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

Supreme Court blocks Biden Covid vaccine mandate for businesses, allows health-care worker rule

CNBC - January 14, 2022

The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its sweeping vaccine-or-test requirements for large private companies. But the conservative-majority court allowed a vaccine mandate to stand for medical facilities that take Medicare or Medicaid payments. The OSHA mandate required that workers at businesses with 100 or more employees get vaccinated or submit a negative Covid test weekly to enter the workplace.

Study: Stronger evidence linking virus to multiple sclerosis

AP - January 14, 2022

The Epstein-Barr virus has long been suspected of playing a role in development of MS. It’s a connection that’s hard to prove because just about everybody gets infected with Epstein-Barr, usually as kids or young adults -- but only a tiny fraction develop MS. … Thursday, Harvard researchers reported one of the largest studies yet to back the Epstein-Barr theory. They tracked blood samples stored from more than 10 million people in the U.S. military and found the risk of MS increased 32-fold following Epstein-Barr infection.

Unvaccinated pregnant people are at higher risk for Covid complications and newborn deaths

STAT - January 14, 2022

Unvaccinated pregnant people who get Covid-19 are at much higher risk for complications from the disease and death of their babies than their vaccinated counterparts, according to a new study from Scotland. … Almost all of the pregnant people who needed critical care for Covid-19 — 102 out of 104 overall — were unvaccinated. There were over 450 total fetal and newborn deaths that coincided with Covid-19 — all among unvaccinated mothers.

COVID-19 pill rollout stymied by shortages as omicron rages

AP - January 14, 2022

Two brand-new COVID-19 pills that were supposed to be an important weapon against the pandemic in the U.S. are in short supply and have played little role in the fight against the omicron wave of infections. The problem, in part, is that production is still being ramped up and the medicines can take anywhere from five to eight months to manufacture. While the supply is expected to improve dramatically in the coming months, doctors are clamoring for the pills now…

Biden to double free COVID tests, add masks to fight omicron

AP - January 14, 2022

President Joe Biden announced Thursday that the government will double to 1 billion the rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests to be distributed free to Americans, along with “high-quality masks,” as he highlighted his efforts to “surge” resources to help the country weather the spike in coronavirus cases. Biden also announced that starting next week 1,000 military medical personnel will begin deploying across the country to help overwhelmed medical facilities ease staff shortages…

US hospitals strained with influx of patients amid latest COVID-19 surge, staffing shortages

ABC News - January 10, 2022

For nearly two years, day after day, under exhausting and often dangerous conditions, health care workers across the country have continued to care for the nation's sickest Americans who have fallen victim to coronavirus. As the highly infectious omicron sweeps through the country, the US is now facing its most significant coronavirus infection surge to date, putting additional pressure on an overtaxed health care system.

Supreme Court’s conservatives cast cloud over vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses

NPR - January 10, 2022

The Supreme Court's conservative supermajority on Friday seemed ready to block some or all of the Biden administration's regulations aimed at increasing vaccinations nationwide. At issue in the nearly four-hour argument were two regulations: One imposes a vaccine mandate for almost all workers at hospitals, nursing homes and other medical providers receiving federal Medicare and Medicaid funds. The other is a separate vaccine-or-test mandate for private sector companies that employ 100 or more workers.

Omicron explosion spurs nationwide breakdown of services

ABC News - January 10, 2022

Ambulances in Kansas speed toward hospitals then suddenly change direction because hospitals are full. Employee shortages in New York City cause delays in trash and subway services and diminish the ranks of firefighters and emergency workers. Airport officials shut down security checkpoints at the biggest terminal in Phoenix and schools across the nation struggle to find teachers for their classrooms. The current explosion of omicron-fueled coronavirus infections in the U.S. is causing a breakdown in basic functions and services …

Diabetes risk rises for those under 18 after they get COVID, CDC warns. What to know

Miami Herald - January 10, 2022

Those under the age of 18 are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes at least a month after they catch COVID-19, according to a new study released by the CDC. Authors of the study — which examined data from March 2020 up to June 2021, before the highly infectious omicron variant sparked a surge of cases across the U.S…

CDC: Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine 91% effective at preventing MIS-C in kids 12-18

KETV - January 10, 2022

A new study by the CDC finds two doses of the Pfizer vaccine was 91 percent effective in preventing MIS-C in kids 12 to 18. ... St. Germain said even if your child's COVID-19 symptoms are mild, three to four weeks later, their body could respond to the infection with MIS-C.

Study offers reassurance on COVID shots, women’s periods

AP - January 7, 2022

One of the first studies to track whether COVID-19 vaccination might affect women’s periods found a small and temporary change. Research published Wednesday tracked nearly 4,000 U.S. women through six menstrual cycles and on average, the next period after a shot started about a day later than usual. But there was no change in the number of days of menstrual bleeding after COVID-19 vaccination. … Some women have reported irregular periods or other menstrual changes after their shots.

Pfizer COVID-19 shot won’t be ready for youngest kids for months: ‘Might be a three-dose vaccine’

USA Today - January 7, 2022

Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine won't be available anytime soon for kids younger than 5. In early tests, the lower dose given to 2- to 5-year-olds didn't produce as much immune protection as did shots given to other age groups … The company hopes a third dose of vaccine eight weeks after the first two shots will provide the desired effectiveness ... But that means waiting until late March or early April for results …

Doctors have an arsenal of Covid-19 treatments, but setbacks and shortages are undercutting options

STAT - January 7, 2022

On paper, the list of outpatient treatments for Covid-19 seems reassuring. … But shortages and setbacks have undercut those options — at a time when more people than ever are getting sick. Supply of some of the treatments, particularly the prized new oral treatment Paxlovid, is extremely constrained. The ascendance of the Omicron variant has nullified the power of some of the monoclonal antibodies.

Supreme Court weighs vaccine rules affecting more than 80M

AP - January 7, 2022

The Supreme Court is taking up two major Biden administration efforts to bump up the nation’s vaccination rate against COVID-19 at a time of spiking coronavirus cases because of the omicron variant. The justices on the conservative-oriented court are hearing arguments Friday about whether to allow the administration to enforce a vaccine-or-testing requirement that applies to large employers and a separate vaccine mandate for most health care workers.

Pushback to Covid-19 vaccines remains stubbornly high among white evangelicals

STAT - January 7, 2022

Among white evangelicals, pushback against Covid-19 vaccines has remained stubbornly high, with polls in recent months suggesting between 30% and 40% refused to get vaccinated, the highest proportion among any religious group surveyed. … [Francis] Collins sees the vaccine pushback coming from two places. “Much of it was triggered by social media conspiracies,” he said. “Some of it came from mixing politics with positions of faith, which I think when it comes to vaccines has been pretty unfortunate.”

Schools sticking with in-person learning scramble for subs

AP - January 7, 2022

Principals, superintendents and counselors are filling in as substitutes in classrooms as the surge in coronavirus infections further strains schools that already had been struggling with staffing shortages.