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

Parents and caregivers of young children say they’ve hit pandemic rock bottom

NPR - January 21, 2022

The people who take care of and educate children under 5 years old — both parents and providers — are in a special kind of hell right now. These children are too young to be vaccinated, and it's difficult for them to wear masks consistently. … Parents, meanwhile, are losing their tempers, losing sleep and losing jobs when the child care they pay for is canceled, over and over. About 1 in 6 parents told pollsters they had experienced either a school or a day care shutdown in the past few weeks…

The government promised 500 million free test kits — but some manufacturers were already struggling to meet demand

NBC News - January 21, 2022

As the U.S. government officially launches a website to give away 500 million free, at-home rapid Covid test kits, the industry that makes the key tool for fighting the omicron surge is suffering from its own pandemic supply chain issues. While the companies grapple with shortages of everything from test kit material to packaging supplies to trucks to deliver the boxes, executives at top rapid Covid test companies have tested positive for coronavirus themselves, along with hundreds of production employees who are out due to Covid infections.

White House soft-launches COVID-19 test request website

AP - January 19, 2022

The Biden administration on Tuesday quietly launched its website for Americans to request free at-home COVID-19 tests, a day before the site was scheduled to officially go online. The website,, now includes a link for Americans to access an order form run by the U.S. Postal Service. People can order four at-home tests per residential address, to be delivered by the Postal Service.

Vaccine ‘Nocebo’: If You Expect Side Effects, They May Come

HealthDay - January 19, 2022

New research shows that fears of [COVID shot] side effects may actually make side effects more likely. … 22,000 participants who received the vaccines and more than 22,000 who received a placebo shot. After the first shot, systemic side effects -- symptoms that affect the entire body, such as fever, headache and fatigue -- were reported by about 46% of vaccine recipients. But more than 35% of people who got the placebo shot also experienced similar side effects…

Hawaii to require travelers have COVID booster shot to be ‘fully vaccinated’

ABC News - January 19, 2022

Currently, under the rules of the state's "Safe Travels" program, travelers who don't want to quarantine for five days must either be fully vaccinated -- meaning two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine -- or have a negative COVID-19 test within one day of travel. However, the program would change the definition of "fully vaccinated" to include booster shots…

US faces wave of omicron deaths in coming weeks, models say

AP - January 19, 2022

The fast-moving omicron variant may cause less severe disease on average, but COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are climbing and modelers forecast 50,000 to 300,000 more Americans could die by the time the wave subsides in mid-March. The seven-day rolling average for daily new COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. has been trending upward since mid-November, reaching nearly 1,700 on Jan. 17 — still below the peak of 3,300 in January 2021.

Omicron variant now 99.5% of US COVID cases, CDC says

Fox News - January 19, 2022

Data from the CDC showed Tuesday that the omicron variant of the coronavirus is now responsible for 99.5% of U.S. cases. Comparatively, the delta variant reportedly makes up 0.5%.

Biden to give away 400 million N95 masks starting next week

AP - January 19, 2022

The Biden administration will begin making 400 million N95 masks available for free to Americans starting next week, now that federal officials are emphasizing their better protection against the omicron variant of COVID-19 over cloth face coverings. … The masks will be available for pickup at pharmacies and community health centers across the country.

Rapid COVID-19 tests are highly accurate for kids, study finds

CBS News - January 19, 2022

While PCR tests for COVID-19 have become the "gold standard" in detecting the virus, a new study says rapid tests are highly accurate when it comes to children and teens. … shows that rapid tests given to adolescents at school or at home has a similar accuracy to PCR tests.

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.