Unemployment claims on the rise (but still remain low), FDA authorizes COVID breath test, and more COVID news

Here’s a look at some COVID news for today, April 14.

US jobless claims rise but remain at nearly 50-year low

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits ticked up last week but remained at a historically low level, reflecting a robust U.S. labor market with near record-high job openings and few layoffs.

Jobless claims rose by 18,000 to 185,000, the Labor Department said Thursday, after nearly touching the lowest level since 1968 in the previous week. The four-week average of claims, which levels out week-to-week ups and downs, edged up from 170,000 to 172,000.

“Claims are still at very low levels, underscoring historically tight labor market conditions,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, lead U.S. economist at Oxford Economics. Get more data here:

Anti-virus shutdowns in China rise

Anti-virus controls that have shut down some of China’s biggest cities and fueled public irritation are spreading as infections rise, hurting a weak economy and prompting warnings of possible global shockwaves.

Shanghai is easing rules that confined most of its 25 million people to their homes after complaints they had trouble getting food. But most of its businesses still are closed. Access to Guangzhou, an industrial center of 19 million people near Hong Kong, was suspended this week. Other cities are cutting off access or closing factories and schools. Read more here:

FDA authorizes COVID breath test

The US Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to the first Covid-19 test that spots chemical compounds associated with the coronavirus in breath, the agency said Thursday.

The FDA said the InspectIR Covid-19 Breathalyzer, which is about the size of a piece of carry-on luggage, can be used in medical offices and mobile testing sites. It can give results in less than three minutes. Find out more here:

Booster said to raise antibody levels against Omicron for children ages 5 through 11

A third shot of the children’s dose of Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine raised Omicron-fighting antibodies by 36 times in kids 5 through 11 years of age, the companies said in a news release Thursday. The companies plan to request emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration for a booster dose for this age group.

The new data come from a small study of 140 children ages 5 through 11 who were given a third 10-microgram dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at least six months after their second dose. Find out more here:

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Check out more of today’s virus news here: