The shift in the U.S. toward personal choice when it comes to COVID-19 precautions could backfire, a former Obama administration health official said Monday. “My biggest issue with the it’s-your-call kind of theme that’s out there [is] we don’t do this in any other area of illness, health, or disease or burden,” Dr. Kavita Patel, a physician who served as a health policy director in the Obama administration, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” in an interview Monday. The TSA said it would no longer enforce a face mask mandate on planes after a federal judge ruled that the CDC had overreached in setting it and struck it down. Experts are keen to make people understand the pandemic is not yet over.
COVID-19 cases are rising again across the U.S. after their steep decline early in the year, driven by the BA.2 variant, and two new subvariants that
appear to be even more infectious. The two, named BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1, were highlighted by health officials in New York State last week and accounted for more than 70% of new cases in central New York State in March, according to a statement from the health department. The two are sub-lineages of BA.2, which has become dominant in the world, accounted for 99.2% of cases sequenced in the World Health Organization’s weekly update from last week. The U.S. is averaging 39.152 cases a day, according to a New York Times tracker, up 43% from two weeks ago. The country is averaging 14,653 hospitalizations a day, down 6% from two weeks ago, the lowest since the first weeks of the pandemic. The daily death toll has fallen below 600 to 489.
On a global basis, total cases are now above 505 million. Total deaths are above 6.2 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University, with the U.S. still leading the way with 80.7 million cases and 988,912 deaths.

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