COVID Omicron News: Omicron cases trending downward for adults and kids

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- Pfizer has begun the process that would make its COVID-19 vaccine available to children as young as six months old.

The pharmaceutical company officially asked the FDA for emergency use authorization, giving millions of families hope as the number of kids testing positive for COVID remains "extremely high".

But as the overall U.S. rate of daily COVID cases drops below 100,000 for the first time in weeks, pediatric case numbers are also trending down

In the hospitals, expectant mothers are also struggling with COVID infections.

Doctors say 10 to 15% of pregnant patients delivering their babies are COVID-19 positive.

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

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

COVID-19 numbers trending downwards in NJ; Newark extends vaccine, mask mandates
COVID-19 cases in New Jersey are continuing their downward trend, indicating the worst of the omicron surge may be subsiding.

Officials say there has been a decrease in hospitalizations, back to where the state was around the end of December. In fact, hospitalizations went down 25% more since Monday. Murphy said hospital workers are still overwhelmed, and it's important to stay vigilant.

The new numbers come after Newark Mayor Ras Baraka signed an executive order extending mandatory vaccination for entry into certain establishments and facilities for an additional two weeks, to Wednesday, February 16.

The order also extended the requirement for the wearing of face masks for residents and visitors while indoors.

COVID-19 disrupts federal trial over George Floyd's death
The federal trial of three former police officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights during his 2020 fatal arrest was abruptly suspended on Wednesday after one of the defendants tested positive for COVID-19, the judge presiding over the case said.

The trial, now in its second week in the U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minnesota, was put on recess until Monday.

France to start using Pfizer's COVID-19 drug, first in EU
France says it will start administering Pfizer's coronavirus antiviral drug this week, the first pill for treating COVID-19 approved in the 27-nation EU. France is still reporting among the world's highest per-capita daily infections, but virus-related critical care hospitalizations are easing.

The French government on Wednesday started lifting restrictions related to the surge in omicron cases. Meanwhile, France has received its first 10,000 doses of the Pfizer drug Paxlovid. They will be available in pharmacies starting Friday. The Health Ministry says France is the first European Union country to start providing the treatment since it won regulatory approval last week in the bloc.

Anti-vaccine protest in Canada spurs outrage
Thousands of Canadian protesters railing against vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions descended on the country's capital over the weekend, deliberately blocking traffic around Parliament Hill. Some urinated and parked on the National War Memorial. One danced on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A number carried signs and flags with swastikas.

In the aftermath of Canada's biggest pandemic protest to date, the demonstrators have found little sympathy in a country where more than 80% are vaccinated. Many people are outraged by some of the crude behavior. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling the Ottawa protesters a "fringe minority" and says they reflect the proliferation of conspiracy theories and misinformation.

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.

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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