Covid-19 live updates: U.S. coronavirus cases are dropping. Other countries are seeing record surges.


imageThis live coverage has ended.For the latest coronavirus news, click here .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.New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware announced plans to drop statewide school mask mandates, while Oregon health officials said the state would drop its indoor mask mandate and school masking order by the end of March.Infectious disease experts have warned that moving into the endemic phase of the coronavirus is a gradual process and not likely to happen overnight amid leaders hearing the exhausted demands of their constituents and adjusting public health ordinances accordingly.Here’s what to know 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.Russia, facing a record-breaking surge , reported a daily count of new infections that is an increase of ew case rate 10 times from compared with the month before.South Korea, which successfully controlled the spread of the virus with strict border restrictions and high vaccination coverage, on Sunday crossed the threshold of 1 million cumulative coronavirus cases Sunday and extended limits on indoor gatherings and a curfew for businesses.In Hong Kong, authorities reported a record number of daily new cases , and new restrictions are expected.

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.David Perdue, who is running in the Republican primary against Georgia Gov.

Brian Kemp, blasted both Abrams and Kemp in a statement, saying that “Abrams’ hypocrisy knows no bounds” and that “Kemp has failed students and parents by allowing liberal school districts to force mask mandates upon them.” He has vowed to end mandates if he is elected.

Advertisement Updates continue below advertisement Coronavirus increases risk of pregnancy complications, new study finds Return to menu By Lateshia Beachum 8:00 p.m.Link copied Link

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.Mothers with mild or asymptomatic coronavirus illness didn’t appear to be associated with increased pregnancy risks, researchers noted.Diana Bianchi, director of NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which funded the study, said the results show that vaccination and other coronavirus prevention methods are the best way to protect pregnant individuals and their children.

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.”Lamont said the availability of boosters and masks have enabled parents and their children to protect themselves against the coronavirus.“I think this is something we’ve earned, Connecticut.We’ve earned it because we’ve done it right,” he said, touting residents’ willingness to wear masks, get vaccinated and obtain booster shots.Connecticut has reported more than 708,000 cases of coronavirus since the onset of the pandemic and has a seven-day rolling average of new cases of 1,268, according to Washington Post data.About 93 percent of its residents have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.Across the country, Oregon health officials announced that the state’s mask order for indoor public places will end by the end of March, along with the mask order for schools, the Associated Press reported.The news comes the same day as Gov.

Kate Brown (D) announced that she will be deploying as many as 500 Oregon National Guard members to help front-line health-care workers who’ve been pummeled with work as hospitalizations have surged because of the omicron variant.Oregon has reported more than 654,000 coronavirus cases since the pandemic started and has a seven-day rolling average of new cases around 4,813, according to Washington Post data.About 76 percent of Oregonians have received at least one coronavirus vaccine shot.California also announced that it will ease some of its coronavirus restrictions as the surge spurred by the omicron variant begins to wane.Beginning next week, the state’s universal mask mandate for indoor spaces will be lifted in counties without local mask orders of their own, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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.

Advertisement Updates continue below advertisement A new attitude toward the pandemic seems to be taking shape.

But we’ve been here before.Return to menu By Lenny Bernstein , Marisa Iati , Paulina Firozi and Brittany Shammas 4:30 p.m.

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Andrew Markert respects the coronavirus .It has messed with his livelihood, a 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.

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Key update New Jersey, Delaware lift school mask mandates Return to menu By Paulina Firozi and Brittany Shammas 2:57 p.m.Link copied Link

New Jersey Gov.

Phil Murphy (D) announced Monday that the state’s school mask mandate will end as of March 7.(Reuters) 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.New Jersey’s seven-day average of new daily cases stood at 3,429 on Friday, compared with 31,173 four weeks earlier, according to Washington Post tracking.Delaware’s average of new daily cases was 611 on Friday, down from 2,592 four weeks earlier.“We’re in a much better place than we were several weeks ago in the middle of the omicron surge of covid-19 cases and hospitalizations,” Delaware Gov.

John Carney said in a news release announcing the state’s mandate will expire at the end of March.“We have the tools to keep ourselves and each other safe.”In New Jersey, where the mandate is set to end March 7, Gov.Phil Murphy cast the move as “a huge step back to normalcy for our kids.” He suggested a shift in that direction was needed as the virus moves toward becoming endemic.That inflection point may be nearing, he said, citing increased vaccinations and the decreased severity of the omicron variant.“We’re not going to manage covid to zero,” Murphy said.“We have to learn how to live with covid.”

Key update Va.Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit against Youngkin’s mask-optional order Return to menu By Hannah Natanson and Justin Jouvenal 2:42 p.m.Link copied Link

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.The seven justices who serve on the court dismissed the suit Monday, writing in a three-page opinion that it was impossible to request the relief the parent plaintiffs had requested — writs of mandamus and prohibition, which would have prevented Youngkin and the parents’ school board, the Chesapeake School Board, from declaring masks optional in school — because such writs were not applicable or issuable in this case.But the justices took pains to make clear they were not ruling on the legality or viability of Youngkin’s mask-optional order.“By this dismissal,” they wrote in a footnote, “we offer no opinion on the legality of EO 2 [Youngkin’s mask-optional order] or any other issue pertaining to petitioners’ claims.”

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Key update Utah pauses use of rapid antigen tests at state sites Return to menu By Brittany Shammas 12:40 p.m.

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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.“This step is necessary to ensure people receive accurate test results,” Utah Health Department epidemiologist Leisha Nolen said in the news release.The state began using the GenBody test several weeks ago.Concerns arose when testing teams reported a trend of higher-than-expected negative results, which led epidemiologists to conduct their analysis.A similar review of the popular BinaxNow rapid antigen tests had better results, with fewer than a third of people receiving a positive PCR test and negative BinaxNow test.

But, the health department noted, there is a nationwide shortage of those tests , and the state’s access to them is limited.If supply chain challenges ease, Utah may reintroduce rapid antigen tests.In the meantime, beginning Monday, state-run sites will offer at-home tests to anyone who receives a PCR test but also wants quicker results.The state is also encouraging retesting by PCR for those who received a negative rapid test result at a state testing site between Feb.2 and 6.

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.The changes were a blow to students who have been pushing leaders to take additional safety precautions during the pandemic .Meanwhile, groups who considered the mandates unconstitutional have praised the latest actions.“It’s definitely a step in the wrong direction,” said Gian Tigreros, a junior at Virginia Commonwealth University.Tigreros, organizing under the Instagram handle @walkoutvcu , helped lead a demonstration in late January during which students called on the school to offer hybrid learning options for all spring classes.It drew about 30 attendees, and more than 1,100 people have signed a petition .


Key update U.S.figure skater Vincent Zhou is out of the Olympics because of a positive coronavirus test Return to menu By Les Carpenter 11:03 a.m.Link copied Link


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.

Australia to reopen to vaccinated tourists two years after it closed international borders Return to menu By Michael E.Miller 10:24 a.m.Link copied Link

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.”

Despite omicron surge, businesses desperate to find and keep workers Return to menu By Abha Bhattarai 9:12 a.m.

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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.“Omicron was hugely disruptive — millions of workers were absent due to illness, office reopenings stalled, hiring and job searches slowed down — and yet the job recovery continued,” said Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter.“Employers did not yank job postings and run for the hills.Hiring remained robust and in the end, the economy barely sneezed.”

Scientists name newly discovered flatworm after covid-19 Return to menu By Erin Blakemore 8:39 a.m.Link copied Link

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..

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