Coronavirus weekly need-to-know: CDC’s COVID-19 guidance, repeating at-home tests & more

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Rick Bowmer/AP

In the United States, more than 92 million people have tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic as of Friday, Aug. 12, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Additionally, more than 1 million people in the U.S. have died. Worldwide, there have been more than 588 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, including about 5 million in the past week, and over 6.4 million people have died.

Roughly 223 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated as of Aug. 5 — 67% of the population — and over 107 million of those have gotten their first booster shot, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Most of the country, about 80%, lives in a location where COVID-19 community levels are considered medium and high, the agency says as of Aug. 12. Masks are advised in high-level regions.

Nearly 20% of Americans reside where COVID-19 levels are low, according to the CDC.

The omicron BA.5 subvariant dominated U.S. cases for the week ending Aug. 6 and made up 87% of COVID-19 cases, agency data estimates show.

Here’s what happened between Aug. 7 and 12:

COVID rules are more relaxed. What you need to know about the new CDC guidelines

After more than two years of living with coronavirus restrictions in the U.S., the nation’s public health agency is relaxing its rules.

There’s no longer a need for quarantining upon COVID-19 exposure and certain infection prevention methods in schools, among other loosened recommendations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in updated guidance on Thursday, Aug. 11. Additionally, the agency is emphasizing that people understand their own personal risk regarding the virus.

“This guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives,” CDC epidemiologist Dr. Greta Massetti said in a statement.

Keep reading here:

COVID rules are more relaxed. What you need to know about the new CDC guidelines

FDA recommends repeat at-home Covid tests to reduce risk of false negatives

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued guidance on Thursday recommending that people testing themselves for COVID-19 at home take a repeat tests within 48 hours to rule out a potential false negative.

In its guidance, the FDA noted that at-home tests are less likely to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus than PCR tests, with this inaccuracy more likely to occur early on in the infection in people who display no symptoms.

“Currently, all at-home COVID-19 antigen tests are FDA-authorized for repeat, or serial use. This means people should use multiple tests over a certain time period, such as 2-3 days, especially when the people using the tests don’t have COVID-19 symptoms,” the FDA said.

For more, continue reading here:

FDA recommends repeat at-home Covid tests to reduce risk of false negatives

J&J COVID vaccine factory forced to trash even more doses

About 135 million more doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine from a troubled Baltimore factory will have to be destroyed due to quality problems, Congressional panel leaders said Thursday.

The announcement follows a report in May that detailed how more than 400 million vaccine doses made at an Emergent BioSolutions plant had to be trashed. The doses more recently slated for destruction were made between August 2021 and February, the House members said.

Johnson & Johnson said in a statement Thursday that no doses produced at the site since the factory restarted have reached the market, and it was ending its agreement with Emergent.

The article continues below:

J&J COVID vaccine factory forced to trash even more doses

Masks to be required again at Great Smoky National Park

Masks will once again be required for visitors inside all Great Smoky Mountains National Park buildings due to the high transmission of the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to the park’s website, the mask mandate will apply to all visitors regardless of vaccination status.

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Masks to be required again at Great Smoky National Park

How to tell if your COVID test is expired

Did you stock up on rapid at-home COVID-19 tests only to realize they all expire much sooner than you expected?

Don’t toss them just yet. The Food and Drug Administration recently updated its guidance on COVID test expiration dates after researchers discovered some tests have a longer shelf life than originally believed.

“Most people who need COVID tests are relying on over-the-counter, at-home tests, so it is extremely important that they understand how to properly evaluate expiration dates,” said Jeffrey Jahre, an infectious disease doctor at St. Luke’s University Hospital in Bethlehem.

For more, keep reading:

How to tell if your COVID test is expired

The Mercury News’ John Woolfolk, The Hill’s Joseph Choi, The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Kaveri Curlin and the Associated Press contributed to this report.