Nebraska omicron cluster suggests quicker symptom onset

Health care workers prepare for Covid-19 tests at a Nomi Health test site in Omaha, Nebraska on Wednesday, November 10, 2021.

Dan Brouillette | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Research into a cluster of Omicron infections in Nebraska suggests that the highly mutated variant has a shorter incubation time and causes similar or milder symptoms in people who are vaccinated or previously infected compared to previous variants, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC on Tuesday released results of an epidemiological investigation into six Omicron cases confirmed from a single Nebraska household.

A 48-year-old man who returned to the US on November 23 from a conference in Nigeria had symptoms a day later and tested positive for the virus on November 26. The man, who was unvaccinated and had a history of symptomatic infection in 2020, reported wearing no mask at the international conference on November 20 when he had close contact with a masked person who was coughing.

The man took an antigen test before returning to the United States, which came back negative on November 21. On his return to the US, he was still asymptomatic and had close contact with five members of his Nebraska household without wearing a mask Nov. 23

The five members of his household, at least one of whom was only 11 years old, developed symptoms from November 24th to 26th and subsequently tested positive. Four of them had a history of symptomatic infection in 2020, one of which was fully vaccinated with two doses of Pfizer.

Another person in the household was unvaccinated and had never tested positive for Covid before. However, that person had mild upper respiratory symptoms in November 2020 before the other members of the household became infected for the first time.

The CDC said it took 33 to 75 hours, a median of about 3 days, for household members to show symptoms after contact with the traveling man, suggesting a shorter incubation period with Omicron. The median incubation time for Covid is 5 days or more, while according to the CDC, the Delta variant usually takes around 4 days to show symptoms.

The re-infected household members had fewer symptoms compared to their first infections in November 2020, according to the CDC. Two of them reported fever after infection, none reported loss of taste or smell.

The unvaccinated person, who had not previously tested positive, had a cough, joint pain, constipation, fever, and chills. Nobody in the household had to be hospitalized after a positive omicron test, and none of them had any health problems or weakened immune systems. The reinfected people did not have to be hospitalized after their first infections in 2020.

The first confirmed case of Omicron was reported by California health officials on December 1 in the San Francisco area. The person had returned from a trip to South Africa. However, the CDC later found someone who reported symptoms on November 15 after an international trip, suggesting the variant may have arrived in the US earlier.

Omicron was first identified by South Africa and Botswana in November. The variant now makes up 58% of the cases sequenced in the US, while the delta makes up about 41% of the cases, according to the CDC.

A growing body of data from South Africa and the UK shows that people from Omicron don’t get as sick as compared to the Delta variant. The UK Health Security Agency found that people infected with Omicron are 50 to 70% less likely to need hospitalization. South African scientists found that people infected with Omicron were 70% less likely to develop serious illnesses.

However, the study authors cautioned against reading too deeply into the preliminary data, as vaccination and immunity to previous infections may have influenced the results.

Another study by the UK Health Security Agency found that a booster dose of the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech provided 75% protection against symptomatic disease caused by Omicron. South African data suggests that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine will still protect against serious illness, but will be much less effective at preventing omicron infection.

In the USA, the new Covid cases are rising to almost pandemic highs. The nation reported an average of more than 237,000 new cases a day for the seven-day period ended Monday, up 66% over the past week, according to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

More than 70,000 people in the U.S. are currently hospitalized with Covid, a 3% increase over the past week, according to a seven-day average from Health Department data dated Dec. 27.

auditor suggests methods to economize

From 2010 to 2019, annual medical claims for Vermont state employees, retirees, and their families rose 51% from $ 94 million to $ 142 million, according to state examiner Doug Hoffer.

Hoffer released a report on Friday, which explored how the state could save money on health care by incentivizing people to choose cheaper care. Hoffer said the state pays different amounts to different providers for the same health care benefits.

“The price difference paid for exactly the same health procedures under the state health plan for workers is appalling, especially since higher prices do not necessarily mean higher quality,” Hoffer said in a press release. “Our research found that the provider with the highest price for a given service was paid, on average, 3.5 times more than the provider with the lowest price for the exact same service.”

In the case of an electrocardiogram, according to Hoffer, the gap between the highest and lowest costs is “astonishing” 9.3 times.

“When government employees and their families are cared for by the most expensive health care providers, often unaware, it increases the cost of health care for patients, the state and taxpayers,” he said.

Strategies To Save Money In Healthcare

Hoffers said other states facing the same dilemma have developed two strategies to reduce costs:

  • Reference-based prices: The health care buyer, in this case the state of Vermont, sets a maximum price for what they are willing to pay for a service rather than using the price negotiated by insurance companies and hospitals. According to Hoffer, Montana introduced reference-based pricing for its government employees and saved $ 47.8 million in three years. Hoffer estimates that this approach could save Vermont up to $ 16.3 million annually.
  • Incentives for inexpensive care: With this model, employees receive comparative price information and receive a monetary incentive for choosing a cheaper provider. Hoffer estimates that Vermont could save $ 202,000 annually on seven services highlighted in his report. With every additional service, the state would realize additional savings, said Hoffer.

“Other states that are under the same pressure as Vermont have decided to do something about it,” Hoffer said in a press release. “I strongly encourage the Scott administration, legislature and government officials to expand our research and implement a strategy that benefits government officials, the state budget and taxpayers.”

Tools for price transparency in hospitals: The State of Vermont Chartered Accountant touts hospital cost transparency as the key to saving money

OneCare: Vermont spent nearly $ 30 million on OneCare without skimming on health care

More: Vermont is struggling to provide psychological counseling, especially to young people

Contact Dan D’Ambrosio at 660-1841 or Follow him on Twitter @DanDambrosioVT. This reporting is only possible with the support of our readers.

Biden suggests giving individuals cash for vaccinations

“Financial incentives can be an important part of motivational strategies for a number of different health incentives,” said Dr. Ben Springgate from LSU Health.

NEW ORLEANS – Last week, President Biden proposed incentives to get people vaccinated.

He asked statisticians to use American Rescue Plan money to pay people $ 100 for vaccination.

But will it work and how much would it cost?

“If incentives help us defeat this virus … I think we should use them,” said President Joe Biden.

“Financial incentives can be an important part of motivational strategies for a number of different health incentives,” said Dr. Ben Springgate from LSU Health.

But $ 100 seems expensive. We added up the numbers to find out how much it would cost. Louisiana has a population of around 4.6 million, and just over 1.9 million have already been vaccinated.

Another 300,000 are not eligible because they are children who cannot get the vaccine. This number could be a little higher because some people cannot get the vaccine for certain medical reasons. So this gives us a rough estimate of around 2.4 million to be eligible for the incentives. Multiply that by 100 and you have a very large number, about $ 240 million.

Over the weekend at Satchmo Summerfest, we asked some people what they think of the incentives and if it’s fair, especially for those who have already received the vaccine?

“We were vaccinated for free, so $ 100, that would be a good boost,” said a couple at the festival.

“Um yes. But personally, I find it sad that you have to pay someone to do something that could help them … it takes … “, said a woman at the Satchmo Summerfest.

“I think decisions have to be made regardless of money. Sure … Incentives are great,” said one festival-goer.

Yet there are others who are not moved by money and who refuse for various reasons.

“Some people may not be moved by money, as you notice. For them, they may need to see more evidence, speak to their doctor, have more personal experience with the diseases, and some people may never, “You made your decision and that’s it. And in those cases, it’s possible employer mandates or other types of programs require it, maybe something that moves the needle, “said Dr. Ben Springgate, LSU Health.

With cases on the rise again, it is clear that all ideas about vaccinating people are on the table.

The place are unvaccinated Individuals touring? Huge cities, research suggests

Vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans have different attitudes about traveling this spring, according to a marketing tech company. And they don’t differ in the way you might assume.

With Travel bookings are increasingData from New York’s Zeta Global shows that unvaccinated Americans seem more comfortable traveling – and to more populated places – than vaccinated people.

Vaccinated people wait longer to travel

Zeta Global conducted a survey of 3,700 US consumers in mid-March and combined the results with information on hotel and airport visits by respondents in February and March.

In the survey, 67% of vaccinated respondents said they won’t travel until the end of May, but only 59% of non-vaccinated Americans said they would wait that long.

Vaccinated care more about health measures

More than 80% of vaccinated people who responded to the survey said they were concerned about public health restrictions at intended destinations, compared with just 38% of unvaccinated travelers who shared this concern.

It is possible that vaccinated people will be more comfortable traveling when there are health restrictions, while non-vaccinated travelers will be more interested in how local restrictions limit their travel, said David Steinberg, CEO of Zeta Global.

The survey found that 62% of unvaccinated travelers were “not at all” concerned with public health restrictions in their travel destinations, while only 19% of vaccinated travelers said so.

Travel to different places

Zeta Global data showed that the top travel destinations for February and March as a whole were New York City, Denver, Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Philadelphia, and two cities in Florida – Orlando and Tampa.

However, the trends diverged when broken down by travelers’ vaccination status, said Neej Gore, the company’s chief data officer.

Top travel destinations for vaccinated travelers

  • Minneapolis-St. Paul
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Washington, DC
  • Boston
  • Baltimore
  • Cincinnati
  • Indianapolis

Source: Zeta Global, hotel and flight visit

“Vaccinated Americans choose locations in the Northeast and Midwest,” Gore told CNBC, adding that the unimmunized had traveled to locations in the south and locations along the west coast.

Top travel destinations for unvaccinated travelers

  • Houston
  • Miami-Fort Lauderdale
  • The angel
  • Salt Lake City
  • San Antonio
  • Seattle-Tacoma
  • Austin, Texas
  • Little Rock, Ark.

Source: Zeta Global, hotel and flight visit

However, April travel data showed a shift in travel habits. Unvaccinated people went to densely populated cities, while the unvaccinated went to vast areas according to travel dates compiled by Zeta.

“Las Vegas is the city with the greatest relative change,” said Gore, citing data showing that the number of unvaccinated travelers visiting Las Vegas hotels tripled in April from the previous month during the month The number of vaccinated visitors there has declined.

Similarly, the number of unvaccinated travelers going to Florida in April increased (+ 6%) but declined (-16%) among vaccinated travelers.

Unofficially known as “Big Sky Country,” Montana attracted more vaccinated than unvaccinated Americans last month.

Mike Kemp | In Pictures Ltd. | Corbis historical | Getty Images

The trends in Florida are primarily due to in-depth travel to Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Zeta Global said. Trips there increased by 77% for unvaccinated travelers and 33% for vaccinated travelers.

While the Northeast and Midwest continue to be popular destinations for vaccinated travelers, “more vaccinated respondents are currently traveling to the Northwest,” said Gore, based on data showing an increase in vaccinated travelers to Oregon, Washington, Montana and Dakotas.

Travel to these states did not increase among unvaccinated people, with the exception of Oregon, which, according to the company, is mainly due to increased travel by both groups to Portland.

Northeast Europeans fly less

Adobe Digital Economy Index 2021, released last month, showed regional differences in summer travel habits. The report showed that Northeast Europeans fly less than other Americans. The flight bookings in March come from the region and only account for 56% of the prepandemic levels. This number does not match the booking setbacks from the West (63%) and the South (70%) and the Midwest (75%).

Adobe’s research shows that Northeasterners’ flight purchases are more closely related to regional vaccination rates. For every 1% increase in vaccinations in the Northwest, there was a 3.2% increase in flight bookings, the highest of any region in the United States.

It is those who are not vaccinated who should be afraid of traveling.

Harry Severance

Duke University School of Medicine

“The northeast was badly hit in the early days of the pandemic, which likely caused residents to restrict themselves when it came to travel and social interactions,” said Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights.

However, the area is densely populated, said Schreiner, so that “viable alternatives for seeing family and friends” exist.

“A large part of the US population is accessible to New York by car,” he said.

“Increased risk” for those not vaccinated

Harry Severance, an associate professor at Duke University School of Medicine, said people who were vaccinated early are more likely to be concerned about contracting Covid-19 and have a better knowledge of the acute and chronic effects of the disease.

“So I suspect that this group will continue to have significant concerns about contracting the disease after vaccination,” he said.

Severance said the thought process is changing as evidence shows people who have been vaccinated are “less susceptible” to Covid-19 infections, and when they do get sick, infections are typically mild with a “significantly reduced ability to spread the disease.” “.

“It is those who are not vaccinated who should be afraid to travel,” he said.

“Those who are not vaccinated are at increased risk when they congregate in large groups of likewise unvaccinated people,” Severance said, “especially when these groups congregate from across the country as the risk increases, various Being exposed to Covid variants. ” . “

Respawn Leisure’s new recreation suggests Titanfall Three might be useless

Any hope that Titanfall 3 will be announced in the near future has been dashed by the recent announcement that Respawn Entertainment is hiring IP for a brand new video game.

Last week, Respawn Entertainment programmer Steven Kah Hien Wong tweeted a job posting for a software developer Joining “a compact incubation team currently developing a brand new IP”. The job description didn’t give any real details about what type of game it was, but we know what it isn’t. Titanfall 3.

Vince Zampella, head of the Respawn Entertainment studio followed the post with his own tweet and added: “Looking for an exciting new opportunity? New respawn project, super exciting stuff. Get in early! “

The prospect of a new IP from Respawn Entertainment is exciting. The studio has only released hits since its inception nearly a decade ago. You are responsible for the Titanfall series (which is criminally underestimated) as well as the battle royale spinoff Apex Legends. Respawn was taken over by EA a few years ago and developed the successful action adventure Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order in 2019.

Despite the fact that all of their games have been well received, not all of them have sold well. Titanfall, in particular, didn’t quite achieve the financial success the studio was likely hoping for. However, there is a strong desire from the community to see a new installment in the franchise.

With the success of Apex Legends, there is now a new, large audience that has been exposed to the Titanfall universe. The free game introduced players to the sophisticated mechanics that a game developed by Respawn could offer. Perhaps the success of Apex Legends, which is free to play, could lead to a sales hit when a new Titanfall game is released.

While EA and Respawn have given assurances that they will not forget Titanfall, it doesn’t seem like there are any plans to revive the franchise anytime soon. At the moment, the prospect of Titanfall 3 seems dead. It is possible that we will get one at some point, but it doesn’t appear that EA or Respawn are interested in the financial risk.

Kawhi Leonard suggests NBA is prioritizing cash over gamers’ well being in planning All-Star Sport

Kawhi Leonard, MVP of last year’s All-Star Game, suggested the NBA prioritize money over the health of their players when planning the midseason exhibition in March.

“We all know why we play it,” said the Los Angeles Clippers star on Friday night. “It’s about money, it’s an opportunity to make more money. I’m just putting money on health now. “

The game and its skill contest will take place in Atlanta on March 7th, the league announced to its teams earlier this week. It remains unclear when players would need to report and how testing will work in Atlanta, or whether fans will be part of the game.

“We play games now and it’s still a pandemic to follow all of these protocols and rules, so I’m not really surprised,” Leonard said on a video call after the Clippers lost to Boston.

Sacramento security guard De’Aaron Fox said he thought the idea of ​​an all-star game to be “stupid” during a pandemic.

Lakers star LeBron James, who is the second largest fan voter behind Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant, said he wasn’t happy with the staging of the exhibition.

“I have no energy or excitement about an All-Star game this year,” said James. “I don’t even understand why we have an all-star game, but it’s the deal.”

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