Asian Americans among most affected by pandemic shutdowns

eople can get full-body rashes, and that can be surprising and a little scary, but these patients did extremely well, recovered and were able to go back and get their second dose,” said Freeman, director of global health dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

– Elizabeth Weise

Asian Americans among most affected by pandemic shutdowns
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are grappling with the nation’s highest rates of long-term unemployment more than a year after the pandemic shuttered hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, beauty salons and other sectors of the economy. Even as unemployment levels driven by the economic shutdown have returned to near pre-pandemic levels, many Asian Americans are unsure when they will be able to return to work.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 48% of the Asian community’s estimated 615,000 unemployed had been without work for six months-plus through the first quarter of this year. The figure surpassed long-term unemployed among jobless workers in the Black population (43%), white population (39%) and Hispanic population (39%).

– Marc Ramirez

Tech officials ‘Apollo 13-ing’ vaccination scheduling programs
Local health officials faced with the daunting duty of vaccinating their corner of America have had to piece together information technology systems in the face of unstable vaccine supply and strained staff and resources. Though the federal government spent millions on vaccine scheduling and supply management programs, they were of little use to local officials, who scrambled to come up with systems on their own.

Becky Colwell-Ongenae, geographical information system manager for Will County, Illinois, said she feels like tech experts are “Apollo 13-ing this vaccine rollout,” a reference to the 1970 space flight during which makeshift engineering averted a disaster when an oxygen tank failed. “I got a plastic bag and some tweezers, and I gotta moonshot home,” she said. Read more here.

– Aleszu Bajak and Elizabeth Weise

US behind other nations in crucial tracking of variants
The United States lags well behind many other countries in employing the essential tool for keeping abreast of variants – gene sequencing – increasing the risk that a new variant could spread undetected here. Sequencing involves taking samples from positive tests to another lab to seek the genetic code of a virus, laying out for scientists a precise map for how to defeat it.

So far this year, the U.S. ranks 33rd in the world for its rate of sequencing, falling between Burkina Faso and Zimbabwe, according to COVID CoV Genomic, led by researchers at Harvard and MIT. The top three nations – Iceland, Australia and New Zealand – sequenced at a rate between 55 and 95 times greater.

– David Heath

About 80% of teachers, child care workers vaccinated
About 80% of teachers, school staff and child care workers have gotten at least their first COVID-19 vaccine shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The percentage came from a CDC survey completed by 13,000 education staff and 40,000 childcare workers across the country. The CDC said it had tracked more than 7 million doses that had been administered to the group, which were prioritized in early March in hopes of reopening schools across the U.S.

“Our push to ensure that teachers, school staff and child care workers were vaccinated during March has paid off and paved the way for safer in-person learning,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said. “CDC will build on the success of this program and work with our partners to continue expanding our vaccination efforts, as we work to ensure confidence in COVID-19 vaccines.”

Brazil, Argentina break records for deaths, infections
Both Brazil and Argentina broke their own bleak records with COVID-19 infections and deaths as the rest of the globe continues its race to vaccinate while more virus variants spread.

Brazil – where the more infectious P.1 variant was discovered – saw its deadliest day on record Tuesday with 4,195 deaths within a 24-hour span. More than 330,000 people have died in the country because of COVID-19.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro continues to resist calls to impose a national lockdown, saying, “We’re not going to accept this politics of stay home and shut everything down.”

Argentina also broke its record for infections, recording 20,870 new COVID-19 cases in one day. The number of confirmed cases in the country rose to more than 2.4 million.