A new study shows that gun violence increased by more than 30% in the United States amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The study, which was conducted by Penn State researchers, was published in the journal Scientific Reports. The researchers postulate that augmented levels of stress, domestic violence, lack of social interactions, as well as greater access to firearms, might have contributed to the increase.
“The pandemic has yielded harmful ripple effects that need to be addressed,” said co-lead investigator Dr. Paddy Ssentongo, assistant professor at the Penn State Center for Neural Engineering via a press release. “The spike in gun violence in the era of COVID-19 comes as a stark reminder that we can’t afford to ignore it any longer. Now is the time to focus on this public health crisis.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to announce Wednesday that people can mix and match their COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots, a move that would give health officials more flexibility as they try to immunize as many Americans as possible. The FDA would not recommend one vaccine over another but might say it is preferable to use the same booster as the vaccine first given when possible, but vaccine providers will be able to use their discretion when giving shots, officials with knowledge of the plan told The New York Times.
In some heartening news on the vaccine front, two-thirds of American parents of children ages 5 to 11 plan to get their youngsters vaccinated when COVID-19 shots are approved for that age group, a new survey shows. “While we’re encouraged to see that a majority of parents intend to vaccinate their children against COVID-19 once they are eligible, there is clearly more work to be done to help address parents’ questions and ease concerns about the vaccines,” said Beth Battaglino, CEO of HealthyWomen and an organizer of the COVID-19 Vaccine Education and Equity Project, which conducted the survey.
The poll of more than 1,000 parents of children ages 5 to 18 also found that parents’ vaccination status was a major factor in the likelihood of getting their child vaccinated and their support for vaccine requirements. Overall, 60% of the respondents supported schools requiring eligible children to get a vaccine to attend school in-person. Rates were 78% among vaccinated parents and 86% among parents of children ages 12 to 18 who have already been vaccinated.
The announcement came on the heels of news on Wednesday that the United States would reopen its land borders to fully vaccinated travelers from Canada and Mexico for the first time since pandemic closures began 19 months ago. U.S. officials had previously said that foreign travelers by air who were fully vaccinated would be allowed to enter the country beginning in early November, but no set date had been given.