COVID-19 tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)
Total U.S. confirmed cases: 79,059,632 (78,940,748)
Total U.S. deaths: 951,315 (948,438)
Total global cases: 437,753,703 (435,623,857)
otal global deaths: 5,961,126 (5,950,866)
Vaccine failed to protect young children, study finds
A study conducted by the New York State Department of Health found that the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech provided very little protection for children between the ages of five and 11. In particular, researchers said it provided little help against the Omicron variant.
The researchers said the effectiveness of Pfizer’s vaccine against the virus dropped from 68% to 12% for children in that age group. The children were monitored from Dec. 13 through Jan. 24, when the Omicron variant was spreading quickly across the state.
The researchers conclude that there could be many reasons for the drop in effectiveness. Most likely, they say it is because of the much smaller dose of the vaccine that very young children receive.
Some test kits may contain toxic chemical
Poison control centers around the country are warning consumers that some COVID-19 test kits might contain a toxic chemical.
The Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center's Drug and Poison Information Center reports that there has been a sharp increase in calls about exposure to sodium azide, a substance reportedly found in some at-home test kids. Authorities say about 50 million U.S. households are believed to have received one of the kits.
According to White House officials, the U.S. government has sent about 200 million of the kits to U.S. homes, though it’s not clear how many of the kits contained the chemical.
The nose knows
One of the reported symptoms of COVID-19 is loss of smell. Scientists say their research suggests that it’s one of the first symptoms to appear and is an indicator that the patient is infected with the virus.
The Swedish research team says that finding is important because an early warning might prompt the patient to isolate earlier and therefore check the spread of the virus. A cough and cold-like symptoms were also identified as early predictors of COVID-19.
The researchers found that, on average, test subjects who tested positive for the virus showed a decline in their ability to detect odors about six days prior to the test result date. This confirmed that a decline in odor perception is an early indicator of COVID-19, the researchers concluded.
Around the nation
Colorado: Colorado is moving on from COVID-19. During a press conference, Gov. Jared Polis said the health emergency is over and encouraged residents who are vaccinated to move into what he repeatedly referred to as "the next chapter."
Illinois: Sports fans attending Chicago Bulls games won’t have to mask up. The United Center is easing its in-arena COVID-19 guidelines in the wake of the city of Chicago’s move to ease restrictions. The city has lifted its mask and proof-of-vaccination mandates for restaurants, bars, and other indoor establishments.
Texas: Doctors in West Texas report that new cases of COVID-19 have fallen sharply in recent weeks. They told NewsWest9 that about 40% of people taking a COVID-19 test had a positive result a month ago. Today, they say that number is down to about 10%.
Connecticut: A statewide mandate for masks in schools has expired. Gov. Ned Lamont says it will be up to local school districts to decide whether students and teachers will need to continue masking up. "Connecticut is seeing a dramatic decline in cases caused by the omicron variant, and children over the age of 5 have had the ability to get vaccinated for more than three months now," Lamont said.
Maryland: The University of Maryland lifted an indoor mask mandate on campus for all faculty, staff, students, and visitors this week. That means fans attending University of Maryland home games will not be required to wear masks or show proof of vaccination. Unvaccinated fans are encouraged to continue wearing masks.