Covid News: Nevada ends mask mandate


Credit…Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

The rate of new coronavirus infections nationwide is falling. Democratic leaders in New York, California and elsewhere are rolling back mask mandates. Even Dr Anthony Fauci was quoted this week as saying the country was “certainly” emerging from “the full-fledged pandemic phase of Covid-19”.

But as the United States moves unevenly into a new, less restrictive stage of the pandemic, some regions are still tightly gripped by the highly transmissible variant of Omicron.

A handful of Southern states, including Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia, reported their highest number of new cases between mid and late January, according to a New York Times database. . Hospitalizations and deaths, the curves of which tend to rise several weeks after the peak of cases, were also concerning.

In some of these states, the surge may have simply started later. But some also have lower vaccination rates, leading to more hospitalizations and deaths. While the national average for fully vaccinated has reached 64% of the population, West Virginia and Kentucky are only at 56%; Oklahoma reached 55%; and Tennessee is at 53%.

Daily hospitalizations in Kentucky, Oklahoma and Tennessee have finally in recent days declined modestly, according to the database, but in West Virginia they have increased slightly. The average number of daily deaths in West Virginia and Kentucky continues to rise.

This trend – spikes in acute cases that then plunged, followed by a more modest increase in hospitalizations and deaths – first occurred in northeastern states like New York and New Jersey, where Omicron happened earlier, then all over the country.

Over the past week, an average of more than 227,000 coronavirus cases have been reported each day in the United States, a 63% decrease from two weeks ago. The national pandemic peak, reached in mid-January, was more than 806,000 cases, according to the Times database.

And the average daily number of patients hospitalized with Covid, which peaked on January 20 at more than 159,000, had fallen to around 108,000 by Wednesday. But not all states are on the same timeline.

The average number of deaths is still high in California and Florida, and Washington has reported more Covid deaths in the past week than in any other seven-day period of the pandemic.

On Wednesday, as a rush of states announced they would let wide mask warrants expire, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington looked for some kind of middle ground.

Noting that hospitalization rates were higher in the state “than at any other time during the pandemic”, Mr. Inslee announced the end of an outdoor mask mandate from February 18, but did not offered only the hope that he could fix a date next week terminate the internal mandate. “Today, caution is still in order,” he said. “It remains our best defence.”

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CDC director urges caution in relaxing mask rules

Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said her agency was working on new guidelines for states, but it was not yet time to lift mask mandates across the country. .

At this time, we continue to recommend masking in areas of high and substantial transmission. It’s a big part of the country right now in indoor public places. We have always said that these decisions will have to be made at the local level, and that policies at the local level will look at local cases. They will look at how local hospitals are doing, they will look at local vaccination rates. And, as I understand in many of these decisions, they use a phased approach. All of these decisions are not made to stop things tomorrow, but they are considering a phased approach. And so what I would say is, again, they have to be done locally, but I’m really encouraged. Cases continue to drop dramatically. Hospitalizations continue to drop dramatically as people make these decisions and we work through our guidance. What I will say, though, is that, you know, our hospitalizations are still high. Our death rates are still high. So, while we are working in this direction and encouraged by current trends, we are not there yet.

Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said her agency was working on new guidelines for states, but it was not yet time to lift mask mandates across the country. .CreditCredit…Susan Walsh/Associated Press

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky said Wednesday that while cases were declining, it was too early for all Americans to remove their masks in indoor public places.

“Our hospitalizations are still high, our death rates are still high,” she said during a White House Covid Response Team press briefing. “So while we’re working towards that and encouraged by current trends, we’re not quite there yet.”

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