COVID Omicron News: CDC may announce new mask guidance in coming weeks

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- With the push to get more people boosted and with COVID cases continuing to decline, there could soon be some different guidance when it comes to wearing masks across the country.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Wednesday that new government mask guidance could be announced in the coming weeks.

Health officials also said that the U.S. is moving closer to the point where COVID-19 is no longer a "constant crisis."

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

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



Newark drops vaccine mandate, extends mandatory masks
Newark on Thursday dropped its vaccine mandate, meaning proof of COVID-19 vaccination will no longer be required for entry into certain indoor establishments and facilities, though events with 250 people or more are required to have their attendees provide proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results to enter. However, the city extended the wearing of face masks for residents and visitors while indoors through Monday, February 28.

"The data shows that we are making tremendous progress," Mayor Ras Baraka said. "Our three-day rolling average for the city of Newark is at 2.5%. We have not been here in a long time. However, we are not at the end of the pandemic, therefore we need to remain vigilant to stay on this path of progress. Continue wearing your masks and get vaccinated, as another form of protection."

The city will reevaluate the impact and effect of this Executive Order on the change in the COVID-19 positivity rate on February 28.

NBA commissioner speaks out on NYC's vaccine mandate as Kyrie Irving misses another game
The Brooklyn Nets are hopeful of a change to a local vaccine mandate that would make Kyrie Irving available for home games, one that New York City's mayor is "struggling" with whether to make. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday he believed Mayor Eric Adams should look at the mandate, which requires athletes playing for the city's teams to be vaccinated against the coronavirus to play in public venues.

"Many of the masking restrictions are being lifted, you can just feel it in the city, more people in restaurants, more people out and about," Silver said. "So while, again, my personal view is people should get vaccinated and boosted, I can imagine a scenario where Brooklyn, as part of New York City, with a new mayor now who wasn't in place, Eric Adams, when that original ordinance was put into place, I could see him deciding to change along the way."

Adams later agreed that there were problems with the rule, which doesn't apply to visiting players, but said he is hesitant to make a change. The Nets hope he will.

Employers take note: Most remote workers don't want to go back to the office
Employers, take note: If your staff has been working from home most or all of the time during the past two years, chances are a majority may want to continue doing so after the threat of COVID-19 fades. Among Americans with jobs that can be done remotely, 59% say they still are working from home much or all of the time, according to a new survey released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center. That's less than the 71% who reported working remotely in October 2020, but is well above the 23% who did frequently before the pandemic. And among those who have a workplace outside of their homes, the majority (61%) said they are choosing to work from home, while the remainder said they're remote because their workplace is closed or unavailable to them.

Model estimates 73% of US now has immune response to omicron: Is that enough for return to normal?
The nation's top federal health official says the U.S. is moving closer to the point that COVID-19 is no longer a "constant crisis." The omicron wave that assaulted the United States this winter also bolstered its defenses, leaving enough protection against the coronavirus that future spikes will likely require much less - if any - dramatic disruption to society. Millions of individual Americans' immune systems now recognize the virus and are primed to fight it off if they encounter omicron, or even another variant. About half of eligible Americans have received booster shots, there have been nearly 80 million confirmed infections overall and many more infections have never been reported. One influential model uses those factors and others to estimate that 73% of Americans are, for now, immune to omicron, the dominant variant, and that could rise to 80% by mid-March.

More virus rules fall as CDC hints at better times ahead, possible change to mask guidance
The nation's leading health officials said Wednesday that the U.S. is moving closer to the point that COVID-19 is no longer a "constant crisis" as more cities, businesses and sports venues began lifting pandemic restrictions around the country. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing that the government is contemplating a change to its mask guidance in the coming weeks. Noting recent declines in COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions and deaths, she acknowledged "people are so eager" for health officials to ease masking rules and other measures designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

"We all share the same goal - to get to a point where COVID-19 is no longer disrupting our daily lives, a time when it won't be a constant crisis - rather something we can prevent, protect against, and treat," Walensky said.

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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