Tests can be ordered from COVIDTests.gov; you can order four per household.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are recommending one dose of the updated vaccine for everyone six months and older in the US; some children may be eligible for up to three doses depending on their age and previous vaccination status.
Hospitalisations and deaths rose steadily during the last weeks of summer, and global health authorities are monitoring two new variants, BA.2.86, known as Pirola, and EG.5, known as Eris.
First reported in February, Eris is now responsible for nearly 25 per cent of Covid cases in the US, per CDC data.
Some experts are urging Americans to wear a mask when necessary to slow the spread of the virus.
CDC Covid tracker
19,674 hospitalisations from 10 September to 16 September
How to get free Covid tests from the government
You should see a doctor for Covid if you develop these symptoms
Everything we know about the latest round of Covid boosters, including how to book an appointment
Covid exposure guidelines 2023: What to know
Ontario Ministry of Health slammed for not strongly encouraging masks
Wednesday 27 September 2023 15:00 , Maggie O’Neill
A social media account of the Ontario Ministry of Health is being criticised for its messaging around Covid-19.
The department’s account on X, formerly Twitter, released a statement on ways to slow the spread of Covid-19, but notably did not list masking as a prevention tool.
Managers of the account then, reportedly, tried to censor replies to the tweet so conversation around masking would die down.
After roughly 100 hours of hiding constituents' tweets asking why they weren't sharing information about masking, and then asking why they were hiding replies, the Ontario Ministry of Health has now restored most of their hidden tweets. What a strange way to spend our $$. #onpoli https://t.co/RHYRCch8p2
— Kate (@DrKateTO) September 26, 2023
Some vaccine appointments are being cancelled, causing scheduling issues
Wednesday 27 September 2023 10:00 , Maggie O’Neill
Some on social media are claiming their appointments for the updated Covid-19 vaccine are being cancelled.
— Jen Kates (@jenkatesdc) September 26, 2023
These cancellations can cause problems for people who need their shot at a specific time—for instance, if they are trying to get vaccinated ahead of a big event, such as a wedding, or if they are trying to get vaccinated a certain number of weeks ahead of their flu shot.
People with long Covid have immune and hormonal differences when compared to people without the condition
Wednesday 27 September 2023 05:00 , Maggie O’Neill
Scientists have uncovered two ways that people with long Covid are different from people without the condition, which may help experts determine how best to treat it.
The research, published 25 September in Nature, found that people with long Covid have “clear differences in immune and hormone function from patients without the condition”, a press release on the new report says.
“These findings are important,” study author Dr David Putrino said in the statement, “They can inform more sensitive testing for long Covid patients and personalised treatments for long Covid that have, until now, not had a proven scientific rationale.”
CDC releases new data on Covid hospitalisations
Wednesday 27 September 2023 00:00 , Maggie O’Neill
From 10 September to 16 September, hospitalisations from Covid went down for the first time in weeks, per new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Hospitalisations dropped 4.3 per cent compared to the previous week, the data show. Still yet, deaths increased 2. 7 percent during that same time frame.
Health authorities are urging Americans to stay up to date on all vaccines since the colder months could bring an uptick in Covid cases.
Nearly 18 million adults suffered from long Covid in 2022 alone
Tuesday 26 September 2023 21:00 , Maggie O’Neill
Last year, 6.9 per cent of adults in the US experienced long Covid in 2022, according to new data from the US Census.
About one million children have also suffered from the condition, per reporting from ABC News.
Long Covid symptoms can take a significant toll on a person’s day-to-day functioning. They include fatigue, fever, chest pain, heart palpitations, sleep problems, headache, lightheadedness, muscle or joint pain, diarrhoea, and changes in menstrual cycles, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Covid drug linked to virus mutations, new study shows
Tuesday 26 September 2023 18:30 , Maggie O’Neill
A study published in Nature has found that an antiviral medication called Molnupiravir, which has been “widely used against SARS-CoV-2”, may be inducing virus mutations.
If patients who take the drug “do not clear” the virus, this could lead to increased transmission, the study found.
The study authors said public health authorities should continue to investigate the safety of the drug.
How long you should wear a mask after being exposed to Covid, per the CDC
Tuesday 26 September 2023 15:00 , Maggie O’Neill
If you’re exposed to Covid and you subsequently test negative, you should still take certain precautions to protect those around you, in case your test provided a false result.
Namely, you should wear a mask for 10 full days following the exposure, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You shouldn’t go out in public without a face covering, the agency says.
You should also monitor yourself for fever, shortness of breath, cough, and other Covid symptoms.
Free Covid tests from the government may be expired, but you shouldn’t throw them out
Tuesday 26 September 2023 10:00 , Maggie O’Neill
Americans can now order four free at-home tests from the US government at COVIDTests.gov.
But some of the tests may be past their original expiration dates when they arrive, the website warns.
If this happens to you, you shouldn’t throw out the new tests, as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deemed them safe to use. “Tests may show ‘expired’ dates on the box, but FDA has extended those dates,” the website says.
The agency has provided a list of all products that have received extended expiration dates here.
Before throwing out any Covid tests that appear to be expired—either the new ones you receive from the government or old ones you find stashed in your home—you should check to see if the products are on the list and, thus, still safe to use. If you find expired products that are not on the FDA’s list—or have passed the extended expiration date—they are not safe to use.
American Medical Association official explains why it’s crucial to get vaccinated against Covid this year
Tuesday 26 September 2023 05:00 , Maggie O’Neill
Immunity from past infections and vaccinations may not provide you with the protection you need against Covid this cold and flu season, according to an official with the American Medical Association (AMA).
“New Covid variants have emerged. Vaccine and infection-induced immunity is beginning to wane, [and] this new vaccine will increase our immune response against circulating variants,” Dr Sandra Fryhofer, AMA liaison to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said in a recent interview.
Dr Fryhofer explained that health authorities, including the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), believe the new vaccine is the best option for protecting yourself against new variants. “Vaccine manufacturers say they should [provide protection], so does FDA,” she said. “In fact, FDA went on record saying studies suggest the new vaccines are a good match against circulating strains.”
Some people may want to space out their vaccines, FDA official says
Tuesday 26 September 2023 00:00 , Maggie O’Neill
A top-ranking official at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently said he may space out his influenza and Covid vaccines, even though it’s safe to get both at the same time, per reporting from CBS News.
“Some people are saying, ‘Well, could I get RSV, Covid, and the flu vaccine on the same day?’” Dr Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the FDA, said in a recent call with stakeholders. “Yes, indeed, you could. But, honestly, I might not.”
Dr Marks went on to explain that he recommends spacing out the vaccines—for people who live near a pharmacy—in order to lessen side effects like fever or fatigue.
This may not be a good option for people in rural areas, though, Dr Marks said. “I might just want to space them out a little bit,” he explained. “But if you had to drive a lot of miles to get the vaccines, then it might not be unreasonable to get all three of them [Covid, flu, and RSV] at once.”
Americans can now order free Covid tests from the government
Monday 25 September 2023 21:00 , Maggie O’Neill
Starting today, Americans can order free Covid tests from the government. All households are eligible for four tests; orders can be placed at COVIDTests.gov.
To place an order, you need only to input your address and contact information.
President Biden receives updated Covid vaccine
Monday 25 September 2023 18:00 , Maggie O’Neill
President Biden received the updated Covid vaccine, now available in pharmacies nationwide, as well as his flu shot, according to a White House statement from the physician to the president.
The statement reiterated that almost all Americans are eligible for both shots.
“As we enter the cold and flu season, the President encourages all Americans to follow his example and to check with their healthcare provider or pharmacist to assure that they are fully vaccinated,” the statement said.
Biden administration awards millions to Covid test manufacturers
Monday 25 September 2023 15:00 , Maggie O’Neill
The Biden administration has awarded $600 million to Covid test manufacturers across the country, per the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
NEW: The Biden-Harris Administration has announced:
☑️ $600M investment in the manufacturing of COVID-19 tests ahead of the fall and winter
☑️ FREE COVID-19 tests will be available for order again at https://t.co/6TkvdygmVu starting 9/25 https://t.co/RtDV4Rb9uy
— HHS.gov (@HHSGov) September 20, 2023
You should see a doctor for Covid if you develop these symptoms
Monday 25 September 2023 12:00 , Maggie O’Neill
Not everyone infected with Covid develops symptoms. But certain warning signs should prompt a visit to a hospital or urgent care centre.
According to Mass General Brigham, severe trouble breathing; new dizziness or confusion; persistent pressure or pain in the chest; inability to stay awake; and discoloration of the skin, nail beds, or lips all signal that you need emergent help.
Some counties in California are reinstating mask guidelines
Monday 25 September 2023 07:00 , Maggie O’Neill
As deaths and hospitalisations from Covid continue to rise, some California counties are requiring masks in certain settings again, NBC Bay Area reports.
Many counties will require people to mask in public areas like healthcare centres or jails, and some counties have said that people must wear masks in businesses, government offices, or public transportation hubs that require them.
Public health authorities urge Americans to stay home if they are sick
Monday 25 September 2023 02:00 , Maggie O’Neill
Staying home if you suspect you are ill will be crucial in reducing cases of respiratory viruses this year, experts say.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says people should stay home—even from work—if they’re experiencing any flu-like symptoms.
The agency also encourages employers to “review and communicate their sick leave policies and practices to employees every year before flu season begins” to make sure employees know what they’re allowed to do when they’re ill.
Experts say it’s fine to get flu and Covid vaccines together
Sunday 24 September 2023 21:00 , Maggie O’Neill
For those looking to minimise trips to the pharmacy, it is okay to get both the Covid and flu shots at the same time, public health authorities say.
Is it okay to receive a COVID-19 and influenza vaccine at the same time? Yes, says IDSA Vice President Tina Tan, MD, FIDSA, adding that individuals may prefer having side effects once rather than twice.
Watch our media briefing: https://t.co/5NdWzZQjOH pic.twitter.com/vSu1Sqw0LI
— IDSA (@IDSAInfo) September 22, 2023
How to get free Covid tests from the government
Sunday 24 September 2023 18:00 , Maggie O’Neill
The federal government is restarting its mail-order Covid test program, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced this week.
Pandemic babies may have altered gut bacteria, study finds
Sunday 24 September 2023 15:00 , Maggie O’Neill
Infants whose first year was spent during the pandemic have “fewer types of bacteria in their gut”, a report funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found.
The authors noted that the differences observed in the pandemic babies could be due to “the social changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with infants potentially experiencing more time at home, less time in daycare interacting with other children, increased hygiene in the environment, changes to diet and breastfeeding practices, and increased caregiver stress”.
It’s too soon to say what this could mean for babies born during the pandemic, a press release on the new research says: “The authors say that…speculating on the health implications of gut microbiome differences should be done with caution.”
Singapore man jailed for deliberately exposing colleagues to Covid-19
Sunday 24 September 2023 12:00 , Maggie O’Neill
A 64-year-old man in Singapore was sentenced to two weeks in jail after deliberately coughing at two of his colleagues after testing positive for Covid. He wasn’t wearing a mask at the time.
Alisha Rahaman Sarkar reports:
Some patients with insurance are being denied free Covid vaccines
Sunday 24 September 2023 07:00 , Maggie O’Neill
Government and private health insurance plans, including Medicare, are required to cover Pfizer and Moderna updated boosters for free.
But some people are reporting difficulties getting insurance to pay for their shot, per reporting from CNBC.
Some have complained on social media, explaining they were charged up to $190 for the vaccine, which reduces the chances of getting severely ill or dying from Covid-19.
CDC addresses myth that Covid-19 vaccination affects fertility
Saturday 23 September 2023 21:00 , Maggie O’Neill
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) countered false claims that Covid-19 vaccines affect fertility in a recent Instagram post.
The post shows a graphic of a woman asking, “Is it safe for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I would like to have a baby one day?”
The caption answers, “Yes. People who are trying to become pregnant now or who might become pregnant in the future may receive a [Covid] vaccine. There is no evidence that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines.”
Pregnant and Protected campaign helps expecting mothers lower their risks of serious illness from Covid-19
Saturday 23 September 2023 18:00 , Maggie O’Neill
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is highlighting a campaign aimed at helping pregnant people protect themselves from Covid.
The website for the program, called Pregnant and Protected, states that Covid-19 has made pregnancy even “more challenging for moms-to-be who want to keep themselves and their developing babies safe”.
More information on the campaign can be found at PregnantAndProtected.org.
Experts express concern over America’s vaccination record
Saturday 23 September 2023 15:00 , Maggie O’Neill
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a statement warning of a potential tripledemic in the US in the coming months. This could happen if Covid-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) all peak at the same time, experts say.
To prevent this scenario, which could overwhelm hospitals and urgent care centres, experts are urging all who are eligible to get vaccinated against the three viruses.
A study from UCLA published in The New England Journal of Medicine last year found that flu vaccination rates declined in states that saw low rates of Covid-19 vaccination, suggesting that public health campaigns encouraging protection through vaccines haven’t been effective.
CDC releases new Covid tracking measurements
Saturday 23 September 2023 10:00 , Maggie O’Neill
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been providing weekly data on hospitalisations and deaths from Covid-19. Now the agency is also supplying numbers for the country’s test positivity rate and number of emergency room visits attributable to the virus.
From 10 September to 16 September, the test positivity rate in the US was 12.5 per cent, which was down 1.6 per cent from the previous week. During that same time frame, 1.9 per cent of emergency department visits were attributable to Covid-19, down 19.3 per cent from the previous week.
Experts urge pharmacists to inform patients free Covid vaccines are still available at select pharmacies
Saturday 23 September 2023 05:00 , Maggie O’Neill
A photo of a sign taped to a pharmacy door in San Francisco has circulated on Twitter, with experts criticising its messaging. The sign emphasises that Covid vaccines are no longer free everywhere, and experts say this language is daunting. Dr Lucky Tran, director of science communications and media relations at Columbia University, tweeted, “This is intimidating and will only turn people who want to get vaccinated away.”
A sign at a Walgreens in San Francisco. This is intimidating and will only turn people who want to get vaccinated away.
There's a CDC Bridge program that helps everyone get the updated COVID vaccine for free, yet isn't mentioned in the sign.
(Photo by @arielwaldman) pic.twitter.com/eTPsoKaKOI
— Dr. Lucky Tran (@luckytran) September 22, 2023
The Bridge Access Program, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), offers free updated Covid-19 vaccines to people who do not have health insurance (or those whose health insurance won’t cover the shot).
To find a pharmacy participating in the program and make an appointment, you can visit Vaccines.gov. After selecting which vaccine you’re looking for, you can filter for pharmacies that are participating in the program.
Ron DeSantis says he won’t provide funding for Covid vaccines if he’s elected president in 2024
Saturday 23 September 2023 00:00 , Maggie O’Neill
In a new interview with ABC News, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he would not fund Covid vaccines if elected president in 2024.
“Well certainly we’re not going to fund them,” DeSantis said when asked about what his Covid vaccine policy would be. “Biden’s spending billions and billions of dollars on these…studies have not demonstrated the benefit of the boosters.”
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend the updated Covid vaccinations, now available nationwide, for everyone six months and older. The vaccines help protect everyone eligible from severe disease or death from Covid-19.
Dr Fauci says long Covid trials ‘likely should have been done sooner’
Friday 22 September 2023 21:00 , Maggie O’Neill
In a new interview with MSNBC, Dr Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, discussed long Covid research and the Biden administration’s response to it. He said health authorities are “totally aware” that long Covid is a serious problem.
“Clinical trials likely should have been done sooner.”
On today's @MehdiHasanShow, I pressed Dr. Anthony Fauci on the slowness of our government to address what he calls the “serious problem” of Long COVID - and on Biden never mentioning it.pic.twitter.com/qICWCu0fLh
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) September 21, 2023
CDC releases new Covid data
Friday 22 September 2023 18:00 , Maggie O’Neill
Deaths from Covid-19 rose 2.7 per cent from 10 September to 16 September compared to the previous week, per the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
During that same period, the test positivity rate was 12.5 per cent, and 1.9 per cent of emergency visits were diagnosed as Covid.
Hospitalisation data for that week is not yet available.
One-fourth of Americans think pandemic is worsening and worry about getting infected with Covid-19
Friday 22 September 2023 15:00 , Maggie O’Neill
According to the results of a new Gallup poll, Americans are still very concerned about Covid-19.
One in four said they felt the pandemic is worsening and that they were worried about getting infected with Covid.
Worry about contracting the virus has risen among both Democrats and Republicans in recent months, perhaps because the US has seen rising hospitalisations and deaths from the virus due to a summer surge in cases.
Jimmy Kimmel tests positive for Covid, cancels show
Friday 22 September 2023 10:00 , Maggie O’Neill
Comedian Jimmy Kimmel has tested positive for Covid; as a result, he cancelled an upcoming show. Kimmel said he “could never live with” himself if he continued with the show and spread the virus.
Well, Las Vegas, I got Covid, and sadly, we need to cancel this weekend’s Strike Force Three show. I could never live with myself if I got my hometown friends sick. Thanks to all who purchased tickets, everyone will get full refunds and we will try to reschedule if possible.…
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) September 20, 2023
CDC director urges seniors to get Covid vaccine
Friday 22 September 2023 05:00 , Maggie O’Neill
CDC Director Dr Mandy Cohen tweeted a video Wednesday explaining why older adults need to stay up to date on their vaccines.
“Older Americans, as we get into the fall and winter, are unfortunately at higher risk of bad things happening from respiratory viruses like flu, Covid, and [respiratory syncytial virus],” she said.
Biden to restart free Covid test program
Friday 22 September 2023 00:00 , Maggie O’Neill
The Biden administration announced Wednesday free Covid tests will soon be available again, as experts warn the US could see a tripledemic of flu, Covid and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in the coming months.
Households can order four free tests from COVIDTests.gov starting 25 September, per a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Steve Martin cancels shows due to Covid
Thursday 21 September 2023 21:00 , Maggie O’Neill
Comedian Steve Martin released a statement 20 September announcing he has to cancel shows scheduled in Las Vegas due to Covid-19.
Dear fans and enemies,
Unfortunately, our sold-out shows at the Wynn in Las Vegas this Friday and Saturday has to be postponed because of rampant Covid in our crew and one other essential guy. We are sorry for any inconvenience, but we are moving to mid-December, where your…
— Steve Martin (@SteveMartinToGo) September 21, 2023
What bats could tell us about Covid-19
Thursday 21 September 2023 18:00 , Maggie O’Neill
A new paper published in Oxford University Press looked at how bats could help researchers learn more about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19 illness.
Faiza Saqib reports:
South Dakota Department of Health says there will be no state-wide mask mandate as CDC warns of a potential tripledemic
Thursday 21 September 2023 15:00 , Maggie O’Neill
The South Dakota Department of Health recently tweeted that the state would not implement a mask mandate during cold and flu season this year.
“While we anticipate an increase in COVID-19 during the upcoming respiratory virus season, the [department] has never issued a mask mandate and doesn’t plan to start now,” it said. “South Dakota will continue to stand as a beacon of Freedom to the rest of the world.”
Both hospitalisations and deaths from Covid have steadily risen in recent weeks, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The agency recently released a statement warning of the potential for a tripledemic in the coming months, in which cases of Covid, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) peak at the same time. Should this occur, healthcare systems across the country could see delays in routine care, such as preventative cancer screenings.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, 76, tests positive for Covid
Thursday 21 September 2023 10:00 , Maggie O’Neill
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday, per reporting from WLWT5.
He reportedly began experiencing symptoms on Monday, and had a 101-degree fever when he tested late Tuesday afternoon.
The governor is isolating at his home, and he encouraged people who have symptoms of Covid to get tested.
Getting reinfected with Covid-19 may worsen long Covid symptoms, experts say
Thursday 21 September 2023 05:00 , Maggie O’Neill
Getting Covid a second time puts patients at risk of long Covid again, even if they didn’t get it the first time, a new study using data from the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has found.
Study author Dr Ziyad Al-Aly said in an interview with STAT that getting Covid again can also worsen long Covid symptoms for those who were already suffering from it.
“If you had long Covid before, upon reinfection there is a risk of worsening problems,” he said. “You may have had brain fog and fatigue but not dysautonomia or other manifestations…Even if you’ve had it before, you’re trying your luck again.”
Vivek Ramaswamy says he regrets getting two doses of the Covid vaccine, though his wife disagrees
Thursday 21 September 2023 00:00 , Maggie O’Neill
Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy said he regrets getting two doses of the Covid vaccine, per reporting from NBC News.
His wife, Dr Apoorva Ramaswamy, a surgeon at Ohio State University, does not regret staying up to date on her vaccines. She told NBC News that she feels a responsibility to her patients, some of whom are cancer survivors, to protect herself so she can better protect them.
Ramaswamy said, “My wife and I disagree on things sometimes.”
Wastewater data show Covid cases may be declining
Wednesday 20 September 2023 21:00 , Maggie O’Neill
Covid hospitalisations and deaths have steadily risen for the last several weeks, as the US sees the effect of a summer surge.
From 3 September to 9 September, hospitalisations from the virus rose 7.7 per cent compared to the previous week, the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show.
But new data show the summer surge may be slowing down. Wastewater detections of Covid were at their highest this summer around August 30, data from Biobot Analytics show. But from 6 September to 13 September, levels dropped by about 5 per cent.
Still yet, levels are more than three times higher than they were prior to the summer surge, in late June.
CDC warns of potential tripledemic during the upcoming cold and flu season
Wednesday 20 September 2023 18:00 , Maggie O’Neill
Federal health authorities are urging Americans to stay up to date on all vaccines to avoid slowing down the healthcare system during cold and flu season.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new statement on the potential for a “tripledemic”, in which cases of Covid-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) all circulate at the same time and are massively disruptive to urgent care centres and hospitals.
American Academy of Family Physicians encourages protection with updated Covid-19 vaccines
Wednesday 20 September 2023 15:00 , Maggie O’Neill
Health authorities across the country are urging Americans to stay up-to-date with their Covid vaccines to protect against severe disease from the virus.
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recently said it was “encouraged” the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) signed off on the new vaccines.
The AAFP is encouraged @US_FDA has approved a new #COVID19 vaccine. Vaccination remains the best way to protect our patients & communities from severe illness & hospitalization. We will continue to provide family physicians like you with the latest info: https://t.co/IzDs9eHB32 pic.twitter.com/omTFNR5ada
— AAFP (@aafp) September 11, 2023