COVID Live Updates: Moderna developing COVID vaccine booster to fight variants

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- There are growing concerns about mutations of the coronavirus.

A new variant of the virus has been found in Minnesota. It was first detected in Brazil.

Although the coronavirus has mutated thousands of times, three variants are being closely watched.

The Brazilian variant is said to be more contagious than the more common strains. The variant that originated in England is now spreading in at least 26 states and officials warn that strain could also be more deadly.

The current vaccines do work against the variants, but Moderna is already creating a booster as a precaution.

The South African variant has not yet been detected in the U.S.

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Here are more of today's headlines:

Westchester community raises $32K for private school security guard battling COVID
A community in Westchester County is coming together to support the family of a school security guard battling the coronavirus.

In the close-knit community at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry -- when one person is struggling, they rally around that person. That's exactly what's happening right now with Panton Adams.

New York seizures of fentanyl and meth surge amid COVID pandemic
Federal authorities say the amount of fentanyl seized in drug-trafficking investigations in the state of New York continues to increase at an alarming rate, underscoring how the pandemic hasn't slowed a booming market for the potent synthetic opioid.

Seizures of methamphetamine - another highly addictive synthetic street drug blamed in a national surge in overdose deaths - also are on a steep rise, according to Drug Enforcement Administration numbers released Tuesday.

CDC report says schools should postpone high contact sports
A new CDC report finds that the high-contact sport wrestling should be avoided in schools during times when community transmission is high. The report does not provide recommendations for avoiding other specific sports, rather it makes a blanket statement that high-contact sports in general should be avoided in school settings during periods of high transmission within the community.

The report described a large outbreak that was linked to a public high school wrestling tournament held in Florida, from which initial transmission was traced back to one of the participant athletes. Wresting is a close contact sport, for which the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against mask wearing due to choking hazards.

Biden administration to boost COVID-19 vaccine supply next week
The Biden administration is giving states an approximately 17% boost in vaccine next week following complaints of shortages so severe that some vaccination sites around the U.S. had to cancel tens of thousands of appointments with people seeking their first shot.

Detailed figures posted on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website Tuesday showed that the government plans to make about 10.1 million first and second doses available next week, up from this week's allotment of 8.6 million. The figures represent doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Wallkill officer dies from COVID
Town of Wallkill Sgt. Barry Weissman died from COVID-19 on Saturday, officials announced. He started his career as a part-time officer in 1982, became a full-time officer in 1997, was promoted to sergeant in 2012 and retired in 2016. He returned as a part-time sergeant just months after his retirement.

100M worldwide COVID cases
COVID-19 cases have topped 100 million worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

UK tops 100,000 COVID-19 deaths
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Tuesday that the number of deaths in the U.K. from COVID-19 has surpassed 100,000.

Target giving $200M worth of bonuses to employees amid pandemic
In order to show gratitude for hard work in 2020, Target is giving all of its hourly workers a $500 bonus. Target said in a press release that the bonuses will go to all hourly team members in stores, distribution centers and at Target's headquarters and field-base offices.

Herd immunity coronavirus: Doctor explains how COVID vaccine helps work toward stopping virus spread
An infectious disease specialist took the time to explain what herd immunity is, how it works and when it might affect the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Frank Esper works for the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital.

NJ opens vaccine new site, closes others due to lack of supply
A new site in Hudson County will be open Tuesday and Governor Phil Murphy will visit.
It is a drive-thru and all appointments are booked.
However, the site at the Meadowlands racetrack is closed because of a lack of supply.
Another site in South Jersey was also closed for the same reason Monday.

NYC restaurants to remain closed to indoor dining
Both the positivity rate and the rate of hospitalization is down across New York, and Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to ease some restrictions.
There are still no plans for indoor dining to return in the city, despite the fact that that the COVID positivity rate in the city is now below 6 percent.
The New York City Restaurant Alliance plans to file a lawsuit.

Is there a benefit to wearing two masks? We asked a doctor
Health experts have been saying for months that mask-wearing is important for stopping the spread of COVID-19. But is there a benefit to wearing two masks?

It's a hot topic right now, especially since that highly contagious variant of the novel coronavirus first identified in the UK has been found in U.S. So we asked an emergency physician the question about whether we should be wearing two masks.

NJ MVC centers close
The Paterson Regional/Licensing Center, Cherry Hill Vehicle Center, Trenton Regional/Vehicle Center, and Camden Licensing Center have been closed due to a single employee testing positive for COVID-19 at each location.
The Paterson, Trenton, and Camden Centers will reopen Friday, Feb. 5. At each of these three locations, the single employee who tested positive was last in the facility Thursday, Jan. 21.
Cherry Hill will reopen Wednesday, Feb. 3, and the employee who tested positive was last there Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Due to the closure of Trenton Regional, IRP and IFTA walk-in services will be unavailable until Feb. 5.

How collecting unemployment during COVID-19 could impact your tax refund

Families battered by the pandemic recession soon may discover that the tax refunds they're counting on are dramatically smaller - or that they actually owe income tax. Congress offered a partial solution, but the fix hasn't been widely publicized, consumer advocates say.

Refunds are crucial to many lower- and moderate-income households, which use the money to catch up on bills and medical treatments, pay down debt and boost savings.
But the unemployment insurance that kept many people afloat last year may cause problems at tax time this year. Unemployment benefits are taxable, but tax withholding is typically voluntary - and many people who lost jobs either didn't know their unemployment checks would be taxed, or they decided against withholding. (Relief checks, such as the $1,200 sent out last year, are not taxable.)

Top 7 COVID vaccine questions answered
You had questions about COVID-19 vaccines and 7 On Your Side is getting you answers from doctors on the front line of the pandemic.


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