COVID Omicron News: CDC could update mask guidance this week

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ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Monday, February 21, 2022
CDC could update COVID mask guidance this week
States continue to roll back restrictions on masks so the CDC is considering updating their guidance this week.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- As COVID cases continue to drop, the CDC could update its mask guidelines as early as this week.

Dr. Anthony Fauci warns it's still risky, but most of the country isn't waiting.

Forty-nine out of 50 states have announced plans to loosen mask restrictions.

States like California and Utah even announced plans for an endemic response to COVID.

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

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

Boris Johnson scraps remaining COVID-19 restrictions in England

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday that he is scrapping the last domestic coronavirus restrictions in England, including the requirement for people with COVID-19 to self-isolate, even as he acknowledged the potential for new and more deadly variants of the virus. Johnson told lawmakers in the House of Commons that the country was "moving from government restrictions to personal responsibility" as part of a plan for treating COVID-19 like other transmissible illnesses such as flu.

"We now have sufficient levels of immunity to complete the transition from protecting people with government interventions to relying on vaccines and treatments as our first line of defense," Johnson said.

COVID now mostly killing unvaccinated, seemingly healthy middle aged Americans, data shows

When the recent COVID-19 wave fueled by the omicron variant hit the U.S., no one expected it would lead to the number of deaths it did. As of Wednesday, the nation is reporting 2,200 new COVID daily deaths on average. While this is lower than the 3,400-peak seen last winter, it's still three times higher than the number of average fatalities recorded two months ago.

Additionally, last winter, vaccines had only just started to roll out, children were not yet eligible and the conversation surrounding boosters was far off. With around 60% of Americans fully vaccinated during the most recent wave, daily deaths from omicron are still relatively high, which begs the question: Who is dying of COVID-19 when there is such strong vaccination coverage?

'We're doing everything we can to survive': High-risk, disabled Americans feel forgotten

Tasha Nelson's 10-year-old son held back tears when he heard the news. The two were in the car when the announcement came through the radio: Virginia's freshly sworn-in governor had signed an order attempting to ban mask mandates in schools.

"My son looked up at me and he had tears in his eyes because he knew what it meant," Nelson said. "He said, 'Mom, does that mean I can't go to school anymore?' He said, 'Can't we let the governor know about kids like me? I want to go to school too.'"

Jack, a fourth-grader, has cystic fibrosis, a progressive genetic disease that causes persistent, damaging lung infections, making it harder to breathe over time. Like other immunocompromised, disabled and chronically ill Americans, Jack was taking measures, like masking, to dodge infections before the pandemic too. But with Covid-19 still rampant, it's not as easy. Even though he's vaccinated, the virus poses a serious, potentially deadly, risk to Jack. His 2-year-old brother, who is not yet eligible for the shots, is another concern.

New York delays booster mandate for healthcare workers

Health officials in New York have announced that at this time, the state will not enforce the booster requirement for health care workers that was set to go into effect on Monday, Feb. 21, in an effort to avoid potential staffing issues.

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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