COVID Omicron News: Cases drop across the US, but death rate remains high

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- New COVID-19 cases are declining or stable in all 50 states, prompting several northeast states, some among the hardest hit, to announce plans to lift mask mandates in schools.

But many are divided on the issue as the omicron surge continues to take more than 2,400 lives a day.

The CDC cautions their recommendations still stand that anyone 2 years and older should continue to wear masks in public.

Another encouraging statistic, hospitalizations are down nearly 50% with new cases dropping 61% since mid-January.

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

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

New York City Council committee to consider making outdoor dining permanent
Outdoor dining may be here to stay in New York. On Tuesday, a New York City Council committee will begin debating a new bill to make the dining sheds permanent.

In a city where there is stiff competition for every square inch, there are now 12,000 such structures, and not everyone is happy about all the real estate going into restaurants.

Department of Correction resuming in-person visits as omicron cases wane
As omicron cases continue to drop in New York City, the Department Of Correction has given the green light to resume in-person family visits beginning Wednesday.

All visitors ages 5 years and older must be fully vaccinated and show proof of vaccination. This includes a CDC-issued vaccine card or New York State Excelsior pass.

CDC on mask mandates: Up to local officials
In a new statement, the CDC says it's up to local officials to make the rules on mask mandates, but that their recommendation remains masks for everyone, ages 2 and up.

"CDC guidance is meant to supplement-not replace-any federal, state, tribal, local, or territorial health and safety laws, rules, and regulations. The adoption and implementation of our guidance should be done in collaboration with regulatory agencies and state, tribal, local, and territorial public health departments, and in compliance with state and local policies and practices," the CDC said in a statement.

50,000 racing fans will be allowed into Belmont Park to watch the Belmont Stakes
Racing fans can celebrate the most recent announcement from the New York Racing Association. The association will allow 50,000 fans into Belmont Park on June 11th for the Belmont Stakes.

That's a huge jump from last year's pandemic limit of just 11,000 fans.

Gov. Lamont recommends ending CT statewide mask mandate
Governor Ned Lamont on Monday recommended an end to the Connecticut statewide mask mandate effective February 28. He says it will be up to local districts and schools to make the decision in their community on whether to keep masks or not.

US figure skater Zhou out after COVID test
U.S. men's figure skater Vincent Zhou has tested positive for the coronavirus, and is out of the individual competition. In a five-minute video posted to Instagram on Monday night, a teary Zhou announced that he would have to withdraw. He had initially tested positive as part of a routine COVID-19 screening, and underwent additional testing. The 21-year-old had struggled through a poor free skate for the eventual team silver medalists a day before, and was due to compete in the individual competition that begins with the men's short program on Tuesday.

NJ lifting school mask mandate

Governor Phil Murphy tweeted that effective March 7, New Jersey's statewide mask mandate in schools will be lifted. He said in the tweet, "Balancing public health with getting back to some semblance of normalcy is not easy. But we can responsibly take this step due to declining COVID numbers and growth in vaccinations."

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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