Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador posted a video Thursday saying he had tested negative on an antigen test, after testing positive for the CCP virus, commonly referred to as the novel coronavirus, about 12 days ago.
“I am well now,” López Obrador said, walking down a flight of stairs in the National Palace to prove his point. He did not say when he would end his isolation and return to public appearances.
The country posted a near-record daily CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus death toll of 1,682 Thursday, bringing the total to 162,922. Authorities also announced that about five cases of the UK variant had been found in Mexico, some apparently through local transmission.
US May Send Masks to Every American
Biden administration officials are weighing sending masks to every American as they hope to nudge individuals to do their part in lowering CCP virus transmission rates.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain said in an interview with NBC News that administration officials are looking at using mask supplies that the government already has in its stockpile.
Wisconsin Governor Issues New Mask Mandate
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers issued a new statewide mask order on Thursday, an hour after the Republican-controlled Legislature voted to repeal his previous mandate.
The Democrat Evers said in a video message Thursday that his priority is keeping people safe and that wearing a mask was the most basic way to do that.
Republicans who voted to repeal the order said Evers was exceeding his authority by issuing new public health emergencies rather than having the Legislature approve extensions. The repeal hadn’t even taken effect before Evers issued a new one.
US Rushes to Catch up in the Race to Detect Mutant Viruses
Despite its world-class medical system and its vaunted Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States fell behind in the race to detect dangerous coronavirus mutations. And it’s only now beginning to catch up.
Viruses mutate constantly. To stay ahead of the threat, scientists analyze samples, watching closely for mutations that might make the coronavirus more infectious or more deadly.
No In-person School in Chicago as Labor Dispute Drags On
Chicago schools have postponed in-person classes for another day for thousands of students after the third-largest district in the United States failed to reach an agreement with the teachers union on a COVID-19 reopening plan.
Late on Wednesday evening, Chicago Public Schools told the families of some 67,000 pre-kindergarten, special education, elementary, and middle school students, scheduled to return to their school buildings on Thursday, to continue virtual classes at home. Chicago schools were to be closed on Friday for a non-attendance day for students.
Sabres Coach Ralph Krueger Tests Positive
Buffalo Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger has tested positive for the CCP virus, the team said Thursday.
The Sabres said Krueger, 61, will immediately enter the league’s COVID-19 protocol. Krueger is in his second season coaching the Sabres. Buffalo is 4–4–2 this season and 34–35–10 under his watch. He previously coached the Edmonton Oilers, compiling a 19–22–7 record in 2012–13.
No Need for New National Lockdown for Now: France
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday that the CCP virus situation in France remained fragile but that for the moment there was no need for a new national lockdown.
Castex said the rate of infection had not significantly increased over the past two weeks, even if the pressure on French hospitals remained strong.
Court Orders Cuomo Administration to Release Data on New York’s Nursing Home Deaths
The New York Supreme Court has ruled that state officials must turn over complete data on nursing home deaths from COVID-19, following a months-long campaign pushing for their release.
Justice Kimberly O’Connor wrote in a Feb. 3 decision (pdf) that the New York Department of Health (DOH) must release the data within five business days of the ruling. She also ruled that the state must cover litigation costs borne by the Empire Center, a think tank that filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the DOH and that has been at the forefront of legal efforts for disclosure of the data.
Can I Take Painkillers Before or After Vaccine?
It’s best to avoid them, unless you routinely take them for a medical condition. Although the evidence is limited, some painkillers might interfere with the very thing the vaccine is trying to do: generate a strong immune system response.
Vaccines work by tricking the body into thinking it has a virus and mounting a defense against it. That may cause arm soreness, fever, headache, muscle aches or other temporary symptoms of inflammation that can be part of that reaction. Certain painkillers that target inflammation, including ibuprofen, might curb the immune response.
World Faces Around 4,000 Mutations
The world faces around 4,000 mutations of the CCP virus that causes COVID-19, prompting a race to improve vaccines, Britain said on Thursday, as researchers began to explore mixing doses of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca shots.
Thousands of mutations have been documented, including the so-called British, South African, and Brazilian variants. Although thousands of mutations have arisen, only a very small minority are likely to be important and to change the virus in an appreciable way, according to the British Medical Journal.
House Passes Budget Resolution to Set Up Partisan Vote on Package
The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a budget resolution that lets Congress pass President Joe Biden’s CCP virus relief package without Republican backing.
The 218–212 vote was entirely along party lines, except for two Democrats, Reps. Ed Case (D-Hawaii) and Jared Golden (D-Maine), who sided with Republicans against the resolution. Rep. Ron Wright (R-Texas) missed the vote.
Office Vacancy Rate at Over 20-Year High Across Australia
The vacancy rate for Australian office spaces has reached a 24-year high with a reduced demand amid the CCP virus pandemic, while at the same time significant amounts of new supply have been added to the market.
The Property Council of Australia Office Market Report for the six months leading to January 2021 found the vacancy rate for Australia’s office market increased from 9.6 percent to 11.7 percent—its highest level since January 1997.
Australia Puts 500 Tennis Players, Staff Into Isolation
More than 500 tennis players and officials were ordered into isolation in the Australian city of Melbourne on Thursday as authorities reintroduced CCP virus restrictions after a worker at a quarantine hotel tested positive for the virus.
The city reimposed an order for masks indoors and a limit on gatherings of 15 people after the state’s run of 28 days with no new local cases came to an end. The Australian Open was likely to go ahead though “there were no guarantees,” Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said.
Businesses Face Hard Decisions on Whether, When to Hire
Small businesses accounted for 47 percent of employment at U.S. companies, according to the most recent business census, in 2017. When payroll company ADP reported the pandemic forced the loss of 19 million jobs at its business customers in April, more than 10 million of those workers, or 52 percent, were let go by companies with fewer than 500 workers. Since then, small businesses have added about 6.2 million jobs, the most recent ADP data show.
A new $284 billion round of PPP funding could give small business hiring a boost, although owners will have more leeway to spend the money on rent, marketing, and other expenses than they did in earlier rounds.
Tom Ozimek, Rebecca Zhu, Zachary Stieber, Reuters, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.