Forty-nine states have announced plans to drop their indoor mask mandates as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations steadily decline across the country. The only recalcitrant remains Hawaii.
The island state has taken strong precautions against the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic and still requires out-of-state American travelers to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to avoid mandatory quarantine.
More than 75% of Hawaii residents have received two doses of a COVID vaccine — 10% more than the national rate — according to the Hawaii Department of Health, and coronavirus cases have dropped 64% from 5 to February 18.
The rapid decline in COVID cases in Hawaii mirrors national statistics: U.S. cases reported on Saturday barely topped 100,000, a sharp drop from around 800,850 five weeks ago, according to data from Johns University. Hopkins.
Gov. David Ige told ABC 4 television on Thursday that he was working with the state health department to “determine when is the right time” for Hawaii to lift its indoor mask mandate.
“Hawaii ranks second (second to last) in the nation for COVID deaths, in part due to the indoor mask requirement and other measures that have proven effective in protecting our community. against this potentially deadly virus,” Ige said in a statement. the news station. “We base our decisions on science, with the health and safety of our community being the top priority.”
Also in the news:
► Iran, where hardliners have railed against US-made COVID vaccines even as daily deaths hit records, returned 820,000 doses donated by Poland because they were made in the United States, state television reported Monday.
►Singer Justin Bieber has postponed his Sunday performance in Las Vegas and Tuesday’s show in the Phoenix area after testing positive for coronavirus.
►International tourists and business travelers began arriving in Australia on Monday, bringing tearful family reunions after separations of two or more years forced by some of the world’s toughest pandemic measures.
► Enforcement of New York’s COVID-19 recall mandate for medical workers, which was due to go into effect on Monday, will be delayed for at least three months over fears it could cause staffing shortages, officials said state officials.
►A group of U.S. truck drivers protesting COVID-19 vaccination mandates, dubbed the People’s Convoy, said they would begin a protest across the country on Feb. 23 beginning in California and ending in Washington, D.C. DC
📈Today’s numbers: The United States has had more than 78.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 935,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: Over 425.4 million cases and over 5.8 million deaths. More than 214 million Americans — 64.7% — are fully immunized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
📘 What we read: How bad is it to be in intensive care with COVID-19? It’s far more miserable than people can imagine, experts tell USA TODAY. Read the full story.
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson drops all COVID restrictions
At a time when many people in the UK are concerned after 95-year-old Queen Elizabeth contracted the coronavirus, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is lifting the latest national COVID-19 restrictions, saying that it’s time to move on to a different approach to the pandemic.
Johnson told House of Commons lawmakers on Monday that the country was “moving from government restrictions to personal liability” as part of a plan to deal with COVID-19 like other communicable diseases such as the flu.
“We now have sufficient levels of immunity to complete the transition from protecting people with government interventions to relying on vaccines and treatments as the first line of defense,” Johnson said.
The new approach has several surprising aspects: people with COVID-19 will no longer have to self-isolate and regular contact tracing will be stopped. People who are sick will still be advised to stay home, but they will not benefit from the additional financial support introduced during the pandemic for people who miss work. And the government will no longer provide free rapid COVID tests.
The break with the previous strategy for dealing with the pandemic comes a day after Buckingham Palace announced the Queen had tested positive for the virus and was showing mild symptoms of a cold.
Relatives of severe COVID patients more likely to suffer from PTSD, study finds
The impact of a severe case of COVID goes beyond the person afflicted. The disease also leaves a major imprint on the family.
Relatives of patients who were admitted to an intensive care unit with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) due to COVID were almost twice as likely to have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder 90 days after discharge ICU than family members of those who entered an ICU with ARDS caused by another disease, a new French study has shown.
The research, published in JAMA Network, examined 517 family members of ARDS patients in 23 intensive care units in France for most of 2020 and found PTSD in 35% of those linked to people with COVID. , compared to 19% for any other cause of respiratory problems.
“There are many potential explanations for these findings, including the need to adhere to strict isolation measures to prevent viral transmission…” the researchers wrote.
Canada should maintain temporary emergency powers
Canada’s Parliament is expected to vote Monday night to retain emergency powers that allowed police to clear blockades of truck drivers protesting the country’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said maintaining these temporary powers was necessary. “The situation is still fragile, the state of emergency is still there,” he said.
Although the remaining protesters who had besieged parts of Ottawa were evacuated over the weekend, Trudeau said some truckers just outside the capital may be planning further blockades. Additionally, his Minister of Public Safety noted that there was an effort to block a border crossing into British Columbia over the weekend.
Opposition New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh said his party would support retaining emergency powers, which should give Trudeau enough of a vote.
Experts say delaying COVID vaccines for children was the right thing to do
Many parents of young children were disappointed when the Food and Drug Administration decided this month to postpone consideration of COVID-19 vaccines for children under age 5. Experts say the decision was the right one. The FDA won’t have enough data until spring to judge whether a vaccine is safe and effective for young children, half a dozen public health experts, infectious disease specialists and epidemiologists told USA TODAY. .
But activist parents say the move made them question the agency’s sincerity in providing vaccines to the youngest children, wonder if unpublished data was hiding something, and yearn even more for the day they can stop worrying about the health of their children and families.
“I think people are really forgetting about children here,” said Fatima Khan, co-founder of Protect Their Future, an advocacy group that promotes childhood vaccinations against COVID-19. “It impacts our children and how people can go about their daily lives.”
– Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY
Contribute: The Associated Press