NEW YORK (WABC) -- New cases of COVID are plunging across the country, but there are concerns about an omicron subvariant.
Medical experts are keeping a close eye on it, fearing it could lead to another surge in cases.
The BA.2 subvariant is starting to spread across the country.
The World Health Organization asking nations to monitor the omicron subvariant.
Right now, the CDC estimates it accounts for roughly 3% to 4% of cases across the U.S.
Here are more of today's COVID-19 headlines:
NJ updates post-mask mandate COVID-19 guidance for schools
With New Jersey's school mask mandate set to expire on March 7, the state Department of Health on Wednesday issued updated public health recommendations for K-12 settings and child care programs. School districts and school boards as well as child care centers should consult with their local health department and school nurses in determining whether a universal masking policy is appropriate for their schools and child care centers. Many factors should be considered when making decisions on masking, including a school or child care center's ability to maintain physical distancing, screen students for COVID, perform contact tracing, exclude students and staff with COVID-19 or who have been exposed, and maintain adequate ventilation.
DC braces for potential trucker convoy protest weeks after similar demonstrations in Canada
The National Guard Bureau said on Tuesday night that U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved requests for 700 National Guard members to aid Washington ahead of the arrival of at least three separate trucker convoys. Those convoys plan to head to the Washington area to potentially disrupt traffic beginning Wednesday. About 400 members of the D.C. National Guard and 300 members from outside of the district will support traffic control. None will carry firearms "or take part in law enforcement or domestic-surveillance activities," according to the National Guard Bureau. Trucker convoy protests are expected to continue through early March, before and after Biden's first State of the Union address on March 1.
Booster drive in New Jersey
There is a two-week drive to get people boosted in New Jersey called "Boost NJ2 Week" now underway. Governor Phil Murphy said just last week, that only 51% of people in New Jersey have received their booster.
US vaccination drive is bottoming out as omicron subsides
A handwritten log kept by nurses tells the story of the losing battle to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19 in this corner of Alabama: Just 14 people showed up at the Marion County Health Department for their initial shot during the first six weeks of the year. That was true even as hospitals in and around the county of roughly 30,000 people filled with virus patients and the death toll climbed. On many days, no one got a first shot at all, while a Mexican restaurant up the street, Los Amigos, was full of unmasked diners at lunchtime.
The vaccination drive in the U.S. is grinding to a halt, and demand has all but collapsed in places like this deeply conservative manufacturing town where many weren't interested in the shots to begin with. The average number of Americans getting their first shot is down to about 90,000 a day, the lowest point since the first few days of the U.S. vaccination campaign, in December 2020. And hopes of any substantial improvement in the immediate future have largely evaporated.
COVID-19 shot or test proof mandate ends at NJ statehouse
Come Monday, the next time New Jersey's Legislature meets, the requirement to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test will be no more. The State Capitol Joint Management Commission voted 8-0 Tuesday to rescind orders it instituted in late November requiring a negative test or vaccination proof to enter the statehouse or adjacent buildings. The decision comes as New Jersey's COVID-19 trends fall from highs during the holidays. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy also said Wednesday he would be ending his regular briefings on the virus, with the final one set for March 4. He said the virus is "on the run."
Czechs to lift all limits on gatherings as infections drop
The Czech government agreed Wednesday to further ease coronavirus restrictions as the wave of infections caused by the highly transmissible omicron variant has been receding. Health Minister Vlastimil Valek said all limits on the number of people attending any public gatherings, including sports matches and concerts, will be lifted on March 1.
Valek also said mandatory testing of health care workers and staffers at nursing homes will end on March 13. That same day, masks will remain mandatory only on public transport and at hospitals, outpatient clinics and nursing homes. The Czech Republic recorded over 14,000 daily new cases Tuesday, about half of what the daily tally was a week ago. The seven-day infection rate dropped to 809 per 100,000 residents on Tuesday from 939 the previous day.
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?
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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