COVID-19 tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)
Total U.S. confirmed cases: 75,907,127 (75,355,265)
Total U.S. deaths: 896,238 (890,936)
Total global cases: 387,019,718 (382,542,649)
Total global deaths: 5,708,026 (5,691,289)
Hospitalizations drop 16% from last month’s high
There’s more evidence that the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which pushed the nation’s hospitals to the breaking point last month, is easing. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that hospitalizations are down 16% from their Jan. 20 high.
Data from Johns Hopkins University show the number of COVID-19 deaths is still rising, but scientists note that deaths are the last thing to decline once a wave of the virus has peaked.
Hospitalizations surged more in some states than others last month. Some states, including Idaho, Ohio, New York, and Vermont, activated National Guard personnel to relieve some of the strain on hospitals.
Infection temporarily reduces male fertility, study finds
Scientists continue to learn about the lingering effects of a COVID-19 infection. A new study by researchers in the U.S. and Canada has determined that a male who gets COVID-19 sometimes experiences an 18% reduction in fertility.
On the other hand, getting a vaccination had no effect on fertility. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief medical advisor, said the study, published in the American Journal Epidemiology, is another reason to get the shot.
“The data are clear: COVID-19 vaccination in male or female partners did not affect the likelihood of conception," Fauci said at a news conference.
Why do some people get COVID-19 and others don’t?
For nearly two years, medical researchers have tried to discover why some people who are exposed to COVID-19 get infected while others who are equally exposed do not.
Researchers at Imperial College London have suggested that higher levels of T cells, which reside in the immune system, could be a reason. Those cells, built up from recovering from a common cold, may offer protection against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Dr. Andrew Freedman, an academic in infectious diseases at Cardiff University Medical School, told CNBC this week that doctors have long recognized the fact that some people appear to be immune to the virus. He called it a “well-recognized phenomenon and presumably relates to immunity from vaccination, previous infection or both.”
Around the nation
New York: The mask mandate is still in force. It will remain in place while the state appeals a ruling from a lower court judge overturning it. An appeals court ruling this week followed a judge's decision last week that temporarily restored it the day after the initial ruling overturned it. Regardless of the outcome, it expires Feb. 10.
Arizona: Sen. Mark Kelly is asking the state’s National Guard to activate medical personnel to help relieve some of the COVID-19 stress on hospitals. Kelly and fellow Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema wrote Gov. Doug Ducey this week to make the request, citing a spike in cases of the virus.
Wisconsin: Doctors continue to battle a rising number of cases of COVID-19 in the state. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reports that the spread of the COVID-19 virus is “critically high” in all 72 counties for an unprecedented fourth week in a row.
Illinois: Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady is optimistic that life could be returning to normal in the near future as the number of cases of the virus recedes. She said the city’s vaccine mandate for bar and restaurant patrons could be rescinded “quite soon” if the present trend continues.
Texas: State health officials say January was an awful month for COVID-19 cases, but February has started with more promise. This week, the number of COVID-19 cases requiring hospital treatment fell to its lowest number in about three weeks. The hard-hit metros of Austin and Houston showed the sharpest improvement.