Coronavirus update: California downgrades to ‘endemic’

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A new study links COVID-19 infections to mental health issues

COVID-19 ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 78,273,884 (78,177,264)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 931,769 (928,548)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 420,299,365 (418,412,011)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 5,865,864 (5,853,743)‌

In California, the pandemic has become an ‘endemic’

Things often happen first in California. The state has become the first in the nation to formally drop the pandemic classification of COVID-19 and switch it to “endemic” status.

What’s the difference? In short, the government response is shifting from mandated masking and business shutdowns to an emphasis on speedy reactions when there is a flare-up of infections.

"We are moving past the crisis phase into a phase where we will work to live with this virus," said California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

COVID-19 can affect mental health, study finds

A study published by The British Medical Journal (BMJ) suggests that COVID-19 may lead to an increased risk of mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and sleep disorders. The researchers found that this risk persists up to one year after initial infection.

The researchers conclude that tackling mental health disorders among survivors of COVID-19 should be a priority.

While previous research has found some links between the virus and mental health issues, most have been limited studies. The scientists say their study is the first comprehensive assessment of the mental health manifestations in people with COVID-19 at one year.

COVID-19 still rages behind bars

All across the U.S., it seems that the coronavirus is in retreat. Data collected by Johns Hopkins University shows that the number of new cases is down in most areas of the country, with one exception.

Cases – and deaths – remain elevated in the nation’s prisons. Three inmates recently died from COVID-19 at a federal women’s prison in West Virginia. CNN reports that the prison, and others like it, are plagued by understaffing and less-than-adequate medical care.

In January, the Arkansas correctional system implemented lockdowns to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases. State officials say those cases have lately been in decline.

Around the nation

  • Vermont: State corrections officials report that there is a new COVID-19 outbreak at the Valley Regional Correctional Facility (MVRCF) in Rutland. Doctors there say 15 prisoners and one staff member have tested positive since Feb. 10. There were eight positive test results on Monday.

  • Wisconsin: A number of school districts in the state have lifted COVID-19 restrictions. However, other districts that are still seeing elevated cases have not yet acted. "I think it's actually good that we have to have this conversation because what that means is things are looking good enough, where we can entertain the idea of potentially having kids going to school without a mask," Dr. Jeff Pothof, of University of Wisconsin Health, told WKOW-TV.

  • Virginia: State health officials are tamping down concerns that removing the school mask mandate on March 1 will lead to a spike in new cases of COVID-19. Dr. Scott Spillmann, Pittsylvania-Danville Virginia Department of Health Director, says officials don’t expect to see a major surge.

  • Washington: The state attorney general’s office has gone to court to block an Illinois COVID-19 testing company from operating in the state. "The company’s unlawful practices included storing tests in garbage bags for over a week rather than properly refrigerating them, and backdating sample collection dates so that stale samples would still be processed," the state said in a lawsuit.

  • Indiana: State health officials are loosening COVID-19 rules for schools. Beginning next week, schools will no longer be required to conduct contact tracing or report positive cases to the state health department. Schools will also no longer need to quarantine students who are exposed to COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status or whether the school requires masks.

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