Checking Up On Health: July 19, 2021

Medical Monday: A weekly post of healthcare- and technology-related policy news, views and commentaries.

Just when you thought it was almost over, COVID-19 rears its ugly head again.

For the children? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended today that all students older than 2 years old wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status, when schools reopen in the fall. The leading pediatrics organization called for universal masking, noting that most school-aged children are not yet eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and many schools are not tracking the vaccination status of students and staff. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only one authorized for children, with those 12 years old and up eligible to be inoculated. Source: The Hill

Back to school: On the bright side, the American Academy of Pediatrics also said it “strongly recommends in-person learning,” adding that children face a higher risk of mental health issues and developmental setbacks if students do not return to classrooms.  

About the Pfizer vaccine: Israel’s top officials say Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is “significantly less” effective at combating the “Delta” strain of the virus. “We do not know exactly to what degree the vaccine helps, but it is significantly less,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told reporters and cabinet members on July 17. More than 5.7 million Israelis have received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, which uses mRNA technology. The strain was first identified in India and is blamed for much of the resurgence in cases in the United States and the United Kingdom. 

Infecting Wall Street: As fears of COVID-19’s resurgence grew, the major stock indexes all finished lower today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average took the worst of it, dropping 725 points – 2.1% – to 33,962, which was its biggest single-day decline since October 28, when the index plunged 3.4%. “Perhaps unsurprisingly, the worst sectors of the day were energy (-3.5%) and financials (-2.8%) – two areas of the economy that would feel the brunt of a COVID economic backslide the most,” Kiplinger’s Closing Bell reported. 

Ups and downsNew daily COVID-19 cases are rising in all 50 states, according to the New York Times. The nation’s current seven-day case average was 26,306 as of July 16, a 69.3% increase from the previous week’s average, according to the CDC’s latest COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review. Hospitalizations are on the rise, too, especially in states with lower vaccination levels and outbreaks involving the delta variant. The nation’s seven-day hospitalization average for July 7-13 was 2,794, a 35.8% increase from the previous week’s average. Meanwhile, the seven-day average number of vaccines administered daily was 270,592 as of July 15, a 35.7% drop from the week before. As of July 18, 68.2% of American adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, while 59.4 are fully inoculated. Source: Becker’s Hospital Review

Virus of another kind: The U.S. government has launched a website to provide resources to protect hospitals and other businesses from ransomware attacks. The Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and other federal agencies partnered to launch StopRansomware.gov, according to a July 14 news release.


Compiled by Benita Dodd, vice president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation

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