Coronavirus omicron variant and sub-variant make up virus cases. What to know about COVID CDC travel destination alerts, cruises, flatworm named from pandemic.

Coronavirus omicron variant and sub-variant make up virus cases. What to know about COVID CDC travel destination alerts, cruises, flatworm named from pandemic.


In the United States, more than 77.4 million people have tested positive for coronavirus as of Friday, Feb. 11, according to Johns Hopkins University.

About 915,000 Americans have died. Worldwide, there have been more than 406 million confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Additionally, more than 5.7 million across the globe have died from the virus. More than 213 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated to date – 64.3% of the population – and 90 million of those people have gotten a booster shot as of Feb. 11, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

The agency reports COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates are dropping nationwide as of Feb. 3. Cases are 53.1% lower as of Feb. 2 compared to when they hit a peak Jan. 15, the CDC says.

The omicron variant made up 96.4% of all sequenced cases the week ending Feb. 5, according to the agency, and the omicron BA.2 sub-variant made up 3.6% of cases.

Here’s what happened between Feb. 6 and Feb. 11:

Cruises can opt-in to new COVID vaccine guidance, CDC says. What it means for travelers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has unveiled new coronavirus guidelines for the cruise industry, allowing cruise lines to operate under different tiers based on the vaccination status of passengers and crew as part of a new voluntary program.

And those tiers could change how long passengers are recommended to quarantine after exposure to the coronavirus.

In its updated guidelines on Feb. 9, the CDC maintained it’s best to “avoid” cruise travel — and cautioned people should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if they can’t resist a vacation on the high seas.

Cruise lines have until Feb. 18 to opt into the COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships, which separates ships into three tiers.

Keep reading for the vaccination status tiers:

9-month old twin dies of COVID, Missouri family says. ‘A piece will always be missing’

Twins Amelia and Claire Peyton won’t have the opportunity to grow up together after one sister died of COVID-19 complications.

Both 9-month-old girls had tested positive for coronavirus, their family said, and only Claire recovered.

Amelia, of Iberia, died Tuesday, Feb. 1, at University Hospital in Columbia, Missouri, KOMU reported.

“She will never be forgotten,” father Brian Petyon shared to Facebook. “She was the best happiest baby she was our world now a piece will always be missing.”

Continuing reading here:

7-year-old dies of COVID days after dream of being big sister comes true, TN mom says

A second-grader died this week in Tennessee after COVID-19 triggered an auto-immune response that “shut her little body down,” her family says.

Adalyn Rita Graviss died just a week after her dream of being a big sister became true, according to Knoxville mom Jennifer Kowalski-Graviss, who gave birth to her baby sister Ella on Jan. 28.

“This girl was our whole world,” Kowalski-Graviss wrote Feb. 8 on Facebook.

“She was so brave and so strong. She prayed for so many years to be a big sister and we are so thankful she was able to have all her dreams come true even for a few short days.”

Keep reading below:

Which countries have ‘very high’ COVID risk? CDC adds more travel destinations to list

If you’re looking to plan an international trip, it’s important to know that the majority of travel destinations worldwide are considered a “very high” COVID-19 risk compared with others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Seven countries were added to the CDC’s highest risk category — level four — on Feb. 7, and the agency is urging everyone to “avoid travel to these destinations.”

Now, a total 133 travel spots make up the level four COVID-19 category with the newest additions being Armenia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel, Japan, Libya and Oman, according to the agency’s COVID-19 Travel Recommendations.

This comes after the CDC upgraded 12 destinations to level four on Jan. 31 including Mexico and South American nations such as Brazil, Chile and Ecuador.

“If you must travel to these destinations, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel,” the CDC says.

For more on the CDC’s travel alerts, keep reading:

Woman facing 10 years in prison in COVID fraud joins couple on the run, FBI says

A Southern California woman facing 10 years in prison for her alleged role in a $20 million COVID-19 fraud ring has vanished, joining two others also on the run in the case, FBI officials said.

Tamara Dadyan, 42, of Encino failed to report to begin serving her sentence and cannot be found, the FBI reported Feb. 3 on Twitter.

Her brother-in-law, Richard Ayvazyan, 43, and his wife, Marietta Terabelian, 37, disappeared in August ahead of their own sentencing hearing in the case, McClatchy News reported. They all remain missing as of Feb. 8.

THe FBI is seeking information on Dadyan’s location. Keep reading:

Unvaccinated oral surgeon sues after his medical practice shut down in Rhode Island

An unvaccinated oral surgeon has filed a lawsuit in Rhode Island after his medical practice, which saw over 800 patients each month, was shut down over him not getting a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the New Civil Liberties Alliance.

He was banned from work as an oral surgeon, unless he got vaccinated, the same day Rhode Island’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers went into effect on Oct. 1, according to an order by the state health department.

Now, Dr. Stephen Skoly is suing the state’s Gov. Daniel McKee and the interim director of the state’s health department arguing that “Rhode Island has arbitrarily and unlawfully prevented (him) from practicing medicine.” The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island by the NCLA on Feb. 4.

The Rhode Island Department of Health declined to comment on the lawsuit. A spokesperson for the governor’s office told McClatchy News that it would not comment on pending litigation.

For more on the case, read on:

Meet ‘Humbertium covidum.’ Newly found flatworm takes its name from COVID pandemic

Scientists who discovered two new types of hammerhead flatworms during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown have dubbed one of the tiny creatures “Humbertium covidum.”

“We decided to name one of the species ‘covidum,’ paying homage to the victims of the pandemic,” Jean-Lou Justine of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, said in a news release.

Flatworms are small, alien-looking worms that prey on other worms, snails and slugs in the soil, The Washington Post reported. They are highly invasive.

Some hammerhead flatworms can reach up to 1 meter in size, but Humbertium covidum tops out at about 3 centimeters, a scientific paper by Justine and his team reported.

It has been found in Italy and France, though some records suggest it may also be found in Russia, China and Japan, the paper says. While some flatworms are extremely colorful, Humbertium covidum is metallic black with no stripes.

For more on Humbertium covidum keep reading:

Reporters Tanasia Kenney, Kaitlyn Alanis, Mark Price, and Don Sweeney also contributed to this report.

Julia Marnin is a McClatchy National Real-Time reporter covering the southeast and northeast while based in New York. She’s an alumna of The College of New Jersey and joined McClatchy in 2021. Previously, she’s written for Newsweek, Modern Luxury, Gannett and more.

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