December 1, 2021: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Omicron COVID-19 variant has now been identified in at least 24 countries, including the United States with the first reported case being identified in California. (NPR, New York Times)
November 29, 2021: The World Health Organization is warning that the new omicron variant of the coronavirus poses a "very high" global risk because of the possibility that it spreads more easily and might resist vaccines and immunity in people who were infected with previous strains. (NPR)
November 28, 2021: S.African doctor says patients with Omicron variant have "very mild" symptoms (Reuters)
November 19, 2021: FDA has authorized COVID booster shots for all fully vaccinated Americans who are age 18 and older for both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. CDC will make the final determination on Friday.
November 5, 2021: Pfizer antiviral pill reduced risk of covid hospitalization and death by 89 percent in high-risk people, company study shows. The protective effect was so convincing that an independent panel monitoring a trial of the drug advised it be stopped early. (Washington Post)
November 3, 2021: CDC has officially recommended the pediatric dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, opening the door for 28 million US kids to be vaccinated. This decision follows "robust" antibody response and "favorable" safety outcomes in kids who received the two-dose regimen in clinical trials. (CDC, NPR)
October 29, 2021: FDA has emergency use authorized (EUA) the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children 5 to 11 for. Experts said the shot could bring relief to parents anxious about their children getting sick, though some worry that those most at risk may slip through the cracks. (NY Times)
October 26, 2021: FDA advisory panel has unanimously recommended Pfizer’s low-dose COVID vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11. The endorsement was a critical step in getting more kids in the U.S. protected against the virus. The agency doesn’t always follow the advice of its independent committee, but it often does. (CNBC)
October 21, 2021: For individuals who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months ago, the following groups are eligible for a COVID booster shot: (1) 65 years and older, (2) Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings, (3) Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions, and (4) Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings. For people who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18+ and who were vaccinated two or more months ago. (CDC)
October 11, 2021: Demand for rapid at-home COVID tests has been high, and shoppers find either empty shelves in drugstores or get “out of stock” messages online as companies rushing to meet demand (WHYY / NPR)
October 7, 2021: Starting Oct. 30, the Canadian government will require all air travelers and passengers on interprovincial trains to be vaccinated against COVID-19. (USA Today)
October 7, 2021: Pfizer asked the U.S. government Thursday to allow use of its COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11, formally filing its application with the FDA. If regulators agree, shots could begin within a matter of weeks. (AP)
October 6, 2021: The Biden administration on Wednesday announced a new $1 billion investment in home coronavirus tests that will quadruple the nation's supply of these rapid tests by early December, officials said. (USA Today)
October 1, 2021: About a third of parents say they want to vaccinate their 5-to-11-year-old children “right away” once a coronavirus vaccine is available for that age group, according to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Washington Post)
September 28, 2021: Pfizer submits data to FDA, seeking emergency use authorization (EUA) for its COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 These younger kids could be vaccinated by Halloween, Pfizer CEO says. (NBC News)
September 27, 2021: The COVID pandemic has become the deadliest outbreak in American history. According to data from Johns Hopkins University 681,253 individuals in the U.S. have died from COVID-19, with an estimated 675,000 people during the 1918 flu pandemic. (Smithsonian)
September 24, 2021: The CDC has announced recommendations for booster shots and who should receive them:
(1) People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series,(2) People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series,(3) People aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks, and(4) People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.
September 23, 2021: The FDA has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for a booster dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in people 65 and older, people at high risk of severe disease, and people whose jobs put them at risk of infection. (CNN)
September 20, 2021: Pfizer reports a low dose of their COVID vaccine is safe and effective in children ages 5 to 11 and are seeking emergency use authorization as they continue to accumulate data to support an application for full approval in children. (Washington Post)
September 14, 2021: Top U.S. health officials believe that Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine could be authorized for children aged 5-11 years old by the end of October (Reuters)
September 9, 2021: President Biden and the U.S. Department of Labor will issue a rule requiring businesses with more than 100 employees to have their workers vaccinated or tested weekly, officials said on Thursday.
September 9, 2021: Authorities are expecting an active flu season this year, threatening hospitals already struggling to keep up with COVID-19 strains. There is hope that COVID and flu vaccines will keep case counts low this winter. (Wall Street Journal)
September 8, 2021: COVID-19 testing infrastructure nationally struggles to keep up with Delta variant demand. President Biden will address the situation laying out the next phase of the federal pandemic response.
September 7, 2021: World Health Organization (WHO): COVID-19 is likely “here to stay” as the virus continues to mutate similarly to the influenza (flu) pandemic viruses. (CNBC)
August 23, 2021: U.S. FDA has officially granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
August 19, 2021: As the Delta variant spreads through the US, demand for COVID testing has risen to levels previously seen in November of 2020. Urgent care centers are again on the front lines of care and experiencing record high patient volumes.
August 17, 2021: The flu vaccine may lower the risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Researchers studied nearly 75,000 COVID-19 patients, half of whom had received the most recently available flu shot.
August 15, 2021: CDC reports that COVID-19 has caused more pediatric deaths than the flu since the pandemic began.
August 13, 2021: Pediatric hospitals are seeing a spike in RSV cases as COVID-19 Delta variant continues, flu season approaches.
August 4, 2021: The Delta variant now accounts for about 93% of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
August 3, 2021: The seven-day average of daily COVID cases in the U.S. surpassed the peak seen last summer when the nation didn’t have an authorized vaccine, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. Friday July 30 saw 72,790 new COVID cases nationwide.
July 9, 2021: Current guidance from the CDC says fully vaccinated people can refrain from routine COVID testing, however, some experts are questioning whether that approach should change given the spread of the new Delta variant.
July 7, 2021: Children have found a manipulative method generate false-positive COVID tests using soft drinks, all in an effort to get out of school.
May 14, 2021: Target, Home Depot, CVS and Harris Teeter are among the chains that will continue to require masks in store, though they are reviewing new CDC guidance and reevaluating store policies.
May 14, 2021: Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, says fully vaccinated employees and customers will not need to wear a mask inside stores beginning on Tuesday, based on the latest guidance from the CDC.
May 13, 2021: CDC: If you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, incl. local business and workplace guidance.
April 27, 2021: The CDC on Tuesday eased guidelines on mask-wearing for Americans, noting many outdoor activities are now safe without a mask following significant progress with the COVID-19 vaccine and reductions in new daily cases nationwide.
April 26, 2021: As of Sunday, April 25, Virginia has had 654,210 total cases of COVID-19, including confirmed lab tests and clinical diagnoses, according to the Virginia Department of Health. That total reflects a 884 case increase since Saturday. The Virginia Department of Health reports a 6.1% 7-day positivity rate for total testing encounters, and a 5.5% 7-day positivity rate for PCR tests. 16 additional deaths were reported on Sunday, leaving the death toll at 10,691.
April 23, 2021: The State of Texas officially closed the free COVID-19 testing site in Sulphur Springs, according to Hopkins County/Sulphur Springs Emergency Management.
April 22, 2021: More than 86 million U.S. adults are now fully vaccinated with more than 200 million shots administered, but experts fear that enthusiasm for getting the vaccine could be falling and many Americans may be too eager to take off their masks.
April 6, 2021: Epidemiologists and other public health experts are debating whether to use rapid COVID-19 tests as admission tickets to schools, businesses and entertainment and sports venues. Even with the quickening pace of vaccinations, it will be months before all Americans who want COVID-19 vaccines receive them. As a result, testing could become ubiquitous as a requirement for students, office workers, spectators and visitors seeking to gather indoors.
April 5, 2021: The Houston Health Department is urging Houstonians who have not been vaccinated to get a COVID-19 test and will offer drive-thru testing at two surge sites affiliated with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Southwest Multi-Service Center, 6400 High Star Drive, and Houston Community College – North Forest, 6010 Little York Rd., will offer nasal self-swab tests. The sites will open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
April 1, 2021: FDA approves two new over-the-counter COVID tests: Abbott's BinaxNOW and Quidel Quickvue tests will soon be available at drug stores in two-packs for between $15 and $20.
March 31, 2021: Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC: "Vaccinated people do not carry the virus — they don’t get sick.” Walensky was referring to a new CDC study that suggests those fully inoculated with the vaccines produced by Moderna and Pfizer don’t transmit the virus.
March 30, 2021: The state is launching a rapid COVID-19 testing program for Texas summer youth camps licensed by the Department of State Health Services, Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Division of Emergency Management announced Tuesday. The TDEM will provide participating summer camps with rapid antigen tests that will be administered to staff members and campers on a voluntary basis.