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Coronavirus Update: Most Americans aren’t worrying about COVID this holiday season

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More than 80% of people in the U.S. say, “We are in a better place than we were a year ago,” according to the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus index, as many say they have returned to their pre-COVID routines.

Only one-third of those polled say they wear a mask some or all of the time in public even as the holiday season hits full swing and COVID infections and hospitalizations are rising in the U.S.

“With majorities getting out and about and only about 1 in 4 saying they’re taking steps to avoid COVID or the flu, for most people this is going to be a COVID worry- free holiday,” Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs, told Axios.

Another poll tracking COVID sentiment in the U.S. showed that concern about the virus was low among all age groups in November — though not as low as it was earlier this fall.

COVID news to know:

China loosens more COVID restrictions; worries about Chinese deaths persist. The country said Wednesday that mass testing will no longer occur in regions that aren’t high risk, people with mild symptoms can isolate at home instead of quarantine centers, and authorities cannot block fire escapes and public exits in locked-down areas, according to the New York Times. However, there are concerns that loosening restrictions could lead to 1 million deaths in China this winter, based on predictions from Wigram Capital Advisors, the Financial Times reported

Did political ideology interfere with the U.S. COVID response? Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical officer to President Joe Biden, told NBC News that “the degree of divisiveness in this country right now has really led to such a polarization that it has interfered with an adequate science-based public health response.” Fauci is set to retire this year. 

Vaccines reduce the risk of long COVID. A new analysis, published Tuesday in the Antimicrobial Stewardship & Healthcare Epidemiology by researchers at the University of Iowa, examined a handful of medical studies and found that people who had received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine had a long COVID prevalence rate of 37.6%, compared with 39.1% among the unvaccinated. That’s from data gathered from about 250,000 people in four countries.

COVID cases continue to rise across the U.S. The daily average of new infections is up about 28% over the last two weeks, according to a New York Times tracker. There were at least 54,000 new cases on Tuesday, while about 34,000 people are currently hospitalized with COVID. The number of people being treated in intensive care units has also increased, by 21% over the last two weeks, with about 4,100 people with COVID in ICU beds. 

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