Corona Virus spreading ... US official says no need to worry

When the government tells me I don't need to worry, then I tend to think I really do need to be concerned. But at least one report is quoting some US health officials as saying there is no need for US citizens to worry.

We know there are 4 cases in the USA, 1 case in Canada.

The Canadian case is a man who arrived sick and is in the hospital in Toronto. Canadian health officials seemed to imply that they have probably contacted all the at risk people who may have been in contact with the Chinese national on the inbound flight.

In the US, there is 1 confirmed case in Washington State, 1 in Chicago, 2 in California. I believe all the cases are foreign nationals.

China has QUARANTINED roughly 60 MILLION PEOPLE by cutting off 16 (or more) cities. The epicenter is Wuhan, a city of 11 Million people, but the quarantine was put into place after roughly 5 million people left the city for the Lunar New Year celebration, which is the heaviest travel time in China and typically has more than 100,000,000 people traveling nationally + internationally for the week long holiday period.

Official sources say there are under 2000 cases worldwide, and approximately 50 deaths. The disease is being compared to the Spanish Flu, which killed millions just about 100 years ago, but this is considered far more dangerous.

UN-official sources suggest that at least 100,000 cases exist and the disease is spreading and mutating very quickly.


China scrambles to contain 'strengthening' virus
(Adds comments from mayor of Wuhan)

* Coronavirus' transmission ability getting stronger

* Incubation 1-14 days, infectious during incubation

* China confirms 1,975 people infected, 56 dead

* U.S. to evacuate diplomatic staff, citizens from Wuhan

* China imposes temporary nationwide ban on sale of wildlife

By Gabriel D. Crossley and Cheng Leng

BEIJING/SHANGHAI, Jan 26 (Reuters) - The ability of the new coronavirus to spread is strengthening and infections could continue to rise, China's National Health Commission said on Sunday, with more than 2,000 people in China infected and 56 killed by the disease.

Health authorities around the world are racing to prevent a pandemic after a handful of cases of infection were reported outside China, including in Thailand, Australia, the United States and France.

The mayor of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, said he expected another 1,000 new patients in the city, which was stepping up construction of special hospitals.

The newly identified coronavirus has created alarm because much about it is still unknown, such as how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people. It can cause pneumonia, which has been deadly in some cases.

China's National Health Commission Minister Ma Xiaowei said the incubation period for the virus can range from one to 14 days, during which infection can occur, which was not the case with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

SARS was a coronavirus that originated in China and killed nearly 800 people globally in 2002 and 2003.

"According to recent clinical information, the virus' ability to spread seems to be getting somewhat stronger," Ma told reporters.

The Lunar New Year holiday, traditionally celebrated by hundreds of millions of Chinese travelling around the country and abroad to see family, began on Friday but has been severely disrupted by the outbreak.

Ma said China would intensify its containment efforts, which have so far included transportation and travel curbs and the cancellation of big events.

The country may extend the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, state broadcaster CCTV reported, citing a meeting hosted by Chinese premier Li Keqiang.

The virus, believed to have originated late last year in a seafood market in Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife, has spread to cities including Beijing and Shanghai. Hong Kong has six confirmed cases.

The World Health Organisation this week stopped short of calling the outbreak a global health emergency, but some health experts question whether China can contain the epidemic.

Chinese President Xi Jinping described the situation as "grave" on Saturday.

China confirmed 2,051 cases of infection as of 7 p.m. (1100 GMT) on Jan. 26, while the death toll from the virus remained at 56, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Health officials in Orange County, California, reported that a third case had been registered in the United States in a traveller from Wuhan, who was in isolation and in good condition.

On Saturday, Canada declared a first "presumptive" confirmed case in a resident who had returned from Wuhan. Australia confirmed its first four cases.

No fatalities have been reported outside China.


On Sunday, China temporarily banned nationwide the sale of wildlife in markets, restaurants, and e-commerce platforms. Wild and often poached animals packed together in Chinese markets are blamed as incubators for viruses to evolve and jump the species barrier to humans.

Snakes, peacocks, crocodiles and other species can also be found for sale via Taobao, an e-commerce website run by Alibaba.

The New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society called on China to make the ban permanent.

The U.S. State Department said it will relocate personnel at its Wuhan consulate to the United States, while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his government was working with China to arrange a charter flight for Japanese nationals to return from Wuhan.

The outbreak has prompted widening curbs on movements within China, with Wuhan, a city of 11 million, on virtual lockdown and transport links all-but severed except for emergency vehicles.


Health authorities in Beijing urged people not to shake hands but instead salute using a traditional cupped-hand gesture. The advice was sent in a text message that went out to mobile phone users in the city on Sunday morning.

Beijing also postponed the reopening of the city's schools and universities after the Lunar New Year holiday, state radio reported. Hong Kong had already delayed the reopening of schools to Feb. 17.

China has called for transparency in managing the crisis, after a cover-up of the spread of the SARS virus eroded public trust, but officials in Wuhan have been criticised for their handling of the current outbreak.

"People in my hometown all suspect the real infected patients number given by authorities," said Violet Li, who lives in the Wuhan district where the seafood market is located.

Illustrating the extend of disruption to life in China, overall passenger travel declined by nearly 29% on Saturday, the first day of the Lunar New Year, from a year earlier, with air passengers down nearly 42%, a transportation ministry official said.

Many cinemas across China were closed with major film premieres postponed.

Cruise operators including Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Costa Cruises said they had cancelled a combined 12 cruises that had been scheduled to embark from Chinese ports before Feb. 2.

Hong Kong Disneyland and the city's Ocean Park were closed on Sunday. Shanghai Disneyland, which expected 100,000 visitors daily through the holiday period, has already closed.

Airports around the world have stepped up screening of passengers from China, although some health officials and experts have questioned the effectiveness of these efforts.
Non-profit for the US? I'm just asking the question because I'm still trying to learn about all this.

Are you saying that the FDA is possibly stalling because they want the US vaccine producers to get the profit instead of giving the money to some company outside the US? If that's the case, I'm not sure that's the right thing to do, but I can see a political motive for doing that.

I still haven't even had my first vaccine yet, but if I had the luxury of choosing one, it would be Pfizer.
The Oxford/AstraZenica group said they would sell their covid vaccine to any nation on earth, at the cost of production only, for the duration of the pandemic. Once the pandemic is over, they will start charging for their vaccine at market prices, if there is a market. They also said they would "license" the manufacture of their vaccine for free to any pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in the world during the duration of the pandemic. One can also presume they will profit on 'booster' shots, in the future, if they are required, etc.

I'm saying that Moderna (which is partially owned by Fauci) and the other companies have a fiscal interest in selling the most doses they can sell. And if they can use their "influence" to stall the approval of a non-profit vaccine then they make money. Simple. Clear. Obvious.

As for the choice between the Pfizer and the Moderna, I had the choice, it didn't matter to me.

Both use the same general mRNA technology. Either is as effect as the other on the original strain. Moderna might have more success against the S.A. strain, Pfizer might have more success against the Kent/UK strain, not clear if either has an advantage over the California or Brazilian mutations. In any case the differences are negligible. Pfizer seems to have more reported cases of side effects after the second shot (24 hours of fatigue), but I'm not sure that is overwhelmingly different either.
I'm saying that Moderna (which is partially owned by Fauci) and the other companies have a fiscal interest in selling the most doses they can sell. And if they can use their "influence" to stall the approval of a non-profit vaccine then they make money. Simple. Clear. Obvious.
Thanks, I got it now. I certainly didn't know that Moderna was partially owned by Fauci.
I think I've finally convinced both my sons to get vaccinated.
Jeff said he feels better now about the single dose Johnson & Johnson because they didn't just rush it out like Pfizer and Moderna.
Ty is still on the fence though, he thinks it's all bullshit and has from the beginning.
I don't think it has been, but the counties around here still showing red makes no sense to me, and we're very relaxed where I work with the masks and family visits happening again.
I think I've finally convinced both my sons to get vaccinated.
Jeff said he feels better now about the single dose Johnson & Johnson because they didn't just rush it out like Pfizer and Moderna.
Ty is still on the fence though, he thinks it's all bullshit and has from the beginning.
I don't think it has been, but the counties around here still showing red makes no sense to me, and we're very relaxed where I work with the masks and family visits happening again.
I'm not sure that the Pfizer or Moderna were "rushed" but I certainly understand why people would feel that way. Both were designed by supercomputers that tested all sorts of combinations. The J&J is an older style vaccine, certainly proven to be safe and simply slower to make. But in all 3 cases, they still went through similar trial periods with significant trial sizes.

As for being all bullshit from the beginning, I think there has been a huge degree of political hype and a huge degree of political opportunism, but it is still a very real disease. Clearly there have been a huge number of "false positives" which is something that i think is apparent today but was not so obvious earlier on because they really were learning how to test for Covid. But when you look at the rapid drop in cases, some of that is herd immunity but most of the drop can be related to the change in cycle counts at the labs when they do the testing.

That said, if you carefully look at the data, the drop has STOPPED and we've now leveled off, I suspect that we've seen testing error removed, and now we are seeing the effects of the new variants (South African/UK/California & Brazil) that are more contagious.

My hope is that now that the testing cycle counts have been standardized we will see more accurate diagnosis of Covid and we can cut the hype.
That's true PG, but my question is: with the financial incentives hospitals get for covid cases, how many flu cases have been labeled as covid??
Probably very few.

To be misclassified they would still have to have a positive test for Covid. So you'd need a "false positive" and then have to treat the patient with the Covid protocols, which my brother (hospital back office worker) tells me is a huge pain in the ass for hospitals.


INDIANA made 2 announcements about Covid.

1 - 55 years old is the new vaccination age for Hoosiers
2 - Indiana now forbids ILLINOIS residents from getting the vaccine in Indiana. The federal government is allocating vaccines to the states by population and apparently we've had a lot of Illinois residents cross the state line to get the vaccine in Indiana.

ALSO in Indiana, both our HOUSE and our SENATE have passed bills, which will be moving to the Governor. The proposed law will LIMIT THE GOVERNOR from extending an "emergency executive order" beyond 60 days unless the House & Senate vote to certify the order.

Particularly in our rural areas, people are sick and tired of the mask orders
I was just looking at an old thread on Doc's cooking forum in the chit chat section.
From 2009, we had a discussion on the swine flu.
It was almost like what we are discussing now, minus media panic and all the other hype that certainly did not happen back then.
I remember being concerned, but it was nothing at all like the past year.

Just throwing out a few things here. The first is for the Catholics among us (like myself).

FULL STORY at the link =>

‘Morally compromised.’ Why one archdiocese urges Catholics to avoid newest COVID vaccine

March 02, 2021 12:29 PM​
The Archdiocese of New Orleans has advised Catholics against receiving the new Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, calling the one-dose shot “morally compromised.”
In a statement Friday, the religious organization said the new vaccine should be avoided due to its link to an “abortion-derived cell line” used in the vaccine’s development and production phases.​
But the available vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are “morally acceptable,” the archdiocese wrote, because only some lab testing utilized stem cells from aborted fetuses, making their connection to abortion “extremely remote.” . . .​


So we've had a decline, which has been rapid and universal. Why? Best guess is the testing data change as per the WHO. Translation, as previously pointed out, we've had a lot of "false positive" cases. But that is not the news. The news is that the graphs, and this is also pretty universal, is that they have STOPPED declining. So are we now seeing actual data on this disease? And are we seeing the bottom with a possible UPWARD trend from the variants (UK, SA, Brazil and California)?

Perhaps only time will tell us. My personal guess is this is almost over. Not gone but probably close enough that we can return to normal soon. The combination of the vaccine roll out and more accurate data, we can look at this as a soon to end event.

Screen Shot 2021-03-02 at 12.45.38 PM.png
In a statement Friday, the religious organization said the new vaccine should be avoided due to its link to an “abortion-derived cell line” used in the vaccine’s development and production phases.But the available vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are “morally acceptable,” the archdiocese wrote, because only some lab testing utilized stem cells from aborted fetuses, making their connection to abortion “extremely remote.” . . .
Now I'm understanding more about what I heard last Friday on the regular live question/answer session that I faithfully watch with some doctors from Dallas. They've started including an OB/GYN in the q&a also. Somebody called in asked about fetal tissue used in the vaccines. The OB/GYN seemed a little shocked and said that none were involved in making either of the available vaccines. That was the first that I'd heard that issue raised before, but now I guess I get it.

I'm not Catholic, so I don't keep up with all that.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will lift the state's mask mandate and announced businesses would be allowed to reopen at full capacity in one week's time.

"It is now time to open Texas 100 percent," Abbott said Tuesday afternoon at Montelongo's Mexican Restaurant in Lubbock.
Just my opinion and I'm sure a lot of people will disagree, I think he's jumping out there too soon. He has been under tremendous pressure for the power grid problems, so maybe that's just his way to soothe some of the anger that is plaguing Texas right now. I just don't think that's the right thing to do right now.
Just my opinion and I'm sure a lot of people will disagree, I think he's jumping out there too soon. He has been under tremendous pressure for the power grid problems, so maybe that's just his way to soothe some of the anger that is plaguing Texas right now. I just don't think that's the right thing to do right now.
I think many people are going to feel apprehensive once states begin opening up.
We've become so accustomed to wearing masks, even though we despise them (I sure do!)
However, there is that protection that masks have shown that works.
I hate to keep going on about how the cases of upper respiratory infections, colds, seasonal flu have been minimal nationwide.
So I expect quite a few people are going to continue mask wearing if it makes them feel safe in that regard.
Just my opinion and I'm sure a lot of people will disagree, I think he's jumping out there too soon. He has been under tremendous pressure for the power grid problems, so maybe that's just his way to soothe some of the anger that is plaguing Texas right now. I just don't think that's the right thing to do right now.
FWIW there are states that NEVER had a mask mandate.

Others that had short term mask mandates.

Link to one of many stories ->

Texas to join 15 US states without statewide mask mandates

On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that effective March 10, he would be issuing a new executive order that will undo statewide coronavirus restrictions such as business capacity limitations and face mask mandates.​
Texas is joining 15 states that don't have a mask mandate​
Texas is not the first state to lift its statewide mandates on masking. As of March 1, according to the AARP, the following states also do not have face mask orders in place:​
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
I guess I feel pretty lucky to live in a relatively "free state" and while we have a mask mandate and some limits, my state is fairly "open" in terms of business. Restaurants do have some limits but most have had dine in service for quite a while. Other stores seem reasonably unaffected, health clubs have been open, etc.

Here is a pretty enlightening article. I'm only quoting PART of the article so please go to the link to see all the information:

Florida and New York COVID Data Prove Lockdowns Made No Sense

by Clay Travis a day agoupdated about 15 hours ago 42
Today is the first day of March, which means we now essentially have a full year of COVID data from the four largest states in the country: California, Texas, Florida and New York. Thanks to the fact that we have federalism in this country, we can look at the factual COVID data and begin to answer a big question: did COVID lockdowns make any sense at all? And also, how do we assess the overall performance of governors in this country?​
Regardless of your politics, the best state leadership would have done two things during COVID: limit deaths and keep people employed. That is, the best a state could do would be to have a low COVID death rate and a low unemployment rate. (Keeping schools open generally corresponds with a low unemployment rate since a low unemployment rate means lockdowns were less stringent.)​
Given that all states have different geographic and economic conditions, it can be hard to compare every state’s COVID response head-to-head. But you can, in general, compare the four biggest states in the country and their responses to COVID, which is why California, Florida, Texas, and New York offer intriguing test case scenarios to asses which governors and which states handled COVID the best.​
And there is now a year’s worth of data to make that decision predicated on data as opposed to opinion. That is, rather than get lost in the daily noise of social media opinion, we can just look at the raw COVID data from the past year to determine how our four biggest states handled the pandemic.​
And the results just may stun you.​
For much of the past year, the media told you that New York governor Andrew Cuomo was the political hero of the COVID outbreak and that Florida governor Ron DeSantis was the political villain. This narrative began back in March of last year and has proven to be incredibly durable, carrying all the way into 2021.​
Except the data tells us the exact opposite is true: no big state governor in the country has done a better job than Florida’s Ron DeSantis and no big state governor has done a worse job than New York’s Andrew Cuomo.
Yet tens of millions of people in this country believe the exact opposite.​
How did this happen?​
Well, dive in as we explore the data. But first, let me reiterate. This is is not an opinion. This is what objective and factual data tells us. The mainstream media has largely peddled falsehoods to their audience about how New York and Florida’s governors responded to COVID, praising New York and denigrating Florida.​
Leaving aside the double sexual harassment allegations that have emerged in the past week, New York’s Andrew Cuomo received nearly universal media praise for his interviews on CNN with his brother Chris, wrote a triumphant book on how to handle COVID, Dr. Anthony Fauci told us that Cuomo managed the pandemic better than anyone, and New York’s governor even received a special Emmy award for his use of television to communicate with the general public.​
An Emmy!​
Unfortunately, the facts prove that Cuomo’s COVID heroism was all a lie.​
All of it.​
At the same time they were praising Cuomo, the media told you Florida governor Ron DeSantis was handling COVID worse than anyone in the country. This narrative started back in March of last year and still exists. When the Super Bowl was played last month in Tampa, the media covering the game were aghast at the lack of masks there and the upcoming super spreader events that would follow. (Spoiler alert: COVID cases continued to decline massively in the Tampa area in the two weeks after the Super Bowl.) As DeSantis fought to keep the Florida theme parks open, allowed hotels and short term rentals for vacation travel, and permitted bars and restaurants to remain open as well, the media gnashed its teeth and wailed that he was trying to kill everyone.​
Sadly, these inaccurate media narratives about Florida and New York become repeated by the gullible, such as NFL reporter Peter King. King came on my radio show and praised Andrew Cuomo’s COVID performance while denigrating Ron DeSantis’ performance. While King got played by the media and wasn’t smart enough to realize it, he wasn’t alone. Tens of millions of people in America still believe, even to this day and even with transparent and factual data proving otherwise, that New York has done an incredible job with COVID and that Florida has done a disastrous one.​
Put simply, the media sold you a false bill of goods and, sadly, many people still believe those lies. That’s even in the wake of Cuomo potentially facing criminal charges for allegedly covering up the death rate in New York nursing homes after Cuomo made the disastrous decision to send COVID-infected patients back into nursing homes.​
The objective and factual data tells us a far different truth. Far from Andrew Cuomo being a stellar leader as it pertains to the COVID pandemic, Cuomo handled COVID worse than any elected official in a major state in this country. Indeed, if it were a country, New York would have been the worst performing country in the world at handling COVID. (New Jersey would have been a tad bit worse, but most of New Jersey’s issues came from New York City.)​
In fact, even yesterday, nearly a year after the initial outbreak, the state of New York still had the most COVID cases in the United States. You read that right. One full year after the outbreak in New York began, the state of New York is still the worst in the entire United States when it comes to dealing with COVID.​
And that just continues the trend that has been in existence for the past year.​
Here’s the death data in the four largest states in the country over the past year. Deaths per million of population:​
New York 2,459
Texas 1,520
Florida 1,437
California 1,321
So New York has been substantially worse than the other three largest states in the country.​
But New York hasn’t just done a bad job relative to other states in the country. Here’s how the state of New York’s COVID death rate per capita would rank in the entire world:
New York 2,459
Czechia 1,909
Belgium 1,899
Slovenia 1,899
England 1,805
Italy 1,622
Portugal 1,607
United States 1,582
Let me repeat this: New York, if it were a country, would have the worst COVID death rate in the entire world. The objective data is clear. Far from being a COVID hero, Governor Andrew Cuomo is probably the worst performing elected official in the entire world when it comes to dealing with COVID.​
But that’s not all, not only has New York been the worst performing location for COVID in the entire world, they’ve also managed to destroy their economy in the process by adopting draconian lockdowns which have been almost totally ineffective at saving lives.​
Look at the most recent unemployment rates in each of the four biggest states in the country:​
Florida 6.1%
Texas 7.2%
New York 8.2%
California 9.0%
So not only has New York posted the worst death rate from COVID in the world, they have also tanked their economy in the process, posting the fourth highest unemployment rate in the United States. (They are 46th overall. California is even worse as the 49th worst unemployment rate in the nation.)​
The data from the four largest states make it clear: lockdowns haven’t worked in this country.​
At all.​
They haven’t limited deaths, and they’ve tanked the economy.​
This isn’t an opinion. This is what the factual data tells us. . . .​
The USA is racing as quickly as possible to get vaccines into peoples arms, and if Biden pushes the Defense Act, as Trump did early on, we could see our vaccine supplies here grow at an even greater speed. We already see him claiming that the US will be able to vaccinate every adult by the end of MAY 2020

BUT is that going to be fast enough and good enough to beat the BRAZIL variant? We know the UK variant's strain is SOMEWHAT resistant to the vaccines. We know the vaccines REDUCE severity and pretty much eliminate hospitalizations + deaths. We know that people who get the vaccines can still get the UK strain of Covid but we also see that its cases are fairly mild. We don't see much reporting on the BRAZIL variant.

Until we get a bit more research we really won't know the actual threat of the BRAZIL variation, if there is one. It does not seem to have gotten a strong foothold here in the US at this point. The UK variant, however, has a few strong regions and will likely become the dominant strain in California and a few other areas in the US.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Researchers and doctors are sounding the alarm over a new, more aggressive coronavirus strain from the Amazon area of Brazil, which they believe is responsible for a recent rise in deaths, as well as infections in younger people, in parts of South America.
Brazil’s daily death toll from the disease rose to its highest level yet this week, pushing the country’s total number of Covid-19 fatalities past a quarter of a million. On Tuesday, Brazil reported a record 1,641 Covid fatalities. Neighbor Peru is struggling to curb a second wave of infections.
The new variant, known as P.1, is 1.4 to 2.2 times more contagious than versions of the virus previously found in Brazil, and 25% to 61% more capable of reinfecting people who had been infected by an earlier strain, according to a study released Tuesday.
With mass vaccination a long way off across the region, countries such as Brazil risk becoming a breeding ground for potent versions of the virus that could render current Covid-19 vaccines less effective, public-health specialists warned.
A more prolonged pandemic could also devastate the economies of countries such as Brazil, slowing growth and expanding the country’s already large debt pile as the government extends payouts to the poor, economists said.
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And the AP is reporting that the UK variant, a version that I don't think the US needs to be too concerned about if we continue to get vaccines administered, seems to be infecting children. The Wuhan version of Covid did not and does not seem to be an issue in kids, if they get it they don't really spread it, and they tend to suffer very mild cases. So it is more of a worry that the UK version could spread in the school systems. But if the vaccines get us to herd immunity first it may become a non issue. Just something to be aware of, perhaps nothing to be particularly worried about.

ROME (AP) — The variant of the coronavirus discovered in Britain is prevalent among Italy’s infected schoolchildren and is helping to fuel a “robust” uptick in the curve of COVID-19 contagion in the country, the health minister said Tuesday.
Roberto Speranza told reporters that the variant, associated with higher transmission rates, has shown pervasiveness “among the youngest age group” of the population.
In recent weeks, Italy’s incidence of new cases among young people has now eclipsed incidence among the older population, a reversal of how COVID-19 afflicted residents in the first months of the pandemic.
Italy, a nation of 60 million people where COVID-19 first erupted in the West in February 2020, has registered nearly 3 million confirmed cases.
Speranza announced stricter directives, contained in the first anti-pandemic decree of new Italian Premier Mario Draghi, aimed at trying to “govern this curve of contagion,” especially among school-age children.
There are “rather robust signs of an uptick in the curve of contagion and terrible variants,” particularly the one discovered in Britain, the minister said.
The president of the government Superior Institute of Health, Silvio Brusaferro, said that as of analyses of cases on Feb. 18, 54% of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Italy involved that variant. But, said Brusaferro, “if measured today surely the percentage would be higher.”
Another variant, found in Brazil, is now involved in 4.3% of recent COVID-19 cases in Italy, Brusaferro said, particularly in central Italy, including the area of Rome’s region.
In recent days, authorities have taken to sealing off many towns and cities in areas where transmission rates are rapidly increasing. The mayor of Bologna, which has 400,000 residents, announced that, starting on Thursday and until March 21, the city will be under strict “red zone” lockdown rules, which means all restaurants and cafes are closed to dining, as are nonessential shops.
Another critical place is Como, the lakeside city near Switzerland. Many of Como’s citizens commute across the border.
The variant found in South Africa is involved in 0.4% of COVID-19 infections in Italy and mainly confined to the Italian Alpine area near the border with Austria, Brusaferro said.
Draghi’s decree, which takes effect on Saturday and lasts until April 6, to just after Easter, tightened measures governing schools. It mandates that all schools, including for nursery and elementary students, in “red zone” regions must be shuttered. Some exceptions will be made for students with special needs.
But the decree loosens restrictions in the world of culture. Starting on March 27, cinemas and theaters can reopen in “yellow zone” regions with low incidence and virus transmission rates, but these venues must limit capacity to 25%. Museums in yellow zones, already permitted to admit the public on weekdays, can open also on weekends starting March 27.
Gyms and pools stay shut. Also remaining is a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. nationwide curfew, and a ban on travel between Italy’s regions.
Italy’s known death toll of more than 98,000 is the second-highest in Europe, after Britain’s.
Just heard on the news this morning that 5 variants have been identified in the Houston, Tx area.

Edit to add: A large number of immigrants coming in from Mexico are testing positive for covid too.
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There are probably 100+ variants of Covid. There are a few which seem to be more contagious, those are the ones that we need watch. The vaccines are essentially racing to beat the faster spread of those variants.

Houston hit an undesirable jackpot by being the first city in the U.S. to report infections from all the major known coronavirus variants.

Houston Chronicle: Houston Is First City To Record All Major COVID Strains, New Study FindsHouston is the nation’s first city to record every major variant of the novel coronavirus — many of which are more contagious than the original strain. “The numbers of the major variants we have identified in our large sequencing study are disquieting,” said Dr. James Musser, who leads the team of experts at Houston Methodist Hospital behind the new finding. “The genome data indicate that these important variants are now geographically widely distributed in the Houston metropolitan region.” (Downen and Garcia, 3/1)
Maybe the above is bad info, I don't know.
Being so close to the border, I think Texas is facing some unique situations that some of the other states that have fully opened up don't have to deal with. I've always mostly agreed with what Abbott has done, but I'm just going to have to disagree with him this time.