New York City High Schools Will Reopen in Pandemic Milestone


New York City will welcome high school students back into classrooms starting on March 22, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday, a major milestone in the city’s sometimes halting efforts to resume in-person instruction for some of its one million students.

At a time when instruction in some cities in the Northeast and many on the West Coast remains completely remote for high school and even some elementary school students, New York’s decision to bring back high school students — a vast majority of them low-income, Black and Latino — will be viewed as an important precedent. The city’s public school system is by far the largest in the country.

Reopening high schools will be the first major task faced by the new schools chancellor, Meisha Porter, who will take over from the outgoing chancellor, Richard A. Carranza, on March 15.

About half of the city’s 488 high schools will offer full-time instruction for most or all of their in-person students, while the other half will offer hybrid instruction. The city will also restart high school sports for all students starting next month, including those who have decided to learn remotely. The sports season will run through the summer this year, rather than ending with the school year, and students will be required to wear masks at all times.

Israel – Less than 3% of serious COVID cases are fully vaccinated, proving effectiveness


Less than three percent of all seriously ill COVID-19 patients in Israel have been fully vaccinated, according to Health Ministry figures released Sunday, in the latest figures proving the success of coronavirus vaccines,

Of the 6,095 coronavirus patients hospitalized in serious or critical condition since the start of Israel’s vaccination campaign, only 175, or 2.87 percent, had received the second vaccination dose, the figures show.

At the same time, 4,589 patients, or 75% of those in serious or critical condition, had not received a first dose.

The promising figures come as Israel enters the next exit phase from its third nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

On Sunday, much of the economy reopened, including restaurants, cafes, school grades 7-10 in low-to-medium infection areas, event venues, attractions and hotels.

New normal? ‘Green Pass’ opens music concert to vaccinated Israelis


It was an event that could set a precedent in a world longing for a return to normal – a music concert attended by scores of Israelis vaccinated against COVID-19.

The open-air concert in Tel Aviv on Wednesday was one of the first in a programme to restart cultural events by restricting attendance to people who have been vaccinated or those with immunity after contracting the disease.

Attendees were required to show a “Green Pass”, a government-validated certificate showing they had received both doses of the vaccine more than a week prior to the event or that they had recovered from COVID-19 and were presumed immune.

The passes are valid for six months from the time of full vaccination.

“It provides protection, but also a feeling of comfort to sit among people who are vaccinated,” said Doron Zicher, a retired businessman who was preparing to watch Israeli singer Nurit Galron perform at dusk in Yarkon Park.

“After a year staying at home in a sort of isolated environment it feels great to go out and experience public shows and activities.”

Israel launched the pass scheme at the weekend as it reopened its economy. Nearly half of Israelis have received the first of two required doses.

Irish Times – Taoiseach says ‘the end is truly in sight’ as Level 5 extended until April 5th and schools to reopen


Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that “the end is truly in sight” as 82 per cent of people will have received their first Covid-19 vaccine by the end of June.

Announcing the extension of Level 5 restrictions until April 5th, and the phased return of in-school teaching, Mr Martin said the Government wants to make sure “that when we ease each particular restriction we take a careful approach to ensure when we open something, it stays open.”

He said after the next phase of restrictions, due to be reviewed before April 5th, the Government will consider easing the 5km travel limit and easing restrictions on people meeting outdoors and outdoor sports.

The Taoiseach said there would be a “major ramping up” of the vaccination programme.

By the end of April up to 40 per cent of people over 18 will have had their first dose. By the end of May up to 64 per cent of people will have had their first dose.

By the end of June up to 82 per cent of adults will have received at least one dose. Up to 60 per cent will be fully vaccinated by that stage, Mr Martin said.

California’s positivity rate drops sharply, a promising indicator for reopening


California’s coronavirus numbers continue to show signs of improvement.

The percentage of coronavirus tests that came back positive over the past seven days — a closely watched indicator for reopening the economy — has dropped to 3.5%. That’s down from over 11% a month ago.

Hospitalizations for coronavirus patients have dropped 38% over 14 days, and the rate of infection in the state has fallen to 0.65 — meaning each infected person infects fewer than one other person.

“That’s the lowest I’ve seen it,” California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Tomás Aragón said at a meeting of a state vaccine advisory committee on Wednesday. “That’s really good news.”

The falling transmission could help more counties move from California’s purple — or most-restrictive — reopening tier to the slightly-less-restrictive red tier, in which indoor dining at 25% capacity and some additional activities are allowed.

New York will reopen stadiums with limited capacity


New York state will allow large stadiums and arenas, such as Citi Field and Madison Square Garden, to reopen for sports and concerts later this month, with sharply limited capacity and other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Any stadium that can fit more than 10,000 people can stage events beginning on Feb. 23 at 10% capacity so long as the state’s Department of Health signs off on its safety plans, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday.

Brooklyn’s Barclays Center has already won approval for a basketball game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Sacramento Kings on that day, Cuomo said.

More than 97% of recent COVID deaths in Israel were people who weren’t vaccinated, PM says


More than 97% of COVID-19 deaths in Israel over the past month were people who had not been vaccinated, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday, as his government tries to increase turnout for the Pfizer Inc shots.

Around 38% of Israel’s 9 million population have received at least one vaccine dose, the Health Ministry says. But government goals of achieving 50% coverage and reopening the economy next month have been challenged as the daily vaccination pace ebbs.

“We are in a national emergency,” Netanyahu told reporters.

“I want to give you a jarring fact: Over the last month – the last 30 days – 1,536 people have died (of COVID-19) in the State of Israel. More than 97% of them had not been vaccinated. Fewer than 3% had been vaccinated.”

Whole of UK could be vaccinated by May under ambitious plan to reopen Britain


Over 65s will be invited to receive their Covid vaccine next week amid claims every adult in the UK could be offered the jab by May, it was reported. 

As of February 1, more than 9.2 million people have received their first Covid jab, with the Government said to be confident that the UK will meet or even surpass its target of vaccinating all over-70s by mid-February. So-far 494,209 have had their second dose. 

Whitehall sources are now hopeful that the entire adult population will have received their first dose of the vaccine by the beginning of May, the MailOnline reports. This would be months ahead of the current target of September. 

Over-65s are expected to be invited to begin booking their appointments at vaccine centres within the next week. Matt Hancock previously stated more than half of the over-70s had already received their jab, as well as nine in 10 of the over-80s.

Dr. Anthony Fauci Says Venues, Theaters Could Reopen by Fall 2021


Dr. Anthony Fauci said he thinks theaters and other live entertainment venues could reopen “some time in the fall of 2021” during a conference held by the Association of Performing Arts Professionals on Saturday, January 9th.

As The New York Times reports, Fauci said live entertainment’s return depended on vaccination rollout and getting between 70 to 85% of the population vaccinated.

“If everything goes right, this is will occur some time in the fall of 2021, so that by the time we get to the early to mid-fall, you can have people feeling safe performing onstage as well as people in the audience,” Fauci said.

During the APAP conference, Fauci said the concert industry could take some cues from the airlines when it comes to reopening and said admittance to shows could hinge on showing a negative Covid-19 test. He also cited a recent study in Germany that showed arena concerts could be safe if the venue was outfitted with a good ventilation system and had other safety protocols in place. One such precaution, however, is keeping shows at limited capacity, and as several live music industry professionals recently told Rolling Stone, many concerts aren’t financially feasible if venues can’t operate at full capacity.

While caution and vigilance remained Fauci’s top concerns, he did end on an optimistic note, saying, “We’ll be back in the theaters — performers will be performing, audiences will be enjoying it. It will happen.”

New COVID-19 cases in France stay below 10,000 for third day


New COVID-19 infections in France stayed below 10,000 for the third day in a row on Tuesday, a sequence unseen since mid-September, and the number of people hospitalised for the disease resumed a downward trend.

The government has loosened its second national coronavirus lockdown, put in place on Oct. 30, by allowing all shops to reopen at the weekend.

President Emmanuel Macron said last week the lockdown could be lifted on Dec. 15 if by then the number of new infections per day fell to 5,000 and the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care declined to between 2,500 and 3,000.

Earlier in the day, Macron said that France should be in a position to embark on a broader COVID-19 vaccination campaign between April and June next year, after initially targeting a smaller group of people. US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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