NEW YORK (WABC) — The CDC has shortened the amount of time people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised need to wait before getting a fourth COVID vaccine booster dose.
They now recommend that the severely immunocompromised can get an additional Pfizer or Moderna shot three months after their third dose instead of five months.
The CDC also encourages people with weakened immune systems who originally got a Johnson & Johnson vaccine to take two additional doses, instead of just one.
Here are more of today’s COVID-19 headlines:
US death toll hits 900,000, sped by omicron
Propelled in part by the wildly contagious omicron variant, the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 hit 900,000 on Friday, less than two months after eclipsing 800,000. The two-year total, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is greater than the population of Indianapolis, San Francisco, or Charlotte, North Carolina. The milestone comes more than 13 months into a vaccination drive that has been beset by misinformation and political and legal strife, though the shots have proved safe and highly effective at preventing serious illness and death.
Scientists study why some never catch coronavirus
Scientists are trying to unlock the mystery of why some people seem never to catch COVID. While there is no clear-cut answer, one factor may lie in our DNA, giving people with certain genetic traits more pre-existing protection. Researchers in London have also found that people with higher levels of T-cells generated from other previous coronavirus infections like a common cold were less likely to get COVID. “If there are overlapping sequences that are shared between the common cold coronaviruses and the sarscov2, that T-cell can react very quickly to mount a defense against sarscov2,” said Dr. Akiko Iwasaki, professor of immunology, Yale University.
More vaccinations will lead to lifting mask rules: Hochul
Records show 80% of 12-to 17-year-olds in New York State have gotten their first dose of the COVID vaccine, and Gov. Kathy Hochul says more vaccinations will lead to the lifting of mask mandates in schools. “The more children we have vaccinated, the safer they will be in school,” she said, explaining vaccination rate will be a factor in decisions on mask rules. “And they wont need a mask anymore,” Hochul promised. “But we are just not there yet. It is all based on data.” Data shows 40% of 5-to 11-year-olds have gotten their first dose.
COVID falling in 49 of 50 states as deaths near 900,000
With omicron easing, new cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. are falling in 49 of the 50 states, even as the nation’s death toll closes in on another bleak round number: 900,000. The number of lives lost to the pandemic in the U.S. stood at about 899,000 as of Friday afternoon, with deaths running at an average of more than 2,400 a day, back up to where they were last winter, when the vaccine drive was still getting started. But new cases per day have tanked by almost a half-million nationwide since mid-January, the curve trending downward in every state but Maine.
CT crosses grim milestone
Connecticut reported an additional 175 COVID deaths since last week, bringing the state’s total across the 10,000 threshold to 10,083. The state’s positivity rate is currently 6.57%, with 869 current hospitalizations.
Palin resumes court battle with NY Times after COVID illness
Sarah Palin’s libel suit against The New York Times went to trial Thursday in a case over the former Alaska governor’s claims the newspaper damaged her reputation with an editorial linking her campaign rhetoric to a mass shooting. The trial is a rare example of a jury deciding the validity of a persistent refrain from Palin and other Republicans: That a biased news media is willing to bend the truth to make conservatives look bad. Palin, a one-time Republican vice presidential nominee, told journalists as she arrived at the courthouse that she was looking for “Justice for people who expect truth in the media.” Opening statements to the jury were initially scheduled for last week, but were postponed when Palin tested positive for COVID-19.
“We come to this case with our eyes wide open and keenly aware of the fact we’re fighting an uphill battle,” Palin attorney Shane Vogt said. “Give us a fair shot. We’re not here trying to win your votes for Governor Palin or any of her policies.”
Medicare opens up access to free at-home COVID-19 tests
The Biden administration says people with Medicare will be able to get up to eight free over-the-counter COVID-19 tests per month, starting in early spring. It’s seeking to fill a frustrating gap in coverage for coronavirus tests. Last month, the administration directed private insurers to cover rapid COVID-19 tests for people on their plans. But until now officials were trying to figure out what to do about Medicare, which covers older people particularly vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19. Laws and regulations that govern the program stood in the way. Free tests will be available through participating pharmacies and other locations. AARP has praised Medicare’s decision.
Russia mulls loosening restrictions amid record virus surge
The Russian president says his government is considering loosening some coronavirus restrictions, even as the country is facing a record-breaking surge of infections because of the highly contagious omicron variant. Vladimir Putin on Thursday insisted that authorities are not planning any lockdowns or other additional restrictions because of the surge. Moreover, the government is considering lifting restrictions for those who come into contact with COVID-19 patients, “to give people the opportunity to continue working in peace.” Existing regulations mandate that people who come in contact with someone with COVID-19 must self-isolate for seven days. On Thursday, the country’s state coronavirus task force reported 155,768 new infections, a daily tally 10 times higher than a month ago.
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.
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