COVID Omicron News: CDC could update mask guidance this week

NEW YORK (WABC) — As COVID cases continue to drop, the CDC could update its mask guidelines as early as this week.

Dr. Anthony Fauci warns it’s still risky, but most of the country isn’t waiting.

Forty-nine out of 50 states announced plans to loosen mask restrictions.

States like California and Utah even announced plans for an endemic response to COVID.
RELATED: What are the symptoms of the COVID omicron variant?

Here are more of today’s COVID-19 headlines:

New York delays booster mandate for healthcare workers
Health officials in New York have announced that at this time, the state will not enforce the booster requirement for health care workers that was set to go into effect on Monday, Feb. 21, in an effort to avoid potential staffing issues.

“While we are making progress with 75% of staff received or are willing to receive their booster, the reality is that not enough healthcare workers will be boosted by next week’s requirement in order to avoid substantial staffing issues in our already overstressed healthcare system,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a statement on Friday. “That is why we are announcing additional efforts to work closely with healthcare facilities and ensure that our healthcare workforce is up to date on their doses.”

Queen Elizabeth tests positive for COVID
Buckingham Palace confirmed that Queen Elizabeth II tested positive for COVID on Sunday. They say the Queen is experiencing mild cold like symptoms but expects to continue light duties at Windsor over the coming week. She will continue to receive medical attention and will follow all the appropriate guidelines.

No vaccine mandate for NYS Cheerleading Championships

There will not be a vaccine mandate for cheerleaders at New York’s state high school championships. The New York State Public High School Athletic Association now says it will instead hold the competition without spectators. An earlier plan for a vaccine mandate was met with opposition, particularly in Nassau County. The championships are being held in Rochester next month.

Newark drops vaccine mandate, extends mandatory masks
Newark on Thursday dropped its vaccine mandate, meaning proof of COVID-19 vaccination will no longer be required for entry into certain indoor establishments and facilities, though events with 250 people or more are required to have their attendees provide proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results to enter. However, the city extended the wearing of face masks for residents and visitors while indoors through Monday, February 28.

“The data shows that we are making tremendous progress,” Mayor Ras Baraka said. “Our three-day rolling average for the city of Newark is at 2.5%. We have not been here in a long time. However, we are not at the end of the pandemic, therefore we need to remain vigilant to stay on this path of progress. Continue wearing your masks and get vaccinated, as another form of protection.”
The city will reevaluate the impact and effect of this Executive Order on the change in the COVID-19 positivity rate on February 28.

Model estimates 73% of US now has immune response to omicron: Is that enough for return to normal?
The nation’s top federal health official says the U.S. is moving closer to the point that COVID-19 is no longer a “constant crisis.” The omicron wave that assaulted the United States this winter also bolstered its defenses, leaving enough protection against the coronavirus that future spikes will likely require much less – if any – dramatic disruption to society. Millions of individual Americans’ immune systems now recognize the virus and are primed to fight it off if they encounter omicron, or even another variant. About half of eligible Americans have received booster shots, there have been nearly 80 million confirmed infections overall and many more infections have never been reported. One influential model uses those factors and others to estimate that 73% of Americans are, for now, immune to omicron, the dominant variant, and that could rise to 80% by mid-March.

How many times can I reuse my N95 mask?
How many times can I reuse my N95 mask? It depends, but you should be able to use N95s and KN95s a few times. The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention says health care workers can wear an N95 mask up to five times. But experts say how often the average person can safely wear one will vary depending on how it’s used. Using the same mask to run to the grocery store, for example, is very different than wearing it all day at work.
When am I contagious if infected with omicron?

When am I contagious if infected with omicron? It’s not yet clear, but some early data suggests people might become contagious sooner than with earlier variants – possibly within a day after infection. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the few days before and after symptoms develop. But that window of time might happen earlier with omicron, according to some outside experts. That’s because omicron appears to cause symptoms faster than previous variants – about three days after infection, on average, according to preliminary studies. Based on previous data, that means people with omicron could start becoming contagious as soon as a day after infection.


Omicron variant symptoms: what to know even if you are vaccinated
New York City COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker
New Jersey COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus

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