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YEAR OF COVID

2 years into pandemic, world takes cautious steps forward

BY Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — With COVID-19 case numbers plummeting, Emily Safrin did something she hadn't done since the pandemic began two years ago: She put her fears aside and went to a concert.

The fully vaccinated and boosted restaurant server planned to keep her mask on, but as the reggaeton star Bad Bunny took the stage and the energy in the crowd soared, she ripped it off. Soon after, she was strolling unmasked in a trendy Portland neighborhood with friends.

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'The safety of Ohio’s children is paramount': Ohio health officials issue COVID-19 guidance for schools

BY Lydia Taylor

OHIO — The Ohio Department of Health released its guidance for the upcoming school year Monday, going along with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

ODH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said the state's guidance has been carefully reviewed by many health officials, and reminded Ohioans that the recommendations are not mandates, but should be strongly taken into consideration.

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Cleveland Metropolitan School District will require masks for first few weeks of school

BY Lydia Taylor
UPDATED 8:03 AM ET Jul. 20, 2021

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) will require students, staff and visitors to wear masks for at least the first five weeks of school this fall, CEO Eric Gordon announced Monday.

The school district also plans to implement three-foot distancing where officials deem practical and touchless thermometer checks. Students will still be able to return full time for classes five days a week if they wish.

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Ohio Schools Address Learning Gaps After Year of Disruption for Young Students

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — With all but one of Ohio’s K-12 public schools back to in-person learning as of Thursday, schools are now assessing the educational setbacks from a year of disruption.

After having to quickly switch gears when the pandemic began, going from classrooms to living rooms within a matter of days, students may have grown accustomed to learning in their own spaces.

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Hard Shifts, Complicated Patients: For Ohio Hospitals, Fight Still On

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — While the state phases back to a more normal way of life — and possibly a summer without COVID-19 restrictions — health care professionals on the frontlines said a severe population of critically ill patients remains, and they warn the health crisis is anything but over.

Hospitals have more therapies at their disposal for COVID-19 patients a year into the pandemic. However, according to infectious disease experts, some patients infected with the virus don’t seem to respond to the treatments, and the health care workers remain busy in coronavirus wards.

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"Brighter Days Lie Ahead:" Looking Back on a Year of COVID-19 Nationwide

BY Jessica Yellin

It’s been one year since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic — and at the time Dr. Fauci told lawmakers that "things will get worse."

This week he amended that statement. telling NBC’s Savannah Guthrie, "I did not in my mind think that 'much worse' was going to be 525,000 deaths."

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Year of COVID: Ohio's Ups and Downs

BY Jennifer Conn and Pete Grieve
UPDATED 10:45 AM ET Mar. 11, 2021

When the first COVID-19 warnings came out of China in December 2019, most Ohioans were still taking down Christmas decorations. But the Buckeye state was among the first in the nation to take the coronavirus threat seriously, announcing restrictions even before the first confirmed case.

The state quickly kicked into gear when COVID-19 made its way to the U.S., and state officials earned high praise for their swift response in March. As the summer approached, the pandemic worsened and hospitals began erecting ominous white tents outside emergency rooms to handle overflow.

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Pandemic Presidencies: How Donald Trump and Joe Biden Navigated a Year of COVID-19

BY Austin Landis
UPDATED 9:06 AM ET Mar. 10, 2021

The Biden administration has signaled a stark shift in its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, particularly when it comes to areas like transparency and boosting vaccine supply.

But while the difference in administrations is clear on the surface, a significant part of the operational and behind-the-scenes work from public health officials has remained in place from President Donald Trump’s time in office.

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DeWine Declares March 9 Day of Remembrance for COVID-19 Victims

BY Associated Press
UPDATED 12:51 PM ET Mar. 09, 2021

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed coronavirus cases in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine has declared it a Day of Remembrance for the more than 17,000 Ohioans who have died from COVID-19.

All U.S. and Ohio flags are being flown at half-staff to honor the victims.

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A Year of COVID: A Spectrum News Special

BY Spectrum News Staff
UPDATED 9:30 AM ET Mar. 04, 2021

OHIO — Gov. Mike DeWine’s announcement 12 months ago that the Arnold Sports Festival would not go on as planned sounded the alarm of the tsunami that would turn many lives upside down.

The novel coronavirus became real for Ohio that day, and its stranglehold on our economy, the political, educational and financial systems, as well as our homes has been unrelenting.

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CORONAVIRUS NEWS

In survey, public schools blame pandemic for rise in behavioral problems

BY Ryan Chatelain

Nearly 90% of U.S. public schools say the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt the socio-emotional development of their students, according to federal data released Wednesday.

In a May survey of 846 public schools conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, part of the Education Department, 87% of schools said the pandemic negatively impacted socio-emotional development during the past academic year, and 83% agreed that students’ behavioral development also has been stunted.

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For now, wary U.S. treads water with transformed COVID-19

BY Associated Press

The fast-changing coronavirus has kicked off summer in the U.S. with lots of infections but relatively few deaths compared to its prior incarnations.

COVID-19 is still killing hundreds of Americans each day, but is not nearly as dangerous as it was last fall and winter.

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U.S. buys 105 million COVID vaccine doses for fall campaign

BY Austin Landis and Associated Press
UPDATED 5:19 PM ET Jun. 30, 2022

U.S. health officials said they have agreed to purchase another 105 million doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in anticipation of a fall booster campaign.

The $3.2 billion deal announced Wednesday by the Biden administration comes as federal scientists consider how to update the vaccines to better protect Americans from the rapidly evolving virus. Federal officials said the purchase agreement includes the option to purchase a total of 300 million doses, including a mix of doses for both adults and children.

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Fauci says he's experiencing COVID rebound following antiviral treatment

BY Ryan Chatelain

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert, says he’s experiencing the mysterious phenomenon known as “COVID rebound,” which has been linked to the oral treatment Paxlovid.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recurrence of COVID-19 symptoms or a new positive test after testing negative have been reported two to eight days after a patient initially recovers from the coronavirus following Paxlovid treatment.

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Pfizer says tweaked COVID-19 shots boost omicron protection

BY Associated Press

Pfizer announced Saturday that tweaking its COVID-19 vaccine to better target the omicron variant is safe and works — just days before regulators debate whether to offer Americans updated booster shots this fall.

The vaccines currently used in the U.S. still offer strong protection against severe COVID-19 disease and death -- especially if people have gotten a booster dose. But those vaccines target the original coronavirus strain and their effectiveness against any infection dropped markedly when the super-contagious omicron mutant emerged.

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Gravity Diagnostics closing two COVID testing sites with diminished demand

BY Sam Knef

FLORENCE, Ky. — An organization that has been one of the leaders in COVID-19 testing in northern Kentucky announced the closing of some of its testing sites.

While there is still a demand for getting tested, one Gravity Diagnostics leader said that demand is far less than it has been in the past, and the company is ready to move on, at least for now.

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Ohio doctor discusses CDC vaccine recommendation for children under five

BY Cody Thompson

Over the weekend, the Centers for Disease Control officially recommended the COVID-19 vaccine for children under the age of five. The CDC recommends all children receive this vaccine, even if they have already had COVID-19. The health organization maintains that the vaccine has undergone the "most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history."

Joining us to discuss this recommendation is Dr. Shelly Senders, the founder and CEO of Senders Pediatrics.

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Biden adviser Jake Sullivan tests positive for COVID-19

BY Associated Press

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (AP) — White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan tested positive on Saturday for COVID-19, according to the White House.

Sullivan typically has frequent contact with President Joe Biden but last was in contact with the president early in the week, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Sullivan had been keeping his distance from Biden after “a couple” of people he had been in close contact with had tested positive for the virus, the official said.

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CDC recommends Pfizer, Moderna COVID-19 shots for kids under 5

BY Justin Tasolides and Associated Press
UPDATED 3:58 PM ET Jun. 18, 2022

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended COVID-19 shots for children as young as six months old, clearing the way for the youngest Americans to begin getting vaccinated next week.

Director Rochelle Walensky quickly signed off on the vaccines for children under five just hours after a panel of advisers to the CDC unanimously voted to recommend them.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci tests positive for COVID-19, NIH announces

BY Justin Tasolides
UPDATED 3:57 PM ET Jun. 15, 2022

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden, has tested positive for COVID, the National Institutes of Health announced Wednesday.

Dr. Fauci, who was also one of the lead members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force under former President Donald Trump, tested positive on a rapid antigen test and is experiencing "mild symptoms."

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CDC update shows Summit County's COVID-19 community spread decreased

BY Madison MacArthur

AKRON, Ohio — Summit County dropped a level in the Center's for Disease Control Prevention's latest update for COVID-19 community spread.

Summit County is now reporting a Community Level Low/Green following a decrease in cases, dropping from the yellow level indicating moderate spread.

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Moral injury reveals itself in health care workers, Duke doctors say

BY Patrick Thomas

DURHAM, N.C. — Years into the pandemic, doctors and nurses are reporting symptoms that resemble those experienced by men and women in the military after tours of duty. And thirteen North Carolina counties are reporting a high risk of COVID-19 as the virus shows no signs of giving health care professionals a break.



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Health officials sound alarm on COVID fund diversion: 'Going to set us back'

BY Austin Landis

Top U.S. health officials on Thursday sounded the alarm on how their need to divert COVID-19 funding for things like test manufacturing and vaccine research could put the country in a dire position in the fall, as they continue to urge Congress to pass legislation to pay for future vaccine doses and other critical response measures.

The Biden administration had announced Wednesday that they were forced to reallocate more than $10 billion in coronavirus relief as it tries to come up with money to secure the next generation of vaccines and treatments for some high-risk Americans.

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White House COVID chief: Shots for kids under 5 could begin as early as June 21

BY Spectrum News Staff and Associated Press
UPDATED 12:30 PM ET Jun. 09, 2022

Millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses have been ordered for small children in anticipation of possible federal authorization next week, White House officials say.

The government allowed pharmacies and states to start placing orders last week, with 5 million doses initially available — half of them shots made by Pfizer and the other half the vaccine produced by Moderna, senior administration officials said.

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Moderna says updated COVID shot boosts omicron protection

BY Spectrum News Staff and Associated Press

Moderna's experimental COVID-19 vaccine that combines its original shot with protection against the omicron variant appears to work, the company announced Wednesday.

COVID-19 vaccine makers are studying updated boosters that might be offered in the fall to better protect people against future coronavirus surges.

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Medical staff struggle to cope with COVID as resignations, deaths rise

BY Kristin Mazur

CLEVELAND — While medical staff continue to cope with COVID-19 numbers, health care centers, such as Cleveland Clinic, are focusing on the future of medicine and how the pandemic has forever changed the way patients are being treated.

“The pandemic really has tested us, as health care providers, to our limits,” said Dr. Raed Dweik, chair of Cleveland Clinic's Respiratory Institute. “Nurses are leaving. Respiratory therapists are leaving, even physicians.”

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Gridlock could delay COVID funds until fall — or longer

BY Associated Press

The U.S. is headed for "a lot of unnecessary loss of life," the Biden administration says, if Congress fails to provide billions more dollars to brace for the pandemic's next wave. Yet the quest for that money is in limbo, the latest victim of election-year gridlock that's stalled or killed a host of Democratic priorities.

President Joe Biden's appeal for funds for vaccines, testing and treatments has hit opposition from Republicans, who've fused the fight with the precarious politics of immigration. Congress is in recess, and the next steps are uncertain, despite admonitions from White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha of damaging consequences from "every day we wait."

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Health officials warn of rising levels of COVID-19 in Summit County

BY Jennifer Conn

SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio — COVID-19 cases are on the rise once again in Summit County, health officials said.

A new measurement tool by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the county moving upward, from Community Level low/green to Community to Level medium/yellow, Summit County Public Health said in a release.

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Cuyahoga County government buildings require masking as cases rise

BY Madison MacArthur

CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio — As of Wednesday morning, all government buildings within Cuyahoga County require masks regardless of vaccination status.

County Executive Armond Bush signed the executive order Tuesday after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified the county as having a "high" community level spread of COVID-19 based on case numbers and hospitalizations.

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Ohio professor creates portraits to spotlight the lives lost during the pandemic

BY Tonisha Johnson

WESTERVILLE, Ohio — Nicholas Hill subscribed to newspapers for the longest time and always had a love for them because they expose people to a range of ideas from around the world.

In 2020, he turned that love for the hard copies and the element of the unknown into a project. It’s a project that brings those who were hidden in the background of the pandemic to the forefront.

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Pandemic-weary Americans plan for summer despite COVID surge

BY Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) — A high school prom in Hawaii where masked dancers weren't allowed to touch. A return to virtual city council meetings in one Colorado town after the mayor and others tested positive following an in-person session. A reinstated mask mandate at skilled nursing facilities in Los Angeles County after 22 new outbreaks in a single week.

A COVID-19 surge is underway that is starting to cause disruptions as the school year wraps up and Americans prepare for summer vacations. Many people, though, have returned to their pre-pandemic routines and plans, which often involve travel.

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J&J was the 'one and done' vaccine. Now recipients are split on boosters

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Most Americans have received at least two vaccine doses, and many people are going on three or four, but some Johnson & Johnson recipients who were sold on a “one and done” vaccine are sticking with a single dose.

Columbus resident John Meekins, 53, said it can be a hassle to get vaccines, so he is glad he is still considered fully vaccinated for work purposes with just the one dose he got last year.

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U.S. making COVID antiviral drug more available at test sites

BY Associated Press

The White House on Thursday announced more steps to make the antiviral treatment Paxlovid more accessible across the U.S. as it projects COVID-19 infections will continue to spread over the summer travel season.

The nation's first federally backed test-to-treat site is opening Thursday in Rhode Island, providing patients with immediate access to the drug once they test positive. More federally supported sites are set to open in the coming weeks in Massachusetts and New York City, both hit by a marked rise in infections.

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Fewer Ohio colleges requiring COVID-19 vaccination

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lawyers representing Ohio colleges argued for the dismissal of lawsuits they face challenging required vaccination, arguing the cases are moot because they recently made vaccination optional.

The University of Cincinnati, Ohio University and Bowling Green State University eased their COVID-19 requirements in March and April.

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In Cleveland, COVID-19 lab experts envision future of public health science

BY Pete Grieve
UPDATED 12:23 PM ET May. 23, 2022

CLEVELAND — Public health laboratory experts, gathering in Cleveland for a major conference, discussed how public health could take on an expanded role in the future to address long-term COVID-19 response and preparations for future outbreaks.

Investments in public health infrastructure, like wastewater virus monitoring, will equip agencies to respond better to disease outbreaks that could occur in the years ahead, Ohio Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said during remarks kicking off the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) annual conference.

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Pfizer says 3 COVID shots protect children under 5

BY Associated Press

Three doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine offer strong protection for children younger than 5, the company announced Monday. Pfizer plans to give the data to U.S. regulators later this week in a step toward letting the littlest kids get the shots.

The news comes after months of anxious waiting by parents desperate to vaccinate their babies, toddlers and preschoolers, especially as COVID-19 cases once again are rising. The 18 million tots under 5 are the only group in the U.S. not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

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Doctor: More kids need to vaccinated against COVID-19 to make a difference following CDC's decision

BY Katie Kapusta

CINCINNATI — This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the COVID-19 booster shot for kids ages 5-11. This comes nearly seven months after the Pfizer vaccine was given the green light for kids in that age group.

Ashley Schweickart is a mom to two little ones — a 5-and-a-half-year-old daughter and an almost 3-year-old son, which has proved difficult over the last two years. That's why she got her daughter vaccinated back in November.

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COVID-19 hospitalizations rise in Ohio, 18 counties no longer green

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now reporting medium or high COVID-19 levels in eighteen Ohio counties, an increase from just one county earlier in the week.

Since March, Ohio’s counties have mostly been in the CDC’s low transmission level, but that is starting to change as more contagious subvariants of omicron spread.

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Depression, pandemic photographs paired in Ohio exhibit

BY Associated Press

LANCASTER, Ohio (AP) — An exhibit in Ohio pairing photographs from two moments of societal crisis — the Great Depression and the COVID-19 pandemic — aims to help visitors see parallels between the human tolls felt across generations.

The show, “Chronicles: The Great Depression and the Pandemic,” opens Saturday at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio and runs through Aug. 28.

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CDC recommends Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots for kids 5-11

BY Justin Tasolides
UPDATED 7:37 PM ET May. 19, 2022

The Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that it has authorized booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5-11, clearing the way for younger Americans to bolster their protection against the coronavirus.

On Thursday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on a recommendation from a panel of advisers to the agency backing the boosters, allowing for shots to begin.

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As COVID cases rise, health officials call for some Americans to mask up again, Congress to OK emergency spending

BY Ryan Chatelain
UPDATED 5:01 PM ET May. 18, 2022

As COVID-19 cases surge again in the U.S., Americans in high-transmission areas should take precautions such as wearing masks, federal health officials said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration reiterated its call for Congress to approve $22.5 billion in emergency pandemic spending, saying failing to do so would lead to “a lot of unnecessary loss of life.”

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Study: 76% of COVID long-haulers were not initially hospitalized

BY Ryan Chatelain
UPDATED 4:30 PM ET May. 18, 2022

About three-quarters of patients diagnosed with post-COVID conditions did not require hospitalization when they initially became infected, a new study found.

The analysis by Fair Health, a nonprofit group that focuses on health care costs and insurance issues, is among the first that leans on a new medical diagnostic code — “U09.9” — created last year to allow doctors to document long COVID cases.

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Ohio health officials encourage use of COVID-19 treatments as cases rise

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Health Director Dr. Bruce Vandherhoff reported rising COVID-19 levels during a news conference Wednesday as the Ohio Department of Health launched a new testing and treatment website.

Vanderhoff expressed confidence that Ohio is prepared to manage an uptick in virus levels if residents take advantage of vaccines, testing and treatments.

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Two years later, 2020 graduates get in-person graduation ceremony

BY Sheena Elzie

CINCINNATI — Two years after the pandemic began, students who were set to graduate in 2020, will finally get their ceremony in-person.

Chloe Voelker still has the cap and gown from when she was supposed to walk across the stage and accept her college degree in 2020.

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Ohio lawmakers fast track bill to appropriate $422 million in ARPA funds

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio lawmakers advanced a bill to appropriate $422 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to cities, villages and townships to support their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

While counties and large cities receive their ARPA funds directly from the federal government, the Ohio General Assembly needs to pass legislation in order for “non-entitlement units” of local government, which are typically areas with populations less than 50,000, to receive the federal relief.

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The technology that makes COVID-19 wastewater surveillance happen

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A Missouri-based company that developed a product called the Concentrating Pipette in 2012 began contracting with universities last year as they started to monitor for COVID-19 in the wastewater of dormitories.

Labs can use InnovaPrep's pipette product to concentrate samples for analysis from wastewater that's extremely diluted.

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'A tragic milestone': U.S. hits 1 million COVID-19 deaths

BY Ryan Chatelain
UPDATED 12:31 PM ET May. 12, 2022

While much of the United States has nearly returned to life as normal, Americans received a sobering reminder Thursday about the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken, as the country surpassed 1 million deaths from the virus, President Joe Biden said.

In a statement, Biden called it a "tragic milestone."

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COVID-19 cases rise in Ohio, but all counties remain green

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — COVID-19 cases in the state increased for a fifth consecutive week in an Ohio Department of Health update Thursday that showed the highest rates of spread in and around the Columbus and Cleveland areas.

The weekly report of 11,013 cases is a significant increase from the state’s April 1 report of just 3,103 weekly COVID-19 cases.

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Will Ohio's COVID-19 death records be released?

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — An attorney representing an appellant who wants the Ohio Supreme Court to order the release of COVID-19 victims’ names asserted the state is seeking to withhold data that could expose officials’ pandemic missteps, he said in an interview.

Andrew Mayle represents Ohio resident Rosanna Miller, who he said is a “curious citizen” seeking Ohio COVID-19 death data. In April 2020, she made a records request to the Ohio Department of Health’s Office of Vital Statistics, which was denied, leading her to sue.

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WHO: Nearly 15 million deaths associated with COVID-19

BY Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization is estimating that nearly 15 million people were killed either by the coronavirus or by its impact on overwhelmed health systems in the past two years, more than double the official death toll of 6 million. Most of the fatalities were in Southeast Asia, Europe and the Americas.

In a report released on Thursday, the U.N. agency's chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the figure as "sobering," saying it should prompt countries to invest more in their capacities to quell future health emergencies.

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Racial split on COVID-19 endures as restrictions ease in U.S.

BY Associated Press

Black and Hispanic Americans remain far more cautious in their approach to COVID-19 than white Americans, recent polls show, reflecting diverging preferences on how to deal with the pandemic as federal, state and local restrictions fall by the wayside.

Despite majority favorability among U.S. adults overall for measures like mask mandates, public health experts said divided opinions among racial groups reflect not only the unequal impact of the pandemic on people of color but also apathy among some white Americans.

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Moderna asks FDA to authorize COVID shot for kids under 6

BY Spectrum News Staff and Associated Press
UPDATED 9:50 AM ET Apr. 28, 2022

Moderna on Thursday asked U.S. regulators to authorize low doses of its COVID-19 vaccine for children younger than 6, a long-awaited move toward potentially opening shots for millions of tots by summer.

Frustrated families are waiting impatiently for a chance to protect the nation's littlest kids as all around them people shed masks and other public health precautions -- even though highly contagious coronavirus mutants continue to spread.

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Fauci: U.S. is no longer in pandemic phase

BY Ryan Chatelain

More than two years after a mysterious new virus forced businesses and schools to close and Americans to cocoon in their homes, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert, says the U.S. is no longer in a pandemic phase.

Fauci made the comment in an interview with "PBS NewsHour" on Tuesday, a notable declaration from one of the leading voices of the country’s COVID-19 response.

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Despite millions of funds available to help, thousands in Hamilton County could lose water over delinquent bills

BY Michelle Alfini

FOREST PARK, Ohio — In a large, open auditorium, a handful of city employees and representatives from Greater Cincinnati Water Works set up shop Tuesday hoping to help locals keep their water running.

Less than a week out from GCWW’s deadline, thousands still have delinquent bills and after nearly two years of grace, their water could be shut off May 2.

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Pfizer asks FDA to allow COVID boosters for kids 5-11

BY David Mendez

Pfizer and BioNTech announced they have filed an application to the Food and Drug Administration seeking Emergency Use Authorization for booster doses of its COVID-19 vaccine for children 5-11.

The submitted application to the FDA includes data from its Phase 2/3 clinical trial for kids who got a booster dose about 6 months after their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

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Health authorities decline COVID-19 exposure notification phone alerts

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two days after Divya Samu, 27, flew from Cincinnati back home to New York last week, she took a COVID-19 home rapid test because she was feeling ill and tested positive.

The next morning, she received an alert on her iPhone informing her she had been exposed on April 14 or 15, which gave her more confidence in her positive result.

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CDC: More than half of Americans have ‘infection-induced’ COVID-19 antibodies

BY Rachel Tillman

A new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than half of Americans had antibodies from prior infection of COVID-19 as of February of this year.

The study, which examined clinical blood samples from individuals of all ages across the country, looked specifically at antibodies that developed in response to nucleocapsid proteins from SARS-CoV-2 infection but not due to a COVID-19 vaccine. So-called seroprevalence surveys are used to “estimate the percentage of people in a population who have antibodies against SARS-CoV-2,” per the CDC.

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Former Trump COVID official: Response was a 'tragedy on many levels'

BY Ryan Chatelain

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator under Donald Trump, recounted Monday the day the former president suggested ingesting disinfectant to treat COVID-19.

In an interview with ABC News’ “Good Morning America,” she also discussed a pact she and other top health officials made to all quit the White House Coronavirus Task Force if one of them had been fired.

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Capital University reinstates mask mandate due to rising cases

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Capital University in Bexley, Ohio announced it is reinstating a mask requirement for the rest of the term, officials said Sunday.

The announcement makes the university an outlier among Ohio schools and universities, the vast majority of which have not required masks since the omicron wave subsided.

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COVID shots still work but researchers hunt new improvements

BY Associated Press

COVID-19 vaccinations are at a critical juncture as companies test whether new approaches like combination shots or nasal drops can keep up with a mutating coronavirus — even though it’s not clear if changes are needed.

Already there’s public confusion about who should get a second booster now and who can wait. There’s also debate about whether pretty much everyone might need an extra dose in the fall.

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Ohio's COVID-19 cases rise for third consecutive week, Cuyahoga and Franklin counties report increases

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Ohio, the state’s two largest counties, Franklin and Cuyahoga, rank among the top 10 for case rates, according to state data.

The state reported 6,890 cases in a weekly update Thursday, the third consecutive weekly increase since an April 1 report of 3,103 weekly cases. But to put it in perspective, Ohio was reporting more than 20,000 cases per day during the peak of the omicron surge.

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Ohio hospitals administering Bebtelovimab COVID-19 monoclonal antibody drug

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who is isolating after contracting COVID-19, encourages residents who are diagnosed with the virus to follow the advice of their personal physician for treatment, his spokesperson said Wednesday.

The governor received a monoclonal antibody drug last Friday, when he was diagnosed with COVID-19 by his personal physician, his office said.

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Ohio governor signs bill ensuring visitor access at long-term care facilities

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill that requires long-term care facilities to allow in-person visits from compassionate caregivers during health crises, his office said Thursday.

The legislation came as a sub bill to HB 120 introduced by Rep. Tracy Richardson, R-Marysville, on March 23. The Ohio House and Ohio Senate approved the bill on April 6, sending it to the governor with no opposition votes. Its sponsors call it the “Caregivers Act.”

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Airlines removing mask violators from no-fly lists

BY Ryan Chatelain

Some airlines are giving passengers barred from flying because they refused to comply with mask rules another chance.

Delta Air Lines said in a statement Wednesday that it “will restore flight privileges for customers on the mask non-compliance no-fly list only after each case is reviewed and each customer demonstrates an understanding of their expected behavior when flying with us. Any further disregard for the policies that keep us all safe will result in placement on Delta’s permanent no-fly list.”

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WHO says global COVID cases, deaths declined again last week

BY Spectrum News Staff and Associated Press

The World Health Organization says that the number of reported new COVID-19 cases worldwide decreased by nearly a quarter last week, continuing a decline since the end of March.

The Geneva-based U.N. health agency said in a weekly report that nearly 5.59 million cases were reported between April 11 and 17, 24% fewer than in the previous week. The number of newly reported deaths dropped 21% to 18,215.

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Justice Dept. to appeal mask mandate decision at CDC's request

BY Rachel Tillman
UPDATED 9:04 AM ET Apr. 21, 2022

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday said it has assessed that a mask mandate on public transportation is still in the best interest of public health and has asked the Department of Justice to appeal a recent decision from a federal judge that overturned the federal directive.

“It is CDC’s continuing assessment that at this time an order requiring masking in the indoor transportation corridor remains necessary for the public health,” the agency said in a statement. “CDC will continue to monitor public health conditions to determine whether such an order remains necessary.”

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Study: 87% of young kids hospitalized by COVID during omicron wave were unvaccinated

BY Ryan Chatelain

The COVID-19 hospitalization rate was twice as high among unvaccinated children ages 5 to 11 than vaccinated ones during the omicron wave, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among the nearly 400 hospitalized children whose data were analyzed, 87% were unvaccinated. While the study found that children with diabetes and obesity were more likely to experience severe COVID-19, the researchers noted that 30% of those who were hospitalized had no underlying conditions. About one in five children admitted to hospitals required treatment in intensive care units.

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Ohio clinics see demand increase for fourth COVID shot, CDC stats unavailable

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Some Americans are receiving fourth COVID-19 vaccines, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not have any data available regarding how many people have gotten second booster shots.

The CDC reports there has been a recent increase in vaccinations overall in the U.S., spokesperson Scott Pauley said.

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Justice Dept. will appeal judge's ruling on travel mask mandate if CDC deems it necessary

BY Austin Landis , Rachel Tillman and Associated Press
UPDATED 6:45 PM ET Apr. 19, 2022

A mask mandate covering airplanes and other public transportation is no longer in effect after a federal judge in Florida voided the order on Monday, arguing that it exceeds the authority of U.S. health officials.

The decision Monday by U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention failed to justify its decision and did not follow proper rulemaking.

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Moderna announces step toward updating COVID shots for fall

BY Associated Press

Moderna hopes to offer updated COVID-19 boosters in the fall that combine its original vaccine with protection against the omicron variant. On Tuesday, it reported a preliminary hint that such an approach might work.

Today's COVID-19 vaccines all are based on the original version of the coronavirus. But the virus continues to mutate, with the super-contagious omicron variant — and its siblings — the latest threat.

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For the uninsured, COVID testing may come with a bill

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As the spread of coronavirus increases moderately in the U.S., some uninsured Americans are getting hit with bills for testing costs due to a federal COVID-19 funding gap.

These costs deter uninsured patients from getting tested, according to Eric Morse, president of The Centers, a nonprofit with five health centers in northeast Ohio.

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Cases tick up in Ohio with BA.2 accounting for 84% of infections

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — COVID-19 numbers are rising slightly in Ohio after three months of declines as officials report the BA.2 omicron subvariant is the dominant strain in the state.

Cases in Ohio have increased in consecutive weekly updates from the Ohio Department of Health, which are posted on Thursdays:

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COVID-19 therapeutics become more available at testing sites

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — An increasing number of COVID-19 testing locations are offering oral pill therapeutics to eligible patients who test positive, but some sites said the lack of interest in the medicine disappointed them.

Locations taking part in the federal government’s “Test to Treat” program include pharmacy-based clinics, health centers and long-term care facilities. The Department of Health and Human Services launched a database on March 30 to help Americans locate therapeutics, and it includes more than 2,000 locations that are taking part in Test to Treat.

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CDC extends travel mask mandate for two weeks amid uptick in COVID cases

BY Austin Landis , Justin Tasolides and Associated Press
UPDATED 5:39 PM ET Apr. 13, 2022

The Centers for Disease Control announced Wednesday that it has extended the mask mandate on public transportation for two weeks as the agency monitors an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

The mandate, set to expire on April 18, will now continue until May 3.

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New WH COVID chief: U.S. in a 'much better place' in pandemic, but must prepare for potential surges

BY Reuben Jones and Austin Landis
UPDATED 5:32 PM ET Apr. 13, 2022

The White House’s new top official on the federal COVID-19 response told Spectrum News on Wednesday that he plans to speak “openly and plainly” to Americans about the state of the pandemic in his new role, saying that he believes the U.S. is in a “much better place” with COVID-19 but that the Biden administration still needs resources to prepare for the worst.

Dr. Ashish Jha – whose first official day as the COVID-19 response coordinator was Monday – also explained that the newly-announced decision to extend a mask mandate on public transportation would give health officials time to assess the severity of rising cases of the coronavirus BA.2 subvariant.

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First major city, schools reinstate mask mandates as COVID cases rise in parts of U.S.

BY Rachel Tillman and Associated Press

At least one major city and a number of schools across the country are beginning to reimplement mask-wearing mandates as cases of COVID-19, driven by the newer so-called “stealth omicron” variant, again begin to rise.

Since it was first identified in November, stealth omicron – or the BA.2 variant – has been spreading around the globe, driving new surges in parts of Asia and Europe. It’s now the dominant coronavirus version in the U.S. and more than five dozen other countries.

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COVID-19, overdoses pushed U.S. to highest death total ever

BY Associated Press

2021 was the deadliest year in U.S. history, and new data and research are offering more insights into how it got that bad.

The main reason for the increase in deaths? COVID-19, said Robert Anderson, who oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s work on death statistics.

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Feds stop reimbursing providers vaccinating the uninsured

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The federal government stopped paying pharmacies for administering COVID-19 vaccines to uninsured patients as lawmakers in Washington remain split on a legislative solution to a coronavirus funding gap.

Gerdes Pharmacy, a family-owned business in Conneaut, Ohio, was receiving $40 from the federal government for every vaccine shot it administered to an uninsured patient, pharmacist Scott Gerdes said.

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White House faces questions over COVID protocols amid uptick in cases among lawmakers

BY Rachel Tillman and Associated Press

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday fielded questions over the Biden administration’s adherence to COVID mitigation protocols as a slew of lawmakers – some of whom attended events with or near President Joe Biden in the past week – have tested positive for the virus.

Psaki said President Joe Biden, who is double-boosted and is tested regularly, will continue with his public schedule despite the uptick in cases, saying the progress made over the past year allows for historic events – like Friday’s outdoor ceremony honoring Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation to the Supreme Court – to go on with proper mitigation efforts in place.

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Pay drops for travel nursing, hospitals seeking permanent nurses

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Hospital staffing levels are improving as COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. reach record lows, and the trend is resulting in decreased pay for travel nurses who secured lucrative contracts during earlier surges.

Justine Offutt, 36, an ER nurse in northeast Ohio, said she left her staff emergency nurse position and switched to travel nursing about a year ago to earn higher wages through travel contracts, ranging from $90 to $115 per hour at peaks of the pandemic.

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Support fades for mask mandate on public transit

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As the public’s patience fades with the federal mask mandate on public transit, compliance with the requirement has become mixed.

Despite most mask requirements falling by the wayside in the last couple months, the Transportation Security Administration continues to require masks on buses, taxis, ride-shares, trains and planes.

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GOP blocks Senate COVID bill, demands votes on immigration

BY Spectrum News Staff and Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans blocked a Democratic attempt to begin Senate debate on a $10 billion COVID-19 compromise, pressing to entangle the bipartisan package with an election-year showdown over immigration restrictions that poses a politically uncomfortable fight for Democrats.

A day after Democratic and GOP bargainers reached agreement on providing the money for treatments, vaccines and testing, a Democratic move to push the measure past a procedural hurdle failed 52-47 Tuesday. All 50 Republicans opposed the move, leaving Democrats 13 votes short of the 60 they needed to prevail.

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Lawmakers reach deal on $10B for COVID-19 treatments, research

BY Rachel Tillman

Senators have reached an agreement on a $10 billion COVID-19 aid package, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, wrote in a statement on Monday, the culmination of weeks of negotiations between Republicans and Democrats in Congress – and less than half of what the Biden administration initially asked for.

Members of the two parties had long butted heads over President Joe Biden’s request for additional money to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Biden had originally requested $22.5 billion be included in the $1.5 trillion government spending package passed last month, and Democrats tried to include at least $15.6 billion – but the provision was ultimately dropped entirely after it stalled passage of the larger package.

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Medicare enrollees can now get up to 8 free COVID-19 home tests per month

BY Associated Press and Craig Huber

For the first time, Medicare is now covering the costs for over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests.

The Biden administration on Monday announced that those enrolled in Medicare can obtain up to eight tests per month at participating pharmacies. Some of those pharmacies include Walmart, Walgreens and CVS. A complete list is available here.

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Dollars for Doses pop-up COVID vaccination clinics offer incentives

BY Jenna Jordan

CLEVELAND — As COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease across the country, thousands of Ohioans remain not fully vaccinated against the virus.

Health workers are using a series of pop-up vaccination clinics to close the gap in northeast Ohio by providing a greater incentive than just good health.

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Number of COVID patients in U.S. hospitals reaches record low

BY Associated Press

COVID-19 hospitalization numbers have plunged to their lowest levels since the early days of the pandemic, offering a much needed break to health care workers and patients alike following the omicron surge.

The number of patients hospitalized with the coronavirus has fallen more than 90% in more than two months, and some hospitals are going days without a single COVID-19 patient in the ICU for the first time since early 2020.

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Vitamin sales surged during the pandemic, but do they help fight COVID-19?

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Certain vitamins and supplements have become more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there isn’t evidence to support taking any of these products to prevent or to treat the virus, according to officials and experts.

Whether it’s from Facebook friends or influencers, state representatives or congressional representatives, advertisements or internet articles, vitamins and supplements are regularly touted as having benefits for COVID-19.

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Survey: 37% of high school students report suffering poor mental health during pandemic

BY Ryan Chatelain

More than a third of high school students in the United States reported experiencing poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The health agency conducted the survey of about 7,700 ninth- to 12th-graders from January to June 2021. Thirty-seven percent said they experienced poor mental health during the pandemic and 44% said they persistently felt sad or hopeless over the previous year, up from 37% in 2019.

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Southwest Ohio gets new hospital zone lead for COVID-19 response

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A UC Health official was picked to lead the COVID-19 hospital response in southwest Ohio, as officials in the state consider the transition to the endemic phase of the pandemic.

The health system’s former CEO Dr. Richard Lofgren departed earlier in the month to lead OU Health in Oklahoma, bringing an end to his tenure as one of Ohio’s three COVID-19 hospital zone leads.

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FDA, CDC back another Pfizer, Moderna COVID booster for 50+

BY Spectrum News Staff and Associated Press
UPDATED 3:36 PM ET Mar. 29, 2022

U.S. regulators on Tuesday authorized another COVID-19 booster for people age 50 and older, a step to offer extra protection for the most vulnerable in case the coronavirus rebounds.

The Food and Drug Administration's decision opens a fourth dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to those people at least four months after their previous booster.

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Report: Lack of COVID funding would hit uninsured hardest, but others also could feel effects

BY Ryan Chatelain

Many Americans — but in particular the uninsured — would be impacted if Congress does not approve another round of COVID-19 emergency funding, according to a report released Monday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health policy think tank.

The White House has warned that, unless lawmakers act, the federal government will run out of money to purchase additional tests, treatments and vaccines.

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'Stealth omicron' now dominant COVID-19 strain in U.S.

BY Ryan Chatelain

The omicron subvariant BA.2, also known as “stealth omicron,” is now dominant in the United States.

Fifty-five percent of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are now BA.2, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s up from 39% last week, and up from 7.4% a month ago.

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Moderna seeking FDA approval for COVID vaccine for kids under six

BY Sheena Elzie

CINCINNATI - There could soon be a COVID-19 vaccine for children under six years old if Moderna gets its way. Moderna is trying to get FDA approval for a COVID vaccine for children 6 months to 6 years old.

Nikita Anderson was home with her 7-year-old son because he was sick for days.

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Ohio's vaccination pace stalls after omicron surge

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Vaccine providers in Ohio are seeing a reduced demand for first doses and booster shots in the aftermath of the omicron wave.

The state reported only 7,460 new first doses in the last week, according to a Thursday update from the Ohio Department of Health, which was the first full week of data since the department transitioned to weekly updates.

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Ohio data indicates BA.2 subvariant could be on the rise, officials report

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Preliminary state data shows the BA.2 subvariant of the omicron COVID-19 strain “could well increase” in the coming weeks, Ohio health officials said Thursday, but they are not expecting another major virus surge.

Ohio Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said the state’s genomic sequencing and wastewater data indicate the sub-variant is not the dominant strain at this time.

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White House pushes for more COVID aid from Congress: ‘Time is of the essence’

BY Rachel Tillman

Federal health officials on Wednesday expressed the administration’s view that more COVID-19 relief is needed to address the ongoing pandemic, saying “time is of the essence” as money runs low for therapeutics, vaccine procurement, insurance claims and more.

The Biden administration has asked for $22.5 billion in additional funding for a number of COVID relief programs, money that was initially included in a $1.5 trillion government spending package earlier this month, but was ultimately dropped.

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Ohio bills aim to ensure patient visitation at hospitals, nursing homes during pandemics

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Senate is considering two bills that would require hospitals and nursing homes to allow visitors during pandemics, and the pieces of legislation could get bipartisan support.

Rep. Tracy Richardson (R-Marysville) plans to introduce a sub bill Wednesday that would require long-term care facilities to allow in-person visits from compassionate caregivers during a pandemic, epidemic or state of emergency, she said in an interview.

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Moderna says its low-dose COVID shots work for kids under 6

BY Associated Press

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine works in babies, toddlers and preschoolers the company announced Wednesday -- and if regulators agree it could mean a chance to finally start vaccinating the littlest kids by summer.

Moderna said in the coming weeks it would ask regulators in the U.S. and Europe to authorize two small-dose shots for youngsters under 6. The company also is seeking to have larger-dose shots cleared for older children and teens in the U.S.

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Scientists worry BA.2 variant may push up COVID cases in U.S.

BY Spectrum News Staff and Associated Press

With coronavirus cases rising in parts of Europe and Asia, scientists worry that an extra-contagious version of the omicron variant may soon push cases up in the United States too.

Experts are also keeping their eyes on another mutant: a rare delta-omicron hybrid that they say doesn’t pose much of a threat right now but shows how wily the coronavirus can be.

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Wait continues for families hoping to get children under 5 vaccinated

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — While federal regulators await more vaccine data for kids under 5, some families with young kids are feeling uneasy about society’s return to normal.

“We're still in a little bit of a holding pattern for the kids under five,” said pediatrician Dr. Bonnie Pugh, president of the board at Central Ohio Primary Care.

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WH press secretary tests positive for COVID a 2nd time, will no longer travel with Biden to Europe

BY Rachel Tillman and Spectrum News Staff

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday revealed she had tested positive for COVID-19, saying the results mean she will no longer join President Joe Biden’s upcoming trip to Europe to discuss Russia’s ongoing attack on Ukraine later this week.

“Today, in preparation for travel to Europe, I took a PCR test this morning,” Psaki said in a statement on Tuesday. “That test came back positive, which means I will be adhering to CDC guidance and no longer be traveling on the President’s trip to Europe.”

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Doctors finding hurdles to using pills to treat COVID-19

BY Associated Press

High-risk COVID-19 patients now have new treatments they can take at home to stay out of the hospital — if doctors get the pills to them fast enough.

Health systems around the country are rushing out same-day prescription deliveries. Some clinics have started testing and treating patients in one visit, an initiative that President Joe Biden’s administration recently touted.

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Moderna asks FDA to authorize second COVID-19 booster dose

BY Spectrum News Staff and Associated Press
UPDATED 9:15 AM ET Mar. 18, 2022

Drugmaker Moderna asked the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday to authorize a fourth shot of its COVID-19 vaccine as a booster dose for all adults.

The request is broader than Pfizer and BioNTech's request earlier this week for the regulator to approve a booster shot for adults 65 and older.

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Updates: COVID-19 cases in Ohio schools falling

BY Spectrum News Staff
UPDATED 8:41 PM ET Mar. 17, 2022

The Ohio Department of Health released updated COVID-19 cases involving students and staff. The Department of Health said weekly case counts include full-time or part-time students and staff members who have tested positive or been diagnosed with COVID-19. Staff members include teachers, administrators, support staff and coaches.

On March 10, the Department of Health announced that districts would no longer be required to update cases. Click here to learn why schools are no longer required to report.

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Treasury confirms $100M+ in rental assistance won't leave Ohio

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The U.S. Treasury approved Ohio’s request for $100.6 million in federal rental assistance funds to be reallocated to cities and counties in the state, so the funds will not go to other states as some had feared.

Officials said Cuyahoga Cuyahoga is receiving more than half of the funds, a total of $51.2 million. The other major recipients are the city of Toledo ($19.4 million) and Summit County ($15 million). Lorain County, Hamilton County and the city of Cleveland will each receive $5 million.

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St. Patrick's Day parades turn pandemic blues Irish green

BY Associated Press
UPDATED 1:10 PM ET Mar. 17, 2022

NEW YORK (AP) — St. Patrick's Day celebrations across the country are back after a two-year hiatus, including the nation's largest in New York City, in a sign of growing hope that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic may be over.

The holiday served as a key marker in the outbreak's progression, with parades celebrating Irish heritage among the first big public events to be called off in 2020. An ominous acceleration in infections quickly cascaded into broad shutdowns.

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The quest is on for a 'universal' COVID-19 vaccine, is it possible?

BY Pete Grieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Health authorities and vaccine researchers are increasingly interested in the pursuit of a “universal” COVID-19 vaccine that is resistant to variants.

After the omicron wave demonstrated that the virus’s ability to mutate can jeopardize the efficacy of existing vaccines, U.S. health officials have acknowledged that creating more durable vaccines will be key to a successful long-term vaccine strategy.

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LOCAL RESOURCES
Symptoms

The 2019 novel coronavirus may cause mild to severe respiratory symptoms like:

  • cough
  • fever
  • trouble breathing and
  • pneumonia

The CDC believes symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus.

(Source: NYS DOH)