More U.S. entities ease COVID-19 restrictions amid wide optimism

2022-02-17 08:18:45Xinhua Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download
Special: Battle Against Novel Coronavirus

Optimistic about a possible end of the COVID-19 pandemic, more U.S. entities planned to ease COVID-19 restrictions, with new cases and hospitalizations rapidly dropping across the country.

"I think that is a reasonable scenario," major COVID-19 vaccine producer Moderna's CEO Stephane Bancel told CNBC's Squawk Box Asia on Wednesday when he was asked whether he believed that the pandemic was in its final stages.

Bancel said he thought there was "about an 80 percent chance" that as the virus evolves, it would become "less and less virulent." If this were the case, Bancel still expected people older than 50 and those at high risk of severe illness, to be boosted against coronavirus each year.


As the Omicron wave continues to rapidly recede in the United States and new cases plummet to their lowest levels since September, more businesses and two of the biggest music festivals have dropped mask restrictions, as have a growing number of states and cities, according to The New York Times.

On Tuesday, Tyson Foods and Walt Disney World and Disneyland became the latest big businesses to loosen their mask requirements. They joined Walmart and others that have quickly eased restrictions as caseloads decline and states like New York and California end mask mandates.

Meanwhile, in a turning point for the struggling live-events industry, the organizers of the outdoor music festivals Coachella and Stagecoach said on Tuesday that they would not require attendees to be masked, vaccinated or tested for the coronavirus.


Washington, D.C. will drop its indoor vaccine and mask mandates in the coming weeks, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Monday. The indoor vaccine mandate, required of restaurants, gyms, and concert venues, was lifted on Tuesday, the same day D.C. originally had required people to be fully vaccinated to meet the mandate.

The mask mandate will be lifted on March 1, but masks will still be required in some places, including schools, congregate settings, nursing facilities, childcare facilities, and libraries. "D.C.'s decision to drop its mandates follows other major cities across the U.S. as the Omicron surge subsides," reported Axios.

Since the start of last week, the authorities in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Oregon have announced that they were loosening indoor mask requirements. However, some cities and school districts are keeping their mandates in place.


The United States has recorded more than 1 million "excess deaths" since the start of the pandemic, reported The Washington Post on Tuesday, a toll that exceeds the officially documented lethality of the coronavirus and captures the broad consequences of the health crisis that has entered its third year.

The excess-deaths figure surpassed the milestone last week, reaching 1,023,916, according to Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics. The center updates its estimate weekly.

"Although the vast majority of the excess deaths are due to the virus, the CDC mortality records also expose swollen numbers of deaths from heart disease, hypertension, dementia and other ailments across two years of pandemic misery," said the report, quoting Anderson as saying "We've never seen anything like it." 

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