Health Officials: Fully Vaccinated Can Skip Masks When Outdoors

A man wearing a face mask during the pandemic

A man wearing a face mask during the pandemic

As vaccinations for the coronavirus have begun to slow, federal health officials announced today that those Americans who are fully vaccinated will no longer need face masks when exercising outdoors, or at small outdoor gatherings or indoors with family members of their household.

From the New York Times:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped short of telling those people that they could shed their masks altogether in outdoor settings — citing the worrying risk that remains for transmitting the coronavirus, unknown vaccination levels among people in crowds and the still high-caseloads in some regions of the country.

Federal health officials and President Biden were announcing the updated advice on Tuesday, linking the news with the administration’s public campaign to get most American adults vaccinated by summer and trying to offer reassurances that some semblance of normal life can return.

But the C.D.C. is maintaining advice on other safety measures, saying vaccinated adults should continue wearing masks and staying six feet apart in large public spaces, like outdoor performance or sports events, indoor shopping malls and movie theaters, where the vaccination and health status of others would be unknown. And they still should avoid medium and large gatherings, crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, officials said.

CDC Hits Pause On Johnson &Johnson Vaccine

Image of a vaccine shot

Image of a vaccine shot

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hit the pause button for injections of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine after 6 women developed a rare blood clotting disease.

From the New York Times:

All six were women between the ages of 18 and 48 and all developed the illness within one to three weeks of vaccination. One woman died and a second woman in Nebraska has been hospitalized in critical condition.

As of Monday, nearly seven million people in the United States have received Johnson & Johnson shots so far without any other serious adverse reactions reported, and roughly nine million more doses have been shipped out to the states, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At this point, there’s no hard evidence there’s a connection between the blood clotting and the J&J vaccine.

With 6 patients out of nearly 7 million vaccinated with the vaccine, experts point out the odds of getting COVID-19 are far greater.

But, the development is sure to cause even more vaccine hesitancy in those who were already unsure about getting vaccinated.

There are no reports that the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines – which are based on a different scientific approach – have been connected to similar blood clotting.

Trump Admin: Hospitals To Bypass CDC, Send Coronavirus Data To HHS

Donald Trump

In a move that surprised many health officials, the Trump administration has ordered all data regarding the treatment of coronavirus patients to be sent directly to the Department of Health and Human Services instead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In light of Donald Trump’s claims the virus death count figures have been ‘inflated,‘ health experts worry the data could be distorted for political gain.

From the New York Times:

The new instructions are contained in a little-noticed document posted this week on the Department of Health and Human Services’ website, Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports. From now on, H.H.S., and not the C.D.C., will collect daily reports about the patients that each hospital is treating, how many beds and ventilators are available, and other information vital to tracking the pandemic.

Officials say the change will streamline data gathering and assist the White House coronavirus task force in allocating scarce supplies like personal protective gear and the drug remdesivir. Some hospital officials welcome the move, saying it will relieve them of responding to requests from multiple federal agencies, though others said the C.D.C. should be collecting the data.

“The C.D.C. is the right agency to be at the forefront of collecting the data,” said Dr. Bala Hota, the chief analytics officer at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Public health experts have long expressed concerns that the administration is politicizing science and undermining the disease control centers; four former C.D.C. directors, spanning both Republican and Democratic administrations, said as much in an opinion piece published Tuesday in The Washington Post. The data collection shift reinforced those fears.

COVID-19: Trump Administration May Shift Blame To CDC

Donald Trump at press conference (image via White House)

With Trump under fire for his handling of the outbreak, Oval Office advisers are looking to shift blame to the CDC.

From Politico:

White House officials are putting a target on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, positioning the agency as a coronavirus scapegoat as cases surge in many states and the U.S. falls behind other nations that are taming the pandemic.

Trump administration aides in recent weeks have seriously discussed launching an in-depth evaluation of the agency to chart what they view as its missteps in responding to the pandemic including an early failure to deploy working test kits, according to four senior administration officials.

Part of that audit would include examining more closely the state-by-state death toll to tally only the Americans who died from Covid-19 directly rather than other factors. About 120,000 people in the U.S. have died of the coronavirus so far, according to the CDC’s official count.

Politically, Trump aides have also been looking for a person or entity outside China to blame for the coronavirus response and have grown furious with the CDC, including its public health guidance and actions on testing, making it a prime target.

CDC: Drop In Condom Use Correlates With Increase In STD Infections

A drop in condom use correlates with an increase in STD infections among men who have sex with men

A drop in condom use correlates with an increase in STD infections among men who have sex with men

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a startling rise in the number of cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia in 2018.

The CDC’s annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report indicates more than 2.4 million infections of the three STDs were reported in 2018, an increase of more than 100,000 from 2017.

The New York Times reports the CDC points to multiple factors for the increase:

• A decline in condom use among young people and men who have sex with men

• Increased screening among some groups

• Cuts to sexual health programs at the state and local level

There were more than 115,000 cases of syphilis reported in 2018 representing an increase of 71 percent since 2014.

Gonorrhea cases increased by 5 percent in 2018 to more than 580,000. That’s the highest number reported to the center since 1991.

And chlamydia diagnoses rose by 3 percent in 2018 to more than 1.7 million cases. Again, a record-breaking figure for the CDC.

The report noted that gay and bisexual men were disproportionately represented in the increase in infection rates. Fifty-four percent of all syphilis cases in 2018 were found in men who have sex with men (MSM).

Unfortunately, these figures may not be a full accounting of STDs in America today as many cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia go undiagnosed.

While we’re big proponents of the use of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), it’s easy to wonder if MSM are putting themselves at more risk than they imagine by not using condoms…?

(source: NY Times)


CDC Gets Laughs With “Don’t Wash Or Reuse Condoms” Tweet

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently tweeted a public service announcement reminding folks to not “wash or re-use condoms.”

The informative tweet read, “We say it because people do it: Don’t wash or reuse #condoms! Use a fresh one for each #sex act.”

Now, I trust and believe that if the CDC, one of the foremost leaders on treating/preventing HIV, is tweeting it, it’s for a reason.

But – SRSLY? Folks have to be told condoms are a one and done kinda thing?

The Twitterverse thought this seemed a bit obvious, but then decided to have some fun.

So, to be clear:

Yes – always use a condom to protect yourself from infections ranging from HIV to many other STDs.

Yes – You should check the condom before using to make sure it’s not damaged.

No – Don’t keep condoms in your wallet as friction and heat are not a condom’s friends.

And no – don’t reuse condoms. Please dispose of them sensibly.

For more info, click over to the CDC website here.

Happy Friday!

(h/t GayStarNews)

CDC Issued “Banned Words” List By Trump Administration: Transgender, Diversity, Science-Based

The Center for Disease Control has been issued a list by the Trump administration of banned words in official documents in preparation for next year’s budget.

• Fetus
• Transgender
• Diversity
• Vulnerable
• Entitlement
• Science-based
• Evidence-based

How does a health agency not use the words evidence-based?

Or science based?

From The Washington Post:

The question of how to address such issues as sexual orientation, gender identity and abortion rights — all of which received significant visibility under the Obama administration — has surfaced repeatedly in federal agencies since President Trump took office. Several key departments — including HHS, as well as Justice, Education, and Housing and Urban Development — have changed some federal policies and how they collect government information about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

In March, for example, HHS dropped questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in two surveys of elderly people.

HHS has also removed information about LGBT Americans from its website. The department’s Administration for Children and Families, for example, archived a page that outlined federal services that are available for LGBT people and their families, including how they can adopt and receive help if they are the victims of sex trafficking.