More Contagious Covid Variant Is Now Dominant in U.S., C.D.C. Says – The New York Times

A highly infectious variant of the coronavirus that was first identified in Britain has become the most common source of new infections in the United States, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday. The worrisome development comes as officials and scientists warn of a possible fourth surge of infections.

Federal health officials said in January that the B.1.1.7 variant, which began surging in Britain in December and has since slammed Europe, could become the dominant source of coronavirus infections in the United States, leading to a huge increase in cases and deaths.

At that point, new cases, hospitalizations and deaths were at an all-time high. From that peak, the numbers all declined until late February, according to a New York Times database. After several weeks at a plateau, new cases and hospitalizations are increasing again. The average number of new cases in the country has reached nearly 65,000 a day as of Tuesday, concentrated mostly in metro areas in Michigan as well as in the New York City region. That is an increase of 19 percent compared with the figure two weeks ago.

Toronto’s medical officer of health defends sudden decision to close schools due to COVID-19 – Toronto | Globalnews.ca

A day after the last-minute announcement that all schools would be required to temporarily close, Toronto’s medical officer of health says the decision process was deliberate and in response to the spread of COVID-19 variant cases.

“I’m not a big fan of short notice either and I will tell you the decision was taken very deliberately and with a great deal of consideration,” Dr. Eileen de Villa told reporters Wednesday afternoon during a news conference.

“I think that at the end of the day taking these kinds of decisions is never simple. We know that there are many, many implications associated with that. That being said, my responsibility fundamentally is to health and safety and to ensure the actions taken really protect the health and safety of our children and all those that work in the school environments.”

Source: Toronto’s medical officer of health defends sudden decision to close schools due to COVID-19 – Toronto | Globalnews.ca

Puerto Rico to open vaccinations to all amid COVID-19 spike – The Washington Post

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico’s governor announced Wednesday that officials will start vaccinating all those 16 years and older beginning Monday, prompting celebrations across a U.S. territory facing a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Currently, only people 50 years and older as well as anyone 35 to 49 with chronic health conditions are authorized to receive a vaccine. More than 1 million vaccines have been administered since inoculations on the island of 3.2 million began in December.

During his first state of the territory address, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi also announced he would sign a new executive order implementing more stringent measures to fight a recent surge in COVID-19 cases. A curfew that has remained in place for more than a year was expanded and will run from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Friday. In addition, businesses will be forced to close by 9 p.m., two hours earlier than currently allowed.

Source: Puerto Rico to open vaccinations to all amid COVID-19 spike – The Washington Post

Scientists come together in Jamaica to launch the H3ECaribbean Initiative – Petchary’s Blog

“Through H3ECaribbean, we will create incredible global research opportunities for our faculty, students, and trainees throughout the region,” commented Dr. Tomlin Paul, Dean, FMS, UWI, Mona, Jamaica, “matched by the kind of training and faculty development that will allow Caribbean investigators to participate in global genomics and health research as equal partners with our colleagues in the US and Europe.” 

“With respect to cancer, for example, people across the small island nations of the Caribbean may have unique environmental influences that lead them to have different mutations driving the growth of cancers in the Caribbean than the white middle-class Americans who currently comprise the vast majority of the discovery data sets used to develop novel therapies,” said Alexandra E. Shields, PhD, Director, Harvard/MGH Center on Genomics, Vulnerable Populations, and Health Disparities and co-founder of JACCRI. Inclusion in the discovery data sets used to develop novel therapies is ultimately about social justice. We need to ensure that persons in the Caribbean benefit equitably from advances in global genomics and global genomics research.”  

Source: Scientists come together in Jamaica to launch the H3ECaribbean Initiative – Petchary’s Blog

Kentucky tax preparer says couples welcome, but ‘homosexual marriage not recognized’ – Scotties Toy Box

If you can say no homosexuals allowed then you can say no blacks allowed.    If this guy refused to do the taxes of a black couple, would everyone still be OK with it.    This is 2021, same sex marriage has been legal around the world for 20 years.   This is what religious freedom has become, not the right to worship a deity of your choice, but to have the right to discriminate against those who are different from you.   I am so tired of this fight.   Yet we must keep fighting because it is a growing cancer on our country. Source: Kentucky tax preparer says couples welcome, but ‘homosexual marriage not recognized’ – Scotties Toy Box

Thailand Has Told Myanmar to Reduce Violence, PM Says — Radio Free Asia

“We cannot do anything we want, because we have common borders [with Myanmar] and we rely on each other for many things. But we certainly do not agree with violence and we have said so to them, and have kept telling them to reduce [violence].” Source: Thailand Has Told Myanmar to Reduce Violence, PM Says — Radio Free Asia