US Issues Mask-Wearing Mandate

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a mask-wearing mandate late Friday to apply on all forms of public transportation, part of the U.S. effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease. The order, which goes into effect Monday (at 11:59 p.m. EST, 4:59 GMT Tuesday), requires people to wear masks “while boarding, disembarking, and traveling on any conveyance into or within the United States,” and “at any transportation hub that provides transportation within the United States.”The order said: “”Requiring masks on our transportation systems will protect Americans and provide confidence that we can once again travel safely even during this pandemic.” Also Friday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed an extension to an order that was scheduled to expire Sunday concerning evictions for failure to pay rent or mortgage payments. The CDC director said in a statement, “The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a historic threat to our nation’s health. Despite extensive mitigation efforts, COVID-19 continues to spread in America at a concerning pace. The pandemic has also exacerbated underlying issues of housing insecurity for many Americans. Keeping people in their homes and out of congregate settings, like shelters, is a key step in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.”As the number of COVID-19 infections continues to climb and highly contagious variants of the virus have emerged, some countries are imposing new travel restrictions. A man walks on an empty Promenade des Anglais during a nationwide curfew, from 6 p.m to 6 a.m, due to restrictions against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Nice, France, Jan. 29, 2021.France is prohibiting all travel to and from non-European Union countries.  Under the new policy beginning Sunday, travelers from EU countries seeking entry into France will have to provide evidence of a negative coronavirus test. Travelers from several European and African nations — Brazil, Britian, Eswatini, Ireland, Lesotho, Portugal, and South Africa – will not be allowed into Germany.   However, German residents traveling from those countries will be granted entry, even if they test positive for the coronavirus virus.  Fourteen University of Michigan students are in quarantine after being diagnosed with the British variant of the virus.  One of the students is reported to have traveled to Britain over the winter break. Health officials in South Carolina say they have detected two cases of the South African COVID-19 variant, the first cases in the United States.Johnson & Johnson One-dose Vaccine 66% Successful US pharmaceutical maker calls vaccine 85% effective in preventing serious illness U.S. pharmaceutical and medical device maker Johnson & Johnson says after a global trial, the COVID-19 vaccine it has developed is 66% effective in preventing infection.The one-dose vaccine, which was developed by the company’s Belgian subsidiary, Janssen, appears to be 85% effective in preventing serious illness, even against the South African variant.Of the 44,000 people who participated in the trial in the U.S., South Africa and Brazil, no one who was given the vaccine died, the company said.The U.S. has agreed to buy 100 million doses of the vaccine with an option to buy 200 million more, according to the company.The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the fourth vaccine approved to fight the pandemic.Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center said early Saturday that there are more than 102 million global COVID-19 cases.  The U.S. remains the location with the most cases at 25.9 million, followed by India with 10.7 million and Brazil with 9.1 million.

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