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The U.S. Has Administered Its First Doses of the COVID-19 Vaccine

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  • The United States officially started administering its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. New York nurse Sandra Lindsay is believed to be the first American to receive it.
  • During a livestream with Governor Andrew Cuomo, Lindsay said it felt like getting any other vaccine and added, “I feel hopeful today, relieved. I feel like healing is coming.
  • The FDA authorized Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine on Friday. The Director of the CDC approved the administration of it on Sunday.
  • Trucks are delivering close to 3 million doses of the vaccine from Michigan to all 50 states. It will arrive at 145 vaccine distribution sites by Monday and another 425 on Tuesday.
  • Healthcare workers and those in long term care facilities will get it first. The general public will likely have to wait until the spring or summer before being vaccinated.

First Vaccine Administered in New York

A nurse from New York is believed to be the first American to become vaccinated against the coronavirus outside of scientific trials. 

Nurse Sandra Lindsay, who works at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, New York received the vaccine on Monday during a livestream with Governor Andrew Cuomo. It was administered by Northwell Health Director of Employee Health Services Dr. Michelle Chester. This vaccination marks a historic and hopeful moment for the country, which has lost nearly 300,000 lives to the deadly virus. 

“Sandra, you didn’t even flinch,” Cuomo said after Lindsay received the shot. “I take it Dr. Chester has a good touch.”

“She has a good touch and it felt like taking any other vaccine,” Lindsay said.

Lindsay is among the many healthcare workers who have been on the frontlines responding to the pandemic. The hospital she works at is located in one of the New York boroughs hit hardest by the virus when it struck the city in the spring. 

“I feel hopeful today, relieved,” she added during the live stream. “I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning to the end of a very painful time in our history.” 

Both Lindsay and Cuomo encouraged people to continue to wear masks and practice social distancing as the country continues to ride out the worst wave of the pandemic yet. While healthcare workers and those in long-term care are getting priority access, the general public will likely have to wait until the spring or summer until they get their hands on it. 

“This is the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s a long tunnel,” Cuomo said.

President Donald Trump also celebrated the news of the vaccination on Twitter.

Vaccine Marks Major Medical Triumph

The Food and Drug Administration issued authorization for Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine on Friday. On Sunday, CDC Director Robert Redfield approved it for administration. The vaccine requires two shots and trials proved it to be 95% effective, marking a milestone medical triumph.

The first coronavirus case was reported less than a year ago, and by comparison, vaccines for other illnesses like mumps and measles took four years and nine years respectively.

The timing of this vaccine could not be any more crucial as the pandemic is worsening throughout the country. There have been a total of 16.3 million infections in the U.S. and nearly 300,000 deaths. Cases are on the rise, and experts believe we are nearing a point where we could see over 3,000 deaths a day consistently—the equivalent of losing more lives than a 9/11 a day.

Vaccinations will begin in several states Monday and continue throughout the week. In addition to New York; Iowa, Kentucky, Connecticut, Washington D.C. and other states and cities have vaccinations scheduled. 

Nearly 3 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine left a plant in Michigan on Sunday headed to all 50 states. Doses will reach 145 vaccination distribution sites Monday, land at another 425 on Tuesday, and then 66 more on Wednesday. 

Distribution will be challenging for states as the vaccine needs to be kept in ultra-cold temperatures. States have also said they lack the federal funding needed to administer the shot and track who has and has not gotten it. Still, federal officials say that by the end of 2020, 20 million doses will have been distributed. 

Side effects for the vaccine include fatigue, fever, headaches, injection site pain, and joint and muscle pain, which are generally common vaccine side effects which are said to last only a few days. Two nurses who received it in the U.K. did get allergic reactions, but both had histories of allergic reactions and are recovering well. While health officials are looking into this, experts still believe there are very few people who will not be able to safely take this vaccine. 

Four people in Pfizer’s trial also developed Bell’s Palsy, but it is not believed that this is related to or caused by the vaccine. Those cases are still being researched and there is still no reason to believe Bell’s Palsy is a side effect of the vaccine. 

See what others are saying: (CBS News) (Washington Post) (New York Times)

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Lincoln College to Close for Good After COVID and Ransomware Attack Ruin Finances

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Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.


One of the Only Historically Black Colleges in the Midwest Goes Down

After 157 years of educating mostly Black students in Illinois, Lincoln College will close its doors for good on Friday.

The college made the announcement last month, citing financial troubles caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a ransomware attack in December.

Enrollment dropped during the pandemic and the administration had to make costly investments in technology and campus safety measures, according to a statement from the school.

A shrinking endowment put additional pressure on the college’s budget.

The ransomware attack, which the college has said originated from Iran, thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data. Systems for recruitment, retention, and fundraising were completely inoperable at a time when the administration needed them most.

In March, the college paid the ransom, which it has said amounted to less than $100,000. But according to Lincoln’s statement, subsequent projections showed enrollment shortfalls so significant the college would need a transformational donation or partnership to make it beyond the present semester.

The college put out a request for $50 million in a last-ditch effort to save itself, but no one came forward to provide it.

A GoFundMe aiming to raise $20 million for the college only collected $2,452 as of Tuesday.

Students and Employees Give a Bittersweet Goodbye

“The loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense,” David Gerlach, the college’s president, said in a statement.

Lincoln counts nearly 1,000 enrolled students, and those who did not graduate this spring will leave the institution without degrees.

Gerlach has said that 22 colleges have worked with Lincoln to accept the remaining students, including their credits, tuition prices, and residency requirements.

“I was shocked and saddened by that news because of me being a freshman, so now I have to find someplace for me to go,” one student told WMBD News after the closure was announced.

When a group of students confronted Gerlach at his office about the closure, he responded with an emotional speech.

“I have been fighting hard to save this place,” he said. “But resources are resources. We’ve done everything we possibly could.”

On April 30, alumni were invited back to the campus to revisit the highlights of their college years before the institution closed.

On Saturday, the college held its final graduation ceremony, where over 200 students accepted their diplomas and Quentin Brackenridge performed the Lincoln Alma Mater.

Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Herald Review) (CNN)

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U.S. Tops One Million Coronavirus Deaths, WHO Estimates 15 Million Worldwide

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India’s real COVID death toll stands at about 4.7 million, ten times higher than official data, the WHO estimated.


One Million Dead

The United States officially surpassed one million coronavirus deaths Wednesday, 26 months after the first death was reported in late February of 2020.

Experts believe that figure is likely an undercount, since there are around 200,000 excess deaths, though some of those may not be COVID-related.

The figure is the equivalent of the population of San Jose, the tenth-largest city in the U.S., vanishing in just over two years. To put the magnitude in visual perspective, NECN published a graphic illustrating what one million deaths looks like.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the White House predicted between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans would die from the coronavirus in a best-case scenario.

By February 2021, over half a million Americans had died of COVID.

The coronavirus has become the third leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer.

The pandemic’s effects go beyond its death toll. Around a quarter of a million children have lost a caregiver to the virus, including about 200,000 who lost one or both parents. Every COVID-related death leaves an estimated nine people grieving.

The virus has hit certain industries harder than others, with food and agriculture, warehouse operations and manufacturing, and transportation and construction seeing especially high death rates.

People’s mental health has also been affected, with a study in January of five Western countries including the U.S. finding that 13% of people reported symptoms of PTSD attributable to actual or potential contact with the virus.

Fifteen Million Dead

On Thursday, the World Health Organization estimated that nearly 15 million people have died from the pandemic worldwide, a dramatic revision from the 5.4 million previously reported in official statistics.

Between January 2020 and the end of last year, the WHO estimated that between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people died either due to the coronavirus directly or because of factors somehow attributed to the pandemic’s impact on health systems, such as cancer patients who were unable to seek treatment when hospitals were full of COVID patients.

Based on that range, scientists arrived at an approximate total of 14.9 million.

The new estimate shows a 13% increase in deaths than is usually expected for a two-year period.

“This may seem like just a bean-counting exercise, but having these WHO numbers is so critical to understanding how we should combat future pandemics and continue to respond to this one,” Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious diseases specialist at the Yale School of Public Health who was not linked to the WHO research, told the Associated Press.

Most of the deaths occurred in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

According to the WHO, India counts the most deaths by far with 4.7 million, ten times its official number.

See what others are saying: (NBC) (U.S. News and World Report) (Scientific American)

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Official Says Missing Alabama Convict and Corrections Officer Had a “Special Relationship”

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Authorities have also said they now believe the officer willfully helped the inmate escape.


New Information on Missing Inmate & Officer

Authorities in Alabama revealed Tuesday that Assistant Director of Corrections for Lauderdale County Vicky White, who is accused of helping a murder suspect Casey Cole White escape from jail, had a “special relationship” with the inmate.

“Investigators received information from inmates at the Lauderdale County Detention Center over the weekend that there was a special relationship between Director White and inmate Casey White,” Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said in a statement. “That relationship has now been confirmed through our investigation by independent sources and means.”

Officials have previously said that the two are not related, despite their shared surname.

Singleton elaborated on the nature of the relationship while speaking to CNN later on Tuesday. He said it took place “outside of her normal work hours” and added that although it did not include “physical contact,” he still characterized it as “a relationship of a different nature.”

“We were told Casey White got special privileges and was treated differently while in the facility than the other inmates,” Singleton said.

Also on Tuesday, the Marshals Service issued a statement confirming that authorities believe Officer White had helped Mr. White escape. The authorities described her as a “wanted fugitive” and offered a $5,000 reward for any information on her whereabouts. Earlier this week, the Marshals Service also offered a $10,000 reward for any information that could lead to Mr. White’s capture.

Singleton echoed the belief that Officer White’s actions were intentional while speaking to Good Morning America Wednesday.

“I think all of our employees and myself included were really hoping that she did not participate in this willingly. But all indications are that she absolutely did,” he said. “We’re very disappointed in that because we had the utmost trust in her as an employee and as an assistant director of corrections.”

Mysterious Escape

Vicky White and Casey White were last seen leaving the Lauderdale County jail just after 9:30 a.m. Friday. The officer told other employees that she was taking the inmate to a mental health evaluation at a courthouse just down the road, and that she would be going to a medical appointment after because she was not feeling well.

Officials later said her actions violated an official policy that required two sworn deputies to transport people with murder charges. In 2020, Mr. White was charged with two counts of capital murder in connection to a fatal stabbing he confessed to and was awaiting his trial in Lauderdale County.

Mr. White was also serving time for what officials said was a “crime spree” in 2015 which included home invasion, carjacking, and a police chase. He had also previously tried to escape from jail, police said.

It wasn’t until 3:30 p.m. on Friday that a jail employee reported to higher-ups that he was not able to reach Officer White on her phone and that Mr. White had never been returned to his cell.

During a press conference that same night, Singleton told reporters that there had never even been a scheduled mental health evaluation. At another briefing Monday, he announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for Vicky on a charge of “permitting or facilitating an escape in the first degree.”

At the time, Singleton said it was unclear “whether she did that willingly or was coerced or threatened” but added, “we know for sure she did participate.” 

See what others are saying: (CNN) (ABC News) (NPR)

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