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Coronavirus update: CDC to consider changing mask policy

Doctors find clues about ‘long COVID'

U.S. flag and COVID-19 masks
Photo (c) Stefan Cristian Cioata - Getty Images
COVID-19 ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 78,177,264 (78,039,888)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 928,548 (925,560)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 418,412,011 (415,769,578)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 5,853,743 (5,839,809)‌

CDC sounds a note of optimism

There have been more signs this week that the U.S., and perhaps the world, could be approaching the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a briefing Wednesday,  Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suggested that the country is no longer in “crisis” mode as the number of cases falls.

“We all share the same goal, to get to a point where COVID-19 is no longer disrupting our daily lives, a time when it won’t be a constant crisis – rather something we can prevent, protect against, and treat,” Walensky said.

Walensky said if the trend continues, the CDC would reconsider its mask guidance, which recommends wearing masks in indoor spaces. However, an increasing number of states have already taken that step.

Unvaccinated most likely to develop ‘long COVID'

Some people who are infected with COVID-19 suffer severe, lingering symptoms, a condition known as “long COVID.” Doctors in Utah say they think they know why.

“I have yet to see somebody with long COVID who was vaccinated,” said Dr. Ellie Hirshberg, a critical care physician at Intermountain Healthcare. “I’ve seen patients who had long COVID and then got vaccinated and are still trying to get rid of some of their symptoms. But I have yet to see somebody with long COVID who was vaccinated first.”

While many COVID-19 patients have said some symptoms persist for a few weeks after recovery, long COVID is generally thought to be more severe. In addition to fatigue, long COVID patients describe “brain fog,” along with heart and lung problems.

Investor Charlie Munger ‘appalled’ at vaccination fear

Charlie Munger, a 98-year-old investing legend, is known for speaking his mind. When Yahoo Finance asked him about Americans who refuse to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, he didn’t hold back.

“I have been appalled by the fear of vaccination by a big chunk of the nation,” Munger said. “Speaking for myself, I couldn’t wait to be vaccinated. And I think the risks of being vaccinated are way less than the risk of not being vaccinated."

Doubling down on his point, Munger told his interviewer that he believes it is “massively stupid” not to welcome a vaccination. “We probably have 30% of the people in the country that think vaccination is evil and [is] coming after them like the hobgoblins,” he said. “It’s not good that there’s that much ignorance left.”

Around the nation

  • New Jersey: New Jersey, which has dropped its statewide mask mandate, has now embarked on a public service campaign to urge vaccinated people to get a booster shot. The state will launch "Boost NJ2 Week" beginning next week in cooperation with 177 vaccine providers, including Walmart. 

  • Utah: The state legislature is once again considering measures to limit COVID-19 vaccination requirements. One bill introduced in the state senate prohibits businesses and the government from mandating proof of vaccination for service or employment.

  • Michigan: The state health department has updated its mask guidance for public spaces as cases of COVID-19 continue to decline. Health officials say people who have a high risk of infection or are in a high-risk environment should continue wearing a face mask. Everyone else is encouraged to wear a mask if they choose to, but it’s not required.

  • Maryland: Gov. Larry Hogan has announced that the requirement for masks and face coverings to be worn in state buildings will end next week. “Given the dramatic declines in our health metrics, we are now able to take another step toward normalcy in state operations,” Hogan said.

  • Florida: State tourism officials may have a new slogan. While many states are dropping COVID-19 restrictions, Gov. Ron DeSantis says his state never had many to start with. “So many people over the last year and a half have said, OK, I need to escape from the burdens of wherever I’m at, with the mandates and the lockdowns, and just come to Florida for, yes, sunshine, yes, beaches, theme parks, all these things, but I want to experience freedom and be able to be treated like a free individual,” DeSantis said.

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