COVID Live Updates: Weekly NY hospitalizations decline for 1st time since September

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo says New York state's COVID hospitalization rate of increase is slowing.

He said this past week was the first week with declining hospitalizations since early September.

COVID cases are also declining across all regions of the country. Hospitalizations are the lowest since mid-December.

"I think the next 4 weeks will be very telling, if that dip is temporary after the high of the holidays, or if we're heading in the right direction to improve our nation," said Dr. Shashank Ravi, Assistant Director, Stanford Emergency Department.

However, over the weekend, the US passed 25 million cases. Five million of those cases occurred since January 1. The death toll now tops 418,000 people.

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Here are more of today's headlines:



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.

Cuomo to ease restrictions on micro-cluster zones in New York
With statewide metrics improving, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will soon ease some COVID restrictions in New York state. Cuomo says he will have announcements on Wednesday, and anticipates the state will start to open up more economic activity and reduce some of the restrictions and micro-cluster zones.

4 new COVID variant cases in CT
Governor Ned Lamont announced that Connecticut public health officials have confirmed that the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 has been detected in four additional individuals in the state who recently tested positive for COVID-19. This brings the total number of confirmed cases of the variant in Connecticut to eight. The eight individuals, who live in New Haven (2), Oxford (3), and West Haven (3), range in age from 15 to 50.

Suffolk County high school sports
High-risk sports can restart in New York State on Feb. 1 if local health departments approve. That includes basketball, wrestling, hockey, volleyball, football, and lacrosse.
"Local health authorities should consider the following factors in authorizing or continuing to prohibit higher risk sports and recreational activities as, in many areas, these factors may weigh against permitting such activities:
- whether there has been a more transmissible variant of covid 19 identified in the area
- local rates of COVID-19 transmission or rate of positivity, and
- local ability to monitor and enforce compliance"
The county executive planned to provide more details later Monday afternoon.

US virus numbers drop, but race against new strains heats up
Coronavirus deaths and cases per day in the U.S. dropped markedly over the past couple of weeks but are still running at alarmingly high levels, and the effort to snuff out COVID-19 is becoming an ever more urgent race between the vaccine and the mutating virus.

The government's top infectious-disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said the improvement in numbers around the country appears to be the result of "natural peaking and then plateauing" after a holiday surge, rather than an effect of the rollout of vaccines that began in mid-December.

Deaths are running at an average of just under 3,100 a day, down from more than 3,350 less than two weeks ago. New cases are averaging about 170,000 a day after peaking at almost 250,000 on Jan. 11. The number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital in the U.S. has fallen to about 110,000 from a high of 132,000 on Jan. 7.

MTA launches memorial to honor transit workers lost to COVID-19
The MTA have lost 136 employees to COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and on Monday, they launched a living memorial to honor them.

Budweiser joins Coke, Pepsi brands in sitting out Super Bowl
For the first time since 1983, when Anheuser-Busch used all of its ad time to introduce a beer called Bud Light, the beer giant isn't advertising its iconic Budweiser brand during the Super Bowl. Instead, it's donating the money it would have spent on the ad to coronavirus vaccination awareness efforts.

Biden to reinstate COVID-19 travel rules, add South Africa
President Joe Biden on Monday will formally reinstate COVID-19 travel restrictions on non-U.S. travelers from Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom and 26 other European countries that allow travel across open borders, according to two White House officials.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the order, also confirmed Sunday that South Africa would be added to the restricted list because of concerns about a variant of the virus that has spread beyond that nation.

Top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci called Biden's decision "prudent" Monday in a round of television interviews.

Only 10 out of 4M vaccinated with Moderna vaccine had severe allergic reaction, CDC reports
Ten out of the more than 4 million people who got the first doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine had a severe allergic reaction, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC.

"In all the cases no one has died and it's been all treatable. Most of them occurred within the first 10 minutes," said Peter Chin-Hong, a UCSF Infectious Disease specialist.

Dr. Peter Chin-Hong says these cases are rare and added, "The allergic reaction are likely happening because the fatty bubble that incases the message and that messenger RNA vaccine might be an allergen to some people. But the good news is that it's not a lot of people," said Dr. Chin-Hong.

EU pressures AstraZeneca to deliver vaccines as promised
The European Union is pressuring the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to deliver more coronavirus vaccine doses to the bloc and to stick to its initial promises once the jab gets EU approval, especially since the bloc has already invested in enhancing production capacity.

Already facing criticism for a slow vaccine rollout around the 27 member nations, the European Commission also wants a transparency register to record and approve all export of vaccines out of EU nations to third countries.

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.)

NYC vaccination centers on hold
The 24/7 mega vaccination sites at Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, and Empire Outlets are on hold until the city gets more supply of the COVID vaccine, Mayor de Blasio said. New York State officials are hopeful they will get more COVID vaccine later this week. They have already administered 88 percent of the doses they have received.

NJ opens vaccination hotline
In New Jersey, a vaccine phone line will go up Monday morning at 8 a.m. with 250 agents to answer calls. The number to call is 855-568-0545.
There was a phone line up last week, but there was no one there to answer the phone line.
Governor Phil Murphy saying the state is still in need of more federal assistance as the state tries to keep up with the demand for the shots.

NYC Restaurant Week returns -- but with changes this year
New York City Restaurant Week gets underway Monday -- even without indoor dining -- to encourage New Yorkers to support the dining community during a critical time.

This year's event is called Restaurant Week To Go and a record-breaking 570 restaurants across the five boroughs will participate. Every eatery will offer at least one bargain $20.21 takeout or delivery meal of lunch or dinner with one side dish.

In light of COVID-19 restrictions, many restaurants will offer takeout and delivery for the first time.
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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