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COVID-19 updates: Los Angeles County keeps mask mandate

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(NEW YORK) — As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.7 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 908,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

About 64.2% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Latest headlines:
-Daily cases below 300,000 for 1st time this year
-Omicron estimated to account for 96.4% of new cases
-Michigan closes bridge to Canada amid trucker-led protests
-Oregon to lift mask mandates for indoor public spaces, schools by March 31

Here’s how the news developed Tuesday. All times Eastern.

Feb 08, 7:32 pm
Boston mayor lays out guidelines to drop vaccine proof requirement

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu outlined her plan to drop the city’s proof of vaccine requirement at indoor businesses including bars, movie theaters and restaurants.

The city must have fewer than 200 COVID-19 hospitalizations a day, 95% of ICU beds need to be free and the community positivity rate must be below 5%, before the requirement is removed, she said.

“The fastest way to help ensure we are relieving pressure on hospital capacity and driving down community positivity is to keep closing gaps with vaccination and boosters,” Wu said in a statement.

There are no immediate plans to end the city’s mask mandate in schools, she added.

ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos

Feb 08, 7:20 pm
LA County maintains mask mandate for schools

While California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that he will end the statewide mask mandate next week, Los Angeles County health officials said Tuesday they have no immediate plans to drop their mask mandate.

LA County Department of Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer told reporters the county’s decision will be made based on dropping hospitalization numbers or vaccination approval for young children.

The mandate will be dropped when daily hospitalizations drop below 2,500 for seven consecutive days, according to Ferrer. Once this threshold is met, “masking will no longer be required while outdoors at outdoor mega events or an indoor outdoor spaces at childcare and K to 12 schools,” Ferrer said.

Even if that threshold is not met, the mandate could be dropped eight weeks after vaccines are approved for children under 5. Pfizer submitted a request to the Food and Drug Administration to have its vaccine approved for children 6 months to 5 years old. A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 15.

Los Angeles County is the second-largest school district in the country, with over 600,000 students.

Feb 08, 1:53 pm
Daily cases below 300,000 for 1st time this year

The U.S. case rate is dropping, down by 63.4% since the peak three weeks ago, according to federal data.

For the first time since December, U.S. daily cases are below 300,000.

However, experts continue to caution that the U.S. isn’t out of the woods. Case levels remain much higher than the nation’s previous surges and the U.S. is still reporting millions of new cases every week. Experts also point out that many Americans taking at-home tests are not submitting their results, and thus, case totals may be higher than reported.

On average, about 13,000 Americans with COVID-19 are being admitted to the hospital each day — a 26.4% drop in the last week, according to federal data.

Emergency department visits with diagnosed COVID-19 cases are also on the decline, down by nearly 60% in the last month, federal data show.

The U.S. death average is at a plateau, with the nation reporting around 2,300 new COVID-19-related deaths each day, according to federal data. That average is significantly lower than last winter when the nation peaked around 3,400 deaths per day.

ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos

Feb 08, 11:28 am
Omicron estimated to account for 96.4% of new cases

The presence of the omicron sub-variant, BA.2, is increasing in the U.S., according to new data published by the CDC.

BA.2 was estimated to account for 3.6% of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. as of Feb. 5. BA.2 was projected to account for 1.2% of new cases the week prior.

The original omicron strain, B.1.1.529, still makes up the vast majority of new cases, accounting for an estimated 96.4% of cases in the U.S.

There is still much unknown about the BA.2 variant, but currently it doesn’t appear to demonstrate a more severe illness. There’s also no indication to suggest that BA.2 will further impact the efficacy of vaccines.

The delta variant, which accounted for 99.2% of all new cases just two months ago, is now estimated to account for 0% of new cases.

ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos, Eric M. Strauss

 

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