COVID-19 tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)
Total U.S. confirmed cases: 80,449,398 (80,387,143)
Total U.S. deaths: 985,826 (985,436)
Total global cases: 499,748,065 (499,564,212)
Total global deaths: 6,181,560 (6,113,040)
Masks are going back on in Philadelphia
City officials in Philadelphia have reimposed a mask mandate for indoor public spaces. The order is in response to a marked increase in COVID-19 cases and makes Philadelphia the first major U.S. city to resume requirements for masking up in public.
Public health reports show that cases of the virus are up more than 50% in the past 10 days. Doctors say the increase is mostly being caused by the highly-transmissible BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron variant.
Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, the city’s health commissioner, says the move is being made to head off a worsening outbreak. She notes that in the last two years, each outbreak of cases has been followed by a large increase in hospitalizations.
Clinic established to treat ‘long COVID’
A condition known as “long COVID” – which is characterized by symptoms that linger long after the patient has recovered – has become so common that a clinic is being set up just to treat it. The Iowa Heart Center has opened a clinic in Des Moines that aims to provide treatment for the long-term effects of COVID-19.
Right from the start, research has suggested that even people with mild COVID-19 symptoms can be vulnerable to developing ailments like heart and lung disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends these patients undergo close monitoring of organ functionality.
The clinic will treat and monitor patients while offering holistic health management. Doctors hope it will allow for early detection and prevent long-term systemic damage from the virus.
Research promotes dietary supplements as ‘healthy’ weapon
Medical experts at Tel Aviv University (TAU) have published a study that explores the role of dietary supplements in protecting people from COVID-19. They say the “healthy” supplements are not only effective against the virus but also against other wintertime illnesses.
The researchers say that vaccines and antiviral drugs have been shown to be effective, but they note that the virus changes frequently, in some cases spinning off variants.
"To address the rapid changes of the virus, we decided to develop active vaccines made of safe and easily obtainable dietary supplements, that would reduce the viral load in the body and cut down contagion,” said Prof. Ehud Gazit, one of the researchers. “We have known for years that food supplements containing zinc can enhance immunity to severe, viral, and chronic infections and their potentially grave consequences."
Around the nation
Connecticut: The Connecticut Department of Social Services has announced that it will deliver more than $34.7 million in Emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to approximately 216,700 Connecticut households on Friday. The provisions are authorized under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020. It will provide a minimum of $95 in extra food aid to all enrolled families and individuals, raising the state’s total emergency SNAP funding to over $679.7 million since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
California: The state Department of Public Health has stopped issuing weekday updates on COVID-19 data, including test positivity, hospitalizations, deaths, and vaccinations. It now publishes those numbers just two days a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays. Some counties have since followed suit with their local dashboards.
Alaska: The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is teaming up with two federal agencies to screen wildlife for COVID-19. Scientists want to make sure that a new variant doesn’t emerge in animals that will then infect people.
Minnesota: State health officials say the BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron variant is causing the most cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. Scientists who have studied Minneapolis wastewater report that 81% of samples in the seven-county metro area are BA.2 positive.
Florida: Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit against the state that was brought by Orlando bar owners who claimed they were harmed financially by a state order that closed their establishments at the beginning of the pandemic. The lawsuit had argued that the state acted outside its authority.