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Monday, January 24, 2022

COVID Omicron News: Variants may be headed for sharp decline in US

NEW YORK (WABC) – Scientists are seeing signs that the dreaded omicron wave of COVID-19 has peaked in the UK and is about to do the same in the US, at which point cases could begin to drop dramatically .

Reason: The variant has proven to be so wildly contagious that it is almost a month and a half after it was first detected in South Africa that people are likely to be infected.

“It’s going to come down as fast as it goes up,” said Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics science at the University of Washington in Seattle.

At the same time, experts have warned that much is still uncertain about how the next phase of the pandemic will unfold. Plateaus or fluctuations in both the countries are not happening everywhere at the same time or at the same speed. And weeks or months of misery are still ahead for patients and overwhelmed hospitals, even if the drop-off passes.

Take a look at cases and hospitalizations in New York City:

RELATED: What are the symptoms of COVID omicron type?

Here are today’s COVID-19 headlines:

No change to schools’ mask mandates after Nassau County executive order
A week after Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman signed an executive order allowing school boards to decide whether students wear masks in schools, not one school district changed its mask policies.

Blakeman said members of the school board have told her privately that she feels threatened by Governor Kathy Hochul and state officials.

When can I become contagious if infected with Omicron?
When can I become contagious if infected with Omicron? It’s not clear yet, but some early data suggests that people may be contagious sooner than earlier forms – possibly within a day of infection. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people with coronavirus are most contagious in the days before and after developing symptoms. But that window of time may be the first with Omicron, according to some outside experts. This is because according to preliminary studies, about three days after infection, Omicron causes symptoms faster than previous variants. Based on previous data, this means that people with Omicron can begin to be contagious as soon as a day after infection.

3,000 United Airlines employees test positive for COVID
United Airlines said it is reducing its flight schedule in hopes of easing a COVID-related staffing shortage, which has led to the cancellation of thousands of flights across the industry. In a new company-wide memo, CEO Scott Kirby said the airline is “shortening our near-term schedules to ensure we have the staff and resources to take care of customers.” Kirby did not specify how many flights the airline was reducing. But the memo states that “the Omicron boom has put pressure on our operations, resulting in customer disruptions during the busy holiday season.” He thanked the employees for their professionalism in handling the delays.

CDC says it will update mask ‘information’
The CDC says it plans to update its mask information to “best reflect the many options available to people and the different levels of protection they provide.” CDC did not say when its guidance would be updated. Meanwhile, the CDC said in a statement, “Any mask is better without a mask, and we encourage Americans to wear a well-fitting mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” Since the arrival of Omicron, health experts have urged Americans to upgrade their cloth masks to N95 or KN95 because the new version is so much more permeable. But these high grade masks are expensive and hard to find.

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Many states issue emergency declarations
Governors in many states are issuing emergency declarations because the Omicron version drains critical health care resources. The CDC says the variant now makes up 98% of all new cases, and the new numbers, accounting for the weekend’s backlog, reflect the US hitting a record 1.4 million cases in a single day. The CDC has determined that unvaccinated Americans are 17 times more likely to be hospitalized than unvaccinated Americans.

Virginia issued a 30-day state of emergency to help increase bed space and staff at health care facilities, while New Jersey and Washington, DC are also under emergency orders. Maryland, Maine and Massachusetts are all leaning on the National Guard as record numbers of COVID patients flood hospitals.

Police: Nurse caught fake shot in Italy, caught digging vaccine
Police in Italy have arrested a nurse on charges that she gave coronavirus vaccines to at least 45 people so they could get health passes without actually getting the shot. Nurses throw vaccines into a bin and even put bandages on their “patients” so that the scam doesn’t go unnoticed. Police in Ancona on Italy’s east coast also placed four alleged accomplices under house arrest, accusing them of finding anti-vaccine customers who were willing to pay for health passes rather than get shots. 45 people who allegedly got fake passes are being investigated.

Stay home or work sick? Omicron poses an enigma to workers with unpaid sick days
As the raging Omicron version of COVID-19 infects workers across the country, millions of people whose jobs don’t get paid sick days are having to choose between their health and pay. While many companies instituted more robust sick leave policies at the start of the pandemic, some of them have been scaled back with the rollout of vaccines, even though Omicron managed to avoid shots. Meanwhile, the current labor shortage is adding to the pressure of workers to decide whether they should be sick to show up for their jobs if they can’t afford to stay at home.

“It’s a vicious circle,” said Daniel Schneider, a professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. “Since staffing is reduced because people are sick, it means those who are at work have more to do and are even more reluctant to get sick when they are sick.”

Federal officials issue warning about fake COVID-19 test kits
COVID-19 cases continue to rise dramatically, causing ruthlessly long lines at testing sites and empty shelves at stores where at-home rapid test kits were once in stock. Now, an additional problem has emerged: The Federal Trade Commission is warning desperate customers about fraudulent test kits being sold online.

Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the CDC determined that people who have not been vaccinated are 17% more likely to be hospitalized. This article has been updated to say 17 times more likely.

More coronavirus COVID-19 coverage

Symptoms of Omicron Types: What to Know Even If You’ve Been Vaccinated
New York City COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker
New Jersey COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Coronavirus

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