COVID-19 tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)
Total U.S. confirmed cases: 79,413,957 (79,370,034)
Total U.S. deaths: 963,869 (961,993)
Total global cases: 452,078,663 (450,174,901)
Total global deaths: 6,024,869 (6,017,018)
CDC issues travel advisory for three countries
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued travel advisories for three international destinations. The agency says Americans should avoid traveling to New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Thailand because of very high levels of COVID-19.
The CDC said it has placed all three places in the “Level 4” category, which signifies a very high rate of community transmission. Until recently, the three nations had fallen into the “Level 3” category, with high levels of spread.
Interestingly, New Zealand and Hong Kong were able to keep the virus under control for most of the pandemic with very strict restrictions. They are now seeing cases surge while much of the rest of the world is recovering.
Subvariant keeping U.S. case numbers elevated
Masks are coming off and crowds are gathering for public events in just about every part of the U.S. But some health officials worry that the subvariant of the Omicron variant – known as BA.2 – will continue to cause infections.
The CDC reports that infections caused by BA.2 have nearly doubled since early February and now account for 11.6% of overall virus cases as of March 5.
Some health experts say BA.2 is probably about 30% more infectious than the original Omicron variant. But on the positive side, currently available data suggests that it's less virulent.
Novak Djokovic denied entry to U.S.
Professional tennis star Novak Djokovic, who had to withdraw from the Australian Open because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19, won’t be playing in the U.S. either. He withdrew from the BNP Paribas Open Wednesday, saying he is not being allowed to travel to the U.S.
For some time, the U.S. has required foreign travelers to be vaccinated in order to enter the country. The rule will also keep Djokovic out of the Miami Open later this month. Both are major tennis events.
Djokovic announced his fate in a tweet on Wednesday. "The CDC has confirmed that regulations won't be changing so I won't be able to play in the US," he wrote.
Around the nation
Wisconsin: Many states have gone from shortages of COVID-19 vaccine doses to an over-supply. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reports that more than 393,810 doses have gone unused since the start of vaccine distribution in December 2020. It says 1,000 doses were wasted in February alone.
Mississippi: State lawmakers approved a bill on Wednesday that effectively quashes a vaccination mandate. The measure declares that a state resident could cite “a sincerely held religious objection” to avoid a public or private employer's COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
Connecticut: Gov. Ned Lamont’s latest COVID-19 update shows that the virus is in retreat across the state. The positivity rate dropped to 2.07% Wednesday, with just 11 state residents entering the hospital. Of the 162 patients currently hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, 43.2% are not fully vaccinated.
Texas: An East Texas business is filling the gap for patients who need to receive monoclonal antibodies but can’t find a facility to administer them. IV Solution TX is a mobile IV therapy business that services all of Southeast Texas.
Nebraska: State health officials report that Nebraska hospitals are nearly back to normal when it comes to caseloads, and they credit the sharp drop in COVID-19 cases. There were 191 COVID-19 patients in the state's hospitals at the start of the week, a 70% decline in the last 30 days.