Wednesday, September 22, 2021

July 21, 2021  WASHINGTON, D.C. - Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa F. Etienne reported that the Americas' year-old COVID-19 Genomic Surveillance Regional Network "keeps a close eye" on the emergence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants throughout the region.

"The network has been instrumental in monitoring the virus's spread within border regions and among travelers, who are often the first to introduce variants into a country," Dr. Etienne said during her weekly media briefing.

So far, 47 countries and territories in the Americas have detected at least one "variant of concern" and 11 have detected all four of them – alpha, beta, gamma, and delta.

Dr. Etienne explained that the Network started as a handful of public health labs in 2020, including the regional sequencing labs Fundação Oswaldo Cruz/FIOCRUZ - Brazil and Instituto de Salud Pública de Chile (ISPCH), which carry out sequencing for countries without local capacity. The Network has grown to include 24 labs in total, among them four additional reference laboratories – Mexico's Institute of Epidemiological Diagnostics and Reference (INDRE), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the University of West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago, and the Gorgas Institute in Panama.

"Together, and using science as a common language, countries committed to bolster their laboratory capacity, hire staff, and make surveillance a priority, building on the legacy of our region's longstanding dengue and influenza surveillance and laboratory networks," Dr. Etienne said.

PAHO supports the network by standardizing laboratory protocols, conducting trainings, and donating supplies.

"The COVID-19 Genomic Surveillance Regional Network is an example of the power of Pan-Americanism and the importance of working together to control this virus," Dr. Etienne said. "We must bring the same spirit of collaboration and solidarity to other dimensions of our COVID-19 response, especially vaccines."

Lack of vaccine access is creating an epidemiological divide

She stressed that lack of vaccine access is creating an epidemiological divide. "More and more, disease trends are showing a region divided by vaccine access," Dr. Etienne said. "In countries with adequate vaccine supply, infections are decreasing; in places where vaccine coverage is still low, in those countries, infections remain high."

She pointed out that COVID-19 cases are steadily declining in Costa Rica, where nearly one in three people are vaccinated. South American countries with higher rates of vaccinations, including Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina, are reporting sharp decreases in cases. Cases are decreasing across Canada and most of the United States.

But in Latin America and the Caribbean overall, only 15% of the population has been fully vaccinated, and some countries, including Honduras and Haiti, have yet to reach 1%, she said. With its low vaccination rate, Honduras is seeing an increase in cases along its border. COVID-19 infections are increasing in most Central American countries, with Guatemala reporting high cases and hospitalizations.

In the Caribbean, both COVID-19 cases and deaths are spiking in Cuba, where conditions are especially acute in the province of Matanzas, Dr. Etienne said. Other smaller islands are also reporting an increase in infections, among them Martinique, which is experiencing a tripling of cases. Hotspots also persist in Amazonian states in Colombia and Peru.

"These trends illustrate how COVID-19 remains entrenched within our region, particularly in countries with low vaccination coverage," Dr. Etienne said. She reiterated that public health measures, such as physical distancing, wearing masks, and avoiding crowds – as well as infection control through testing, contact tracing, quarantining, and isolation – remain vital.

In total in the past week, the Americas reported more than 967,000 new cases and 22,000 deaths, which reflects a slight decline from the week before.

SXM Radio Online

Entertainment

September 7, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Michael K. Williams, who as the rogue robber of drug dealers Omar Little on “The Wire” created one of the most beloved and enduring characters in a prime era of television, died Monday. Williams was found dead Monday afternoon by family members in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment, New York City police said. He was 54. His death was being investigated as a possible drug overdose, the NYPD said. The medical examiner was investigating the cause of death. Little, a “stick-up boy” based on real figures from Baltimore, was probably the most popular character among the devoted fans of “The Wire,” the HBO show that ran from 2002 to 2008 and is re-watched constantly in streaming.

September 8, 2021 LOS ANGELES (AP) — Britney Spears’ father filed Tuesday to end the court conservatorship that has controlled the singer’s life and money for 13 years. James Spears filed his petition to terminate the conservatorship in Los Angeles Superior Court. “As Mr. Spears has said, again and again, all he wants is what is best for his daughter,” the document says. “If Ms. Spears wants to terminate the conservatorship and believes that she can handle her own life, Mr. Spears believes that she should get that chance.” Judge Brenda Penny, who oversees the case, will need to approve the move. Britney Spears attorney Matthew Rosengart said in an email the filing “represents another legal victory for Britney Spears — a massive one — as well as vindication for Ms. Spears.”

September 8, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — With Katie Holmes and Lil’ Kim on his front row and singer Marina on the mic high above his runway, Christian Siriano helped kicked off New York Fashion Week’s first big pandemic round of in-person shows Tuesday with a flurry of neon and lace-inspired in part by all the Italian women in his life. From ornate Gotham Hall, beneath a stained-glass skylight 70 feet up, Siriano’s commitment to size inclusivity was never stronger as he opened and closed the show with plus-size breakout model Precious Lee. She first walked in a stunning yellow trouser suit with wide loose pants and an asymmetrical jacket, a matching crossover bralette underneath.

September 7, 2021  VENICE, Italy (AP) — Paul Schrader knows he has a limited number of films left, so whatever he does from here on out is going to be for himself. At 75 years old, the writer of “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” and director of “American Gigolo” and “Mishima” was even somewhat prepared to call it a day after his 2018 film “First Reformed,” for which he got his first Oscar nomination. He didn’t want to. He just knew it might be the reality. “I thought I would go back to this character again for about the fifth time,” Schrader said in a recent interview. By “this character” he means “the man in the room.” It’s Travis Bickle. It’s John LeTour. It’s Julian Kay. And it’s a formula he’s been working with for 45 years.

Business News

September 8, 2021  -Stocks were mostly lower in Asia on Wednesday after a lackluster session on Wall Street, where weak jobs data and pandemic concerns weighed on sentiment. Shares rose in Tokyo after economic growth for the April-June quarter was revised upward to an annualized 1.9% from an earlier estimate of 1.3%. “Any feel-good factor was ignored, though, given the climb was less than half of the 4.20% fall in Q1,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary. “Japan will be lucky to break even this year as the current Covid-19 wave will almost certainly have weighed on domestic consumption,” he said.

September 8, 2021 NEW YORK (AP) — There will be something missing at two Whole Foods stores opening next year: the rows of cashiers. Amazon, which owns the grocery chain, said Wednesday that it will bring its cashier-less technology to two Whole Foods stores for the first time, letting shoppers grab what they need and leave without having to open their wallets. Cameras and sensors track what’s taken off shelves. Items are charged to an Amazon account after customers leave the store with them. But there will be an option for those who want to shop the old-fashioned way: Self-checkout lanes will be available that take cash, gift cards and other types of payment. Amazon first unveiled the cashier-less technology in 2018 at an Amazon Go convenience store and has expanded it to larger Amazon supermarkets. But it will be the first time it has appeared at Whole Foods, a chain of more than 500 grocery stores Amazon bought four years ago.

September 8, 2021  BEIJING (AP) — An avalanche of changes launched by China’s ruling Communist Party has jolted everyone from tech billionaires to school kids. Behind them: President Xi Jinping’s vision of making a more powerful, prosperous country by reviving revolutionary ideals, with more economic equality and tighter party control over society and entrepreneurs. Since taking power in 2012, Xi has called for the party to return to its “original mission” as China’s economic, social and cultural leader and carry out the “ rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation.” The party has spent the decade since then silencing dissent and tightening political control. Now, after 40 years of growth that transformed China into the world’s factory but left a gulf between a wealthy elite and the poor majority, the party is promising to spread prosperity more evenly and is pressing private companies to pay for social welfare and back Beijing’s ambition to become a global technology competitor.

Fashion News

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