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

More contagious version of omicron spreads in U.S., fueling worries

NPR - February 21, 2022

BA.2 has slowly, but steadily spread even as the omicron surge continued to dissipate. The fear is that spread may be on track to rapidly accelerate in the near future. BA.2 has now been found from coast to coast and accounts for an estimated 3.9% all new infections nationally, according to the federal CDC. It appears to be doubling fast.

UK: People with COVID in England won’t need to self-isolate

AP - February 21, 2022

People with COVID-19 won’t be legally required to self-isolate in England starting in the coming week, the U.K. government has announced, as part of a plan for “living with COVID” that is also likely to see testing for the coronavirus scaled back.

Australia reopens its borders to international visitors

NPR - February 21, 2022

International tourists and business travelers began arriving in Australia with few restrictions on Monday for the first time in almost two years after the government lifted some of the most draconian pandemic measures of any democracy in the world.

What the world got right during the Covid-19 pandemic

Vox - February 21, 2022

For all the frustrations over vaccine inequity and hesitancy, that one-year gap between the pandemic’s start and the rollout of the vaccines is nothing short of a historic success. A new report underscores just how miraculous it was.

Had COVID? You’re 5 Times More Prone to Get It Again If Unvaccinated

HealthDay - February 18, 2022

After you have recovered from COVID-19, getting at least one dose of a vaccine provides added protection against reinfection, Israeli researchers report. Stay unvaccinated after a bout with COVID-19 and you're five times more likely than someone who has had the shot to get COVID again, the new study found. That's because the immunity acquired through an infection is short-lived.

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.