COVID-19 tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)
Total U.S. confirmed cases: 78,073,202 (77,919,052)
Total U.S. deaths: 925,815 (922,473)
Total global cases: 416,408,910 (413,746,208)
Total global deaths: 5,842,248 (5,827,947)
Moderna CEO says pandemic may be ending
Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel definitely sees light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. In an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” today, Bancel said it’s “reasonable” to assume that we may be approaching the final stages of the pandemic.
“There’s an 80% chance that as Omicron evolves or SarsCov-2 virus evolves, we are going to see less and less virulent viruses,” he said.
However, Bancel – who leads a company that developed one of three COVID-19 vaccines used in the U.S. – said there is a 20% chance that the next mutation of the virus could be worse than the Omicron variant.
CDC relaxes cruise ship guidance
With COVID-19 seemingly in retreat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has relaxed some of its guidance for cruise ships. Admittedly, it’s a very slight change.
The health agency lowered its cruise travel warning to Level 3 from Level 4, the highest such level. The Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA) called it a step in the right direction.
"Cruise ships have medical, isolation, and quarantine facilities on-site, implement extensive response plans using private shoreside resources, and have created an environment where almost every single person is fully vaccinated,” the trade group said in a statement. “As a result, cases of COVID-19 are very low with the vast majority mild or asymptomatic—making cruise unequaled in its multi-layered approach to effectively mitigating COVID-19."
Some teens go behind parents’ backs to get vaccinated
Teenage years are often filled with rebellion, but it’s taking a strange form in the latter stages of the pandemic. While some adults adamantly oppose COVID-19 vaccines, NPR reports that some children are quietly getting vaccinated without telling their parents.
According to the report, Philadelphia has a little-known city regulation that permits children over age 11 to be vaccinated without parental consent. Sixteen-year-old Nicolas Montero told the network he went there to get vaccinated because his parents refused to give their consent. Montero says his parents’ opposition stems from social media.
"The thing about these beliefs is that they alternate by the day," said Montero. "It's not one solid thing that they're going with, so it's just really baseless. It's like one thing they see on Facebook, and then they completely believe it."
Around the nation
Pennsylvania: According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia’s vaccine mandate for indoor dining could expire this week. The newspaper quotes sources who also said the mask mandate could end later if cases continue their downward trend.
Nebraska: State lawmakers are expected to vote later today on a compromise bill that would allow workers to claim medical and religious exemptions from workplace COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The measure survived after senators defeated one amendment and a second one was withdrawn.
California: Students in Roseville Joint Unified High School District can put away their masks. Despite a statewide mask mandate that's still in force for schools, the school board voted unanimously to make masks in classrooms optional.
Illinois: Gov. J.B. Pritzker is lifting the statewide mask mandate at the end of the month because COVID-19 cases are declining, but Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said masks may still be required in the city. "I don't want to put an artificial date on when this is going to happen when we still see some danger signs in the data," Lightfoot said.
Arkansas: Arkansas is one of only a handful of states where the coronavirus is not in retreat. New cases of COVID-19 increased by 1,685 on Tuesday. At the same time, the number of people treated for the virus in hospitals fell by 32.