Coronavirus vaccine and COVID variant updates for 01-20-2022

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Now you’ll start to hear stories about the quest to return to normalcy. In the U.K., masks will no longer be mandatory in public places and COVID passports won’t be required for large events. Why? They’re seeing infections level off. Scientists there believe the Omicron surge “has now peaked nationally.” The Prime Minister also said hospital admissions and patients in ICU are stabilizing or falling.


Starbucks is no longer requiring its U.S. workers to be vaccinated. That reverses a plan it announced just earlier this month. They said they’re doing it because of the Supreme Court ruling rejecting the White House’s plan to require vaccines or regular COVID testing at companies with more than 100 workers. General Electric also suspended its vaccine mandate last week.


New York City's surge of cases looks like it’s falling as fast as it rose. After new cases increased 26-fold in one month, they’ve now fallen 57% over the last week according to ABC News. Hospitalizations are declining, and the number of wastewater samples that spotted the virus have also plunged.


More evidence that booster shots probably don’t do much in the way of stopping transmission. A study of breakthrough Omicron cases in South Africa, where the variant emerged early on, demonstrated Omicron’s ability to evade immunity generated by even the most powerful vaccine boosters. Researchers still say the vaccines protect against severe illness, but that it might not be a good idea to rely on vaccines alone in the pandemic fight.


Amidst all this good news, the CDC remains at virtual war with the travel and hospitality industry anyway. Tuesday, they advised against travel to 22 more nations and territories, including Israel, Australia, Egypt, Argentina, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, and Saint Lucia. In fact, there are now over 100 countries and territories total on their “Level 4” don’t-go-there list.


In the United States, cases were up 38%, deaths are up 43%, and hospitalizations are up 47% over 14 days. The 7-day average of new cases has been trending down since January 14.


The five states that had the most daily deaths per 100,000 are Tennessee, Maryland, Michigan, New York, and Indiana.


There are now over 25 million active cases in the United States, at 25,035,097.


The five areas with the greatest increase in hospitalizations per capita: Puerto Rico 126%. Alabama 121%. California 110%. The U.S. Virgin Islands 103%. And Louisiana 102%.


The top 10 areas with the highest number of recent cases per capita according to The New York Times: West Feliciana, LA. Waukesha, WI. Newberry, SC. Dane, WI. Tom Green, TX. Teton, WY. Uvalde, TX. Milwaukee, WI. Kodiak Island Borough, AK. And Covington, MS.


There have been at least 857,674 deaths in the U.S. recorded as Covid-related.


The top 3 vaccinating states by percentage of population that’s been fully vaccinated: Vermont at 78.6%, Rhode Island at 77.9%, and Maine at 76.8%. The bottom 3 vaccinating states are Wyoming at 48.2%, Alabama at 48.4%, and Mississippi at 49.1%. The percentage of the U.S. that’s been fully vaccinated is 63%.


Globally, cases were up 66% and deaths up 19% over 14 days, with the 7-day average trending down since January 16.


There are now over 60 million active cases around the world, at 60,920,589.


The five countries with the most new cases: The United States 710,928. France 436,167. India 315,158. Brazil 205,310. And Italy 192,320.


There have been 5,563,818 deaths reported as Covid-related worldwide.


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