Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19 COVID-19 News from Around the Web

Omicron spread quickly at convention in New York City — but boosters helped

ABC News - February 18, 2022

Boosters helped reduce the risk of contracting the omicron variant after it spread at a convention in New York City, according to a new study published by the CDC Thursday. … Overall, the report found that convention attendees who were boosted were less likely to contract COVID-19 and that a small percentage of household contacts later tested positive.

Vaccine requirements are being lifted across America as Covid cases wane

NBC News - February 18, 2022

Seattle, the biggest city in the state where the first U.S. case of Covid-19 was confirmed more than two years ago, will lift its proof-of-vaccination requirement for restaurants, theaters and gyms starting March 1. … On Thursday, Mayor Ras Baraka of Newark, New Jersey, became the latest big-city mayor to lift the requirement to show proof of vaccination at restaurants and other public venues.

More big companies are dropping vaccine requirement for workers

CBS News - February 18, 2022

As some of the biggest U.S. employers lift mask mandates for vaccinated workers, other companies are going even further and discarding requirements that employees get their COVID-19 shots. Germany's Adidas told its U.S. workers on Monday that it would no longer require they get vaccinated against the virus. … The move by Adidas comes a month after Starbucks said it would no longer require its U.S. workers be inoculatetd against COVID-19.

COVID Vaccine Is a Big Stress-Reliever, Too: Study

HealthDay - February 18, 2022

The analysis showed that adults who received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine between December 2020 and June 2021 reported a 7% reduction in mental distress from average levels before vaccination.

Covid-19 daily case rates plunge to one-sixth the record high reached a month ago. But thousands are still dying from Covid-19 every day

CNN - February 18, 2022

While new Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations keep tumbling, more than 2,000 Americans are still dying every day from Covid-19. The US is now averaging 136,190 new Covid-19 cases a day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That's a 44% plunge from last week. … But Covid-19 case counts are incomplete. In the past few weeks, millions of Americans have received free at-home tests from the Biden administration.

California changes its COVID strategy and announces a plan to live with the virus

NPR - February 18, 2022

California became the first state to formally shift to an "endemic" approach to the coronavirus with Gov. Gavin Newsom's announcement Thursday of a plan that emphasizes prevention and quick reaction to outbreaks over mandated masking and business shutdowns. The milestone, nearly two years in the making, envisions a return to a more normal existence with the help of a variety of initiatives and billions in new spending to more quickly spot surges or variants, add health care workers, stockpile tests and push back against false claims and other misinformation.

When moms get vaccinated during pregnancy, babies get protection too, study shows

NPR - February 16, 2022

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 during pregnancy may also help protect babies after they're born, according to new research published by the CDC. Babies whose mothers received two shots of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines during pregnancy had a 61% lower risk of being hospitalized with COVID in their first six months of life, the study found.

Covid-19 booster shot uptake is at all-time low in the US, CNN analysis finds

CNN - February 16, 2022

As of Monday, about 64% of the US population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19 with at least their initial two-dose series, and 28% have received a booster shot. But the pace of booster doses going into arms is the lowest it has been in months -- since the CDC first recommended boosters for seniors and other at-risk adults in September, according to a CNN analysis of CDC data.

Many faith leaders wary of religious exemptions for vaccine

ABC News - February 16, 2022

By the thousands, Americans have been seeking religious exemptions in order to circumvent COVID-19 vaccine mandates, but generally they are doing so without the encouragement of major denominations and prominent religious leaders.

CDC expected to update mask guidance as early as next week

NBC News - February 16, 2022

The CDC is expected to loosen its indoor masking guidelines to states soon, according to several people familiar with the matter. The agency’s update could come as early as next week. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, is expected to discuss masking guidance Wednesday at a White House Covid-19 Response Team briefing. Nothing has been finalized yet, but the CDC is considering a new benchmark for whether masks are needed, basing it on the level of severe disease and hospitalizations in a given community, two people familiar with the situation said.

Child Covid-19 hospitalizations rose amid Omicron, especially among children too young to be vaccinated

CNN - February 16, 2022

At their peak, weekly pediatric Covid-19 hospitalization rates were four times higher during a period of Omicron dominance than during a period of Delta dominance. Children younger than 5 saw the largest increase, with hospitalization rates that were more than five times higher during Omicron than during Delta.

Companies revert to more normal operations as COVID wanes

AP - February 16, 2022

For the first time in two years for many people, the American workplace is transforming into something that resembles pre-pandemic days. Tysons Foods said Tuesday it was ending mask requirements for its vaccinated workers in some facilities. [Walmart and Amazon] will no longer require fully vaccinated workers to don masks in stores or warehouses unless required under local or state laws. Tech companies like Microsoft and Facebook that had allowed employees to work fully remote are now setting mandatory dates to return to the office…

Americans’ Trust in Scientists, Other Groups Declines

Pew - February 16, 2022

Trust in scientists and medical scientists, once seemingly buoyed by their central role in addressing the coronavirus outbreak, is now below pre-pandemic levels. Overall, 29% of U.S. adults say they have a great deal of confidence in medical scientists to act in the best interests of the public, down from 40% who said this in November 2020.

In reversal, FDA puts brakes on COVID shots for kids under 5

AP - February 14, 2022

COVID-19 vaccinations for children under 5 hit another monthslong delay Friday as U.S. regulators abruptly put the brakes on their efforts to speed review of the shots that Pfizer is testing for youngsters. The FDA, worried about the omicron variant’s toll on kids, had taken the extraordinary step of urging Pfizer to apply for OK of the extra-low dose vaccine before it’s clear if tots will need two shots or three.

US authorizes new antibody drug to fight omicron

AP - February 14, 2022

The FDA said it cleared the Eli Lilly drug for adults and adolescent patients with mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19. … The Biden administration has purchased 600,000 doses before the authorization and will begin shipping initial supplies to state health authorities for distribution.

Hong Kong to vaccinate 3-year-olds amid new COVID-19 surge

AP - February 14, 2022

The announcement late Sunday came ahead of another surge in cases. The city reported a record 2,071 new cases on Monday, with that number expected to double the next day with more than 4,500 preliminary positives identified.