New York Cases Hit Record; NFL Delays Games: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- New York state reported a one-day record of more than 21,000 infections as the omicron variant spreads in the U.S. Tests show a high rate of omicron transmission among Cornell University students.
“Hamilton” and the Radio City Rockettes’ “Christmas Spectacular,” two of New York City’s biggest shows, canceled performances due to outbreaks, and some NFL and NHL games will be postponed. Ohio and Maryland are seeking to ease pressure on overwhelmed hospitals.
In a bid to limit disruption, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention backed “test-to-stay” strategies that avoid sending kids home from school. France is curbing New Year’s Eve celebrations as Europe seeks to stem omicron, while hospital admissions are rising in London amid record infections in the U.K.
- Virus Tracker: Cases pass 273.4 million; deaths top 5.3 million
- Vaccine Tracker: More than 8.64 billion shots given
- Biden team amps up warnings to unvaccinated as omicron spreads
- Next Africa: The world’s omicron laboratory
- Omicron gets around previous Covid infection, U.K. study warns
- What quarantine is like inside Hong Kong’s bleak, high-security camp
NFL and NHL Postpone Games (3:37 p.m. NY)
The National Football League and the National Hockey League have both postponed games as more players tested positive for Covid-19.
The NHL has postponed the games of three teams. The NFL, which on Dec. 16 updated its Covid-19 protocols, has postponed several games after a surge in cases that has seen over 100 players test positive in the past week.
France Curbs New Year’s Parties (3:25 p.m. NY)
French officials will curb outdoor revelry on New Year’s Eve in a bid to limit Covid-19 infections that risk overwhelming hospitals, Prime Minister Jean Castex said.
“I’m appealing to everyone’s responsibility to find other ways to celebrate than large gatherings, and avoiding moments of conviviality,” Castex said in a televised speech on Friday, as many people in France began their winter vacations.
Chicago’s County Urges Caution (3:19 p.m. NY)
The Cook County Department of Public Health on Friday issued recommendations to curb the spike in cases in the region surrounding Chicago.
The recommendations, which are not required, urge individuals who are not vaccinated to avoid gathering inside with those who are not part of their household, and to get vaccinations and boosters. The department is recommending businesses require patrons to be fully vaccinated for entry or provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test within 24 hours of entry.
N.Y. Breaks Pandemic Case Record (3:16 p.m. NY)
New York state is experiencing a dramatic spike in Covid-19 cases.
The state reported 21,027 new cases Friday, Governor Kathy Hochul announced, surpassing the previous record of 19,942 set in January. Of the roughly 263,500 people tested, 7.98% were positive for the virus.
The rapid rise comes in lockstep with the emergence of the omicron variant, which has appeared to spread easier than previous versions of the virus.
Cornell Sample of Tests All Omicron (2:34 p.m. NY)
Positive tests from Cornell University students show a high rate of omicron transmission among 18-to-24 year-olds, the Tompkins County Health Department reported.
Among a batch of 115 positive cases, prioritized for sequencing due to the rapid spread observed, all showed infection from the omicron variant, the department said.
County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa said that no severe disease has developed in those infected with the variant, and hospitalizations have not increased, but that the testing shows the spread of the virus in the community is stemming from the new variant.
Separately, New York Governor Kathy Hochul said the number of confirmed omicron cases in the state has gone from 50 to 250 in a matter of days, during a Friday interview on CNN. She noted that sequencing can lag cases, which are “going up exponentially.”
Texas Cases Surge 43% in One Week (2:26 p.m. NY)
Texas has seen a 43% rise in new cases in the past week as hospitals in some regions of the second-largest U.S. state grapple with the latest wave.
There were 5,011 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, a 17% increase in one day, state health department figures showed on Friday. The surge comes as medical centers in the Amarillo area are running low on adult intensive-case beds and have exhausted pediatric ICU capacity.
In the Lone Star state’s other hot spot, in the border city of El Paso, there are just five adult ICU beds available for a region with almost 900,000 inhabitants, state figures showed.
Ireland Tightens Curbs With Omicron Rising (1:50 p.m. NY)
Ireland will close bars and restaurants at 8 p.m. from Sunday and cut capacity at indoor and outdoor events in a bid to slow the spread of the omicron variant. While takeaway and delivery services will remain open, hospitality, cinemas, sports and cultural gatherings must end early until Jan. 30, Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said.
Omicron now accounts for about 35% of new cases, Martin said, and warned of a “very significant wave” over the Christmas period.
Austria Tightens Rules for Entry (12:51 p.m. NY)
Austria will enforce stricter entry criteria starting next week to limit the spread of the omicron variant, including a negative Covid-19 test for anyone who hasn’t gotten a booster shot.
Only people who have been vaccinated or have recently recovered from the virus will be allowed to enter starting Monday, the Health Ministry said in a statement Friday. Residents can return home, but face a 10-day quarantine if they aren’t vaccinated.
Italy Regions Tighten Curbs (12:45 p.m. NY)
Italy will move three regions, Veneto, Marche and Liguria and the province of Trento, to the list of so-called yellow zones. This means some further restrictions, including the mandatory use of masks even outdoor, will start on Monday.
CDC Calls for Testing Unvaccinated Pupils (12:27 p.m. NY)
Unvaccinated kids who come in contact with someone with Covid-19 shouldn’t be required to stay home from school if they test negative and meet other criteria, U.S. public-health officials said.
Called “test-to-stay,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for schools calls for at least two tests within seven days after an exposure. If children meet those and other criteria, they can stay in school even if they haven’t been immunized.
Moderna Heart Risk Higher Than Pfizer: Study (12:20 p.m. NY)
The risk of rare heart inflammation side effects was as much as four times higher in people who received Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 shot than in those who got the vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, according to researchers in Denmark.
London Hospitalizations Rise (12:15 p.m. NY)
The number of people hospitalized with coronavirus is starting to rise in London, the latest sign that omicron has taken hold in the capital.
It comes as the U.K. reported its third consecutive day of record numbers of new coronavirus cases. Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, warned on Wednesday that the “phenomenal pace” at which the strain is spreading will trigger a surge in admissions to hospital over Christmas.
NYC Schools Won’t Shut, Mayor Says (12 p.m. NY)
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the recent spike in Covid cases won’t prompt another school shutdown ahead of the winter break. He said the positivity rate in schools is 1%, compared to over 5% across the city and that a shutdown would be too “traumatizing.”
Still, cases have increased rapidly. Between the start of school and the end of November, there had been three full school shutdowns and roughly 2,500 classroom closings during the school year, according to city Department of Education data. The city has now closed six entire schools and 4,200 classrooms during the school year.
Big NYC Shows Canceled (11:47 a.m. NY)
Two of New York City’s biggest shows, “Hamilton” and the Radio City Rockettes’ “Christmas Spectacular,” have been forced to cancel shows because of Covid-19 outbreaks.
The Rockettes announced that four shows were canceled for Friday “due to breakthrough Covid-19 cases in the production,” according to a statement. Friday’s performance of “Hamilton” was also called off because of breakthrough cases, the production said in a tweet.
Ohio, Maryland Act on Crowded Hospitals (11:37 a.m. NY)
Ohio and Maryland moved to ease pressure on hospitals already overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients and the omicron variant spreading rapidly.
Governor Mike DeWine ordered 1,050 members of the Ohio National Guard to help in hospitals, including 150 doctors, nurses and other medical staff.
With Covid hospitalizations at their highest in a year, he said under-staffing is the most critical issue. “Our medical personnel have just been slammed,” he said at a Friday briefing.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan ordered a reduction in non-essential procedures.
British Airways Halts HK Flights (10:58 a.m. NY)
British Airways put flights to Hong Kong on hold until March after the imposition of strict quarantine rules by the Asian financial hub’s government saw airline crews forced to isolate in a makeshift camp.
Swiss Tighten Curbs on Unvaccinated (9:34 a.m. NY)
Switzerland will exclude the unvaccinated from large parts of public life to curb coronavirus infections and protect the health-care system.
From Dec. 20, the country will limit entry to restaurants, gyms and other public indoor venues to those who have been inoculated or have recovered from the virus, the government said Friday.
Pfizer to Study Doses in Kids (9:19 a.m. NY)
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE plan to study a three-dose regimen of their Covid-19 vaccine in children 6 months to 4 years old, the companies said in a statement.
The vaccine partners amended their clinical trial protocol following a request by an external, independent data monitoring committee that found that the two-dose regimen did not prompt a strong immune response in blood tests among those ages 2 to less than 5 years old.
Austria to Suspend Lockdown for Unvaccinated (5:47 p.m. HK)
Austria will suspend a lockdown for the unvaccinated during year-end holidays, giving respite from one of the toughest coronavirus policies in Europe.
Unvaccinated people will be allowed to meet in groups of up to 10 on three days around Christmas, as well as New Year’s Eve, Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein told reporters Friday.
S. Africa Hospitalizations Plunge (2:45 p.m. HK)
South Africa’s hospital admission rate as a percentage of new Covid-19 cases identified dropped sharply in the second week of the current infection wave driven by the omicron variant, compared with the same week of the third wave.
Only 1.7% of identified Covid-19 infections in the second week of the fourth wave of infections were admitted to the hospital, compared with 19% in the same week of the third wave, which was driven by delta, South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla said.
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