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In today's edition:

  • As Delta spreads, talk of boosters ramps up
  • Proud moment: A trio of awards for the Bloomberg School’s Communications and Marketing team—including EI editors!
  • Some states are limiting public health agencies’ powers to respond to outbreaks
Here's the Deal With Delta
What do we know at this point about how much of a threat the Delta variant is? Here’s Gigi Gronvall’s take, recently added to our COVID question and answer page
 
“The Delta variant appears to be the most transmissible one yet. But, it’s challenging to say just how much because at the same time, peoples’ behavior changed a lot in ways that favor viral spread. It’s also hard to tell how much more serious disease it causes, but on this score, most people do not think it is much, if any, different in severity. 
 
Either way, the vaccines available in the US are protective.”
 
What needs to happen now
 
Getting younger people vaccinated: “As I told ⁦@washingtonpost⁩, we need to get shots in arms of those <40. This will be crucial to slow the delta variant,” tweeted Rupali Limaye.
 
But also, wealthier countries need to hurry up in terms of donating vaccines to other countries, warned Jennifer Nuzzo on Twitter:
 
“What is deeply concerning is that countries’ plans to donate vaccines are happening too slowly. This virus is moving quickly around the planet, and the window to intervene with vaccines to save the most lives is closing.”
All About Boosters
Right now, it’s unclear whether COVID-19 vaccine boosters will be necessary. 
 
To make that assessment, Amesh Adalja told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta: “I want to know what’s happening to these patients clinically. Are they getting breakthrough infections and are those breakthrough infections severe enough to land them in the hospital?”
 
Still, booster studies are already underway, testing different vaccines and those tailored to specific variants.
 
The good news: “I think it’s very hard for a virus to mutate in such a way to get the perfect mutations to be able to completely evade a vaccine, to make it [the vaccines] worthless,” Adalja said. 
 
More good news: Patients have shown natural immunity from infection a year after catching the virus. 
 
A caveat: Immunocompromised people—such as transplant recipients—may benefit from getting an extra dose. Follow Dorry Segev or check out his recent podcast episode for more on that.
 
WATCH THE SEGMENT
Congrats, JHSPH!
The Communications and Marketing team in the Office of External Affairs—including your editors here at EI!—won three awards in recognition of our work across content platforms and with the media during COVID-19.
 
The Public Relations Society of America recognized the Audience Reach and Engagement team as Public Relations Professional of the Year. The In-the-News portion of this newsletter regularly shares highlights from just a small sampling of School media mentions. (There were more than 4,300 mentions in 2020 alone.) In an announcement, the judges said “The Bloomberg School has been cited and quoted in countless publications over the course of the pandemic and has become a household name to get the most up-to-date and reliable information on the pandemic. We are confident this trend will continue for years to come.” The team produced a short video about their work over the last year. 
 
The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), which showcases outstanding work in communications and marketing, recognized the Hopkins Bloomberg Public Health magazine’s special COVID-19 issue with a Gold award. Feedback about the magazine’s pandemic coverage included “compelling collage cover,” “wonderful illustrations,” and “it stands out that they highlighted the views of truly marginalized people—sex workers, incarcerated people, Native Americans—rather than just quoting professors.”
 
CASE also recognized the Public Health On Call podcast with a Silver award, noting: “Doing a daily show is very impressive … as their download numbers attest, they are serving a large audience.” 
 
READ MORE ABOUT THE AWARDS
Tying the Hands of Public Health

According to a new report by the Network for Public Health Law, several states are considering or have passed legislation to limit the ability of public health agencies to respond to infectious diseases and other emergencies. At stake are the abilities of health departments to impose quarantine to save lives or require masks for any conditions, including infectious tuberculosis. Donna Levin, national director for the Network, talks with Josh Sharfstein about the history of public health authority, what's happening now in North Dakota, Kansas, and elsewhere; and the dangers of these ill-considered laws.
 

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST
MONDAY ON THE PODCAST: The Lows and Highs of Native American Communities' Struggles with COVID-19
Native American communities were especially hard hit during the pandemic with COVID cases 10 times that of the rest of the US. Allison Barlow talks with Stephanie Desmon about how Native American populations went from the highest rates of cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities to the highest vaccination rates in the US with 70-95% of the community fully vaccinated. They also talk about how much the rest of the US can learn from these successes, and how the intrinsic values of Indigenous communities can mean better health for all people.
Why officials are particularly concerned about unvaccinated population in the South (ABCNews.com)
Although national coronavirus metrics have been declining rapidly, infections in areas with low vaccination rates persist—a particularly worrisome trend, experts say, as new, and more transmissible variants emerge. “People who are unvaccinated will be at heightened risk in the coming months,” says Caitlin Rivers
 
How to Have the Hard Vaccination Conversations (The New York Times)
Asking someone if they’ve had a COVID shot can be tricky, but Ruth Faden has some suggestions. Lead with the fact that you’re fully vaccinated or will be soon, she advised, adding, “Sharing is a way to invite sharing.”
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