(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 905,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
About 64.1% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
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 accounted 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 and Eric M. Strauss
Feb 08, 9:30 am
Michigan closes bridge to Canada amid trucker-led protests
An ongoing, trucker-led protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other pandemic-related restrictions in Canada spilled over into the United States via the Ambassador Bridge on Monday night, blocking access to one of the world’s largest international suspension bridges.
The protesters hindered traffic at the tolled bridge across the Detroit River, which connects Windsor, Canada, with Detroit, Michigan, at the Canadian-U.S. border. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced via Twitter on Monday night that it had closed the crossing to Canada.
The Windsor Police Service tweeted Tuesday morning that the bridge has reopened to U.S.-bound traffic. Meanwhile, MDOT tweeted an update saying the crossing remains closed on the U.S. side.
Monday marked the 11th straight day of the so-called “Freedom Convoy” protests, which began with truckers critical of a new rule that they must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to cross the Canada-U.S. border. The demonstrations have since grown into broader challenges to pandemic-related public health measures and opposition to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Thousands of protesters have occupied the streets of Ottawa and other cities across Canada in support of the movement, paralyzing the capital’s city center with traffic jams, nonstop noise and alleged harassment. Protesters have said they won’t leave until all COVID-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions are lifted nationwide. They are also calling for the removal of Trudeau’s government, even though most of the public health measures were put in place by provincial governments.
The House of Commons of Canada held an emergency session on Tuesday to discuss the demonstrations. In an opening statement, the prime minister said he understands “people are tired” of COVID-19 but that protests are not the answer.
“These pandemic restrictions are not forever,” Trudeau told lawmakers.
While Trudeau’s opponents argued that the country is at a crisis point, the prime minister rejected any notion that Canadians are divided.
“Canada has one of the highest vaccination rates of our peer countries around the world,” he said. “It’s because Canadians trust science. Canadians trust each other to do the right thing.”
Feb 08, 6:54 am
Oregon to lift mask mandates for indoor public spaces, schools by March 31
Oregon will lift general mask requirements for indoor public places no later than March 31, state health officials announced Monday.
According to the Oregon Health Authority, scientists expect that about 400 or fewer people would be hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide by late March, which is the level of hospitalizations Oregon experienced before the highly contagious omicron variant began to spread. Mask mandates for Oregon schools will be lifted on March 31 to give school districts time to prepare.
However, the Oregon Health Authority said the state needs to keep mask requirements in place for now as COVID-19 hospitalizations crest and the health care system struggles to treat high numbers of severely ill patients.
The Oregon Health Authority has filed a new rule with the Oregon Secretary of State to require people to wear masks while indoors in public places. The new rule replaces a temporary one that expired Monday.
State health officials will consider lifting the general indoor mask requirement earlier than March 31 if hospitalizations decline to the levels projected by the end of March sooner than expected. Once the mandates are lifted, employers and businesses may continue to establish their own mask requirements to protect employees and customers, according to the Oregon Health Authority.
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