The State of the Union is over — so what’s the plan? Plus, the world’s COVID numbers are looking better… in some places

Here’s a recap of some COVID-19 news from today.

Biden’s made his address; so what now?

It’s time for America to stop letting the coronavirus “dictate how we live,” President Joe Biden’s White House declared Wednesday, outlining a strategy to allow people to return to many normal activities safely after two years of pandemic disruptions.

One highlight is a new “test to treat” plan to provide free antiviral pills at pharmacies to people who test positive for the virus.

The 90-page National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan spells out initiatives and investments to continue to drive down serious illness and deaths from the virus, while preparing for potential new variants and providing employers and schools the resources to remain open.

More on the plan here:

Globally, COVID cases are still seeing a decline

The number of new coronavirus cases reported globally dropped by 16% last week, marking a month-long decline in COVID-19 infections, according to figures from the World Health Organization.

In its weekly report on the pandemic issued late Tuesday, the U.N. health agency also said that deaths fell by 10%, continuing a drop in fatalities first seen last week. WHO said there were more than 10 million new cases and about 60,000 deaths globally. The Western Pacific was the only region where COVID-19 increased, with about a third more infections than the previous week. Deaths rose by 22% in the Western Pacific and about 4% in the Middle East, while declining everywhere else.

Read more:

Hong Kong’s record cases

Hong Kong’s leader on Wednesday said people’s movements may be restricted during mandatory testing this month of the entire population for the coronavirus, as health officials reported a record 55,353 daily infections and over a hundred deaths.

Chief executive Carrie Lam said authorities are still refining the plan, but that there would be no “complete” lockdown that would prevent entry and exit from the city.

“The extent of it must take into account Hong Kong’s circumstances and people’s needs,” she told reporters.

More here:

Should you keep wearing a mask?

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a new measure for determining Covid-19 community levels. According to these new metrics that now take into account hospitalizations and hospital capacity in addition to infection numbers, nearly 70% of the United States population resides in areas where masks are no longer required.

Why did the CDC make this change? How can people make sense of the Covid-19 community level in their area? Should individuals still mask if they no longer are required to? What about kids in schools? And how should parents evaluate activities like sleepovers and playdates?

Read more here:


More COVID-19 news for March 2: