges,” Dr. Adnan Munkarah, executive vice president and chief clinical officer for the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan, added during a briefing this week. Active cases and hospitalizations have risen 97 percent and 96 percent, respectively, in the state since hitting lows in early July.

Experts aren’t sure what’s driving the pattern. Ideas include differences in humidity and differences in temperature, which may lead more people to spend longer portions of time indoors. The virus spreads much more easily in crowded indoor spaces.

Another key factor, many experts say, is protection populations have against the virus. Protection can come from vaccination or prior infection, also known as natural immunity. Both do well against severe disease but protection from infection has been waning among the vaccinated, dropping by half for Pfizer’s shot after five months, according to one recent study.

The decline in cases “is likely due to a decrease in spread of the Delta variant due to a combination of an increasing proportion of the population that is vaccinated and an increasing proportion of the population that has gained temporary immunity because they have been infected and survived COVID-19,” Danyelle McNeill, public information officer for the Arkansas Department of Health, told The Epoch Times in an email.

Some people thought the rising number of people with immunity would prevent another set of waves, or sharp increases in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, but that proved inaccurate. Multiple states have seen numbers similar to or even higher than previous peaks.

We thought we were out of the woods,” Dr. Michael Saag, professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Division of Infectious Diseases, told The Epoch Times. “The end of June seemed like everything was settling down. And then July 4 weekend hit, and that was coincident with Delta really exploding, and throughout July, and especially August, all hell broke loose.”

New cases peaked in Alabama on Aug. 15. They’ve since dropped 70 percent. Hospitalizations peaked around the same time. They’ve decreased about 62 percent as of Oct. 8.

Nationwide, both cases and hospitalizations have dropped since hitting peaks in late August and early September.

Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama’s state health officer, points at a computer screen in his office in Montgomery, Ala., on June 29, 2021. (Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty Images)

‘Humbled’

Scientists are becoming more aware that the CCP virus is different than any other virus.

The epidemic “is almost impossible to predict,” Saag said. “I’ve been humbled tremendously about this epidemic in terms of having no ability to predict, really, what to expect,” he added.

I would not be telling the truth if I told you I knew,” Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama’s state health officer, said during his weekly update on Friday when asked why cases in the state have gone down so quickly.

Federal health officials and modelers have consistently been wrong with predictions, including models that vastly overestimated how many people would need hospital care last year.

“Things have changed. We didn’t know things early on,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a recent appearance on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show.

One problem stems from counting hospitalizations, Atlas noted. Approximately half of COVID-19 hospitalizations may have been admitted “for another reason entirely,” researchers said last month. That’s a major issue when counting child hospitalizations. Many of the children have respiratory syncytial virus, which is more dangerous to young kids than COVID-19.

Mandates Disputed

Governors in many states imposed harsh restrictions last year when the pandemic first started. Others have continued issuing orders, including mask mandates.

Governors in southern states were hammered earlier this year for largely opposing mandates. President Joe Biden on multiple occasions blamed them for the rise in metrics. He suggested the opposition was contributing to the spike in metrics in southern states.

“The escalation of cases is particularly concentrated in states with low vaccination rates. Just two states, Florida and Texas, account for one-third of all new COVID-19 cases in the entire country. Just two states,” Biden told a press conference in August. At a separate briefing, he said masks and vaccines are the two best ways to protect against COVID-19 and alleged governors trying to forbid mask mandates for schools were “setting a dangerous tone.”

But the governors pushed back, and an increasing number of officials say the effectiveness of the mandates is unclear.

“The data and the science doesn’t back up” more restrictive measures, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, told reporters this week. “For instance, I think there’s seven states across the country that still have a state of emergency and math mandates. Their data doesn’t look any different than ours. In fact, it’s worse than ours. So their mitigation measures haven’t worked. And you see this time and time again.”

Officials in Vermont are encouraging mask wearing in certain conditions and urging everybody to get vaccinated but have avoided mask and vaccine mandates.

Vermont has the lowest COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 residents, according to an age adjustment of mortality data reported to the federal government. Hawaii, which has imposed some of the strictest measures anywhere in the world, is second.

“We’ve made decisions based on the disease burden in our community, daily new case counts, test positivity rates, resource capacity such as health care staffing, emergency department capacity, oxygen, and the number of available hospital bed and ICU units. And we’ve been successful,” Hawaii Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, told a press conference on Friday.

Even after the recent spike in Florida, which saw its highest hospitalization totals during the pandemic, the state is 27th.

The dramatic decline in COVID-19 metrics in the state “happened without lockdowns, mask mandates, or vaccine passports,” Christina Pushaw, press secretary for Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, told The Epoch Times via email.

DeSantis prioritized early treatment of COVID-19, primarily through monoclonal antibodies, a drug shown in studies to prevent hospitalizations, as well as vaccinating the elderly.

“There is a lot we still don’t know about COVID-19. However, it is clear from the past 18 months that cases rise and fall in certain regions at different times of year, regardless of whether governments impose restrictions like lockdowns and mask mandates,” Pushaw said.

Hospital workers process COVID-19 tests at a hospital in Aiea, Hawaii, on Sept. 15, 2021. (Caleb Jones/AP Photo)

Moving Forward

Experts believe higher vaccination rates will help protect against future waves, especially among people who don’t have antibodies from recovering from COVID-19.

“We should try to make sure that everybody who is old who hasn’t had COVID gets vaccinated,” Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a senior scholar at the Brownstone Institute for Social and Economic Research who has advised DeSantis, told The Epoch Times.

“We have a series or group of incredibly effective vaccines if we can only get people to roll up their sleeves and get it,” Saag said.

While the number of vaccinated Americans getting infected, hospitalized, and dying continues to rise, data from states across the country do not track prior immunity, though patients are often asked if they have had COVID-19 when being admitted to hospitals. A series of studies have shown that people who recover from COVID-19 are at little risk of re-infection.

Tyler Durden Sun, 10/10/2021 - 16:30

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University of Kentucky researchers develop online portal to show how biases in RNA sequences affect gene expression

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 29, 2022) — A recent publication from researchers at the University of Kentucky explains the importance of identifying and understanding…

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 29, 2022) — A recent publication from researchers at the University of Kentucky explains the importance of identifying and understanding how differences between tissues and cells alter gene expression without changing the underlying genetic code.

Credit: Pete Comparoni | University of Kentucky Photo

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 29, 2022) — A recent publication from researchers at the University of Kentucky explains the importance of identifying and understanding how differences between tissues and cells alter gene expression without changing the underlying genetic code.

Introductory biology classes teach that DNA is transcribed into RNA, which is then translated into proteins. However, many cellular processes affect how quickly transcription and translation occur. Gene expression looks at the differences in RNA concentrations within a cell, and it can help scientists know which genes are active within that tissue or cell.

“Changes in gene expression can significantly affect various diseases and disease trajectories,” said Justin Miller, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UK College of Medicine’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

Miller, who is also affiliated with the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging and Biomedical Informatics, says he and his colleagues previously developed the first algorithm to identify ramp sequences from a single gene sequence. Through their recent work, Miller and fellow UK co-authors Mark Ebbert, Ph.D., and Matthew Hodgman created an online version of that algorithm and showed that ramp sequences change between tissues and cells without changing the RNA sequence.

A ramp sequence is part of the RNA sequence that slows translation at the beginning of the gene by using codons (sequences of three DNA or RNA nucleotides) that are not easily translated. Ramp sequences counterintuitively increase overall gene expression by evenly spacing the translational machinery and preventing collisions later in translation.

In their recent publication in NAR Genomics and Bioinformatics, the researchers present the first comprehensive analysis of tissue- and cell type-specific ramp sequences and report more than 3,000 genes with ramp sequences that change between tissues and cell types, which correspond with increased gene expression within those tissues and cells.

“This research is the first time that variable ramp sequences have been described. Our comprehensive web interface allows other researchers to creatively explore ramp sequences and gene expression,” said Miller.

The research team says this work is important because while there are multiple ways for our RNA to encode the same proteins, the specific RNA sequence is important to regulate protein and RNA levels.

“Essentially, a ramp sequence works like an on-ramp to a freeway so that ribosomes do not crash into each other, but the length and speed limit of that onramp can change depending on the cell and the available resources within that cell,” Miller explained.

He says he enjoyed working on this project not only with his colleagues at UK but as well as his former colleagues at Brigham Young University and his brother, Kyle Miller, at Utah Valley University. Together, the group created a web interface for people to see how ramp sequences correspond with human and COVID-19 gene expression in different tissues and cells.

Miller says he believes this work will eventually impact patient care. “We created an online interface for researchers to query all human genes and see if a specific gene has a ramp sequence in a given tissue and how that gene is expressed within that tissue,” said Miller. “We also show that various COVID-19 genes and human entry factors for COVID-19 have ramp sequences that change between different tissues. Ramp sequences are much more likely to occur in tissues where the virus is known to proliferate.”

So, the researchers believe that COVID-19 genes have genetic biases (ramp sequences) that allow them to use the available cellular machinery to increase their expression. “Our research may help us better predict which tissues and cells new viruses will infect and also provides a potential therapeutic target to regulate tissue-specific gene expression without changing the translated protein,” said Miller.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers P30AG072946 and R01AG068331, and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R35GM138636. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

This work was also funded by the BrightFocus Foundation, under awards A2020118F and A2020161S, and the Alzheimer’s Association, under award 2019-AARG-644082.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for” three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes’ list of “America’s Best Employers.”  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.


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White House Is Quietly Modeling For $200 Oil “Shock”

White House Is Quietly Modeling For $200 Oil "Shock"

While the Biden administration is hoping and praying that someone – anyone – will watch…

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White House Is Quietly Modeling For $200 Oil "Shock"

While the Biden administration is hoping and praying that someone - anyone - will watch the comical "Jan 6" kangaroo hearsay court taking place in Congress and meant to somehow block Trump from running for president in 2024 while also making hundreds of millions of Americans forget that the current administration could very well be the worst in US history, it is quietly preparing for the worst.

As none other than pro-Biden propaganda spinmaster CNN reports, when it comes to what really matters (at least according to Gallup), namely the economy, and specifically galloping gasoline prices, the White House is in a historic shambles.

For an administration that ended last year forecasting a leveling off of 40-year high inflation and eager to tout a historically rapid recovery from the pandemic-driven economic crisis, there is a level of frustration that comes with an acutely perilous moment. Asked by CNN about progress on a seemingly intractable challenge, another senior White House official responded flatly: "Which one?"

The suspects behind the historic implosion are well known: "soaring prices, teetering poll numbers and congressional majorities that appear to be on the brink have created no shortage of reasons for unease. Gas prices are hovering at or around $5 per gallon, plastered on signs and billboards across the country as a symbolic daily reminder of the reality -- one in which White House officials are extremely aware -- that the country's view of the economy is growing darker and taking Biden's political future with it."

"You don't have to be a very sophisticated person to know how lines of presidential approval and gas prices go historically in the United States," a senior White House official told CNN.

A CNN Poll of Polls average of ratings for Biden's handling of the presidency finds that 39% of Americans approve of the job he's doing. His numbers on the economy, gas prices and inflation specifically are even worse in recent polls. What CNN won't tell you is that Biden is now polling well below Trump at this time in his tenure.

The CNN article then goes into a lengthy analysis of what is behind the current gasoline crisis (those with lots of time to kill can read it here) and also tries to explains, without actually saying it, that the only thing that can fix the problem is more supply, but - as we first explained - this can't and won't happen because green fanatics and socialist environmentalists will never agree to boosting output.

Which brings us to the punchline: as CNN's Phil Mattingly writes, "instead of managing an economy in the midst of a natural rotation away from recovery and into a stable period of growth, economic officials are analyzing and modeling worst-case scenarios like what the shock of gas prices hitting $200 per barrel may mean for the economy."

Well, in an article titled "Give us a plan or give us someone to blame", this seems like both a plan, and someone to blame.

But unfortunately for Biden - and CNN which is hoping to reset expectations - it's only going to get worse, because as we noted moments ago, while nobody was paying attention, Cushing inventories dropped to just 1 million away from operational bottoms at roughly 20MM barrels. This means that the US is officially looking at tank bottoms.

But wait, there's more... or rather, it's even worse, because as even Bloomberg's chief energy guru Javier Blas notes, over the last 2 weeks, the US gov has drained 13.7 million barrels from the SPR, "and yet, commercial oil stockpiles still fell 3 million barrels over the period."

Just imagine, Blas asks rhetorically, "if the SPR wasn't there. Or what would happen post-Oct when sales end."

And here is the punchline: at the current record pace of SPR drainage, one way or another the Biden admin will have to end its artificial attempts to keep the price of oil lower some time in October (or risk entering a war with China over Taiwan with virtually no oil reserve). This means that unless Putin ends his war some time in the next 5 months, there is a non-trivial chance that oil will hit a record price around $200 - precisely the price the White House is bracing for - a few days before the midterms. While translates into $10+ gasoline.

And while one can speculate how much longer Democrats can continue the "Jan 6" dog and pony show as the entire economy implodes around them, how America will vote in November when gas is double digits should not be a mystery to anyone.

Tyler Durden Wed, 06/29/2022 - 13:05

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European Commission says it doesn’t have texts between president Ursula von der Leyen and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla

Under fire from the European ombudsman, the Commission said on Wednesday that it hasn’t found any text messages between president Ursula von der Leyen…

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Under fire from the European ombudsman, the Commission said on Wednesday that it hasn’t found any text messages between president Ursula von der Leyen and Pfizer chief Albert Bourla regarding the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines.

The messages became of interest last April, when the New York Times reported that a series of texts and calls between von der Leyen and Bourla led to Pfizer’s largest vaccine deal — 900 million doses of the current vaccine and a vaccine adapted to variants, with the option to purchase an additional 900 million doses through 2023.

Emily O’Reilly

Upon a public access request made by a journalist, the EC responded that it had no record of them. However, it was later revealed by ombudsman Emily O’Reilly, the EU’s internal watchdog, that the EC never explicitly asked the cabinet to look for the texts.

Instead, the EC requested other documents that fall under its internal criteria for recording, which doesn’t include text messages.

O’Reilly accused the Commission of “maladministration,” and urged the administration to conduct a more thorough search.

“When it comes to the right of public access to EU documents, it is the content of the document that matters and not the device or form,” she said in a statement back in January. “If text messages concern EU policies and decisions, they should be treated as EU documents.”

On Wednesday, the EC claimed to side with O’Reilly: “The Commission and the Ombudsman agree that what matters is the content of a document,” a spokesperson said in an email to Endpoints News. 

However, the Commission maintained that the texts were not registered as documents “due to their short-lived and ephemeral nature.”

“Text and instant messages in general do not contain important information relating to policies, activities and decisions of the Commission, nor are they in the possession of the institution,” the EC shared in a letter.

The administration added that it intends to issue further guidance on the use of “modern communication tools” such as text and instant messages to clear up any confusion.

“The Ombudsman could equally be invited to participate in those discussions, if she wishes to do so,” the statement said.

Pfizer declined to comment on the content of the text messages.

Stella Kyriakides

The EC struck its third vaccine deal with Pfizer and BioNTech last May, after its other major supplier AstraZeneca ran into production issues and announced it would significantly reduce deliveries.

The contract, which called for up to 1.8 billion doses through 2023, also reserved the EU right to resell or donate doses to countries in need.

“We need to be one step ahead of the virus. This means having access to adapted vaccines to protect us against the threat of variants, booster vaccines to prolong immunity, as well as protecting our younger population,” commissioner for health and food safety Stella Kyriakides said at the time.

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