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Overnight Health Care: US joins 13 countries in raising 'concerns' with data in WHO team's virus report | COVID-19's fourth wave is hitting the US hard | American satisfaction with vaccine rollout surges to 68 percent: poll

Overnight Health Care: US joins 13 countries in raising 'concerns' with data in WHO team's virus report | COVID-19's fourth wave is hitting the US hard | American satisfaction with vaccine rollout surges to 68 percent: poll
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Overnight Health Care. It is National Doctors Day, and Sesame Street is celebrating. Listen to Cookie Monster: “You deserve lots and lots of cookies for all the terrific work you do.”

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Today: The report from the World Health Organization team on coronavirus origins is out, and immediately getting criticism. Cases are rising in the US in a worrying way, and more Americans are satisfied with the vaccine rollout. 

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Let’s start with WHO:  

US joins 13 countries in raising 'concerns' with data in WHO team's virus report

The report from a World Health Organization team into coronavirus origins is finally out, but it immediately drew skepticism from the US and other countries over whether the team really had the access it needed in China. 

"We voice our shared concerns that the international expert study on the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was significantly delayed and lacked access to complete, original data and samples," the US and 13 other countries said in a joint statement.

There have long been questions raised about the independence of the WHO-convened team of experts, working jointly with Chinese scientists, and whether the Chinese government was providing full access to needed information on the origins of the virus.

White House a bit more pointed: Asked on Tuesday at a White House press briefing if China had cooperated enough with the report, press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiOvernight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he Overnight Health Care: Johnson & Johnson delay prompts criticism of CDC panel | Pfizer CEO says third dose of COVID-19 vaccine 'likely' needed within one year | CDC finds less than 1 percent of fully vaccinated people got COVID-19 Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference MORE said: "They have not been transparent, they have not provided underlying data, that certainly doesn't qualify as cooperation."

"We don't believe that in our review to date that it meets the moment," Psaki added of the report.

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What the report said: The report did not reach a definitive conclusion, but found the virus likely jumped from animals to humans, and was unlikely to be the result of a lab leak.

Read more here.

COVID-19's fourth wave is hitting the US hard

We’re still not out of the woods yet, despite vaccine progress. 

A fourth wave of coronavirus infections is beginning to mount in states across the nation as health experts and officials beg pandemic-exhausted Americans to stay vigilant.

The United States has reported an average of 65,000 new cases in the last seven days, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up about 10,000 cases per day since the most recent nadir two weeks ago.

Those figures are well below the January apex of the third wave of infections, when a quarter-million people a day were testing positive for the virus. 

But while millions of Americans are receiving vaccinations, progress toward herd immunity has not kept pace with the new spike. Cases are rising in about half the states, led by big spikes in New York and especially New York City, Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. 

Read more here

American satisfaction with vaccine rollout surges to 68 percent: poll

A Gallup poll documented a rise in satisfaction for the U.S.’s vaccination rollout campaign, reaching 68 percent in March.

The approval for the effort has doubled since January as President BidenJoe BidenBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Olympics, climate on the agenda for Biden meeting with Japanese PM Boehner on Afghanistan: 'It's time to pull out the troops' MORE’s administration first began and increased by 24 percentage points since February’s poll. 

A majority of respondents in all major demographic subgroups expressed satisfaction with the rollout. The demographics with the most satisfaction include adults aged 65 and older, at 77 percent, and those who received at least one dose of a vaccine, at 75 percent. 

In another rise, 74 percent of all respondents reported a willingness to get the COVID-19 vaccine, representing a continuous increase since 50 percent said they were open to it in September. 

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Growing satisfaction on both sides: Democrats saw their approval of the rollout triple to 73 percent since January, when former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Illinois House passes bill that would mandate Asian-American history lessons in schools Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he MORE left office. But Republicans' satisfaction has also risen since the transition month by 17 percentage points to 66 percent. 

Read more here.

Former Surgeon General defends Birx after CNN interview

A CNN documentary on the Trump administration’s coronavirus response has set off a new round of finger-pointing and reactions. The latest salvo comes from former Surgeon General Jerome AdamsJerome AdamsOvernight Health Care: US joins 13 countries in raising 'concerns' with data in WHO team's virus report | COVID-19's fourth wave is hitting the US hard | American satisfaction with vaccine rollout surges to 68 percent: poll Former Surgeon General defends Birx after CNN interview Feehery: The top 15 dumb ideas since we took 15 days to stop the spread MORE defending Deborah BirxDeborah BirxThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Supreme Court announces unanimous rulings The Memo: The mystery of post-presidency Trump Overnight Health Care: US joins 13 countries in raising 'concerns' with data in WHO team's virus report | COVID-19's fourth wave is hitting the US hard | American satisfaction with vaccine rollout surges to 68 percent: poll MORE

Adams took to Twitter on Monday to criticize what he saw as no support for Birx, and pointed out that women seemed to be the most critical of her.

“Fascinating to see zero support for Birx- the lone female doc in the room- even among women. In fact, women seem to be the most critical of her. It took more courage for her to stay than to leave, and people who weren’t there have no clue how much worse it could’ve been w/o her,” Adams tweeted.

Adams further pointed out that Anthony FauciAnthony Fauci Fauci believes Johnson & Johnson vaccine will get back on track 'quickly' Maxine Waters cuts off Jim Jordan, Fauci sparring at hearing: 'Shut your mouth' Pfizer CEO: Third dose of COVID-19 vaccine 'likely' needed within 1 year MORE, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, had received praise for his role in helping deal with the pandemic.

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He noted that “they were in the same rooms & had the same chances to push back or leave. Big difference was Fauci was protected/ couldn’t be fired. Both played the cards they were dealt.”

Birx has been the subject of scrutiny for her work in the Trump administration on the coronavirus pandemic. She has specifically faced heat for not speaking out enough during her time in the White House as Trump was making false claims about the pandemic.

Fauci defended Birx during the special, saying that she was in “a much more difficult situation” having an office in the West Wing.

Read more here

Arkansas ends mask mandate, opens vaccine access

Arkansas is officially ending its statewide mask mandate effective immediately, Gov. Asa HutchinsonAsa HutchinsonArkansas state House votes to end 'Confederate Flag Day' Sarah Huckabee Sanders raised .8M for her gubernatorial campaign in two months Arkansas governor signs scaled-back hate crimes bill MORE (R) announced Tuesday.

 

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During a press conference, the governor said the state's coronavirus metrics for positive tests and hospitalizations have been consistently improving, and are below the levels he said would be required to end the mandate. 

Hutchinson set the criteria when he lifted most of the state’s virus restrictions last month. Arkansas first imposed the mandate in July, becoming one of the last states to do so.

The decision to lift the mandate comes despite the pleas of President Biden and top health officials, who have been calling on states to pause reopenings over fears of a new surge of coronavirus infections.

No mandate, no problem? Despite the end of the mandate, Hutchinson said he doesn't expect mask wearing to end, and asked that residents respect the decisions of businesses and venues in the state that are still requiring masks.

"Common sense should govern," Hutchinson said. "Please respect the decisions of others in regards to masks, and that is true whether it's private business or individuals."

More vaccine coming: At the same time, Hutchinson said he is opening COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to everyone over the age of 16. Hutchinson said Arkansas will receive an extra 25,000 doses this week from the White House, and has administered 1.1 million of its 1.6 million doses so far. 

Read more here.

What we’re reading

Should masking last beyond the pandemic? Flu and colds are down, spurring a debate (NPR)

Family travel gets complicated without a Covid vaccine for kids (New York Times

 

Biden's Covid adviser warns lifting restrictions is like 'playing with fire' (NBC)

State by state

Worrisome COVID-19 variants are taking hold in Pa. and N.J., threatening the success of vaccines (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

People from DC are driving to rural towns and red states to get Covid vaccinations (Washingtonian)

Texas will provide rapid COVID-19 tests for summer camps (Texas Tribune

Oregon can’t produce written evaluation of long-delayed COVID-19 exposure app (The Oregonian

South Carolina lawmakers consider whether to break up public health agency (Associated Press)

The Hill op-eds

Five upgrades to make now to COVID vaccine delivery