Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)
Total U.S. confirmed cases: 68,636,638 (67,617,789)
Total U.S. deaths: 858,118 (854,292)
Total global cases: 338,375,610 (334,699,140)
Total global deaths: 5,567,534 (5,558,316)
Surviving COVID-19 makes reinfection less likely, study shows
A study released by state health agencies in New York and California found that people who had been infected with COVID-19 and recovered during the Delta variant wave had as much or more immunity than those who had only been vaccinated.
However, officials say that is no reason to skip a vaccination or booster. They say the study provides a number of caveats. The study was conducted over a short period of time before boosters were widely available and before the surge of cases caused by the Omicron variant.
“We know that vaccination remains the safest strategy for protecting against COVID-19,” said Benjamin Silk, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Gallup Poll finds growing pessimism about COVID-19
Call it pandemic fatigue. After nearly two years, a new Gallup Poll finds that Americans are growing more pessimistic about when the COVID-19 pandemic will end.
Conducted during the first two weeks of January, the poll found optimism about the future of the pandemic in the U.S. had fallen sharply, with an increase in the number of people worrying about getting sick. To compensate, more Americans are socially distancing and wearing masks in public.
The poll found that only 20% of the public thinks pandemic conditions are improving. Twenty-two percent think it is staying the same and 58% believe things are getting worse.
Layoffs took a surprising turn higher last week
Economists were taken by surprise today when the Labor Department reported an increase in the number of people seeking jobless benefits. Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose to 286,000 last week – about the same as before the pandemic.
But many economists expected a lower number, pointing out the need for more workers. Nela Richardson, an economist at the human-resources software firm Automatic Data Processing, told the Wall Street Journal that very few firms are laying off workers.
“Someone who’s dependable, who’s been on the job for a year and doesn’t need to learn the ropes—you don’t want to lay that person off when you’re expecting a spring thaw in economic activity,” Richardson said.
Around the nation
New Jersey: State officials have tightened COVID-19 rules for health care workers. Gov. Phil Murphy has removed the testing option and is now requiring workers to be vaccinated. “We are no longer going to look past those who continue to put their colleagues and perhaps, I think even more importantly, those who are their responsibility, in danger of COVID,” Murphy said.
Michigan: Counties across the state with the highest rates of vaccination reported the lowest number of deaths over a six-month period last year. An analysis by Michigan Live found that for every additional 10 percentage points a county was vaccinated, it had 0.9 fewer deaths per 10,000 residents between July and December.
Utah: The new session of the state legislature got off to an uncertain start this week when the president of the state senate tested positive for the coronavirus. But Utah Senate President Stuart Adams was at his post for the start of the session, sometimes wearing a mask, sometimes not.
Oklahoma: The Omicron variant has swept through Oklahoma public schools, creating a shortage of substitute teachers. Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed an executive order enlisting state employees to work as teachers, vowing to keep classrooms open.
Virginia: After newly sworn-in Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed an executive order ending the vaccine mandate for state employees, three state universities softened their COVID-19 policies. George Mason University, James Madison University, and Virginia Commonwealth University now “strongly encourage” vaccinations but don’t require them.