Travel News

Should your school be fully open? Here’s what the CDC says

Only 4% of schoolchildren nationwide live in counties where transmission of the coronavirus is low enough for full-time in-person learning without additional restrictions, according to guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and an analysis of the latest figures from the agency.

Where cases are low enough that elementary schools are fully open

Based on CDC cutoffs for weekly coronavirus cases and positivity testing rates by county.

Source: New York Times analysis of data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Note: In Iowa, which stopped reporting cases by county on February 20, categorizations are based only on test positivity rates.

President Biden’s administration has made reopening schools a centerpiece of its coronavirus strategy. And the CDC’s recommendations call for every elementary school to be open in one way or another.

But even after a drastic drop in the number of new coronavirus cases, few counties in the United States are meeting the CDC’s thresholds to avoid major restrictions, which are based on both the number of cases and the rates of testing for positivity. .

As of Thursday, those thresholds place most counties in categories where agency-recommended elementary schools are reducing the number of students in classrooms with a mix of in-person and home learning. For middle and high schools, the thresholds and data suggest fully distance learning in large parts of the country.

The guidelines include exceptions for schools that adhere to strict safeguards or offer regular testing. They are not binding and say that schools that are already open do not need to close automatically.

Nonetheless, the guidelines have been controversial. Some experts criticized them as being more stringent than necessary, and some large school districts decided to open them under less stringent rules.

Here’s how the directives work:

in-person learning icon

Full in-person learning is recommended in areas where the CDC reports fewer than 50 new cases per 100,000 people in one week and a seven-day positivity rate of less than 8%. Only about a sixth of U.S. counties qualified at the end of last week – mostly in less populated areas of the Plains, West and Midwest.

Schools in these areas are still expected to take precautions, including wearing masks, washing hands, cleaning facilities and keeping everyone at least six feet away “to the greatest extent possible.”

The agency also says schools should ensure that students, teachers, staff and their close contacts who develop symptoms are tested, followed by isolation for those who test positive and putting in quarantine for their close contacts.

hybrid learning icon

Hybrid learning , with some students at school and others learning online at home, is the recommendation when a community has 50-100 new weekly cases per 100,000 population or a seven-day positivity rate of 8-10 per week. hundred.

In those areas, the goal is to reduce in-person attendance to maintain separation between students, according to recommendations, which say the six-foot separation is “required.” In practice, some schools have reduced class sizes by allowing only students with high needs to attend in person, while other students learn virtually. Others had part-time students.

distance learning icon

Full-time distance learning is recommended for middle and high school students in areas with at least 100 new cases per 100,000 population or a seven-day positivity rate of 10% or more.

At these levels of community transmission, the agency continues to recommend blended learning for elementary school students, citing research suggesting that young children are less likely to spread the coronavirus in schools.

Even for colleges and high schools at this level, there are exemptions. Schools can remain open if “they can strictly enforce” all mitigation strategies, including masks and six feet of physical distance, according to the agency. They must also have “some cases” – a level that the agency does not define. Schools can also switch to blended learning by offering weekly coronavirus tests to students and staff to detect asymptomatic cases.

Where cases are low enough for middle and high schools to fully open

For schools without routine coronavirus testing or strict guarantees, based on CDC thresholds for cases and positivity testing rates by county.

Full-time distance learning

Source: New York Times analysis of data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Note: In Iowa, which stopped reporting cases by county on February 20, categorizations are based only on test positivity rates.

Jasmine Reed, a spokesperson for the CDC, stressed that the recommendations were not intended to prevent in-person learning. She said the agency opposed categorizing counties by level of recommendation, adding that “decisions about how to learn – full in person, hybrid or virtual – in each school should be made based on a combination of factors, including levels of community transmission, mitigation, and the number of cases in the school (including people in isolation and in quarantine). ”

It is difficult to assess how many schools are following the CDC’s recommendations. There are approximately 13,500 school districts in the United States. Many are making reopening decisions at the local level.

In-person teaching has been ordered statewide in Arkansas, Florida, Iowa and Texas, according to a tracking tool updated by Education Week, though a number of counties of those states – including nearly all of Florida – fall within the CDC’s recommendations for blended learning at elementary schools and distance learning for middle and high schools.

Some districts have looked at the guidelines and have decided to take a different path. Massachusetts, for example, announced it would follow recommendations from local doctors to keep students under the age of 12 just three feet apart, instead of six.

Travel News

Here’s how Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine differs from Pfizer’s and Moderna’s.

A third effective weapon was added to the U.S. arsenal against the coronavirus on Saturday when the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for a vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson.

The company said it would start shipping millions of doses early this week and deliver 100 million doses to the United States by the end of June. With 600 million doses of the nation’s first two licensed vaccines, manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, due for delivery over the next four months, that should be enough to cover all U.S. adults who want to be vaccinated.

The new vaccine differs significantly from the two already in use in the United States. Here is how they compare.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is given as a single injection, while the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are given as two injections several weeks apart.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a different method to prepare the body to fight Covid-19: a viral vector called Ad26. Viral vectors are common viruses that have been genetically engineered not to cause disease, but can still cause the immune system to strengthen its defenses. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines use messenger RNA to do this.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is considered highly effective in preventing serious illness and death, as are the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. It is also very effective in preventing milder disease, although a little less than these two. It appears to work well against the highly contagious variant B.1.351, first identified in South Africa, which has posed at least one other vaccine candidate problem.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not need to be stored at extremely low temperatures like the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. It can be safely stored in a regular refrigerator for three months, much longer than the Moderna vaccine, which spoils after a month if not kept frozen.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine appears to be less prone than the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to trigger the types of side effects that require monitoring after injection, which may make it more suitable for use at vaccination sites in the region. flying. It has been reported that side effects tend to be felt more strongly after the second doses, which the Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not require.

Travel News

Here’s how to use snow when there’s no water flowing from the tap.

Record-breaking temperatures in Texas and elsewhere have strained power grids and forced millions of people to reconsider how to stay warm. Now, days after the arctic explosion cooled parts of the central and southern United States, a new problem arises: finding water.

Harris County officials, including the City of Houston, said residents should boil water from their faucets before drinking it safely. And the town of Kyle, south of Austin, on Wednesday asked residents to suspend their water use until further notice due to a shortage.

“Water should only be used to sustain life at this point,” officials from the city of 48,000 said in an advisory. “We’re about to run out of water in Kyle.”

Today, some in Texas have turned to a once unthinkable source for their water needs: snow.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said melting snow for drinking water was “an emergency measure, if no other water is available,” it was also cited as an emergency option. by the Food and Drug Administration and the National Weather Service.

The science of measuring how much water can be obtained by melting snow has been studied by NASA.

But melting snow – for drinking, bathing, washing dishes, or flushing the toilet – safely and effectively can be more difficult than many realize.

If you “just take some snow, put it in your pot and turn on the heat,” said Wes Siler, columnist for Outside magazine, “it’s going to take forever and waste a lot of fuel.” Mr. Siler, who was demonstrating his technique on a small outdoor stove, said it was more efficient to melt a small amount of snow first. Then once it boils add more snow.

This step “will speed up the process of melting snow tenfold,” said Marty Morissette, an outdoor enthusiast. (He said maybe it was because water transfers heat more efficiently.)

Also, as water expands when it freezes, a pot full of snow can turn into a pot with very little boiling water, so be prepared to work with it. a lot of snow.

This arduous process will produce usable water, but may not be the type of water many are used to receiving from a turn of the faucet.

If you melt snow on an outdoor fire, the CBC warns, “smoke from the fire can affect the taste of water.”

CDC urges people to bring water to “a boil” for at least a minute to “kill most germs”, but also politely reminds it will not get rid of “other chemicals sometimes found in snow” .

Travel News

Here’s how to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning when you’re trying to stay warm.

As the bone-freezing arctic climate sweeps across the southern and central United States, power grids are strained and millions of people unaccustomed to the sight of snow are trying to figure out how to stay warm.

Some have turned to risky heat sources, including gasoline generators, stoves and even automobiles. At least two people have died and around 100 have been sickened by carbon monoxide poisoning for more than 16 hours from Monday to Tuesday in the Houston area, authorities said.

The early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, weakness, dizziness, and nausea, according to Firelands Regional Medical Center in Sandusky, Ohio. People who “sleep or are drunk” may die from the disease before experiencing symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Carbon monoxide, a byproduct of burning fossil fuels, is colorless and odorless, making it more difficult to detect than other hazardous substances. But carbon monoxide poisoning is “completely preventable,” according to the CDC.

The agency urged people to have working carbon monoxide detectors and warned against heating homes with a gas oven or burning anything in a stove or fireplace that is not ventilated. .

Using charcoal, gasoline engines, or even portable gas stoves indoors is also dangerous, health and safety officials say. They also warn against running generators or cars indoors to heat homes.

In Houston, police said this week that a woman and a girl had been killed by carbon monoxide poisoning after a car was left running in an attached garage “to create heat in the event of a power failure”. A man and a boy were also hospitalized.

In Oregon, four people were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning over the weekend, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday.

Travel News

Here’s what’s in Biden’s executive orders to stem the pandemic

WASHINGTON – President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday revealed a list of new executive orders and presidential guidelines intended to speed up production of Covid-19 supplies, increase testing capacity and require the wearing of a mask during travel interstate – part of a sprawling 200-page national pandemic strategy, he announced at a White House event.

Taken together, the orders signal Mr. Biden’s top priorities in crafting a more centralized federal response to the spread of the coronavirus. Some of them reflect actions taken during the Trump administration, while most seek to change course.

Here’s what the commands aim to do.

An order calls on agency leaders to check for shortages in areas such as personal protective equipment and vaccine supplies, and to identify where the administration could invoke the Defense Production Act to increase manufacturing. The White House has said it could use Korean War-era law, which the Trump administration used in its vaccine development program, to increase production of a type of syringe that pharmacists can use. to extract an additional dose from the vaccine vials.

Biden’s team said they had identified 12 “immediate supply shortages” critical to the pandemic response, including N95 surgical masks and isolation gowns, as well as swabs, reagents and pipettes used in the tests.

“On the asymptomatic screening side, we are terribly under capacity, so we need the money to really speed up testing, which is so important for reopening schools and businesses,” said Jeffrey D. Zients, the new. Covid-19 from the White House. response coordinator.

Another ordinance establishes a pandemic testing committee, an idea taken from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s war production council, to speed up testing. The new administration promises to expand the nation’s supply of rapid tests, double testing supplies and increase lab space for testing and monitoring coronavirus hotspots.

“This effort will ensure that we get testing where it’s needed and where it’s needed most, helping schools and businesses reopen safely and protecting the most vulnerable, like those living in institutions.” long-term care, ”Biden said in his Thursday Remarks.

Mr Biden has vowed to use his powers as president to influence mask wearing anywhere he is legally permitted to do so, including on federal property and in travel that crosses state borders. An order issued Thursday requires the wearing of the mask at airports and on many planes, buses and intercity trains.

The same order also requires international travelers to prove they have recently been tested negative for Covid-19 before traveling to the United States and to comply with quarantine guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention a once they have landed.

An order calls on the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the White House’s Covid-19 response coordinator to reassess the federal government’s Covid-19 data collection systems and publish a report on their findings. He also calls on the heads of “all executive departments and agencies” to collect and share data relating to coronaviruses.

The Trump administration struggled last year to settle on a centralized system, pitting competing programs of the Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC against each other. Alex M. Azar II, the former secretary of health and human services, ordered hospitals to send daily reports of virus cases to a private provider who forwarded them to a central database in Washington, instead of the CDC, which previously hosted the data. The ruling, which remains in effect, angered scientists at the CDC.

Another order creates a Covid-19 “health equity task force”, which will recommend how to allocate more funding to parts of the population particularly affected by the virus, analyzing needs by race, ethnicity, geography and disability, among other factors. Mr Biden said on Thursday that the task force would address reluctance to take the vaccines.

The panel, hosted at the Department of Health and Human Services, is part of a larger effort by the Biden administration to draw more attention to persistent racial and ethnic disparities in access to health care, as minorities were hospitalized and died from Covid-19 at significantly higher rates. Mr. Biden appointed Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, associate professor of internal medicine, public health and management at Yale, to lead the task force.

Mr Biden issued an order intended to protect workers’ health during the pandemic, asking the occupational safety and health administration to issue new guidelines for employers. The order also calls on the agency to step up enforcement of existing rules to help stop the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace.

The president also called on the departments of Education and Health and Human Services to release new guidance on how to reopen schools safely – a major source of controversy over the summer when officials in the White House and the Department of Health lobbied the CDC to minimize the risk of sending students. return.

Biden administration calls on secretary of health and human services and director of National Institutes of Health to draft plan to support study of new drugs for Covid-19 and future public health crises through large trials randomized. Treatments should be those that “can be easily manufactured, distributed and administered, both nationally and internationally,” according to the decree.

The focus on randomized trials follows two emergency approvals – for convalescent plasma and hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug – that hit the Food and Drug Administration last year. Federal health officials, including scientists at the FDA, remain unhappy with the agency’s decisions, under pressure from the Trump administration, to wipe out treatments without strong evidence from randomized trials.

Travel News

The Biden administration quickly revamped the White House website. Here’s how.

The occupant of the physical White House has changed – and that of the digital. Here’s a look at how has been reorganized since the Biden administration took over:

The contact form on the website has sections for a person’s first and last name, email address, phone number, and an optional category to include pronouns. Options include “her / her”, “he / him”, “them / them”, “other”, and “prefer not to share”.

The second element of the site’s Priorities page, after Covid-19, is the climate. “President Biden will take swift action to address the climate emergency,” the site said. “The Biden administration will ensure that we meet the demands of science, while empowering American workers and businesses to lead a clean energy revolution.”

Mr. Biden brings with him a large climate team and has installed climate policy experts in state, treasury and transport departments.

Below the menu, “Español” is highlighted in light blue font as a means of navigating the site. From the address “La Casa Blanca 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW” to the privacy policy, the pages of the site are visible in Spanish.

The Trump administration in 2017 removed the translation from the site before promising it would be back soon, but the Spanish version was not available a year later, the Associated Press reported.

A first set of coronavirus guidelines were translated into Spanish on the White House website in March – three days after the English version, and only after pressure from Latino groups, NBC News reported.

Mr Biden’s digital takeover also led to the removal of a web page for a 1776 Commission report by President Donald J. Trump, which historians say distorted the history of state slavery -United, was misleading and was produced in a hurry. The page that previously hosted a PDF of the report now reads “Not Found”. Mr. Biden had said he would cancel the commission.

Hidden in the technical backend of the new site is a message intended for tech experts: “If you’re reading this, we need your help to rebuild better,” read a line in the site’s source code, as noted by Reuters reporter Raphael Satter. The post includes a link to apply to the US Digital Service, a group of technologists working to modernize government services. now includes a variety of accessibility components, such as high-contrast and wide-format text modes, according to Matt Hodges, director of engineering for the Biden team. An accessibility statement on the site reads: “This commitment to accessibility for all begins with this site and our efforts to ensure that all features and content are accessible to all Americans.”

Travel News

Trump’s final speech as president included lies and exaggeration. Here’s a fact check.

President Trump used his presidential final speech on Wednesday morning to repeat many of the same lies and exaggerations he has told over the past four years.

He falsely claimed, as he has done almost 300 times already, to have passed by far “the biggest tax cut and the biggest reform in the history of our country” despite the tax cut of 2017 which ranked below several others.

Mr Trump also once again boasted of having presided over the “biggest economy”, with “numbers” that were “at a level no one has ever seen before.” Average annual growth, even before the coronavirus pandemic decimated the economy, was lower under Mr. Trump than under recent former Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

And he announced his legacy in transforming the justice system, exaggerating the number of appointments to “nearly 300” and saying it was a “record.” In fact, Mr. Trump has appointed 229 judges, a significant sum for a single-term president but well below the total number of Presidents Barack Obama (320), George W. Bush (322) and Bill Clinton (322).

Mr Trump also used his last speech as president to once again take the wrong credit for creating the Veterans Choice healthcare program that was enacted by his predecessor in 2014. As a President, Mr. Trump signed a program modifying measure.

He also falsely claimed that the Department of Veterans Affairs could not lay off employees before he took office. In fact, Mr. Trump signed a law to encourage whistleblowing and facilitate the dismissal of bad employees in the department.

Travel News

Here’s how to follow the impeachment debate and what to watch out for.

The impeachment proceeding can be streamed online on multiple platforms, including the House Clerk’s website, C-SPAN and YouTube. The New York Times will also provide a video of the audience with live analysis of reporters starting at 9 a.m.

Viewers will be able to find the full debates on several networks, including CNN and PBS.

Democrats appear to have more than enough support to vote to impeach Mr. Trump. But the frantic pace at which they moved forward with the vote has left some Republican lawmakers to procrastinate and come up with alternative solutions, such as a bipartisan move to censor the president.

Several House Republicans, including Reps John Katko of New York and Liz Cheney of Wyoming, No. 3 in the House party, have said they will join Democrats in supporting impeachment. Several others who have not publicly discussed their positions are expected to do the same on Wednesday.

Yet the vast majority of Republicans are expected to vote against Mr. Trump’s impeachment. High-level Republicans, such as Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, said he was personally opposed to the impeachment, but would not formally pressure party members against it.

But unlike the latest indictment, in which Republicans were united in their opposition, Wednesday’s debate could reveal simmering divisions within the party, with lawmakers on both sides privately bubbling over the president’s conduct before and after. riot at the Capitol. The debate is expected to reveal how ready Republicans are to express these views publicly.

If the House were to vote as scheduled to impeach Mr. Trump, attention will turn to the Senate, which could begin a trial as early as next week. As President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. handed lawmakers over to manage the proceedings, he expressed concern that the president’s trial could distract from his political agenda in the early days of his presidency.

It is not clear exactly when the Senate might decide to hold a trial, but legal experts agree that the impeachment could be over even after Mr Trump leaves.

Travel News

How to remove a president in 12 days: here’s what it takes

WASHINGTON – After President Trump incited a crowd of his supporters who violently stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, Congress is once again considering whether to impeach him, this time just days away from his tenure.

It is an extraordinary circumstance raising political, constitutional and logistical questions seldom considered in American history. No president has ever been indicted twice or in the last days of his term, and none has ever been convicted.

Given the brevity of his time in the White House and the gravity of his conduct, lawmakers are also considering a provision in the Constitution’s impeachment clauses that could allow them to bar Mr. Trump from return to federal office.

Democrats are leading the process so far, but some Republicans have indicated they would be willing to hear a case. Here’s what we know about how the process works.

The Constitution allows Congress to remove presidents or other executive officers before the end of their terms if lawmakers believe they have committed “treason, corruption or other serious crimes and misdemeanors.”

Impeachment is a two-part and deliberately difficult process. First, the House votes on whether to impeach – the equivalent of indicting a person in a criminal case. The charges are codified in articles of indictment detailing the alleged offenses against the nation.

If a simple majority in the House votes in favor of the impeachment, the Senate must quickly consider them during a trial. The House continues the case, appointing impeachers to argue before the senators, who act as a jury, and the president is traditionally allowed to mount a defense. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court oversees the trial.

In the Senate, the conviction threshold is much higher. Two-thirds of senators seated at any given time must agree to condemn; otherwise, the president is acquitted. If all 100 senators were all seated at the time of trial, that means 17 Republicans would have to join Democrats in securing a conviction – a high bar to cross.

While it may seem unnecessary to impeach a president when he is about to step down, there could be real consequences for Mr. Trump beyond the stain of his record. If found guilty, the Senate could vote to prevent him from returning to office. Following a conviction, the Constitution states that the Senate may consider “disqualification from exercising and exercising a function of honor, trust or profit in the United States”.

Only a simple majority of senators should agree to successfully disqualify Mr. Trump, who is considering another presidential bid in 2024, an attractive prospect not only for Democrats, but for many Republicans considering their own run.

The House impeached Mr. Trump in December 2019 for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress related to his attempts to pressure Ukraine to sully its then political rival Joseph R. Biden Jr. The Senate voted to acquit him on both counts.

Only three US presidents have been removed from office, including Mr. Trump. None have ever been indicted twice.

But it appears that nothing in the Constitution prevents Congress from impeaching a president again on a new set of charges.

With Mr. Trump expected to step down on January 20, one of the biggest political and logistical hurdles is the timing. Previous presidential impeachments, including the one the House undertook in 2019, have typically been lengthy with inquiries, hearings and weeks of public debate.

Part of this deliberate process is aimed at creating consensus for such radical action, but it is not necessary under the rules. If Democrats and some Republicans agree that they must act, they can move in days, bypassing the House Judiciary Committee, to lay charges, introduce and proceed directly to debate and vote on the floor of the Chamber. In this case, since Congress is just getting started and committees haven’t even formed yet, this may be the only practical option.

As soon as the House votes to pass articles of impeachment, it can immediately forward them to the Senate, must quickly begin a trial.

According to a theory under discussion, the House could impeach Mr. Trump and hold on to the articles for a few days to wait for Democrats to take control of the Senate, which will happen after Mr. Biden is sworn in. The length of a trial, and the rules that govern it, are determined by the members of the Senate.

History gives little guidance on whether a president can be impeached once he leaves office, and House attorneys have been quick to understand legal and constitutional issues.

There is a precedent for this in the case of other senior officials. In 1876, the House removed President Ulysses S. Grant’s Secretary of War from office, even after he resigned his post. At the time, the Senate questioned whether it still had jurisdiction to hear the case of a former public servant and determined that it was. Eventually the secretary was acquitted.

Michael J. Gerhardt, a constitutional scholar at the University of North Carolina who testified in the latest impeachment proceedings, wrote on Friday that he saw no reason why Congress could not continue.

“It would make no sense for former officials, or those who resign just in time, to escape this redress mechanism,” he wrote. “It should therefore go without saying that if an indictment begins while a person is in office, the process can surely continue after he or she resigns or leaves.”

Travel News

Here’s what we know about when the postal ballots will be counted.

All eyes were on the mailed ballots when the general election results were counted in November. And now, with Senate scrutiny hinged on two ballots in Georgia, it’s no surprise that mail-in ballots are once again gaining attention. Here’s what we know when they’ll be counted:

Mail-in ballots could not be counted before polling closed, even if they arrived before polling day. But many ballots have already been processed, which means the signatures and addresses of the envelopes have been verified, although the counting of the votes themselves did not begin until Tuesday evening.

Of course, it is difficult to say how long it will take for all of the postal ballots to be counted.

First, some ballots may not have been received yet. Although most Georgians should have received their ballots before the polls close at 7 p.m., voters in the East, the military and foreigners have three additional days to receive their ballots, provided they are sent by post. Tuesday.

Second, some counties will count their mail-in ballots faster than others.

So when will all the ballots in the mail actually be counted? Only time will tell.