COVID-19 has killed more than 425,000 Americans, and infections have continued to rise despite the introduction of a pair of vaccines in late 2020. USA TODAY is following the news. Please keep updating this page for the latest updates. Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates to your inbox, Join our Facebook group or Scroll through our in-depth answers to reader questions.
As students return to school this week, evidence from the U.S. and other countries suggests that schools can operate safely with precautionary measures and should open up to face-to-face classes as soon as possible, researchers at the Centers for Control say and disease prevention.
In an article published Tuesday on JAMA Network, researchers wrote that wearing masks and maintaining social distance were effective in limiting transmission of the coronavirus in schools. However, activities such as indoor sporting events can encourage its spread and should be reduced.
“The preponderance of available evidence from the fall semester was reassuring,” wrote the three researchers. “There is little evidence that schools have made any significant contribution to improving community transmission.”
Still, returning student populations may be at even greater risk than they were in the fall – not to mention surrounding communities, where research has led to major outbreaks in university towns.
In the headlines:
► Longtime NBA writer Sekou Smith, known for his basketball insight and kind demeanor, died Tuesday of COVID-19. He was 48 years old.
►Eli Lilly announced that its monoclonal antibody cocktail lowers hospital admissions for high-risk COVID-19 patients by 70%.
►Alaska and Kentucky have discovered the first known cases of their coronavirus variant, identified in the UK last year, in their states, officials said Tuesday. The diagnoses bring the total number of states reporting cases of the variant to 25.
►The total number of coronavirus cases worldwide exceeded 100 million on Tuesday, according to the Johns Hopkins University dashboard. The US, with just over 4% of the world’s population, has more than 25% of infections and nearly 20% of deaths.
📈Today’s numbers: The United States has more than 25.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 425,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The global total: more than 100.2 million cases and 2.15 million deaths. According to the CDC, about 44.4 million vaccine doses have been distributed and 23.5 million administered in the United States.
📘 What we read: Happiness, foresight and science: How an unannounced team developed a COVID-19 vaccine in record time.
Chicago schools stop personal learning for thousands
Chicago Public Schools have suspended personal learning for approximately 3,200 pre-K and special school students who have been in the classroom for two weeks while negotiations between City Hall and the Chicago Teachers Union have reached a dead end.
“We have no choice but to inform parents not to take their children to school,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson on Wednesday.
District officials two days ago wanted 10,000 K-8 teachers and other staff to return to the school to prepare for classes that would begin Feb. 1, but delayed returns after union members voted not to return. Still, city officials said they would continue to negotiate with the union and expect schools to reopen as planned on Feb.1 to an estimated 71,000 elementary school students who said they intend to return. Since the return of pre-primary and special education students on Jan. 11, the district has reported approximately 60 cases of COVID-19. The “vast majority” of these cases did not involve transmission in school, said Dr. Allison Arwady, director of the Chicago Department of Health.
– Grace Hauck
Paramedic of the Year accused of stealing vaccines
Acting Paramedic of the Year in Florida was accused of stealing COVID-19 vaccines for first responders. Joshua Colon, 31, was arrested after confessing to deliberately stealing three cans of Moderna vaccine and then forging paperwork to cover his actions, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Grady Judd said Colon told authorities he stole the vaccines earlier this month at the request of his manager, Captain Tony Damiano, who was looking for the vaccine for his elderly mother. Damiano, who is being investigated, has been dispatched to California to help out with the pandemic, Judd said.
“He might as well throw himself up,” Judd said of Damiano. “You can run, but you can’t hide. The deal is over.”
– Sara-Megan Walsh, The Ledger
Biden hopes the majority of the population will be vaccinated by the fall
President Joe Biden has announced plans to increase the minimum weekly vaccine supply for states by 16% to 10 million over the next three weeks. Biden has signed a deal to purchase an additional 200 million doses, giving the US a total of 600 million ordered doses of the two-shot vaccines. That’s enough to vaccinate 300 million Americans, and more than enough for the country’s estimated 260 million adults. Biden said he expects the new range to be fully delivered by midsummer and that the majority of the population will be vaccinated by late summer or early fall.
Antibody cocktail could be a game changer for high risk patients
While vaccines can help slow the COVID-19 pandemic over the next few months, drug company Eli Lilly announced Tuesday that its treatments could save lives in the meantime. The Indianapolis-based drug giant says its monoclonal antibody cocktail reduces hospital admissions for high-risk patients by 70%. A monoclonal antibody mimics one of the natural antibodies that the immune system uses to fight the virus. Former President Donald Trump, as well as Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, were given monoclonal antibodies shortly after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
– Karen Weintraub
High Risk: Schools often ignore public health guidelines for classroom learning
Many school districts and states that hold face-to-face classes have ignored recommendations from public health officials or written their own questionable safety rules – a tinderbox where COVID-19 can get sick and kill. An analysis of the federal and state data revealed more than 780 complaints affecting more than 2,000 public and private K-12 schools. Among the complaints: Staff reported sick children coming to school, maskless students and teachers less than a meter apart, and administrators minimizing the dangers of the virus and punishing teachers who spoke out.
“The response to the virus has been politicized,” said Dr. Chandy John, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Indiana University School of Medicine. “There is a willingness to ignore facts and figures and to use whatever you hear on the Internet or from political leaders who have no scientific knowledge.”
– Laura Ungar, Kaiser Health News
January already deadliest month for a pandemic in the USA
The 4,087 deaths from COVID-19 reported on Tuesday – the fourth highest day in the history of the pandemic – have already made January the deadliest month of the pandemic, an analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University in the US shows TODAY. In the first 26 days of January, the United States reported 79,261 deaths. The total number of deaths in December, the deadliest month, was 77,486 deaths in December. At this rate, January could end with around 94,500 reported deaths.
Some states were devastated. California’s worst month to date was 6,772 deaths in December, but the state has already reported 12,282 deaths in January. January is already the deadliest month for another 15 states: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
– Mike Stucka
The Oklahoma Health Department is suing a company that promised N95 masks
The Oklahoma Health Department ordered more than 2 million N95 masks from a Tulsa piano bar owner in March who promised to source the coveted PPE in bulk and quickly from China.
They ordered the masks from Casey Bradford’s brand new company, PPE Supplies LLC. On the second order, they even paid him half upfront – $ 2.125 million – after he promised delivery within 10 days.
The Oklahoma Health Department sued Bradford and PPE Supplies LLC in Oklahoma District Court Tuesday. Health officials received fewer than 10,000 masks from PPE Supplies and only $ 300,000 of bail back, according to the breach. The health department is looking for the rest of its money back – $ 1.825 million plus interest. She also calls for punitive damages for “wrongdoing”.
“Bradford deliberately and deliberately misrepresented facts that led the plaintiff to place orders and make a down payment,” the lawsuit states.
– Nolan Clay, the Oklahoman
Double masking “only makes common sense,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci
The double masking was in the spotlight last week at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, which saw several high-profile officials and celebrities photographed wearing two masks.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, says preventing it from spreading is likely more effective: “So if you have physical coverage with one coat and put on another coat, it only makes sense that it is likely to be You’ll be more effective, “Fauci told NBC News’ TODAY” on Monday. ” That’s why you see people either double-masking or doing some version of an N95. “
This also applies to a study published in the journal Matter in July that found that wearing two masks can increase protection against virus particles by 50% to 75%. Not only did it add an extra layer of protection, it also made the mask fit snugly against the face, said study author Dr. Loretta Fernandez.
Americans’ renewed interest in double masking also comes as more contagious varieties emerge from Britain, South Africa, Brazil and California.
– Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY.
Contributor: The Associated Press