California joins growing numbers of states saying mask mandates will end in coming weeks – The Washington Post

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U.S. coronavirus cases are dropping. Other countries are breaking records.
Two years into pandemic, politicians still getting tripped up over coronavirus restrictions
Coronavirus increases risk of pregnancy complications, new study finds
Connecticut and Oregon join growing list of states setting end of statewide mask mandates
Vincent Zhou’s positive covid test casts pall over U.S. team’s silver medal
A new attitude toward the pandemic seems to be taking shape. But we’ve been here before.
New Jersey, Delaware lift school mask mandates
Va. Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit against Youngkin’s mask-optional order
Utah pauses use of rapid antigen tests at state sites
In Virginia, some students worry about a future without coronavirus vaccine mandates
U.S. figure skater Vincent Zhou is out of the Olympics because of a positive coronavirus test
Australia to reopen to vaccinated tourists two years after it closed international borders
Despite omicron surge, businesses desperate to find and keep workers
Scientists name newly discovered flatworm after covid-19
Canadian police make arrests amid ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests and seize fuel, vehicles
U.S. coronavirus cases are dropping. Other countries are breaking records.
Two years into pandemic, politicians still getting tripped up over coronavirus restrictions
Coronavirus increases risk of pregnancy complications, new study finds
Connecticut and Oregon join growing list of states setting end of statewide mask mandates
Vincent Zhou’s positive covid test casts pall over U.S. team’s silver medal
A new attitude toward the pandemic seems to be taking shape. But we’ve been here before.
New Jersey, Delaware lift school mask mandates
Va. Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit against Youngkin’s mask-optional order
Utah pauses use of rapid antigen tests at state sites
In Virginia, some students worry about a future without coronavirus vaccine mandates
U.S. figure skater Vincent Zhou is out of the Olympics because of a positive coronavirus test
Australia to reopen to vaccinated tourists two years after it closed international borders
Despite omicron surge, businesses desperate to find and keep workers
Scientists name newly discovered flatworm after covid-19
Canadian police make arrests amid ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests and seize fuel, vehicles
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With daily new coronavirus cases declining in every U.S. state over the past week, more states are opting to drop their indoor mask mandates as soon as next month, a glimpse into living with coronavirus.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced Monday that the state’s indoor mask mandate will expire Feb. 15, as new cases have decreased by 65 percent. Unvaccinated people will still be required to wear masks indoors.
Masking in schools will continue though the governor’s office is working with public health leaders to update masking guidelines reflective of coronavirus changes, a spokesperson for Newsom’s office told The Washington Post.
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In every U.S. state this past week, daily new coronavirus cases were lower than the previous week. Nationally, cases are down 42 percent week on week, according to a Washington Post tracker. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said Sunday that the state’s coronavirus positivity rate of 3.5 percent was at its lowest point since omicron was named a variant of concern by the World Health Organization.
This has led some Americans to decide that, even with omicron still spreading and hospitals overwhelmed in many states, they will start going back to their pre-pandemic lives. But elsewhere in the world, countries are experiencing surges in cases and hospitalizations, and they are reintroducing or strengthening restrictions.
Two years into the pandemic, politicians are still getting tripped up over masks, lockdowns and other restrictions intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus — sometimes rules that were put in place by the politicians themselves.
Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is at the center of the latest coronavirus-related firestorm, after she posted a photo of herself sitting with a group of elementary school students who were all masked; Abrams was not. The photos became a target for her Republican opponents and right-wing critics, who have called her a hypocrite (and worse), despite the fact that GOP politicians have similarly flouted mask mandates or actively sought to prevent protective measures from being implemented.
This is an excerpt from a full story.
The coronavirus appears to increase common pregnancy complications, underscoring the need for women of childbearing age to get vaccinated, according to a study released by the National Institutes of Health on Monday.
Unvaccinated women who were affected by the virus and exhibited moderate to severe infection were more likely to experience Caesarean sections, preterm deliveries and death around delivery time, researchers found in their study of nearly 2,400 pregnant women.
The women, who delivered between March and December 2020, before vaccines became widely available, were also likely to experience serious illness from hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, postpartum hemorrhage and some other infection outside of the coronavirus. Babies with infected mothers were more likely to die in utero or during the newborn stage, according to the study.
Officials in Connecticut and Oregon announced Monday that their statewide mask mandates will soon end, adding to a growing list of city and state leaders who have dropped similar orders as the quest for normalcy grows stronger.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) said he is recommending removing the state’s school mask mandate in favor of leaving the decision to school districts, superintendents and mayors as of Feb. 28.
“I think we’re in a different place than where we were six months ago,” he said. “The biggest difference I can tell you is the fact that we now have the tools to keep ourselves safe.”
BEIJING — They stood together on a makeshift award podium on the Capital Indoor Stadium ice early Monday afternoon, eight of the nine members of the United States figure skating team, celebrating the first silver medal for a U.S. squad in the Olympic team event. They wore matching blue jackets and pants, balancing on skates and about to be handed stuffed pandas as mementos for the victory.
Suddenly, Karen Chen looked around.
“Where’s Vincent?” she remembered asking.
This is an excerpt from a full story.
Andrew Markert respects the coronavirus. It has messed with his livelihood, a D.C. pub called Beuchert’s Saloon, forcing him to close, move outdoors and adjust in countless other ways.
But the time has arrived for him to move forward and stick to his plans, come what may in the next round of the pandemic. And he’s betting there are a lot of people like him.
So Markert plans to open not one, but two new restaurants in the next couple of months — Fight Club, a few doors down from Beuchert’s, in February and the upscale Newland around the corner in April.
This is an excerpt from a full story.
The Democratic governors of New Jersey and Delaware on Monday announced plans to drop their statewide school mask mandates next month, pointing to declining coronavirus infections.
Both urged parents to get their children vaccinated to protect against the threat of the virus. But with caseloads falling rapidly in recent weeks, they said the time had come to lift mask requirements in schools. A third Democratic governor, Ned Lamont of Connecticut, plans to address school masking during a news conference later in the day.
The Virginia Supreme Court has dismissed a parent lawsuit challenging Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s controversial mask-optional executive order — but the dismissal was on highly technical and procedural grounds and did not touch the merits of the case, leaving open questions about the order’s legality.
A ruling by an Arlington judge last week has put the order on hold in at least seven school districts, as part of a separate lawsuit the school boards for those districts filed that also aims to reverse Youngkin’s mask-optional order. The mask-optional order will remain on hold until that case is decided.
This is an excerpt from a full story.
Utah is pausing the use of rapid antigen tests at state-run testing facilities after a data analysis raised questions about the reliability of the tests it was using.
In a news release Sunday, the Utah Department of Health said epidemiologists had reviewed results from nearly 18,000 residents who tested using both PCR and rapid antigen tests, which were made by GenBody. Of those who received positive PCR results, more than half tested negative on the GenBody test.
While acknowledging that rapid tests are known to be less likely to identify coronavirus-positive people, the health department said the difference uncovered in the analysis was higher than expected. As a result, authorities decided to halt the use of the tests beginning Monday to allow for further review.
Coronavirus vaccines — and more specifically, vaccine mandates — have been an integral part of the reopening plans on college campuses throughout the country. At one point in Virginia, more than a dozen public universities were requiring students and employees to get their doses.
But recent changes in the state’s government have complicated that strategy. Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who took office last month, ordered state agencies, including public colleges and universities, to stop requiring employees to be vaccinated. Attorney General Jason S. Miyares later issued a legal opinion that public campuses are not authorized to impose vaccination mandates for students.
This is an excerpt from a full story.
U.S. figure skater Vincent Zhou is out of the Olympic men’s competition after a positive coronavirus test.
Zhou, a 21-year-old who has been the second-best American male skater in recent months, tested positive Sunday, missing the celebration after the Americans won silver in Monday’s team competition. The men’s individual competition begins with the short program Tuesday morning in Beijing (Monday night Eastern). American Nathan Chen is favored to win gold.
This is an excerpt from a full story.
SYDNEY — Australia will reopen to vaccinated international tourists later this month, effectively bringing to an end one of the world’s longest and strictest coronavirus border closures even as the country wrestles with an outbreak of the omicron variant.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Monday that the country would welcome double-vaccinated overseas tourists starting Feb. 21, almost two years after Australia’s near-complete border restrictions earned it the nicknames of “Fortress Australia” and the “Hermit Kingdom.”
This is an excerpt from a full story.
Omicron was supposed to wreak havoc on the labor market. But it didn’t.
The jump in January hiring has underscored the economy’s growing capacity to weather renewed waves of surging coronavirus cases, suggesting a tight job market is forcing companies to retain workers now that hiring new ones has become costlier and more difficult.
Unlike previous waves of the virus, when businesses were quick to pause operations and lay off workers, many are now going to greater lengths to hang on to their employees. Overall, U.S. employers added 467,000 jobs in January, with much of those gains concentrated in hotels, restaurants, retailers and other services.
This is an excerpt from a full story.
There’s plenty of creepy, crawly stuff in the soil, and organisms such as worms, snails and slugs are essential to the planet’s health.
But flatworms, a subset of creepy creatures that feed on those soil dwellers and gobble up biodiversity in the process, are a threat to the world’s dirt. Now, scientists have identified two new species of the alien-appearing animals — and named one after covid-19.
It’s called Humbertium covidum, and although the specimens studied were found in France and Italy, the flatworm may also be in China, Japan and Russia.
This is an excerpt from a full story.
Vaccines: The CDC recommends that everyone age 5 and older get an updated covid booster shot designed to target both the original virus and the omicron variant. Here’s some guidance on when you should get the omicron booster and how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections.
Variants: Instead of a single new Greek letter variant, a group of immune-evading omicron spinoffs are popping up all over the world. Any dominant variant will likely knock out monoclonal antibodies, targeted drugs that can be used as a treatment or to protect immunocompromised people.
Tripledemic: Hospitals are overwhelmed by a combination of respiratory illnesses, staffing shortages and nursing home closures. And experts believe the problem will deteriorate further in coming months. Here’s how to tell the difference between RSV, the flu and covid-19.
Guidance: CDC guidelines have been confusing — if you get covid, here’s how to tell when you’re no longer contagious. We’ve also created a guide to help you decide when to keep wearing face coverings.
Where do things stand? See the latest coronavirus numbers in the U.S. and across the world. In the U.S., pandemic trends have shifted and now White people are more likely to die from covid than Black people. Nearly nine out of 10 covid deaths are people over the age 65.
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