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Coronavirus update: White House encourages boosters to fight variants

Pfizer has reported a surge of Paxlovid prescriptions

COVID-19 vaccine concept
Photo (c) franckreporter - Getty Images
COVID-19 ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 81,979,368 (81,877,929)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 998,060 (997,539)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 518,154,019 (517,393,760)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 6,253,879 (6,251,576)‌

White House steps up campaign for boosters

Cases of COVID-19 are rising in the U.S., but it's happening faster in some states than others. The White House says the difference may lie in the percentage of the population that is fully vaccinated and boosted.

Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House pandemic response coordinator, says states with low rates of booster shots may see the worst outbreaks of the easily transmissible subvariants of the virus. He points to upper New York state as a case in point.

Jha said the U.S. has weapons available, such as booster shots, to keep the effects of the virus in check if people would only take advantage of them. While cases of the coronavirus are rising, there has been almost no increase in severe cases.

Prescriptions for Paxlovid have increased tenfold

Prescriptions of Paxlovid have surged since the White House began encouraging doctors to treat COVID-19 patients with the antiviral drug. Experts say that may be what’s keeping severe cases of the virus from rising.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla says prescriptions for Paxlovid increased from 8,000 to 80,000 between late February and April.

Paxlovid is a drug cocktail made up of two drugs. One of them keeps the virus from replicating and the other keeps the first from breaking down in the body too quickly. The drug is approved for COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms who are at risk for hospitalization.

Coach tests positive but the Warriors win anyway

When the Golden State Warriors faced off against the Memphis Grizzlies Monday night in the NBA playoffs, they did so without their head coach. Earlier in the day, Steve Kerr tested positive for the virus and had to sit out the game.

With assistant coach Mike Brown filling in, the Warriors held their own against Memphis, thanks to Steph Curry’s 32 points. The team won 101-98 and took a 3-1 series lead. Game five is tomorrow night in Memphis.

Around the nation

  • New York: Gov. Kathy Hochul has announced that she tested positive for COVID-19. “Today I tested positive for COVID-19. Thankfully, I'm vaccinated and boosted, and I'm asymptomatic. I'll be isolating and working remotely this week," Hochul said in a tweet at the beginning of the week.

  • California: The city of San Jose has reimposed a mask mandate for municipal workers, joining other California cities that have done so. While cases are on the rise around the state, the San Francisco Bay area is seeing the sharpest increase.

  • Michigan: Federal health officials have upgraded the COVID-19 risk in parts of Michigan. Grand Traverse County in Northern Michigan was considered to have a “high” community COVID-19 spread as of the start of this week, and people are being urged to wear masks in indoor public spaces.

  • Texas: The Texas Medical Center has announced that it will no longer provide COVID-19 data updates on its dashboard. It says the information is now less relevant. "With advancements in treatment and the successes in vaccination, we are now able to effectively manage the virus in our community,” the center said in a statement.

  • Alabama: The COVID-19 lockdowns in China are adversely affecting a hospital in Birmingham. University of Alabama Hospital officials say they are being forced to ration a key medical supply because they can no longer get enough of it from Chinese factories in Shanghai.

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