COVID news: COVID infection risks, Paxlovid, cases, variants


In this stock photo, registered medical assistant Elaine Lomax handles a nasal swab specimen after it was collected at a drive-through COVID-19 testing site Thursday, April 16, 2020, in St. Louis.


In the United States, more than 84 million people have tested positive for coronavirus as of Saturday, June 4, according to Johns Hopkins University.

To date, more than 1 million people in the U.S. have died. Worldwide, there have been more than 531 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, including about 3 million cases since one week ago.

Additionally, over 6.2 million have died from the virus globally. Roughly 221 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated as of June 3 — 66.7% of the population — and 103 million of those people have gotten their first booster shot, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Roughly 92% of the U.S. lives in a location with low or medium COVID-19 Community Level, the agency says as of June 3. About 7.4% of Americans reside in an area with a high COVID-19 Community Level. For them, it’s recommended to wear a mask while indoors in public.

The CDC reports the weekly average of COVID-19 cases has risen nationwide as of May 18. Cases are 18.8% higher compared to the prior week’s average, according to the CDC.

Omicron and its subvariants dominated all positive U.S. cases for the week ending May 28.

Here’s what happened between May 29 and June 3.

Did you test positive for COVID at home? Here’s what to do next

Have you tested positive for COVID-19 using an at-home test?

If so, your infection has come as the omicron variant and its subvariants continue to circulate throughout the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This has contributed to a rise in cases in some parts of the U.S.

Here’s what you should do after testing positive, according to health experts:

COVID infection risk lower for those with food allergies, study ‘unexpectedly’ finds

A new study “unexpectedly” found the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 is lower for those with food allergies.

The research sought to determine whether asthma and allergic diseases — including food allergies, allergic rhinitis and eczema — were linked to COVID-19 infection, according to the Human Epidemiology and Response to SARS-CoV-2 (HEROS) study. These conditions were self-reported by participants and diagnosed by doctors.

In fact, people with food allergies are 50% less likely to develop COVID-19, according to the research, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health and published May 31 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Meanwhile, the risk of COVID-19 infection does not increase for those with asthma, respiratory allergies or eczema, according to the study. In comparison, it was discovered that infection risk rises for those who have a higher body mass index (BMI) and those considered obese.

Keep reading here:

How does Paxlovid work? Here’s what to know about the COVID antiviral medication

California Gov. Gavin Newsom was prescribed Paxlovid after he tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, his office announced.

“The Governor has also received a prescription for Paxlovid, the antiviral that has been proven effective against COVID-19, and will begin his 5-day regimen immediately,” the May 28 statement said.

The Food and Drug Administration first issued an emergency use authorization for Paxlovid in December.

“This authorization provides a new tool to combat COVID-19 at a crucial time in the pandemic as new variants emerge and promises to make antiviral treatment more accessible to patients who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19,” Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said at the time of the drug’s authorization.

For more on Paxlovid, continue reading here:

Doctor sold COVID treatment kits as ‘miracle cure,’ feds say. Now he’s going to prison

A California doctor is accused of trying to smuggle hydroxychloroquine into the U.S. from China to sell in a “COVID-19 treatment kit” that he promised as a cure to the virus, federal officials said.

Jennings Ryan Staley was sentenced to 30 days in prison and one year of home confinement on May 27 for one count of importation contrary to law, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California said in a news release.

An attorney for Staley did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment.

Staley owned Skinny Beach Med Spa in San Diego and sent advertisements to his customers that his COVID-19 treatment kits were “miracle cures” for the virus, according to the complaint.

The story continues below:

Why new COVID variants are driving a surprise surge

In its evolutionary fight for survival, the COVID virus is switching strategies: It’s becoming a master at slipping past our immune systems. And that, say experts, is largely why we’re dealing with an unexpected surge.

Powered by two mutations, new lineages of the omicron variant — called BA.2 and its more recent descendants BA.2.12.1, BA.4 and BA.5 — are increasing rates of vaccine breakthrough and reinfection, according to an analysis published Saturday by Trevor Bedford, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, who studies the evolution of viruses.

These latest strains are succeeding “not because they’re more contagious, as much as they are more immune evasive,” Dr. Paul Offit, an FDA adviser and director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said at a recent presentation at UC San Francisco. “This is something that surprises virologists.”

Keep reading here:

Those who had COVID from omicron in the winter could get it again, Duke doctors say

People who contracted COVID-19 due to the omicron variant during the winter surge aren’t necessarily protected against a widely spreading omicron subvariant, two Duke doctors said at a press conference Wednesday morning.

Dr. Cameron Wolfe, infectious disease specialist at Duke Health, said his sequencing lab has found cases in which people who were infected with omicron in December or January have been recently reinfected with BA.2, the dominant strain in North Carolina.

Earlier in the pandemic, reinfection typically happened when someone was exposed to a completely different variant. Though it’s not clear why, the immunity developed from an omicron infection is less robust, Wolfe said.

For more, keep reading:

Which European countries are open for restriction-free travel?

Spain became the latest European country to drop its vaccine requirement to enter the country, allowing unvaccinated travelers to enjoy visiting, too — though all travelers will be required to test negative prior to arrival.

This prompts the question in many minds: Which countries in Europe don’t have any pandemic-related entry requirements right now?

The list may surprise you: Some countries in this list are beloved European destinations, while others are more underrated destinations. Either way, they’re the easiest countries in Europe to enter right now, since they don’t require any testing, proof of vaccination or other pandemic-related entry requirements.

For the list, continue reading here:

Prince Andrew Has COVID, Will Miss Queen’s Thanksgiving Service Amid Jubilee

Prince Andrew has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Queen Elizabeth II’s Jubilee Service of Thanksgiving.

“After undertaking a routine test the duke has tested positive for Covid and with regret will no longer be attending tomorrow’s service,” a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said on Thursday, June 2. The Service of Thanksgiving honoring the queen’s reign will take place at St. Paul’s Cathedral on Friday, June 3.

Andrew is not the first royal to come down with COVID — the queen herself tested positive for the virus in February. A source exclusively told Us Weekly at the time that the 96-year-old monarch handled the illness “without any fuss.”

Keep reading here:

Morocco loosens COVID-19 travel restrictions

Morocco, which reopened to tourists in February, has eased COVID-related entry protocols ahead of summer, no longer requiring travelers with proof of full vaccination to produce a negative test result.

“The Moroccan government has decided to cancel the PCR test condition for entry into Moroccan territory. This decision will come into force upon publication of this press release,” officials confirmed on May 17.

More information can be found here:

This story also contains reporting from McClatchy reporters Daniella Segura and Helena Wegner; The News & Observer reporter Teddy Rosenbluth; MediaNews Group, Inc.; Travelpulse; Us Weekly; and Northstar Travel Media, LLC.

This story was originally published June 3, 2022 7:12 AM.

Julia Marnin is a McClatchy National Real-Time reporter covering the southeast and northeast while based in New York. She’s an alumna of The College of New Jersey and joined McClatchy in 2021. Previously, she’s written for Newsweek, Modern Luxury, Gannett and more.

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