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COVID-19 live updates: Florida allowed up to 1 million tests to expire, official says

(NEW YORK) — As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.4 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 833,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

About 62.4% 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:
-Half of NYC COVID hospitalized patients were admitted for other reasons
-COVID vaccines can cause temporary menstrual cycle changes: Study
-CDC director responds to criticism of COVID-19 guidance
-Florida allowed up to 1 million COVID-19 tests to expire, official says
-Global COVID cases top 300 million

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern.

Jan 07, 3:08 pm
Pfizer vaccine lowers risk of inflammatory condition in teens: CDC

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dramatically reduces the risk of teenagers developing MIS-C, a dangerous inflammatory condition, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published Friday.

MIS-C is a condition in which different body parts can become inflamed such as the heart, lungs and kidneys. It tends to appear in kids and adolescents two to six weeks after becoming infected with COVID-19.

Researchers looked at children and teens between ages 12 and 18 from 24 hospitals across the country.

They found that the vaccine was 91% against MIS-C. Of the children who were critically ill with MIS-C and required life support, all were unvaccinated.

“No fully vaccinated patients with MIS-C required respiratory or cardiovascular life support, as opposed to 39% of unvaccinated MIS-C patients who did,” the authors wrote.

ABC News’ Sony Salzman

Jan 07, 2:17 pm
Half of NYC COVID hospitalized patients were admitted for other reasons

About half of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in New York City were originally admitted for other reasons, Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

Across the state, 42% of COVID-19 patients entered hospitals for reasons unrelated to the virus, such as a car accident, and only learned they were positive during their stays, Hochul said during a press conference Friday.

This is the first time that New York has differentiated between patients who go to hospitals to get care for COVID-19 and those who seek out care for other issues but test positive upon arrival.

Hochul also asked New Yorkers who have mild symptoms to not got to emergency rooms to get tested or treated because many hospitals are currently understaffed.

“If you’re an adult with very minor symptoms, you can handle a runny nose. You can handle the throats being a little sore, a little bit of a cough. Just treat as if you would the flu, all the protocols,” she said. “But please don’t overburden our emergency rooms.”

Hochul added that nearly 20% of all emergency rooms in the state are made up of people who are there only to get tested for COVID-19.

ABC News’ Will McDuffie

Jan 07, 1:27 pm
White House and USPS finalize deal to mail out 500 million COVID tests

The White House and USPS have finalized a plan to mail out 500 million free at-home rapid COVID-19 tests to Americans, a source briefed on the plan told ABC News.

It comes as the first contract to produce the tests was awarded to a testing company Thursday night, a White House spokesperson confirmed.

The main issue that was delaying the finalization of the plan was whether or not USPS can retain 40,000 temporary holiday season workers to help deliver the tests.

However, it’s not clear how many tests will be available from the first contract or how exactly USPS will deliver them. The White House has been vague on the timeline and has yet to launch a website through which Americans can order the tests.

The USPS-White House deal was first reported by The Washington Post.

ABC News’ Lucien Bruggeman, Cheyenne Haslett and Sasha Pezenik

Jan 07, 12:45 pm
COVID vaccines can cause temporary menstrual cycle changes: Study

COVID-19 vaccines can cause temporary changes to menstrual cycles, a new study from Oregon Health and Science University suggests.

Researchers looked at nearly 4,000 women who use Natural Cycles, a Food and Drug Administration-approved birth control app.

They found that some women who received COVID-19 vaccines experienced changes, with the most common being periods starting late by about one day.

However, the effects were temporary with a normal menstrual cycle returning within one or two months after getting the shot.

The team emphasized the findings do not mean COVID-19 vaccines have an impact on current or future fertility.

ABC News’ Katie Kindelan

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