More than 26.6 million people in the United States have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Friday, Feb. 5, 7a.m. EST, according to Johns Hopkins University. That includes more than 455,000 people who have died nationwide.
Globally, there are now more than 104.9 million confirmed cases of the highly infectious virus, with more than 2.2 million reported deaths.
About 27.9 million Americans have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Feb. 3, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker shows. More than 6.9 million of them have been inoculated with their second dose, meaning they’ve received maximum protection against the coronavirus.
Here’swhat happened between Jan. 29 and Feb. 4.
THREE CORONAVIRUS VARIANTS ARE SPREADING IN THE US.
As if the original coronavirus wasn’t enough to worry about, there are now three other variants of the pathogen circulating in the U.S. that appear to spread more easily and quickly between people.
The three variants of concern reported in the U.S. first surfaced in the U.K., Brazil and South Africa. Preliminary evidence suggests they are more transmissible — which could lead to more COVID-19 cases, more strain on health care systems, more hospitalizations and, potentially, more deaths.
Here’s everything you need to know about them.
EXPERTS DEBATE DOUBLE MASK, MEDICAL-GRADE COVERING MANDATE
With at least three more contagious variants of the coronavirus spreading in the U.S., infectious diseases experts are debating if it’s time to mandate medical-grade or double masks in the country.
No studies to date have tested, in controlled settings, if double masking is better at blocking aerosolized droplets carrying virus particles, but experts agree “there’s some logical sense that an additional layer of protection would reduce transmission.”
Here’s what health officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other experts say about masks as more contagious coronavirus variants spread in the U.S.
SHOULD YOU GET YOUR COVID VACCINE IF YOU CURRENTLY HAVE CORONAVIRUS?
If you are waiting to receive your scheduled first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine but are currently infected with the coronavirus, there are a few guidelines health officials want you to know.
First and foremost, people who know they are infected — symptomatic or asymptomatic — should postpone their first or second dose vaccine appointment until symptoms have disappeared and criteria have been met to leave isolation.
Continue reading to learn more about what to do if you test positive for coronavirus during vaccination.
SIDE EFFECTS AFTER SECOND DOSE OF COVID VACCINE MAY BE MORE INTENSE
Like most regularly recommended vaccines, the two authorized for COVID-19 produce their fair share of expected side effects. Most people report fevers, headaches, fatigue, muscle aches and soreness around injection sites.
Health experts say these side effects are just normal signs your body is building the immune response it needs to protect you from severe disease. But these signs tend to grab more of your attention after the second shot — kind of like a roadside billboard that’s been revamped with flashing neon lights.
JOHNSON & JOHNSON ONE-DOSE COVID VACCINE SHOWS PROMISING RESULTS
Pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson announced its coronavirus vaccine had an efficacy rate of 66% in clinical trials, a striking difference from existing vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna.
But the new vaccine candidate would require only one shot, as opposed to the two shots required with the Pfizer and Moderna options.
SCHIZOPHRENIA WAS THE 2ND BIGGEST RISK FACTOR FOR DYING FROM COVID
A study on more than 7,000 coronavirus patients found that people diagnosed with schizophrenia were 2.7 times more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to people without the disorder and those with anxiety or mood conditions.
Schizophrenia ranked second only to age when bracketed with diabetes, heart failure, sex, chronic kidney disease and smoking status, among other known mortality risk factors for COVID-19.
Continue reading to learn more about what the study found.
DON’T POST PHOTOS OF YOUR COVID VACCINE CARD ON SOCIAL MEDIA
The Better Business Bureau cautioned against posting photos of vaccine record cards to social media, citing privacy concerns over giving strangers access to your personal information.
It added that posting images of vaccine cards online makes it easier for scammers to make and sell bogus cards.
Here’s how to ensure your privacy is protected.
BIDEN ADMINISTRATION URGES PEOPLE IN U.S. ILLEGALLY TO GET COVID VACCINE
President Joe Biden’s administration encouraged people living in the country illegally to get the coronavirus vaccine when it’s available to them and that the U.S. will not hold enforcement activities at vaccination sites.
The statement marks the first time DHS has encouraged people who are in the country illegally to get the COVID-19 vaccine. It also comes as some advocates have warned that fear among undocumented immigrants may prevent many from getting the vaccine.
A team of engineers from Australia propose a solution to the growing face mask waste problem: recycle masks into roads.
Not only would the plan prevent nearly 103 tons of mask waste from ending up in landfills, where they’ll rest for hundreds of years, but it would also help add durability to roads. The team says its proposed method of recycling used masks might also apply to other personal protective equipment made of similar plastic materials.
This article was originally published on Coronavirus weekly need-to-know: Double masks, variants, second vaccine doses & more