Covid-19 live updates: American adults can get three free N95 masks each in new White House plan

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Covid-19 live updates: American adults can get three free N95 masks each in new White House plan

The Biden administration plans to distribute 400 million high-quality N95 masks for adults free of charge starting next week, in the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history, a White House official said on the condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement.Americans will be able to get the N95 masks , which will come from the government’s Strategic National Stockpile , at thousands of pharmacies and federal community health centers, the same locations where many received coronavirus vaccinations.The program will make three masks available per adult and is expected to be fully operational by early February. It comes as the omicron coronavirus variant drives record levels of infections and hospitalizations, prompting health officials to urge masking as a key tool to contain the virus. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided its most explicit guidance so far on masks: The agency said well-fitting respirators such as approved N95 products offered “the highest level of protection” compared with cloth coverings and other masks.Here’s what to know Since the emergence of the omicron variant and record-breaking coronavirus case numbers, European countries have been trying to contain the virus while allowing in coronavirus-free travelers.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has given a Level 4 warning to much of Europe because of high levels of coronavirus transmission, and it recommends Americans avoid travel to top destinations such as Italy, France and the United Kingdom.The omicron variant came as a hard hit to the European travel industry, which had just begun to recover from the pandemic. However, leaders in the industry are confident that Europe will again be able to offer a safe experience for travelers.So how safe is it to travel to Europe, and what kinds of restrictions will Americans encounter? Entry requirements can vary widely, from what type of mask to wear on the flight to vaccination proof. We looked at how five major European destinations are handling travel right now to find out.
Advertisement Updates continue below advertisement Britain’s Boris Johnson eases covid restrictions, as he faces calls for his resignation over party scandals Return to menu By Karla Adam 9:28 a.m. Link copied Link
LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday announced an easing of coronavirus restrictions in England amid growing calls from outside — and inside — his party for him to resign.The scandal-hit British leader told Parliament that starting next Thursday, the “Plan B” restrictions that were introduced in England alongside the rise of the omicron wave, including more mask-wearing and guidance to work from home, would end.“Our scientists believe that the omicron wave has now peaked nationally,” said Johnson.
Advertisement Updates continue below advertisement D.C. measure to require schools to tell parents about covid cases within 24 hours Return to menu By Nicole Asbury and Julie Weil 9:01 a.m. Link copied Link
D.C. public schools will be required to notify parents within 24 hours if any student in their child’s classroom tests positive for the coronavirus , under new legislation passed by the D.C. Council on Tuesday.The emergency legislation, which heads to Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) for her signature or veto, passed the council unanimously.The bill’s introducer, Robert C. White Jr. (D-At Large), backed down from an initial proposal to require schools to establish specific numerical thresholds for operating virtually instead of in-person when plagued by a high number of coronavirus cases.Instead, the legislation passed Tuesday includes other measures to improve transparency about the virus.
Advertisement Updates continue below advertisement New U.S. website for free covid tests sees high demand — and some complaints Return to menu By Ellen Francis and Meryl Kornfield 8:25 a.m. Link copied Link
The new federal website for ordering free rapid coronavirus tests went live a day ahead of its official Wednesday launch, drawing more visitors than all other government sites combined — and some criticism of the four-test per household limit.The site, covidtests.gov , where some Americans were able to order rapid tests as part of a Biden administration initiative, operated at limited capacity Tuesday to address troubleshooting and ensure a smooth launch, a White House official said.With demand for tests rising as the omicron variant spreads, the government purchased 500 million rapid tests and will limit the number of tests sent to each address to four.The website’s homepage and ordering page had more visitors than all other .gov addresses combined — and at one point Wednesday morning, more than 15 times as many visitors as the site with the next highest traffic, the U.S. Postal Service’s tracking page — according to analytics.usa.gov , which monitors traffic on federal websites.Earlier Tuesday, some people living in apartments reported problems with ordering the kits if other tenants in their building had already submitted requests.A spokesman for the Postal Service, David Partenheimer, said this affected “a small percentage of orders” for people whose addresses “are not registered as multi-unit buildings.” The statement recommended filing a service request or contacting the Postal Service help desk at 1-800-275-8777.The White House said it set the four-test per household limit to make sure as many people as possible could get tests, but critics said it doesn’t give equal access to people living in communal housing for economic or cultural reasons. The limit could also put families with multiple generations under one roof at a disadvantage compared to single-family households, disproportionately affecting communities of color, others said .The Biden administration has pointed to other ways to access free tests: People can get up to eight tests per month covered by their private insurance or find them at community health centers, as well as schools and long-term care facilities.
There is “no evidence right now” that healthy children and adolescents need booster doses of coronavirus vaccines, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, said Tuesday at a news conference .Global vaccine distribution remains inequitable, with many people in lower-income countries still not having received even a first dose . The WHO has criticized countries for trying to “boost their way out of the pandemic,” warning that this diverts vaccine supplies.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots this month for children as young as 12 years old, against the backdrop of a nationwide struggle to keep schools open amid rising cases. The CDC now recommends that those between 12 and 17 get a third dose as the United States encourages boosters for all, and a few other countries have approved boosters for teens.While children are far less likely than adults to get seriously sick or die from the virus, pediatric hospitalizations for covid-19 surged in parts of the United States last month amid the omicron surge. Many patients appeared to be unvaccinated adolescents with underlying health problems. Scientists are still trying to better understand the variant — including whether the rise in children’s hospitalizations could reflect a greater risk to younger people or lower vaccination rates .
After the Supreme Court’s decision that large companies do not have to force workers to get coronavirus shots or tests, employees nationwide have wondered how the high court’s ruling on the vaccination mandate from the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration would affect them.The issue bubbled up so much among employees at Carhartt, the Michigan-based workwear and other clothing company, that CEO Mark Valade emailed workers a day after the Supreme Court ruling to provide some clarity: Vaccination remained mandatory.While the email has been celebrated by Carhartt fans supportive of its health and safety measures, some conservatives and anti-vaccine pundits have targeted the company on social media in what appears to be the latest attempt to shame and boycott a company over its mandatory coronavirus vaccination policy for employees. The company has also faced protests from employees opposed to the vaccination policy in recent months.
Advertisement Updates continue below advertisement Inside a Rhode Island hospital E.R. overwhelmed by omicron Return to menu By Lenny Bernstein 6:26 a.m. Link copied Link
WARWICK, R.I. — Mary Balcerzak’s nightmare was coming to an end. The coronavirus-positive woman spent 10 hours sitting with other infected patients in a small emergency department meeting room before health-care workers were able to find a bed for her in tiny Room 25. Now, 36 hours after she arrived, Balcerzak, 70, was about to move upstairs where she belonged, to a bed on a floor inside Kent Hospital.In a nearby hallway, five people sat in chairs, one man drinking tea, quietly talking to himself. Two elderly women lay on gurneys in another corridor. The patient in Room 28 needed to be moved to intensive care, but there was no bed available.This is what a slow day looks like in a hospital emergency department overwhelmed by the coronavirus. On other days, health-care workers have drawn blood from patients as they sat in their cars, set up intravenous drips in the packed waiting room or shunted patients to the overflow tent outside. There was simply no other choice, no other space — and far too few staffers.“Either I take care of someone in a car or I don’t get to take care of them at all. Either I take care of them in the waiting room, or they don’t get care at all,” said Laura Forman, director of Kent Hospital’s emergency department.
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Key update Key coronavirus updates from around the world Return to menu By News Services and Staff Reports 5:46 a.m. Link copied Link
Here’s what to know about the top coronavirus stories around the globe.
The Biden administration plans to distribute 400 million high-quality N95 masks for adults free of charge at thousands of pharmacies and other locations starting next week, a White House official said.With the highly transmissible omicron variant of the coronavirus spurring record levels of infections and hospitalizations, public health experts have repeatedly said masking, especially with superior-quality products, is an important tool to control spread of the airborne virus .The distribution of the masks is the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history, said the White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement.The N95 masks will come from the government’s Strategic National Stockpile and will be given out at tens of thousands of pharmacies and federal community health centers, the same locations where Americans have received their vaccinations.
At-home covid tests and omicron: What you need to know Return to menu By Allyson Chiu and Hannah Knowles 4:07 a.m. Link copied Link
As millions of Americans navigate life disrupted by the easily transmissible omicron variant, public officials are urging them to view at-home antigen tests as an important tool to stem the surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations .But the tests, which are designed to quickly tell a person if they’re infected, have become harder to find. In an effort to increase access, the federal government has launched a website where Americans can order free test kits .At the same time, however, emerging research is raising concerns about the efficacy of some rapid antigen tests and their ability to detect omicron — though evaluations of performance are ongoing.Here’s what else you need to know about home tests — how they work, where to get them and when to take them. The information and recommendations in this FAQ are drawn from the Food and Drug Administration, previously published Washington Post reports and new interviews with experts.
Critics point to issues with four-test limit from federal website Return to menu By Meryl Kornfield 4:01 a.m. Link copied Link
When 22-year-old student Mayra Herrera logged on to the federal website to get four free rapid at-home coronavirus tests, she encountered an error.The Postal Service-run online form that soft-launched Tuesday told Herrera, who lives near the University of California at Berkeley campus, that someone else had registered her address — possibly one of the 10 other students living in the home. She got the same message others have who live in group or multifamily homes where there are more residents than the four allotted tests per household: “At-home COVID-19 tests have already been ordered for this address. Our records show that at-home COVID-19 tests have already been ordered for this address. We are unable to process duplicate orders for the same address.”The White House said it set the four-test per household limit to make sure as many people as possible could get tests, but critics say it doesn’t give equal access to people who live in communal housing for economic or cultural reasons. Some people posted online about being unable to get tests to their apartment buildings. The Postal Service said in a statement that the issue impacted “a very limited cases of addresses that are not registered as multiunit buildings which could lead to COVID test kit ordering difficulties.”But the Biden administration points to other ways to access free tests: People can buy up to eight tests per month and get reimbursed by their private insurance carriers or find them at community health centers, as well as targeted locations like schools and long-term care facilities.Herrera says the free tests at Berkeley are the kind sent to labs, which take longer to process. If she could receive rapid tests through the Postal Service, the college student said she would be able to test herself before visiting a family or enjoying a concert.“But I’m not able to get them, which is really upsetting and really concerning for my health and safety,” she said.Maria Ferraguto, a Washington, D.C., resident, faced the same problem when her six-person household realized they would not be able to order tests for everyone. Yet Ferraguto said she realizes the limit is even more burdensome for her neighbors, many who are Black and Latin families in multigenerational households.Families with multiple generations under one roof are disadvantaged by the four-test limit compared to single-family households, disproportionately hitting communities of color, said Ranak Trivedi, a researcher studying families and caregivers at Stanford University.“It’s sort of this idea that there’d be a heteronormative family of four: a dad, mom and two kids who would need it,” Trivedi said. “Personally, I’m from India and I see a lot of my friends and family who are living in multigenerational households who are not a family of four and have it made me wonder how they would go about getting more than four tests if they needed them.”
I went to get a coronavirus test after Thanksgiving, and the nurse took my temperature — 97.7 degrees Fahrenheit. This is not unusual for me, even though it was lower than what we think of as normal.Normal body temperature is one health-related number that most everybody knows — 98.6 degrees. It’s even easier in Celsius — a flat 37 degrees.Despite the exactitude of the widely accepted number, down to one-tenth of a degree, body temperature is not that fixed.A recent study compiled data from 150,280 adult outpatient visits to Stanford Health Care facilities over a 10-year period. The average temperature was 98.0 degrees for men and 98.2 degrees for women .

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