COVID-19 updates: Omicron and its sublineages accounting for 100% of new cases


(NEW YORK) — As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.8 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 923,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

About 64.4% 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:
-Kids’ hospitalization rate 4x higher during omicron surge than delta surge: Study
-US hospitalizations, cases keep dropping
-Omicron and its sublineages accounting for 100% of new cases

Here’s how the news developed Tuesday. All times Eastern.

Feb 15, 7:02 pm
Canada to ease some COVID-19 border entry requirements

Canada will loosen some of its border entry requirements, the country’s Public Health Agency announced Tuesday.

Effective Feb. 28 at 12:01 a.m. ET, fully vaccinated travelers will have the option of using a rapid COVID-19 test to meet pre-entry requirements. The test must be administered by a lab or health care entity the day prior to their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border.

Currently, travelers entering Canada must show proof of a negative molecular test, such as a PCR test, taken within 72 hours of their scheduled flight or planned arrival.

Additionally, fully vaccinated travelers randomly selected to do a molecular test on arrival will no longer be required to quarantine while waiting for their results.

Unvaccinated travelers will continue to be required to test on arrival, and unvaccinated foreign nationals will not be permitted to enter Canada unless they meet an exemption.

The adjustments come as the omicron wave has “passed its peak in Canada,” the Public Health Agency said. “As provinces and territories adjust their public health measures, and as we transition away from the crisis phase, it is now time to move towards a more sustainable approach to long-term management of COVID-19.”

ABC News’ Christine Theodorou

Feb 15, 4:14 pm
Coachella, Stagecoach drop vaccination, mask, testing requirements

There will be no vaccination, testing or mask requirements for this year’s Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals in Southern California.

Coachella will be over two weekends — April 15 to 17 and April 22 to 24 — while Stagecoach is set for the weekend of April 29 to May 1.

Event organizers said the festivals will “be presented in accordance with applicable public health conditions as of the date of the event and which may change at any time as determined by federal, state or local government agencies or instrumentalities, artists or the promoter; such requirements may include, without limitation, changes to capacity, attendance procedures and entry requirements, such as proof of vaccination and/or negative COVID-19 test, and other protective measures such as requiring attendees to wear face coverings.”

Feb 15, 3:03 pm
Kids’ hospitalization rate 4x higher during omicron surge than delta surge: Study

The rate of hospitalizations for children and teenagers was four times higher during the omicron surge than the delta surge, according to a CDC report released Tuesday.

Children under 5 — who are ineligible for vaccination — showed the largest hospitalization rate increase, the report found. Hospitalization rates among kids under 5 were about five times higher during the peak week of omicron than during delta’s peak.

ABC News’ Dr. Alexis E. Carrington and Dr. Meaghan C. Costello

Feb 15, 2:08 pm
Getting vaccinated while pregnant may help prevent hospitalization in babies under 6 months: Study

Getting the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series during pregnancy may help prevent COVID-19 hospitalizations for babies under 6 months old, according to a CDC report.

Prior studies have shown that mothers could possibly pass on antibodies during pregnancy, but this is the first study showing an association between getting vaccinated and protecting the baby.

The study looked at babies under 6 months who were admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 and compared them to babies under 6 months who were admitted to the hospital for another reason.

The study found babies with mothers who were vaccinated were 61% less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19. Of the babies hospitalized with COVID, 84% of their mothers weren’t vaccinated, the study found.

However, this study was conducted when delta was the predominant variant, so more babies need to be studied to see if data changed with omicron. This study also did not look at how effective boosters are in pregnancy.

ABC News’ Dr. Alexis E. Carrington and Dr. Meaghan C. Costello


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