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Allison Aubrey

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The omicron wave has begun to recede. Case counts are down nationally, and new hospital admissions are dropping. White House COVID adviser Jeff Zients struck an optimistic tone at the latest meeting of the COVID response team.

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Millions of people are testing positive with COVID-19 in the U.S. each week and the FDA warns that most Americans will get the virus at some point. With growing evidence that the omicron variant likely causes milder disease, some people may be thinking: Why not encourage omicron to infect us so we can enjoy life again?

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It's common to want to take a break from booze in the new year. The best way to support your loved ones who don't want to drink alcohol is to make sure drinking feels like a choice — not an obligation.

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NPR health correspondent Allison Aubrey has been listening in on that conversation and is with us now.

Allison, what stood out to you most from what we just heard Dr. Walensky say?

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And so it begins, another COVID holiday break. If you've got teens or college kids at home, they may shrug their shoulders at the idea of taking more precautions amid the rising omicron threat.

"Covid is becoming endemic," my son told me. "We're all vaccinated and we've just got to live with it." And he's not alone. Data from the COVID States Project shows many people have relaxed their behaviors and are taking fewer precautions compared to last spring.

When she rolled up her sleeve nearly one year ago on Dec. 14, Sandra Lindsay, a nurse at Northwell Health in New York, didn't realize she'd become the first person in the U.S. to get the COVID-19 shot — or that her life would change.

She had signed up for the shot along with a bunch of colleagues following the emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine.

"When I got there, I saw the cameras set up," says Lindsay. Within minutes, images and video footage of her getting the jab began circulating in media outlets around the globe.

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Cases of the omicron variant have been confirmed now in Colorado, Minnesota, New York, Hawaii and, of course, California. As it spreads, the Biden administration is announcing new steps to slow COVID during the winter.

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Here's one thing to be thankful for this year: It's not Thanksgiving 2020. A year ago vaccines had not yet been approved, daily deaths were rising sharply — surging to more than 2,000 a day by December — and many Americans hunkered down and skipped holiday celebrations to reduce their risks.

COVID-19 shots for kids are on their way, but Dr. Ibukunoluwa Kalu, a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist at Duke University, says that some parents she has talked with aren't sure how they feel about that.

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Even amid the coronavirus pandemic, heart disease continues to be the nation's leading cause of death. And much of it is preventable through a healthier diet.

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The FDA says at least one popular e-cigarette brand can stay on the market. It's the first authorization of its kind. This comes as the FDA is still deciding whether Juul and other e-cigarette products should be sold.

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The "diet" in diet drinks may be a false promise for some soda lovers. True, they deliver the fizz and taste of a soda experience, without the calories. Yet, new research shows they also can leave people with increased food cravings.

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