NEW YORK — An Asian man was shoved onto subway tracks in front of an oncoming train in Queens Monday morning, narrowly escaping death in what police are investigating as a possible hate crime, sources said. The 35-year-old victim was pushed into the path of an F train at the 21st St.-Queensbridge station in Long Island City about 7:45 a.m., police said. His assailant was muttering under his breath before he shoved the victim, and police are investigating whether the attack was a hate crime, according to sources. The oncoming train was able to stop before hitting the victim, who suffered cuts t...
A sobering study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reinforces the idea that vaccination against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is not always enough to stop transmission. Researchers arrived at this conclusion after analyzing the infected from a COVID-19 outbreak in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in which three-fourths of the infected were already fully vaccinated.
"This finding is concerning and was a pivotal discovery leading to CDC's updated mask recommendation," CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky explained in a statement. "The masking recommendation was updated to ensure the vaccinated public would not unknowingly transmit virus to others, including their unvaccinated or immunocompromised loved ones."
When she referenced an "updated mask recommendation," Walensky was describing the agency's recent policy urging people to wear masks when indoors in areas where the virus transmission is high or prolonged. Walensky also said that people who go to schools should be fully masked the entire time. Although the United States had made progress in reducing COVID-19 infection and spread several months ago, those achievements have been gradually reversed as unvaccinated Americans — many of them motivated by support for Donald Trump — continue to incubate and spread mutant strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The most dangerous of the bunch is the delta variant, which the CDC describes as being as infectious as chickenpox and capable of causing more severe illnesses than other types of COVID-19. On Friday, the CDC shared internal documents detailing how the new variant gives both vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans similarly high viral loads. The CDC's experts estimate there are 35,000 symptomatic infections each week among the 162 million vaccinated Americans.
This is the strain that circulated among the unlucky people of Provincetown who celebrated July 4th. The Cape Cod community is famous for its parties, especially on Independence Day, and at the time of this writing almost 900 cases have been reported for the full outbreak. The CDC only studied a subset of 469 cases, finding that people within that group "reported attending densely packed indoor and outdoor events at venues that included bars, restaurants, guest houses, and rental homes." The study also found that among people with breakthrough cases (that is, cases in which fully vaccinated people get sick), no one died and only four (1.2 percent) were hospitalized, with the most common symptoms being "cough, headache, sore throat, myalgia, and fever."
The fact that fewer people have died or suffered severely, as might have otherwise been the case, underscores a very important point: while the COVID-19 vaccines may not be as effective as we would like, one is undeniably better off being vaccinated than not. One's chances of dying or experiencing serious symptoms diminishes enormously after receiving one's shot (or shots).
A statistical misunderstanding of the CDC's Provincetown study, exemplified in several news headlines appearing in multiple outlets, conflates the idea of how susceptible the vaccinated are to the delta variant. The Washington Post's alarming headline read "CDC study shows three-fourths of people infected in Massachusetts COVID-19 outbreak were vaccinated," which implies that three-fourths of all vaccinated people would be inevitably infected. In fact, the three-fourths number was only among the subset of those infected.
That misinterpretation is stoking alarm among some watchdogs.
"Please don't do this," Matthew Gertz of Media Matters for America tweeted at The Washington Post for their headline. "Provincetown has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country. As vaccination rates increase the percentage of cases that are in vaccinated people NECESSARILY increases." He pointed out that Reuters, The Boston Globe and CNBC had used similar headlines, noting that Trump supporters may use headlines like those from Reuters and The Boston Globe to argue that "they don't work, what else aren't they telling us."
Indeed, the CDC is not arguing that vaccines are ineffective, but rather than for the broader public health, we may need to consider a return to more stringent lockdown policies.
"Findings from this investigation suggest that even jurisdictions without substantial or high COVID-19 transmission might consider expanding prevention strategies," the CDC writes, suggesting that people wear masks in indoor public settings even if they are fully vaccinated.
The delta variant has a number of mutations that have made it more threatening than other strains. A mutation called D614G is believed to increase the density of the spike protein on the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The spike protein causes the spike-like objects which stick out of virus' internal sphere, allowing it to penetrate and infect the body's cells. Although vaccines are designed to protect cells against those spikes, this mutation may help the virus circumvent those defenses.
The delta variants also has a mutation called L452R that scientists think may help the virus fight antibodies, which the immune system creates to eliminate threats. In addition, it has a mutation known as P681R which increases the viral loads in patients so they shed 1,000 times more of the virus than from previous coronavirus strains when they sneeze, cough, spit or otherwise release potentially infected bodily fluids.
None of this was inevitable. As President Joe Biden said during a Thursday press conference, "the existing vaccines work to prevent death, serious illness, and hospitalization." If "every American is vaccinated, in fact, we would be out of the woods." Speaking to Salon in May, Dr. Bernard Lo — professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco — anticipated that the vaccines may not be as effective against mutant strains. Lo also warned that unvaccinated people could cause a resurgence in the pandemic, although he stressed that not everyone who remains unvaccinated is doing so for political reasons.
"It's a worldwide issue as well," Lo explained in regard to how many poorer countries do not have access to the same vaccines as their wealthier counterparts. "There are a lot of countries that really don't have access to vaccines, and variants could emerge there."
"The Late Show" host Stephen Colbert warned that supporters of Donald Trump were acting like a "death cult" by refusing coronavirus vaccines.
Colbert's comments came during an interview with MSNBC's Joy Reid, who was discussing the targets of misinformation online during the last two presidential campaigns and the pandemic.
"The targets have been Republicans, particularly white, evangelical Republicans. African Americans and latinos," she said. "And surprise, surprise, it's the same three groups of people who are being targeted again with anti-vax information from a very small number of people and they seem determined to get that triad to not be vaccinated."
"And when it comes to the people of color, I get it, they don't care about those people. But, again, I go back to evangelical Republicans being the biggest target of this disinformation campaign," she explained. "I don't understand. I mean, the Trump following is in many ways fundamentally a cult. It's a cult in every sense and now it appears to be a sort-of Jim Jones era cult."
"A death cult," Colbert interjected.
"A death cult," Reid agreed.
"That's ultimately where it ends," Colbert said. "If the leader doesn't care whether you live or die, that's a death cult."
Reid said that, "A religion is when your savior dies for you, a cult is when you're being asked to die for your savor. And unfortunately, that's where we're at with the Republican Party."
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Friday was interviewed by WNBC on Friday.
Reporter Melissa Russo met Giuliani at the World Trade Center Memorial to tape a segment for an upcoming story on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"But it was clear that also weighing heavily on the former mayor is fallout from the recent election and the fact that he's still facing that criminal investigation," Russo reported. "Former Mayor Giuliani seems fixated on declaring his innocence as a federal investigation looms into whether he was working as an unregistered lobbyist for Ukrainian officials."
Giuliani is being investigated by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York — an office Giuliani once led as the United States Attorney.
"I committed no crime, and if you think I committed a crime, you're probably really stupid, because you don't know who I am," Giuliani claimed. "Is the guy who put the mafia in jail, terrorists in jail, Ed Koch's commissioners in jail, and the worst people on Wall Street — I'm not going to file (a form)? I mean, that's just crazy."
He suggested prosecutors would suffer consequences in the afterlife if he was sent to jail.
"I am more than willing to go to jail if they want to put me in jail. And if they do, they're going to suffer the consequences in heaven. I'm not, I didn't do anything wrong," he claimed.
Rudy Giuliani www.youtube.com
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