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The first week of fall has many hoping that the pandemic would be over soon, just like they were at this time last year. The virus persists, though, as the Delta variant continues to infect across the country, and only a little over half of Americans are fully vaccinated. Here’s what you need to know from this past week. 

YouTube blocks all anti COVID-19 vaccination content

Social media users have called on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to do more in stopping misinformation, and disinformation, from spreading online, and YouTube has taken an active step to do so. They already had misinformation policies in place, but new guidelines will ban all content that is anti-vaccine, and even entire channels that are focused on being anti-vaccine, like those of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Joseph Mercola. This move has put YouTube in a difficult position with Russia, which has called the move “unprecedented information aggression.” 

COVID-19 deaths are expected to decrease for the first time since June 

The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) COVID forecast predicts a decrease in deaths from the COVID-19 virus over the next four weeks. Deaths have not been predicted to go down since the beginning of the summer, hopefully signaling a shift in the pandemic. The CDC has also predicted for the third week in a row that hospitalizations will continue to decrease. These predictions are a bright outlook for the country, but Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, maintains that more people need to be vaccinated before the spread of COVID-19 is controlled. 

COVID-19 is killing rural Americans two times more than urban dwellers

Health experts predict that this phenomenon may continue—and even increase in severity—as rural-dwelling Americans tend to be higher in age and lower in income, with less access to healthcare. They are also less likely to be vaccinated than those who live in urban spaces. The Rural Policy Research Institute report showed that there has always been a divide between death rates of urban and rural Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the divide has widened as of late. 

Laos is home to the closest viruses to SARS-CoV-2

Researchers have posted results in their search for relatives of the novel coronavirus, which have yet to be peer reviewed, that indicate the virus has cousins in Laos. This research adds yet more evidence to the notion that the coronavirus has a natural origin, but it’s a double edged sword: there could be more versions of the coronavirus that may be capable of infecting humans. There are plenty of unanswered questions about these potential new versions, but it is known that the Laos coronaviruses do not carry the particular feature that allows SARS-CoV-2 to better enter human cells. 

Months after infection, 37 percent of those infected with COVID-19 still have symptoms

Research from the University of Oxford, the National Institute for Health Research and the Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre, indicates that 37 percent of individuals included in the study had at least one COVID-19 symptom six months after infection. The top three lasting symptoms were anxiety or depression, abnormal breathing, and abdominal symptoms. There are factors that influence the likelihood of these lasting symptoms, often referred to as “long covid,” such as hospitalization, age, and sex, and affect which lasting symptoms are expected. The study also examined the same symptoms in flu patients, and found that COVID-19 infections resulted in 50 percent more lasting symptoms.

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