First lady Dr. Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff on Wednesday held a series of phone calls with nurses unions throughout the country to hear about their experiences during the coronavirus pandemic, the New York Times reports.
What they're saying: Biden and Emhoff told the nurses, who the CDC says are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, that "this administration is fighting for them," according to a spokesperson. But most of their time was spent listening to the nurses' pleas for more protective gear and vaccine doses.
Encouraging trends in Minnesota's COVID-19 caseloads are prompting renewed calls for Gov. Tim Walz to further lift restrictions on businesses and schools. But, for the most part, the governor says you shouldn't expect a major reversal soon.
What's happening: Hospitality industry groups and legislative Republicans have called on Walz to commit to a timeline for fully reopening the state, citing weeks of declining positivity rates and hospitalizations.
Nursing homes with lower proportions of white residents saw higher coronavirus deaths last year, according to a new study published in JAMA Network Open.
By the numbers: In the facilities with the smallest share of white residents, coronavirus deaths were more than three times higher than in the nursing homes with the largest white populations.
School districts and mental health professionals remain concerned about the pandemic's effect on children's mental health.
The big picture: Hospitals have seen a significant increase in mental health emergencies among children, and federal officials have acknowledged that prolonged school closures have deprived students of both formal services and simple human interaction.
New coronavirus cases continued their sharp decline over the past week — progress that could help the U.S. find its way out of the pandemic faster and more safely, if it keeps up.
The big picture: Getting the virus' spread under control is the key to saving lives and reopening schools and businesses. And the tools to achieve that — masks, social distancing and vaccines — are also the most effective weapons against the more contagious variants that could threaten the U.S.' progress.
NIAID director Anthony Fauci said during a White House briefing Wednesday that 20,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated against COVID-19 without complications.
Why it matters: The new figure comes weeks after the World Health Organization altered its guidance for pregnant women and inoculation to say those at high risk of exposure to COVID-19, or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated, in line with CDC guidance.
People who are fully vaccinated no longer need to quarantine after exposure to someone infected with the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday.
Yes, but: The CDC's definition of "fully vaccinated" is narrow in scope. The agency urges caution regardless of vaccination status, especially as new variants continue to spread.
As both vaccinations and acquired immunity spread, life will likely settle into a new normal that will resemble pre-COVID-19 days — with some major twists.
The big picture: While hospitalizations and deaths are tamped down, the novel coronavirus should recede as a mortal threat to the world. But a lingering pool of unvaccinated people — and the virus' own ability to mutate — will ensure SARS-CoV-2 keeps circulating at some level, meaning some precautions will be kept in place for years.
Federal authorities are investigating counterfeit N95 masks that have been sold to hospitals, government agencies and medical facilities in at least five states, AP reports.
Why it matters: "Nearly a year into the pandemic, fraud remains a major problem as scammers seek to exploit hospitals and desperate and weary Americans," AP's Colleen Long writes. The masks, designed to look like they are produced by the global manufacturer 3M, "are becoming increasingly difficult to spot and could put health care workers at grave risk for the coronavirus."
Go deeper: Coronavirus fraud is everywhere
Wearing two face masks or adjusting a mask to fit more snuggly can better help protect against COVID-19 and its highly transmissible variants, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised in new guidance out Wednesday.
Why it matters: Modeling shows the B.1.1.7 variant from the U.K. could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by the end of March, said Anthony Fauci, President Biden's chief medical adviser, on Wednesday.