Washington and New Mexico announced they dropped their mandates for the indoor mask on Thursday, leaving Hawaii as the only state that has not yet set a date for revoking its mandate.
Washington’s nationwide indoor mask mandate will be lifted in most places by March 21, including at schools and childcare facilities. New Mexico will immediately drop its mandate, which also includes schools.
Like the rest of the country, both states have seen a steady decline in both COVID cases and hospitalizations since the height of the omicron rise last month.
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham mentioned reduced COVID-19 risks and removed her mask at an indoor press conference along with Democratic lawmakers and top officials from her administration.
“It’s not a political decision,” Lujan Grisham said. “This is the right time for us. We are overcoming COVID and we will continue to do so.”
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a briefing in the White House on Wednesday that the government is considering changing its mask guidelines in the coming weeks.
Also in the news:
►The Los Angeles County Unified School District is ending its claim for outdoor masking from next week, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho tweeted Friday.
►It informs the police in Canada On Friday, they arrested protesters who have been blocking traffic for weeks in Ottawa because of the country’s COVID-19 restrictions. The blockade in the Canadian capital was the last stronghold of the “Freedom Convoy” trucker protest.
►The American Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy tested positive for COVID-19, he said Friday on Twitter. Murthy, his wife and two children, who also tested positive, experienced all symptoms but were okay, he said.
►Three Milwaukee police officers is being investigated for allegedly making fake COVID-19 vaccination cards to participate in training outside the state.
Authorities arrested New York from Delaware to California on Thursday as they rounded up 10 men accused of fraudulently reaping more than $ 4 million in unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic.
►With a glimmer of hope, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates that 73% of Americans are now immune to the omicron coronavirus variant, a figure that some experts say means future increases may require far less disruption to society.
►With increasing COVID-19 cases, Hong Kong hospitals reached 90% capacity on Thursday. More than 6,100 new coronavirus infections were registered in the city on Thursday, and 24 deaths were reported over the past week.
📈Today’s figures: The United States has recorded more than 78.3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 933,100 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 420.9 million cases and over 5.8 million deaths. More than 214 million Americans – 64.6% – are fully vaccinated, according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
📘 What we read: U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said Thursday that it is the task of school leaders to listen to parents, students and educators while continuing to struggle with the persistent effects of the pandemic on the country’s public schools.
New York will not enforce its mandate that requires health care professionals get COVID-19 boosters in light of concerns about staff shortages, state health officials said Friday.
Gov. Kathy Hochul pointed to a worrying rise in breakthrough infections when she announced the mandate in January. Her administration set a deadline of February 21st. But State Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said Friday that the decision to drop the mandate enforcement reflects the reality that booster rates remain low, especially in nursing homes.
“While we are making progress with 75% of staff receiving or willing to receive their booster, the reality is that not enough healthcare professionals will be boosted by next week’s requirements to avoid significant staffing issues in our already congested healthcare system,” Bassett said in a declaration.
Bassett said state health officials will take a new look at the booster mandate in three months to decide whether New York should take more steps to increase booster rates.
Utah officials on Friday announced the state’s plan to no longer treat COVID-19 as a pandemic and instead see it as other seasonal diseases.
Governor Spencer Cox said the “steady state” model will begin March 31 by phasing out mass test sites and reporting COVID-19 cases less frequently. Cox said home testing, antiviral treatment and wastewater monitoring will help keep Utah cases and hospitalizations at manageable levels and monitor for new peaks, variants and outbreaks.
“Now, let me be clear, this is not the end of COVID, but it is the end – or rather the beginning – of treating COVID as we do other seasonal respiratory viruses,” Cox said.
The move is similar to what California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday as one switch to an “endemic” approach to the pandemic. Instead of trying to put out the virus, Newsom said California would move away from crisis mentality and focus on preparing for the inevitable twists and turns that COVID-19 could provide in the future. The plan emphasizes increased vaccination and testing, combating misinformation, stockpiling medical supplies, and flooding areas with virus rise with temporary doctors.
The plan also calls for increased state surveillance, including increased surveillance of virus residues in wastewater to keep an eye on the first signs of an increase.
California on Wednesday finalized requirements for indoor masks for vaccinated people and will announce on Feb. 28 how long the mandate for schools will remain in place.
– Jorge L. Ortiz and Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY
ONE research letter published Friday in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that COVID-19 treatment may be influenced by political affiliation.
By looking at data on medical requirements from January 2019 to December 2020, researchers at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health compared prescription rates for hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin – two drugs that have proved to be ineffective against COVID-19 – with prices for two drugs that are similar but have not been proposed as COVID treatments. They also looked at U.S. census data and 2020 U.S. presidential election results.
Researchers found that hydroxychloroquine prescriptions doubled from June to December 2020 compared to the previous year and were significantly higher in counties with the highest Republican turnout. Ivermectin prescriptions in December 2020 were 964% higher than in 2019 and also significantly higher in Republican counties.
“This is the first evidence, as far as we know, of such a political divide for a basic clinical decision as infection treatment or prevention,” said Michael Barnett, lead author and assistant professor of health policy at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
– Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY
An anime convention in New York City, where one of the country’s first instances of the omicron variant was discovered late last year, did not become a superspreader event thanks to widespread masking, vaccinations and indoor air filters, a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.
The three-day November congress at Manhattan’s Javits Center saw about 53,000 people summoned from 52 U.S. jurisdictions and 30 foreign countries, yet only 119 positive cases were identified, the CDC found.
Masks were required, participants had to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before participating, and the site had a high-efficiency particulate air filtration system installed. These measures are likely to have contributed to the low spread, the CDC study said.
It reported the New York Times Thursday that a downgraded list of invited guests – including nominees – will be required to show evidence of COVID-19 vaccination and at least two negative PCR tests to participate. This year, 2,500 guests are invited to see the show inside the Dolby Theater, which generally houses 3,317.
Meanwhile, show artists and award presenters will be required to undergo testing but will not be required to show evidence of vaccination, the Times reported.
Requirements for face coverage will also vary at the awards ceremony depending on the seating location in the theater, according to the Times. High-profile nominees and their guests sitting in a separate orchestra section (closer to the stage and in view from TV cameras) will not be required to wear face masks.
– Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY
Starring: Associated Press