The nation’s top infectious disease expert is “as confident as you can be” that most states will have reached a peak of omicron COVID-19 cases by mid-February.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, speaking Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” said several states in the Northeast and Upper Midwest have seen cases peak and begin to decline sharply but that cases are still rising in the South and West.
“You never want to be overconfident when you’re dealing with this virus,” Fauci said, adding that the coronavirus “surprised us in the past.”
Fauci said the hope is that infections will be under control soon, where the virus isn’t eliminated but the level is low enough that “it’s essentially integrated into the general respiratory infections” that Americans have learned to live with.
Also in the news:
►Arkansas reported almost 1,700 coronavirus hospitalizations on Saturday, breaking the state’s record for the fifth day in a row.
►Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in an interview with Israel’s N12 News he hopes COVID-19 boosters will be administered “once a year” and not once every four to five months, according to Reuters.
►A California bill would allow children ages 12 and older to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and other immunizations, without parental consent.
►Officials in Costa Rica are encouraging those infected with the coronavirus to skip voting in upcoming national elections.
►Kiribati, one of the most isolated islands in the world, went into its first lockdown after the majority of passengers on the country’s first international flight in months tested positive for COVID-19, the government said on Facebook.
📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 70 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 865,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 349.4 million cases and over 5.5 million deaths. More than 210 million Americans – 63.3% – are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
📘 What we’re reading: Long COVID-19 patients are still struggling to reclaim their lives – even many months after their infections. “I’m 29 years old and I feel like I’m 70,” says one Georgia man. He’s not alone. Read the full story.
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A Beijing district that is home to 2 million residents began mass coronavirus testing Sunday as China tightened restrictions ahead of the Winter Olympics. The government told people in areas of the Chinese capital deemed at high risk for infection not to leave the city after 25 cases were found in the Fengtai district and 14 elsewhere. The ruling Communist Party is stepping up enforcement of its “zero tolerance” strategy aimed at isolating every infected person as Beijing prepares to open the Winter Games on Feb. 4 under intensive anti-virus controls.
The Chinese capital must “take the most resolute, decisive and strict measures to block the transmission chain of the epidemic,” a city government spokesman, Xu Hejian, told a news conference.
Non-U.S. citizens need to be fully vaccinated before entering the country by land or ferry, even if they are traveling for “essential” purposes. The change, which went into effect Saturday, was first announced in October.
“These updated travel requirements reflect the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to protecting public health while safely facilitating the cross-border trade and travel that is critical to our economy,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a Thursday statement.
Unvaccinated U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and U.S. nationals will still be able to enter the country via ferry or land port.
– Bailey Schulz
A Virginia parent opposed to mask mandates has been charged with making an oral threat on school property after saying she would bring loaded guns to school Monday if her child was forced to wear a mask. Amelia King, 42, became upset after she was cut off during a public comment section of the Page County Public School Board meeting Thursday.
“My children will not come to school on Monday with a mask on. That’s not happening and I will bring every single gun loaded and ready,” King said. Luray police issued a statement saying King later called and apologized for the remark. King was released on $5,000 unsecured bond. The school board ultimately voted to make masks optional for students beginning Monday. That followed an executive order by Gov. Glenn Youngkin giving parents the choice to send their children to school masked or unmasked.
– Patrick Hite, Staunton News Leader
North Carolina hospitals treat a record number of coronavirus patients, and state health officials are seeking federal support in the Charlotte area. Atrium Health, the state’s largest health provider, along with Health and Human Services and Emergency Management officials are asking FEMA for staffing support including additional nurses, Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement. To stretch capacity, Atrium Health said it has redeployed staff from urgent care and outpatient centers, limited non-urgent procedures and closed specialty centers and used state-provided flexibilities – but it’s above 95% capacity.
Unvaccinated people make up 72% of hospitalizations and 83% of COVID-19-related intensive care admissions statewide, officials said.
Contributing: The Associated Press.