CDC emphasizes tight-fitting masks to cut coronavirus transmission
The White House COVID-19 Response Team provides an update on vaccine distribution and the spread of coronavirus across the country.
the U. S. D. A. To HHS and other federal agencies to support vaccination operations nationwide, and we have plans to deploy thousands more. Third, we're creating more places where Americans can get vaccinated. To do so, we've expedited financial support to bolster community vaccination centers nationwide, with over $3 billion in federal funding across 35 states, tribes and territories were putting equity front and center partnering with states to increase vaccinations in the hardest hit and hardest to reach communities. We've launched efforts to get more vaccines to pharmacies and community health centers on, and we're building new vaccination centers from the ground up in stadiums, community centers, school gyms and parking lots across the country. And the data show that these efforts are working, as you can see on our vaccination progress report. Our seven day average daily doses administered is now 1.5 million shots per day, up from 1.1 million Onley two weeks ago. But let me be very clear. We have much more work to dio. This is just the start. Today we have two updates and how we continue to increase the number of places to get vaccinated and ensure our responses equitable. First, we're building new vaccination sites. Last week we announced new mass vaccination centers in California, and today I'm pleased to announce that will partner with the State of Texas toe build three new major community vaccination centers in Dallas, Arlington and Houston? Yeah, communities hit hard by the pandemic in Houston, we're building a major site at NRG Stadium in South Dallas and new site at Fairs Park and in Arlington, the site of A T and T Stadium. Together, these sites will be capable of administering more than 10,000 shots in arms a day. We are deploying federal teams immediately toe work, hand in hand with the state and local jurisdiction. We appreciate Governor Abbott, representative Sheila Jackson Lee, representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, representative Mark Veasey and representative Ron Right. Local mayors and county leaders are also part of this partnership. We expect these sites to start getting shots and arms beginning the week of February 20. 2nd importantly, FEMA has partnered with C D C tow, launch thes and other vaccination sites that use processes and in locations that promote equity deploying CBC Social Vulnerability index. Second on this point, we continue to put equity at the center of our work. More broadly guided by Dr Marcela Nunes Smith today, we're pleased to announce the members of our health equity task force. Ensuring that we reach every person in our response is something the president and vice president feel very strongly about. On his second day in office, President Biden signed an executive order to create this task force, and we could not have picked a better leader in Dr Nunes Smith to help drive this work. E. I also want to note that Vice President Harris is work in the Senate. Inform the development of the mission and work of the Health Equity Task Force. Then Senator Harris introduced the Cove in 19 Racial and Ethnic Disparity Task Force Act to gather data about disproportionately affected communities and provide recommendations to combat the racial and ethnic disparities in the cove. It 19 Response Today that vision becomes a reality as we create this task force to help lead our national response. So now I'll turn it over to Dr Nunez Smith afternoons. Smith. So here are factor. Nina Smith. Are you on mute? Thank you. Maybe you can try again. Dr. noona. Smith. Okay. Well, that's perfect. Thank you. Thank you. Okay, great. Thank you, Jeff. And good morning to everyone. No. Shortly after Cove in 19 was first identified in the United States, we began to see disparities in testing in cases and in rates of hospitalization and mortality. And these inequities were quickly evident by race, ethnicity, geography, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and other factors. You know, as the pandemic has progressed over the past year, so to have the inequities and over the past the past few months, we've seen new disparities emerge, you know, most notably with regards to access to therapeutics and vaccines. So absolutely make no mistake about it. Beating this pandemic is hard work and beating this pandemic while making sure that everyone in every community has a fair chance to stay safe or to regain their health. Well, that's the hard work. Done the right way. So President Biden and Vice President Harris have made it clear since the beginning that they're committed to centering their administrations. Cove in 19 response on equity. And as Jeff mentioned, Vice President Harris set a blueprint for how to advise his commitment during her time in the Senate and President Biden not only agreed with the necessity of such a task force, you know, as Jeff said, he signed an executive order requiring information on his first full day in office. Next, like please. And today, that vision for our federal Cove in 19 health equity task force officially becomes a reality. Not only am I humbled and honored that President Biden has asked me to serve as the chair of this cove in 19 health equity task force, but I am truly excited to share that. The president has announced the 12 individuals he has selected to serve as non federal members. These individuals were identified through conversations with stakeholder groups on recommendation by organizations and individuals and through the visible effort and expertise they have lent to their communities in the fight against Cove in 19 and their bios are available on the Department of Health and Human Services website. But in addition to their noteworthy backgrounds and expertise, these individuals represent a range of racial and ethnic groups are also key constituencies, including Children and youth, educators and students, healthcare providers, immigrants, individuals with disabilities, L G B, T Q plus individuals public health experts, rural communities, state, local territorial and tribal governments and unions. And in my discretion as chair of this task force, I will be asking representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice and Labor to sit on this task force as well. Toe offer their critical perspective on some of the most effective levers we can pull in our efforts for co va 19 Health equity Next slide, please. Just a quick word on the actual work of this task force. This advisory body is charged with issuing a range of recommendations to help inform the proven 19 response and recovery. So this includes thinking about the equitable allocation of Cove in 19 Resource is and really funds, you know, effective outreach and communication toe underserved on minority ized populations and improving cultural responsiveness within the federal government. You know additional recommendations will advise and efforts to improve our data collection and use, as well as a long term plan to address data short for shortfalls, roles relative regarding communities of color and under underserved populations. And the work of the task force will conclude after issuing a final report to the Cove in 19 Response. Coordinator on the drivers of Observe, Observe observers. Koven. 19 Inequities You know the potential for ongoing disparities. Face face Face Cove in 19 survivors and actions to ensure the future pandemic. Chemically Democratic responses do not ignore or exacerbate health inequities it. We want everyone to feel connected to this work. So in addition to this cove in 19 health equity that the administration has already begun will, of course, continue. And that will include the large of a series of constituent listening sessions to engage with key communities whose voices we know are so important to any any any a conversation about equity we will always always in ways in ways in ways cover, to engage with every community to inform are necessary to drive positive change. Dr. Newness, I just wanna issue congratulations to all of the individuals. We're having a little bit of technical difficulty. Why don't we do this? Why don't we go to Dr Wolinski? Sort through those technical difficulties will come back to you at the end for you toe. Complete your remarks. So let's go to Dr Wolinsky on the state of the pandemic. Dr Wolinski. Great. Thank you so much, Jeff. And thanks to all of you again for being with us today, cases and new hospital admissions continue to fall. Deaths have decreased slightly in the most recent seven days. And we are watching these data closely because cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain high. And because we're still losing more than 1000 Americans daily to this disease, we must continue to take every action we can to protect our loved ones and our communities. One of the simple things we can all dio one thing that will make the biggest difference is to wear a mask. I know some of you are both tired of hearing about masks as well is tired about wearing them? Masks can be cumbersome, they can be inconvenient. And I also know that many of you still have questions about masks. You may be unsure if they work. What kind is best on whether to masks are better than one? We've learned a lot about masks over the past year. Today I want to share with you some new science that is emerging about masks and what we know now that we didn't know when the pandemic started. The science is clear. Everyone needs to be wearing a mask when they're in public or when they're in their own home, but with people who do not live in their household. This is especially true with our ongoing concern about new variants spreading in the United States. Masks offer two kinds of protection. When I wear a mask, it protects you, and it protects me. But to get the most protection possible, we all have to wear them. Research has demonstrated that cove in 19 infections and deaths have decreased when policies that require everyone to wear mask have been implemented. So with cases, hospitalizations and deaths still very high, now is not the time to roll back mask requirements. I have also seen very many well meaning people wearing masks that do not fit well or fit in correctly. In fact, recent survey data from Porter in the Valley found that among adults who reported wearing masks in the past week, half said they wore their maths incorrectly in public. New data released from CBC today underscore the the importance of wearing a mask correctly and making sure it fits closely and snugly over your nose and mouth. In this new study, researchers used experiments in the laboratory, not the real world, to assess how different strategies to improve the fit of masks. Impacts of masks, ability to block aerosolized particles emitted during a simulated coughed, as well as to reduce exposure to aerosol particles emitted during simulated breathing. The size of the aerosol particles in the experiment were designed to mimic the respiratory droplets particles most important for person to person. Transmission of SARS cov to the virus that causes Cove in 19. Specifically, the experiments compared the performance of no mask, a single cloth face mask and a single medical procedure math mask with two approaches to improve the mask fit of the surgical mask, wearing a cloth mask over the procedure mask and nodding and tucking the ear loops of the medical procedure mask. In the study, wearing any type of mask performed significantly better than not wearing a mask and well fitting mast provided the greatest performance, both at blocking emitted aerosols and exposure of aerosols to the receiver in the breathing experiment. Having both the source and the receiver where masks modified to fit better reduce the receivers exposure by more than 95% compared to know, mascot. All these experimental data reinforced CDCs prior guidance that everyone two years of age or older should wear a mask when in public and around others in the home, in the home, not living with you, we continue to recommend that mask should have two or more layers completely cover your nose and mouth and fit snugly against your nose and the sides of your face. I want to be clear that these new scientific data released today do not change the specific recommendations about who should wear a mask or when they should wear one. But they do provide new information on why wearing a well fitting mask is so important to protect you and others. Based on this new information, the 500 is updating the mask information for the public on the 500 website to provide new options on how to improve mask fit. This includes wearing a mask with a Moldable knows wire, nodding the ear loops on your mask or wearing a cloth mask over a procedure or disposable mask. There are also new options available to consumers called mask fitters, small reusable devices that cinch a cloth or medical mask, and that can create a tighter fit against the face and thus improve mask performance. The bottom line is this. Masks work, and they work best when they have a good fit and are born correctly. Importantly, as per our usual guidance, mass should be used in combination with other prevention measures to offer you and your community the most. Protection from Cove in 19. Stay at least 6 ft apart from other people you don't live with. Avoid crowds and travel and wash your hands. Often when we take all of these prevention steps and wear masks that fit well, we protect ourselves and we take care of each other. I also want to follow up on a question I received during Monday's briefing from Caitlin Collins. I was asked about CDCs best estimate on the prevalence of variant cases in the United States, based on current case data and volume of sequencing. Our latest estimate nationally is that between one and 4% of cases in the United States are due to the B 117 variant variant most frequently found in the United States. It's important to note that some states have seen higher numbers of variant cases, and thus the proportion attributable to be 117 in these states is likely to be higher than in other states. We do not believe the variants are distributed equally across the country at this time. And with that I will say Thank you and I will look forward to your questions and pass it back to Dr Fauci. That's your bounty. Thank you very much, Doctor Wolinski E. I would like to just take a couple of minutes to preemptively answer three types of questions that I have been asked over the last several days that I believe are important to address preemptively because they will come up. The first relates to the fact that many states, cities and locations who have gone from 18 to 1 b will soon or already or have already gone into the one C of the phase. Within one C are persons 16 to 64 years of age, with underlying conditions, including those that might be immuno suppressed because of certain drugs such as glucocorticoids or corticosteroids, for diseases like auto inflammatory diseases or allergic diseases. There has been a number of individuals who feel that they should not get vaccinated because of those underlying conditions. I want to set the record straight for these individuals because they are more vulnerable to this more severe effects of if they do get infected. Therefore, they are the very people who should get vaccinated when you think in terms of having an imminent suppressed state. For example, if you're on glucocorticoids for rheumatoid arthritis, so you're on some of the monoclonal antibodies that block the markers of inflammation that under those circumstances, if that's where you are, there is not a safety issue with regard to the vaccine. Safety issues in immuno suppressed individuals relate to live attenuated vaccines, which are contra indicated in people who are immune suppressed. There is no safety reason not to get vaccinated. So for those who are thinking of getting vaccinated or soon will come up for vaccination, this is something that would be beneficial to you. The only potential downside might be that you might not have as robust a response to the vaccine as if you had a normal immune response. But clearly getting a less than optimum response is much better than no response at all, and I'm sure we'll be getting back to this question as MAWR vaccines become available and more people in that category will be ready to get vaccinated. The next is the question of the vaccination of Children, namely pediatrics and pregnant women. As we all know, these were not included in the original clinical trials that led to the EU A for the two vaccines that are currently available. But I wanna point out that since the U A. And under the U. A, approximately 20,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated with no red flags, as we say, and this is being monitored by the C, D. C and the FDA. So that's where we're going there with regard to Children and pregnant women. As I mentioned on a prior discussion with this group, the fact remains that we will be starting clinical trials and some have already started. We will not need to do tens of thousands of people. We will need just enough measured in hundreds to thousands for safety and whether or not we induce an immune response that is equivalent to the immune response that has been proven to be protective under the trials that have now shown to be 94 to 95% effective. And finally, the last issue relates to something that Dr Walensky just said about the prevalence of the B 117 or UK variant. The models tell us that this very well might become dominant in the United States by the end of March. That being the case, we should not despair it. That because there are things that we conduce do to prevent that it is not outside of our power to do that. For example, the vaccines that were using clearly are effective against this. We know that from in vitro correlate studies as well as for vaccines that are other candidates. So the two things that we could dio are some of the things that Dr Wolinski just mentioned wearing of masks, avoiding congregate settings, keeping your distance and washing your hands together when vaccine becomes available to you to please get vaccinated. So I'll hand it back to you. Jeff. Well, thank you, Dr Phil and Dr Nunez Smith. I understand that you were at the end of your comments, so hopefully the technical issues air behind us and you'll be available for questions I just want to pick up where you left off. And that is that equity is core to our strategy to put this pandemic behind us. And we're grateful to you for your expertise in leadership through efforts like community vaccination centers located in the hardest hit areas, mobile units, the Community Health Center program we announced yesterday, along with efforts to build vaccine confidence, we're providing tools to communities around the country to do this work. After this briefing, Dr Nunez Smith and I will join Governor Cuomo to announce to new community vaccination centers in underserved communities in the state of New York. Another example of this were coming to life on the ground with that. Let me open it up for questions. Yeah. All right. Thank you, everybody. We only have time for a couple of questions today. First, we're gonna go to Bertha Coombs at NBC. Yeah, hi. Thanks very much when you're talking about outreach in in these underserved communities. One of the things that we're seeing right now is that there are several waiting lists or people who are already on stateless, waiting who haven't gotten access. And now the pharmacies are opening up but those seem to be first come, first served. How are you going to try to create an equitable access for people who have already been waiting to be able to get access to these new vaccine doses coming online? Dr. Nunes Smith. Let's see if your technical issues are resolved. No. Are you able to hear me? Yeah. OK, great. Thank you so much for the question. You know, we are 100% committed to making sure that there is equitable access to the to the vaccines. Onda. The points you raise around registration are well noted. I think there are a great efforts underway. E would want to really lift up the work of community based organizations and faith organizations and others. Thio address really with some of these mechanisms that we've talked about today, including location of mobile units, mobile access as well as pop up community vaccination sites. We're going to Seymour in in the range of outreach with our federal federally qualified community health centers doing outreach to their patient populations to bring them in a swell as some of the pharmacies and others expanding ways to register through telephone and other things that I think will be really helpful. We're keeping a close eye on on this, um, and we'll continue to circle back with updates. And you're making sure that, for example, if there is a pharmacy in Harlem or over town that the people who wind up getting those slots aren't sliding over from wealthier neighborhoods, it is our top priority for anybody. Who is that? Yes. And it is their turn that they're able to connect with vaccination. Yeah, extra. Right. And we have time for one more questions. We'll goto Laura Santo Nim at PBS. Thank you so much for putting on this thing presentation. Um, can you talk to me a little bit more? Are just elaborate on the points about variant prevalence and how vaccine supplies are responding to that. Thank you, Dr Fauci. Yeah, I as you heard from Dr Wolinsky and I alluded to that the B 117 is, uh, you know, becoming widespread in the United States. It variables. It isn't uniformly distributed throughout the United States. Uh, the variant that is the 351 The South African variant has been recognized in a couple of states with just a few people, but it is very likely more prevalent than that because we don't have yet the full sequence surveillance that will be doing When you're talking about the relationship between vaccination and variant, there are a couple of things that we do know. We do know that the 117 the one that is the UK as it were, the one that we're concerned that over the next month or so it might become dominant. If you look at the antibodies that are induced by the vaccines that we use, they do very well in vitro in the test tube against to be 117 variant. Also the J and J study, which was done in the UK and in fact was able to show that the protection against that was really quite good to the tune of about 90%. The other variant of concern is one that is a bit more problematic, and that is the one that is not yet to any great degree in the United States, although we know it's here, and that's the 351 lineage variant, which is the one that is dominating in South Africa when you do those in vitro studies of looking at the antibodies that you induced by the vaccines that we use. There's about a 5 to 6 fold diminution and efficacy against that. Fortunately, it stays within the realm of protection. So there is a degree of protection, even though it's diminished somewhat. The good news that we got from other trials, particularly in South Africa, is that even though there was diminution in the effect of protection against mild to moderate disease, when you looked at seriously disease, severe disease, particularly hospitalizations and deaths, there was rather substantial protection. In fact, with no hospitalizations or deaths in vaccinated individuals who were infected with the 351 bottom line is that we have vaccines that work well against it. And obviously we're gonna be planning, if necessary, toe upgrade vaccines in the future. If we ever have to do that. Thank you, Dr Fauci. And I want to thank everybody for joining today's briefing. Thank you