The pandemic Olympics, misinformation about vaccines and reinstated Covid-19 passes. Here’s what you need to know:
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Olympics could be Covid-19 ‘super-evolutionary’ event
A year later than expected, the 2020 Summer Olympics kicked off today in Tokyo. For stakeholders, there was a huge incentive to ensure that the Games took place in one form or another. But while about 85% of people coming to Tokyo for the event are vaccinated, only 22% of Japanese are. Along with the fact that cases have remained relatively low in Japan, the Olympics could provide the perfect soil for superpropagation and exchange of new variants.
Beyond the Olympic Village, the virus is once again on the rise in Tokyo, which is currently under a state of emergency that will last until the end of the Games. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga recently admitted that he had been difficult to generate enthusiasm among Japanese citizens amid pandemic fears. Earlier this week, Toyota announced that it pulling its Olympic commercials in solidarity with the Japanese public’s opposition to the event.
Vaccine misinformation and hesitation are reducing inoculation rates, leading to further increase in US cases
The Delta variant now represents more than 80 percent of infections in the United States and has resulted in an increase in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in every state and Washington, DC. That said, the worst epidemics are occurring in places where vaccination rates have remained low. The White House has repeatedly pointed out that misinformation has kept many people from getting vaccinated, and accused social media platforms like Facebook for not doing enough to curb its spread.
But it’s hard to argue that any social network has the impact of conservative cable news channels like Fox News, where nearly 60% of vaccine-related segments in a recent two-week span undermined vaccination efforts. And vaccine reluctance in the United States is still largely biased. As Delta skyrockets, however, more Republicans are encourage their base to come out and get shot, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rep. Steve Scalise, the Republican number two in the House.
Countries, cities and school districts restore public health measures as delta spreads
Amid the rise of the Delta variant, some countries are reintroducing Covid passes or other means of proving vaccination before entering certain facilities. From Wednesday, visitors to France need a special pass saying they are either fully vaccinated, tested negative, or have recovered from Covid-19 in order to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower and visit museums and cinemas. Israel’s Green Pass program, which limits access to public spaces like restaurants, gyms and synagogues to people who have been vaccinated or recently tested negative, is expected to resume its effects next week. And Boris Johnson recently announced that English nightclubs and other popular places will require proof of vaccination. by the end of September.
Even in the United States, some are reassessing public health measures. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this week that public hospital workers will either need to get vaccinated or be tested weekly in a attempt to increase vaccination rates within city hospitals. And Chicago Public Schools recently announced that all students and teachers will be required to wear masks when classes begin next month, whether or not they have been vaccinated.
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City planners presented the pandemic as an opportunity to energize small towns and redo the big ones for the best, favoring pedestrians and cyclists on cars, find ways to do buildings breathe better, and reform rush hour. Other researchers have noted that the ways in which urban crime has declined in 2020, will provide important information that could help cities increase safety and do so more equitably, even after the pandemic. Still, there is no doubt that the pandemic has taken its toll on city life. An example: Public transportation, the cornerstone of cities like New York, is under serious threat.
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