Thu. May 26th, 2022

The state “turns the corner on the winter wave,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said Friday.

After a maximum positivity of 23% on January 3, it is now 16.3% and Covid-19 hospital admissions have also started to fall, she said at a press conference.

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

She reported 49,027 new Covid-19 cases, adding that this “is a very positive trend” as the state reported over 90,000 cases just a week ago.

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

“We fully anticipate, on top of the increase that has already been underway, that there will be another wave that will occur as a result of these holidays,” she said on January 3.

On Friday, she added, residents should be on guard.

“Recap: cases are coming down, turning the corner, and we have to keep on guard. We’re not going to increase football, you know?” said Hochul.

CDC updates mask instructions

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

Also, two years after the pandemic, more than 1 in 5 eligible Americans have not received a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Friday, the CDC updated its mask guidelines, including clarifying that certain types of masks and respirators offer more protection against coronavirus than others.
A family wearing face masks walks through Union Station in Los Angeles

“Masking 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 no mask,” the CDC said in a statement.

The updated information recommends that Americans wear the most protective mask or respirator they can find that fits well.

At least one expert wishes the guide had come faster.

“We have known for a year that Covid is airborne, and the quality of the mask matters,” said CNN’s medical analyst and former City of Baltimore health commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen.

“Wear at least one surgical mask with a fabric mask on top. Just a single layer of fabric mask is just not enough. If the guidelines had been changed months ago, we might not be where we are with Omicron,” she said.

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

Although the current Covid-19 wave is affecting children across the United States with record-high infections and school closures, a new study says the Omicron variant is “inherently milder” among children under 5, with infection leading to “significantly less severe outcomes” than The Delta variant.

The preprint study found about a 70% reduction in hospitalizations, intensive care units, and mechanical ventilation among children infected with Omicron compared with children infected with Delta.

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

About 1% of children infected with Omicron were hospitalized compared to about 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 to develop ‘long COVID’, the rate of spread, potential for mutation, and how previous infections alter clinical responses.” wrote researchers from the study.

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

Data on deaths were not included as there were few reported.

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

Admissions of children at record levels in Alabama

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

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

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

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

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

Although students are expected to return to classes on January 24, this decision will be made taking into account the current Covid-19 numbers.

Many hospitals stop non-emergency procedures and depend on the National Guard as Covid-19 hospital admissions increase

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

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

At the national level, many school districts that had started distance learning due to high Covid-19 cases among students and staff plan to return to personal classes in the next few weeks.

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

The Clark County School District, the largest in Nevada and the fourth largest in the United States, is taking a break to deal with staff shortages, but hopes to resume personal classes by the middle of next 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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