COVID Omicron News: Some call for restrictions to lift as cases decrease across US

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- Authorities across the country are under growing pressure to lift COVID-related restrictions.

Only five states are reporting a significant increase in COVID cases, with overall cases around the country down 30%.

Infections in children have also dropped for the first time since Thanksgiving, down by nearly one-third.

In Canada, what started as a convoy of truckers protesting vaccine mandates has grown into a movement with thousands of people rallying against restrictions.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the protesters' behavior "disgusting" Monday, the same day he announced he himself has tested positive for COVID.

RELATED: What are the symptoms of the COVID omicron variant?

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

NY mask mandate remains until March, vaccine deadline looms for NYC workers
An appeals court says New York Governor Kathy Hochul's mask mandate can stay in place at least until March, when the court will hear arguments in the case. New York City Mayor Eric Adams says NYPD officers and other city workers who are still not vaccinated despite the mandate to do so now face a February 11 deadline to get the shot or face termination.

Pfizer expected to ask for authorization of under-5 COVID shots as soon as Tuesday
Pfizer on Tuesday asked the U.S. to authorize extra-low doses of its COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5, potentially opening the way for the very youngest Americans to start receiving shots as early as March. In an extraordinary move, the Food and Drug Administration had urged Pfizer and its partner BioNTech to apply earlier than the companies had planned.

The nation's 19 million children under 5 are the only group not yet eligible for vaccination against the coronavirus. Many parents have been pushing for an expansion of shots to toddlers and preschoolers, especially as the omicron wave sent record numbers of youngsters to the hospital. If the FDA agrees, Pfizer shots containing just one-tenth of the dose given to adults could be dispensed to children as young as 6 months.

After election win, Portugal's PM tests positive for virus
Portugal's Socialist Party leader António Costa says he has tested positive for COVID-19, two days after his landslide election victory and just as he starts forming his new government. Costa said in a statement Tuesday he will self-isolate for seven days, in accordance with the country's pandemic rules. Costa was due to meet with President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa on Wednesday as a first step toward being sworn in. It wasn't immediately clear if another Socialist Party official would replace him. Costa has been Portugal's prime minister since 2015 and is set to serve another four years.

Too many masks: WHO cites glut of waste from COVID response
The World Health Organization says overuse of gloves, "moon suits" and the use of billions of masks and vaccination syringes to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus have spurred a huge glut of health care waste worldwide. The U.N. health agency reported Tuesday that tens of thousands of tons of extra medical waste has strained waste management systems and is threatening both health and the environment, pointing to a "dire need" to improve those systems and get a response from both governments and people.

"Part of the message for the public is to become more of a conscious consumer," said Dr. Margaret Montgomery, technical officer of WHO's water, sanitation, hygiene and health unit. "In terms of the volume, it's enormous...We find that people are wearing excessive PPE."

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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