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Thursday, December 1, 2022

COVID Omicron Updates: U.S. looking at possibility of fourth vaccine dose for vulnerable Americans

NEW YORK (WABC) — You may need a fourth COVID shot by the fall.

The U.S. is among several nations looking at the possibility of another dose for those who are the most vulnerable.

Dr. Peter Marks says the FDA is continually monitoring pandemic data to track emerging variants.

Because fall is typically the timeline for flu shots, the same could be true for an additional COVID booster.

The CDC reports half of Americans eligible to get the COVID booster have gotten one.

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.

Anime convention at Javits not a superspreader event
When a person tested positive for omicron after attending an anime convention in New York City late last year, health officials raced to determine if the indoor gathering was a superspreader event. It wasn’t, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded. Widespread masking, vaccinations, and good airflow at the Javits Center prevented the highly contagious omicron variant from spreading widely. Investigators found 119 infections from about 53,000 people who attended the event over three days in November. A Minnesota man at the Anime NYC convention became one of the first Americans diagnosed with omicron. Omicron spreads more easily than earlier versions of the coronavirus and drove a national surge over the winter. While omicron cases were found in the man’s small social circle, other cases turned out to be from the older delta variant, the CDC said.

NY State health care workers no longer must get boosted
Health care workers in New York State will no longer be required to receive a booster shot by Feb. 21 to avoid “potential staffing issues.”

The initial requirement that health care workers be vaccinated remains in effect. The state “will reassess in three months” whether there will need to be “additional steps” for increasing booster shot rates among health care workers.

The news comes amid staffing shortages in health care facilities over the past several months. Officials say 75% of the State’s health care workforce have either received or are willing to receive a booster, including 88% among direct care staff in hospitals.

Improperly stored COVID-19 doses called isolated incident
The improper storage of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at a New Haven clinic, which led to hundreds of people being told to get another jab, is an isolated incident of miscommunication, according to an internal review.

New Haven Health Director Maritza Bond said there was a lack of communication as to who was responsible for checking when the vaccine should have been moved from a freezer to a refrigerator, WTNH-TV reported. Bond said approximately 2,900 doses had been left in the freezer too long and 656 were administered to 625 people.

Officials have said the efficacy of the doses might have been diminished because vials containing the vaccine were kept at a temperature below what is recommended.

Feds: Group got millions in pandemic unemployment fraud
Authorities made arrests from New York to Delaware to California Thursday as they rounded up 10 men accused of fraudulently reaping more than $4 million in unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic.

They and others, including an 11th defendant who’s still at large, used more than 800 other people’s identities to file claims in New York, the Brooklyn U.S. attorney’s office said Thursday.
Eight were arrested in New York City, one in Delaware and one in California.

‘No-COVID’ policy drags on Hong Kong economy as cases surge
Once bustling Hong Kong is languishing amid a strict zero-COVID strategy that has closed bank branches and movie theaters. Its international airport, once a thriving regional hub, is nearly empty of travelers. In the midst of the city’s worst outbreak, many fear worse is yet to come. The city is looking into converting hotels and even unoccupied public housing into quarantine facilities. Businesses fret that the government’s determination to match mainland China’s stringent policies even as the rest of the world learns to live with the coronavirus may hinder a recovery for a city so dependent on international finance and travel.

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.

More virus rules fall as CDC hints at better times ahead, possible change to mask guidance
The nation’s leading health officials said Wednesday that the U.S. is moving closer to the point that COVID-19 is no longer a “constant crisis” as more cities, businesses and sports venues began lifting pandemic restrictions around the country. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing that the government is contemplating a change to its mask guidance in the coming weeks. Noting recent declines in COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions and deaths, she acknowledged “people are so eager” for health officials to ease masking rules and other measures designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“We all share the same goal – to get to a point where COVID-19 is no longer disrupting our daily lives, a time when it won’t be a constant crisis – rather something we can prevent, protect against, and treat,” Walensky said.
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.


MORE CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 COVERAGE


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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