Covid-19 Surges in Northeast, Upper Midwest, but not South

The virus is again surging in parts of the United States, but it’s a picture with dividing lines: ominous figures in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, but largely not in the South.

Experts are unsure what explains the split, which doesn’t correspond to vaccination levels. Some point to warmer weather in the Sun Belt, while others suspect that decreased testing is muddying the virus’s true footprint.

The contours of where the virus is resurgent can be drawn around one figure: states that are averaging about 15 new cases a day for every 100,000 people. The 23 states — including Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas — that have averaged that or fewer over the past week seem to be keeping cases relatively low, according to a New York Times database. Nationally, the country is averaging 21 new cases per 100,000 people.

In the 27 states above that line, though, things have been trending for the worse. Michigan has the highest surge of all, reporting the most drastic increase in cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks. Illinois, Minnesota and others have also reported worrisome increases.

3.2 million doses given daily.

Some Southern states, like Alabama and Mississippi, are lagging in vaccinations. Only about 28 percent of people in each state have received at least one shot, according to a New York Times vaccine tracker. Still, case counts continue to drop in both states.

Health experts say cases are rising in the Northeast and Upper Midwest for several reasons, including pandemic fatigue, the reopening of schools and the resumption of youth sports.

Hospitalizations tend to follow the trend line in cases by a few weeks, and have been rising in some states, most notably in Michigan.

Officials are also concerned about the spread of more contagious virus variants, especially B.1.1.7, first identified in Britain. The variant is now the leading source of new coronavirus infections in the United States, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week.

Georgia over the past two weeks. And in Alabama, new cases are down roughly 29 percent, with a 17 percent decline in hospitalizations.

Some experts say, though, that reduced testing in some states could be obscuring the true picture. Testing in Alabama, for instance, has started to dip, but the share of tests that come back positive has remained high, at 11.1 percent, compared with a nationwide average of 5.1 percent, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

“People who are symptomatic and go to their provider are going to get a test,” said Dr. Michael Saag, the associate dean for global health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, but “the desire for people to go get tested just because they want to know what their status is has dropped off dramatically.”

Still, Dr. Saag said, there is probably not a hidden spike in cases in Alabama right now, since hospitalizations in the state remain low.

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Pennsylvania and L.A. Move Up Dates for Vaccine Eligibility

The state of Pennsylvania and the city of Los Angeles are accelerating plans for wider Covid-19 vaccine eligibility this week, as the United States approaches universal eligibility for adults.

Most states and U.S. territories have already expanded access to include anyone over 16. Others, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington state, have plans in place for universal adult access to start in the next few days. All states are expected to get there by Monday, a deadline set by President Biden.

Some states have local variations in eligibility, including Illinois, where Chicago did not join a statewide expansion that began Monday.

California as a whole has set Thursday as its date, but Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles said on Sunday that all residents age 16 or older in his city, the nation’s second largest, would become eligible two days earlier. In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf said on Monday that all adults there would be eligible on Tuesday, six days earlier than previously planned.

will be extremely limited until federal regulators approve production at a Baltimore manufacturing plant with a pattern of quality-control lapses, the White House’s pandemic response coordinator said on Friday.

“We urge patience as we continue to ramp up our operations, obtain more doses, and enter this new phase of our campaign to end the pandemic,” Mr. Garcetti said.

More than 119 million people — or more than one-third of the U.S. population — have now received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The nation is administering about 3 million doses a day on average.

Two of the three vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. — those made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — are authorized for use in adults. The third, from Pfizer-BioNTech, is authorized for anyone 16 or older, and the company is seeking to expand that range to include youths 12 to 15. No vaccine has yet been authorized for use in younger children.

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‘Nomadland’ Wins Big at Diverse BAFTAs

LONDON — “Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao’s film about a woman forced to join the rising numbers of Americans living out of vans as they search for work, was the big winner at the EE British Academy Film Awards in London on Sunday.

It was named best film at Britain’s equivalent of the Oscars, better known as the BAFTAs, beating the likes of Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and the much-hyped “Promising Young Woman,” starring Carey Mulligan.

Zhao was also named best director, while Frances McDormand, the star of “Nomadland,” won best actress. The film, which has been heavily praised by British critics for its “delicate, incisive portrait of a life lived on the road,” also took the award for best cinematography.

notable for their diversity, in stark contrast to last year’s awards when no people of color were nominated in the main acting categories, and no women were nominated for best director, prompting a social media outcry.

In response, BAFTA made a host of rule changes, including requiring its members to undergo unconscious bias training before voting and involving juries in several categories.

The Father,” where he plays a man struggling with dementia, beating the likes of Riz Ahmed for his portrayal of a musician losing his hearing in “Sound of Metal,” and Chadwick Boseman for his starring role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

But Daniel Kaluuya was named best supporting actor for his role as Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” repeating his success at the Golden Globes. Yuh-Jung Youn, the veteran Korean actress, won best supporting actress for her role in “Minari.”

British people “are known as very snobbish” Youn said in her acceptance speech, saying the award meant more because of that.

The success of “Nomadland” is likely to increase hype around the film ahead of this year’s Oscars, scheduled for April 25, where it is nominated for six awards.

The BAFTAs are normally seen as a bellwether for the Academy Awards because there is some overlap between the 7,000-strong membership of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, which organizes the BAFTAs, and the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Although four of the movies contending for the best picture Oscar — “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Mank,” “Minari” and “Sound of Metal” — were not nominated in the BAFTAs best film category.

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Online Scammers Have a New Offer For You: Vaccine Cards

SAN FRANCISCO — On Etsy, eBay, Facebook and Twitter, little rectangular slips of paper started showing up for sale in late January. Printed on card stock, they measured three-by-four inches and featured crisp black lettering. Sellers listed them for $20 to $60 each, with a discount on bundles of three or more. Laminated ones cost extra.

All were forgeries or falsified copies of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination cards, which are given to people who have been inoculated against Covid-19 in the United States.

“We found hundreds of online stores selling the cards, potentially thousands were sold,” said Saoud Khalifah, the founder of FakeSpot, which offers tools to detect fake listings and reviews online.

The coronavirus has made opportunists out of many people, like those who hoarded bottles of hand sanitizer at the start of the pandemic or those who cheated recipients out of their stimulus checks. Now online scammers have latched onto the latest profit-making initiative: the little white cards that provide proof of shots.

Airlines and other companies have recently said they may require proof of Covid-19 immunization so that people can safely travel or attend events.

The cards may also become central to “vaccine passports,” which offer digital proof of vaccinations. Some tech companies developing vaccine passports ask people to upload copies of their C.D.C. cards. Los Angeles also recently began using the C.D.C. cards for its own digital proof of immunization.

Last week, 45 state attorneys general banded together to call on Twitter, Shopify and eBay to stop the sale of false and stolen vaccine cards. The officials said they were monitoring the activity and were concerned that unvaccinated people would misuse the cards to attend large events, potentially spreading the virus and prolonging the pandemic.

“We’re seeing a huge market for these false cards online,” said Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania’s attorney general, whose office has investigated fraud related to the virus. “This is a dangerous practice that undermines public health.”

The C.D.C. said it was “aware of cases of fraud regarding counterfeit Covid-19 vaccine cards.” It asked people not to share images of their personal information or vaccine cards on social media.

Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Shopify and Etsy said that the sale of fake vaccine cards violated their rules and that they were removing posts that advertised the items.

The C.D.C. introduced the vaccination cards in December, describing them as the “simplest” way to keep track of Covid-19 shots. By January, sales of false vaccine cards started picking up, Mr. Khalifah said. Many people found the cards were easy to forge from samples available online. Authentic cards were also stolen by pharmacists from their workplaces and put up for sale, he said.

Many people who bought the cards were opposed to the Covid-19 vaccines, Mr. Khalifah said. In some anti-vaccine groups on Facebook, people have publicly boasted about getting the cards.

“My body my choice,” wrote one commenter in a Facebook post last month. Another person replied, “can’t wait to get mine too, lol.”

Other buyers want to use the cards to trick pharmacists into giving them a vaccine, Mr. Khalifah said. Because some of the vaccines are two-shot regimens, people can enter a false date for a first inoculation on the card, which makes it appear as if they need a second dose soon. Some pharmacies and state vaccination sites have prioritized people due for their second shots.

One Etsy seller, who declined to be identified, said she had sold dozens of fake vaccine cards for $20 each recently. She justified her actions by saying she was helping people evade a “tyrannical government.” She added that she did not plan to get inoculated.

Vaccine proponents say they have been troubled by the proliferation of forged and stolen cards. To hold those people accountable, Savannah Sparks, a pharmacist in Biloxi, Miss., began posting videos on TikTok last month naming the sellers of falsified vaccine cards.

In one video, Ms. Sparks explained how she had tracked down the name of a pharmacy technician in Illinois who had nabbed several cards for herself and her husband and then posted about it online. The pharmacy technician had not disclosed her identity, but had linked the post to her social media accounts, where she used her real name. The video has 1.2 million views.

“It made me so mad that a pharmacist was using her access and position this way,” Ms. Sparks said. The video drew the attention of the Illinois Pharmacists Association, which said it reported the video to a state board for further investigation.

Ms. Sparks said her work had drawn detractors and vaccine opponents, who have threatened her and posted her home phone number and address online. But she was undeterred.

“They should be first in line advocating for people to get vaccinated,” she said of pharmacists. “Instead, they’re trying to use their positions to spread fear and help people circumvent getting the vaccine.”

Mr. Shapiro, the Pennsylvania attorney general, said in addition to violating federal copyright laws, the sale of counterfeit and stolen cards most likely broke civil and consumer protection laws that mandate that an item can be used as advertised. The cards could also violate state laws regarding impersonation, he said.

“We want to see them stop immediately,” Mr. Shapiro said of the fraudsters. “And we want to see the companies take serious and immediate action.”

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Finding From Particle Research Could Break Known Laws of Physics

Meanwhile, in 2020 a group of 170 experts known as the Muon g-2 Theory Initiative published a new consensus value of the theoretical value of muon’s magnetic moment, based on three years of workshops and calculations using the Standard Model. That answer reinforced the original discrepancy reported by Brookhaven.

Reached by phone on Monday, Aida X. El-Khardra, a physicist at the University of Illinois and a co-chair of the Muon g-2 Theory Initiative, said she did not know the result that Fermilab would be announcing two days later — and she didn’t want to, lest she be tempted to fudge in a lecture scheduled just before the official unveiling on Wednesday.

“I have not had the feeling of sitting on hot coals before,” Dr. El-Khadra said. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”

On the day of the Fermilab announcement another group, using a different technique known as a lattice calculation to compute the muon’s magnetic moment, concluded that there was no discrepancy between the Brookhaven measurement and the Standard Model.

“Yes, we claim that there is no discrepancy between the Standard Model and the Brookhaven result, no new physics,” said Zoltan Fodor of Pennsylvania State University, one of the authors of a report published in Nature on Wednesday.

Dr. El-Khadra, who was familiar with that work, called it an “amazing calculation, but not conclusive.” She noted that the computations involved were horrendously complicated, having to account for all possible ways that a muon could interact with the universe, and requiring thousands of individual sub-calculations and hundreds of hours of supercomputer time.

These lattice calculations, she said, needed to be checked against independent results from other groups to eliminate the possibility of systematic errors. For now, the Theory Initiative’s calculation remains the standard by which the measurements will be compared.

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