US coronavirus: As Omicron sweeps the country, New York state offers a glimmer of hope

The state is “turning the corner on the winter surge,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said Friday.

After a peak positivity rate of 23% on Jan. 3, it is now 16.3% and Covid-19 hospitalizations have also started to decline, he told a news conference.

“It’s still very high, but it will eventually catch up with the trend that’s just starting,” Hochul said.

It reported 49,027 new cases of covid-19, adding that this “is a very positive trend” as the state reported more than 90,000 cases just a week ago.

Nearly two weeks ago, as New Yorkers returned to work after the New Year’s holidays, Hochul’s message was much more somber, warning that the state was “not in a good place” due to the rapid spread of the virus.

We fully anticipate that in addition to the surge that has already been underway, there will be another wave that will come as a result of this holiday,” he said on January 3.

On Friday, he added that residents should remain vigilant.

“Summary: Cases are trending down, they’re turning the corner, and we have to continue to be vigilant. We’re not going to dunk the ball, do you understand that?” Hochul said.

CDC Updates Mask Guidance

And while cases are trending down in New York, Covid-19 hospitalizations are at record levels nationally (157,272 as of Friday), according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Additionally, two years into the pandemic, more than 1 in 5 eligible Americans have not received any doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Friday, the CDC updated its guidance on masks, including clarifying that certain types of masks and respirators offer more protection against the coronavirus than others.

“The use of masks is a critical public health tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and it is important to remember that any mask is better than none,” the CDC said in a statement.

Up-to-date information recommends that Americans wear the most protective mask or respirator they can find and that fits properly.

At least one expert wishes the guide had arrived sooner.

“We’ve known for a year that COVID is airborne and the quality of masks matters,” said CNN medical analyst and former Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen.

“At least wear a surgical mask with a cloth mask over it. A single layer of cloth mask is not enough. If the guidelines had been changed months ago, we may not be where we are with Omicron,” he said. .

Study: Omicron is ‘inherently milder’ than Delta among children under 5

Although the current wave of covid-19 is hitting children in the US with record infections and school closures, a new study says the Omicron variant is “inherently milder” among children under 5, and that the infection leads to “significantly less severe outcomes” than the Delta variant.

The preliminary study found about a 70% reduction in hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and mechanical ventilation among children infected with Omicron compared to those infected with Delta.

It also found a 29% reduction in emergency room visits.

Approximately 1% of children infected with Omicron were hospitalized, compared to approximately 3% of children with Delta.

“Despite this encouraging result, further studies are needed to monitor the long-term acute consequences of Omicron infection, the propensity for development of ‘Long COVID’, the rapidity of spread, the potential for mutation, and how previous infections alter clinical responses. the study researchers wrote.

The study included about 7,000 children infected during a time when the Omicron variant was predominant and about 63,000 children infected when the Delta variant was predominant.

Data on deaths were not included as few were reported.

Overall, Covid-19 deaths nationally have lagged behind last winter’s worst spike, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The United States averaged 1,659 COVID-19 deaths per day over the past week, compared to a peak daily average of 3,402 on January 13, 2021.

Hospitalizations of children at a record level in Alabama

In Alabama, which has one of the lowest childhood vaccination rates in the country, pediatric hospitalizations are at a record level.

“In the crisis of increased transmission of the virus with the Omicron variant, immediate action is critical,” Dr. Wes Stubblefield, Medical Officer of the Alabama Health District, said in a statement.

The department, along with the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, urges parents to minimize children’s exposure to the virus in schools and public places, wear well-fitting masks, and get vaccinated if eligible.

The state’s largest school system will go virtual next week to address the surge in Covid-19 cases.

The number of positive cases has made it “difficult to staff many of our schools,” Mobile County Public Schools Superintendent Chresal Threadgill said.

Although students are expected to return to classes on January 24, that decision will be made with current Covid-19 numbers in mind.

Many hospitals are suspending non-urgent procedures and relying on the National Guard as Covid-19 hospitalizations rise

There were 16,035 Covid-19 cases in Alabama schools this week with all but four of the 143 districts reporting.

Childhood vaccination rates are also low in Alabama. It is reported that approximately 10.5% of children in the age group 5-11 years and 35.5% in the age group 12-17 years have started vaccinations. The rate of at least one dose nationally is 27% in the 5 to 11 year age group and 64% in the 12 to 17 year age range, according to the American Association of Pediatrics.

Nationwide, many school districts that had begun remote learning due to high numbers of COVID-19 cases among students and staff plan to return to in-person classes in the coming weeks.

In Philadelphia and New Jersey, most schools will reopen on Tuesday.

The Clark County School District, the largest in Nevada and the fourth largest in the US, is taking a hiatus to deal with staffing shortages but hopes to resume in-person classes by the middle of next week. week.

And Cincinnati Public Schools will be back in class on Jan. 24 if staffing levels are sufficient to safely reopen schools, officials said.

CNN’s Mirna Alsharif, Amy Simonson, Paradise Afshar, Deidre McPhillips, Virginia Langmaid and Elizabeth Stuart


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