Many healthy Americans can take a break from masks
Most Americans live in places where healthy people, including students in schools, can safely take a break from wearing masks under new U.S. guidelines released Friday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlined the new set of measures for communities where COVID-19 is easing its grip, with less of a focus on positive test results and more on what’s happening at hospitals. The new system greatly changes the look of the CDC’s risk map and puts more than 70% of the U.S. population in counties where the coronavirus is posing a low or medium threat to hospitals. Those are the people who can stop wearing masks, the agency said. The agency is still advising people, including schoolchildren, to wear masks where the risk of COVID-19 is high. That’s the situation in about 37% of U.S. counties, where about 28% of Americans live. The new recommendations do not change the requirement to wear masks on public transportation and indoors in airports, train stations and bus stations. The CDC guidelines for other indoor spaces aren’t binding, meaning cities and institutions even in areas of low risk may set their own rules. And the agency says people with COVID-19 symptoms or who test positive shouldn’t stop wearing masks. “Anybody is certainly welcome to wear a mask at any time if they feel safer wearing a mask,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a news briefing. “We want to make sure our hospitals are OK and people are not coming in with severe disease. ... Anyone can go to the CDC website, find out the volume of disease in their community and make that decision.” Some states, including Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey, are at low to medium risk while others such as West Virginia, Kentucky, Florida and Arizona still have wide areas at high levels of concern. Also read: Covid-19 in Bangladesh: Positivity rate declines further, 10 more die CDC’s previous transmission-prevention guidance to communities focused on two measures — the rate of new COVID-19 cases and the percentage of positive test results over the previous week. Based on those measures, agency officials advised people to wear masks indoors in counties where spread of the virus was deemed substantial or high. As of this week, more than 3,000 of the nation’s more than 3,200 counties — greater than 95% — were listed as having substantial or high transmission under those measures. That guidance has increasingly been ignored, however, with states, cities, counties and school districts across the U.S. announcing plans to drop mask mandates amid declining COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. With many Americans already taking off their masks, the CDC’s shift won’t make much practical difference for now, said Andrew Noymer, a public health professor at the University of California, Irvine. But it will help when the next wave of infection — a likelihood in the fall or winter — starts threatening hospital capacity again, he said. “There will be more waves of COVID. And so I think it makes sense to give people a break from masking,” Noymer said. “If we have continual masking orders, they might become a total joke by the time we really need them again.” The CDC is offering a color-coded map — with counties designated as orange, yellow or green — to help guide local officials and residents. In green counties, local officials can drop any indoor masking rules. Yellow means people at high risk for severe disease should be cautious. Orange designates places where the CDC suggests masking should be universal. How a county comes to be designated green, yellow or orange will depend on its rate of new COVID-19 hospital admissions, the share of staffed hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients and the rate of new cases in the community. Taking hospital data into account has turned some counties — such as Boulder County, Colorado — from high risk to low. Also read: Learning from Covid, Modi govt plans big AI push for disease surveillance across India Mask requirements already have ended in most of the U.S. in recent weeks. Los Angeles on Friday began allowing people to remove their masks while indoors if they are vaccinated, and indoor mask mandates in Washington state and Oregon will be lifted in late March. In a sign of the political divisions over masks, Florida’s governor on Thursday announced new recommendations called “Buck the CDC” that actually discourage mask wearing. In Pennsylvania, acting health secretary Keara Klinepeter urged “patience and grace” for people who choose to continue masking in public, including those with weakened immune systems. She said she’ll keep wearing a mask because she’s pregnant. State health officials are generally pleased with the new guidance and “excited with how this is being rolled out,” said Dr. Marcus Plescia of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. “This is the way we need to go. I think this is taking us forward with a new direction going on in the pandemic,” Plescia said. “But we’re still focusing on safety. We’re still focusing on preventing death and illness.” The CDC said the new system will be useful in predicting future surges and urged communities with wastewater surveillance systems to use that data too. “If or when new variants emerge or the virus surges, we have more ways to protect ourselves and our communities than ever before,” Walensky said.
Ismaili community volunteers distribute masks to frontline workers
In the first ever Global Ismaili CIVIC Day, the Ismaili Muslim Community in Bangladesh has joined tens of thousands of community volunteers from over 30 countries, in partnership with over 60 civil society and government partners to improve the quality of life of the communities in which they live. This international endeavour reflects the community’s ethic of civic commitment and good citizenship as well as shared core values of service, peace, compassion and care, said a media release on Sunday. A diverse array of activities took place simultaneously across the world, focusing on two extremely pertinent themes: Environmental Stewardship and Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Ismaili CIVIC volunteers contributed their time, knowledge, and skills for the betterment of their fellow citizens. Read: Shakti Foundation continues countrywide free masks distribution
No tiffin, masks at a premium, & may close again: Students return to school tomorrow
On the eve of schools reopening in Bangladesh after almost 18 months, the head of the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) has announced that students returning to school from Sunday will not be allowed to consume their tiffin or any food on the school premises, as part of the safety protocols that are being carefully stipulated ahead of the doors opening tomorrow morning. “Students won’t be able to have their tiffin on school premises," said Dr. Syed Md. Golam Faruk, who serves as Director General of DSHE. "The institutions will only allow drinking water." Dr Faruk was responding to reporters' questions after inaugurating the Sylhet Government Women's College's Guardian Camp on Saturday (September 11th) morning. During this time he also requested the parents to avoid gathering at the school premises unnecessarily, for the sake of social distancing.
Shakti Foundation continues countrywide free masks distribution
Shakti Foundation distributed around 5 lakh masks for free of cost through its 445 centers across the country on Saturday. Nearly 3,000 activists of the foundation made their joint efforts to spread the awareness message on the importance of wearing masks to stay safe against COVID-19 infection. The organization has been extending financial assistance to Corona-affected people and conducting an array of programs to stop the spread of the disease since the onset of the pandemic, said a media release.
Maintain health protocols to beat Covid: Health Minister
Maintaining health guidelines, taking vaccine shots and wearing masks are now the only means to prevent the Covid-19 spread in Bangladesh as all the restrictions have been lifted fully, said Health Minister Zahid Maleque on Saturday. The minister said this while attending a seminar on the 46th death anniversary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the National Mourning Day in the city. The restrictions imposed for containing the transmission have been lifted in order to save people’s lives and livelihoods, said minister Maleque. Also read: 54 lakh more vaccine doses to arrive by Aug 15: Minister
DNCC teams up with Young Bangla to make masses embrace masks
Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) has teamed up with Young Bangla, a youth volunteering platform, launching a mass-masking campaign to help increase proper mask-wearing in Dhaka significantly and reduce Covid-19 transmission saving thousands of lives. The campaign, led by the city corporation Mayor Md Atiqul Islam, was brought forth in partnership with local and global organizations Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), Yale University, Stanford Medical School, Centre for Research and Information (CRI), Shakti Foundation for Disadvantaged Women, BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), and BD Clean. Around 100 volunteers from Young Bangla, the youth secretariat of the ruling Awami League's research wing Centre for Research & Information (CRI), teamed up with the organizations to leverage the impact created by the life-saving initiative. In the first design meeting of the campaign, the Mayor said, “We need to learn how to manage our lives to cope with the threat of Covid. Proper mask wearing is a critical part of that. This challenge needs broad partnership. I am very happy that we are forming a global partnership — the DNCC Mass Masking Campaign—to tackle this big challenge.” The Mass Masking Campaign is based on a model called NORM (NORMalize mask-wearing model). Developed by Yale University, Stanford University, and IPA, in partnership with GreenVoice, a local NGO, NORM was rigorously researched using a large-scale randomized evaluation. Also read: Avoid public gatherings, wear masks to fight Covid surge, PM urges all The research was similar to vaccine trials, involving 350,000 people across 600 unions throughout Bangladesh for the last four months. NORM for rural Bangladesh includesfour components: distributing free masks, offering information on mask-wearing, reinforcing mask-wearing in-person and in public, and modeling and endorsement by trusted leaders.
Hospitals still ration medical N95 masks as stockpiles swell
Mike Bowen’s warehouse outside Fort Worth, Texas, was piled high with cases of medical-grade N95 face masks. His company, Prestige Ameritech, can churn out 1 million masks every four days, but he doesn’t have orders for nearly that many. So he recently got approval from the government to export them.
Do masks with antiviral coating offer more protection?
It’s an intriguing idea, but there haven’t been enough rigorous independent studies to establish whether antiviral masks are better at protecting wearers or preventing the spread of the virus.
42 fined in Bagerhat for not wearing masks
Mobile courts here on Sunday fined 42 people in different upazila of Bagerhat for not wearing masks. Mobile courts led by executive magistrates conducted drives in public transports and markets from morning to night and fined them TK 19,370 , said Md Shahiduzzaman, additional district magistrate. Earlier on June 5, a total 23 people were fined Tk 24,700 and 42 people TK 21,800 on June 6. Bangladesh has allowed public transport to move on highways and metropolitan cities on some specific conditions. Meanwhile, passengers, drivers, helpers were told to maintain three feet physical distance while travelling and everyone was asked to wear mask when they come out of home.
Youngone Corporation donating PPEs, masks, face shields
To support the government’s initiatives to tackle the coronavirus situation, Youngone Corporation will donate 25,000 protective garments, 25,000 masks and 25,000 basic face shields to healthcare professionals. Youngone is going to make partial delivery of the donation (15,000 protective garments, 25,000 masks, and 1,150 basic face shield) in the first phase, said a press release. A handover programme was arranged in the office of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) where the Director General of Health Services Professor Dr Abul Kalam Azad received the PPEs from Sabyasachi Chowdhury, Managing Director, Global Manufacturing, Youngone Corporation.