Health Highlights: Dec. 14, 2021

Pfizer's antiviral pill could greatly reduce severe COVID. Paxlovid cut hospitalizations and deaths by nearly 90 percent when taken within three to five days after the start of symptoms, the company said, and preliminary lab studies also suggest the drug will hold up against the Omicron variant. Read more

Pandemic lockdowns may have created more cases of opioid abuse. Fewer Americans than usual sought pain treatment in 2020, new research shows, but those who did had higher-than-usual odds of being prescribed dangerous opioid painkillers. Read more

Far too few U.S. nursing home residents have gotten booster shots. As COVID-19 cases surge nationwide, only about half of fully vaccinated nursing home residents have received boosters, according to the latest CDC data. Many staffers haven't been vaccinated at all against COVID-19, further upping risks to residents. Read more

California brings back indoor mask mandate. Fears of a surge in cases and hospitalizations due to the Omicron variant triggered the move, state officials said. The mandate is set to begin Wednesday and continue for at least one month.Read more

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