Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)
Total U.S. confirmed cases: 57,341,310 (56,278,085)
Total U.S. deaths: 831,096 (827,937)
Total global cases: 296,374,195 (292,919,609)
Total global deaths: 5,462,426 (5,451,900)
CDC updates isolation guidance to recommend a test
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated guidance on the recommended isolation period for people testing positive for COVID-19. The CDC guidance recommends people take a COVID-19 test toward the end of their shortened five-day isolation period.
The agency’s guidance has been controversial in some quarters since it was released. Some medical experts said the agency should have included a testing requirement in its new shortened isolation period.
But with the sudden increase in Omicron cases, tests have been in short supply. The new guidance recommends a test only if one is available.
COVID-19 tests are getting more expensive
Not only are COVID-19 test kits harder to find, but they are also more expensive when you do find them on store shelves. Walmart, Kroger, and Amazon have already raised prices.
Under an Agreement with the Biden administration, retailers have sold the kits at cost for a 100-day period. Though the period expired in mid-December, Walmart told USA Today that it continued to sell the kits at cost through the end of the year. Other retailers followed that example.
“We fulfilled our commitment to the Biden Administration to sell at cost for 100 days and that pricing program has now phased out and retail pricing has been reinstated,” Kroger said in a statement to USA Today.
Chicago cancels schools after teachers oppose classroom learning
Chicago children are going back to school online after the holiday break. Public schools were closed today after a teachers union voted Tuesday to stop providing in-person instruction. The teachers pointed to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases as their reason.
But the union is getting strong pushback from the city. Officials called the union vote an illegal job action and said teachers who fail to report to their classroom won’t get a paycheck.
This isn’t the first time that the teachers and city officials have butted heads over the schools’ COVID-19 policies. Chicago schools provided online classes for the first year of the pandemic, and the union strongly objected when classrooms were reopened last fall.
Around the nation
Arizona: Gov. Doug Ducey has announced a plan to provide money to families affected by a school closure due to COVID-19. The state will provide up to $7,000 in child care, transportation, or online tutoring needs for families affected by a school closure.
Michigan: Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s top public health official, warns that the state could see a 1,000% increase in COVID-19 cases that will overwhelm hospitals. “We are in a very difficult position right now,” Bagdasarian told WXYZ-TV in Detroit.
Colorado: The chief medical officer at Children’s Hospital Colorado says hospital emergency rooms are treating a significant number of children for mental health issues triggered by the pandemic. Dr. David Brumbaugh told CBS4 Denver that his hospital was seeing between 25 and 40 children each day, in late 2021, who were coming to the ER with acute behavioral health crises.
New Jersey: New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy tested positive for COVID-19 after the family's holiday trip to Costa Rica. The governor and the couple’s four children all tested negative.
Iowa: Despite a surge in COVID-19 infections, Republicans in the state legislature this week introduced a bill to limit businesses’ ability to screen for vaccination status. Iowa businesses would not be able to ask about or maintain records of a person's medical treatment status – including vaccinations – if the bill passes and is signed into law.