Between Christmas and New Years, Doctors Expect Omicron’s Push to Increase

The United States now registers an average of 198,404 new cases of Covid-19 each day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University on Sunday. That’s 47% more than a week ago and the highest number since January 19.

“I think we’re going to see half a million cases a day – easy – over the next 10-day week,” CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner told CNN on Sunday.

About 71,000 Americans were hospitalized with Covid-19 on Sunday, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

And an average of 1,408 Americans died from Covid-19 each day during the week ending Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins. This is an increase of 17% from the previous week.

With the highly contagious variant of Omicron, “We’re definitely going to continue to see an increase (in cases) for quite some time,” Dr Anthony Fauci told CNN on Monday.

Looking ahead to New Years Eve on Friday, small gatherings of fully vaccinated people will be safe, Fauci said. But he advised people to avoid major holidays where they don’t know the immunization status of all guests.

“When you talk about a New Years party where you have 30, 40, 50 people celebrating, you don’t know the vaccination status, I highly recommend you: avoid that this year,” Fauci said, the director. of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases.

“There will be other years to do it. But not this year.”

More and more children are hospitalized with Covid-19

Pediatric hospitalizations linked to Covid-19 continue to increase and are approaching the record set in early September.

Nearly half of Covid-19 tests performed at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, come back positive, the hospital’s chief infectious disease officer told CNN on Monday.

This is an indication of how quickly the new Omicron variant is spreading in the community, said Dr Roberta DeBiasi. But so far, she said, affected children aren’t any sicker than they were when the previous variants were circulating. There are just more of them.

“We’ve just seen a striking increase in (…) both the volume – the number of positive tests – and the percentage of positive tests,” DeBiasi told CNN in a telephone interview. “We’ve had up to half of the tests – 48% of the tests – positive and it’s much, much higher than in previous waves where it was more in the order of 17% at most. The raw number of positives, in the last wave we were in awe of about 80 positives a day and we had almost 200 positives some days. So it’s very – it’s just very, very contagious. “

But so far, there is no indication that the Omicron variant causes more serious illness, she said.

“We didn’t see any difference in severity,” DeBiasi said.

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago has reported that the number of children testing positive is “incredibly high,” attending physician and infectious disease specialist Dr. Larry Kociolek told CNN Monday.

“Hospitalizations have quadrupled from our baseline over the past week,” Kociolek told CNN. Fortunately, many of these infections are either mild infections or incidental positives, as we screen all children before procedures and at the time of admission, and we have in fact not seen any change in the number of children. admitted to the ICU. “

Half of the hospitalizations were in children under 5, Kociolek said. Children in this age group are not yet eligible for vaccination.

“I think we are definitely seeing the impact of vaccines in children over the age of 5. Almost all children in hospital are not vaccinated,” Kociolek said.

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For the week ending December 24, an average of 262 children were hospitalized with Covid-19 on any given day, according to data from DHHS and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That’s almost a 35% jump from the previous week. The record daily average of Covid-19 child hospitalizations was 342 per day in late August and early September.

About 75,000 children, from babies up to 17, have been hospitalized with Covid-19 since August 2020, according to CDC data.

New York City Enacts New Vaccine Mandate

New York State broke a single-day record for new Covid-19 cases, with 49,708 new Covid-19 cases reported on Christmas Eve, according to data released Sunday by Governor Kathy Hochul’s office .

“As we return from holiday gatherings, it is more important than ever to take precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 this season,” Hochul said in a statement. “The vaccine is the best tool we have to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe as the New Year approaches.”

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The average number of new daily Covid-19 cases in New York City has climbed 644% in the past two weeks to 19,268, according to the New York Times.
The highly contagious variant of Omicron was a factor in New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to implement a vaccine mandate for private sector employees, effective Monday. The updated rules require workers to have at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine by Monday and do not allow employees to withdraw through regular testing.

Children between the ages of 5 and 11 in New York City are now also required to show proof of at least one shot before being allowed into indoor dining, fitness or entertainment venues. And adults must show proof of two vaccinations for those areas.

Private sector requirements align with those already in place for public sector employees in the city and similar restrictions in major cities across the country.

“We have to take very bold steps,” said de Blasio. “We are seeing restrictions start to come back. We are seeing closures,” he said. “We can’t let these restrictions revert. We can’t have closures in New York.”

The city is still planning a “reduced” New Year’s celebration.

CDC Cuts Isolation Time For Asymptomatic People With Covid-19

As more hospitals are overwhelmed, the CDC has released new guidelines that will allow some healthcare workers who receive Covid-19 to return to work faster. Medical workers who test positive but have no symptoms can return to work within seven days if they test negative within 48 hours of returning to work.
CDC shortens isolation time for some healthcare workers
That “isolation time can be further reduced in the event of a staff shortage,” the CDC said on Thursday.

But the new guidelines apply only to healthcare workers. On Monday, the CDC also updated its recommended isolation and quarantine period for the general population.

The CDC has shortened the recommended isolation time from 10 days for people with Covid-19 to five days, if asymptomatic, followed by five days of wearing a mask in the presence of other people.

“The change is driven by science showing that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the illness, typically within 1-2 days before symptoms appear and 2-3 days after. “the CDC said. in a press release announcing the updated guidelines.

The CDC has also updated its recommended quarantine period for people exposed to Covid-19.

For those who aren’t vaccinated, haven’t received a second dose of mRNA in more than six months, or haven’t received a booster, the CDC recommends quarantine for five days, followed by strict use. of the mask for an additional five days.

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People who have received their booster do not need to self-quarantine if they are exposed to Covid-19, but they must wear a mask for 10 days after exposure, the statement said.

The CDC said it “continues to assess the isolation and quarantine recommendations for the general population as we learn more about the Omicron variant and update the public as appropriate.”
The emergency guidelines for healthcare workers were formulated due to concerns about the Omicron variant and possible staff shortages, the CDC said.
About 75% of all intensive care beds nationwide were in use and about 21% were occupied by Covid-19 patients, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services on Sunday.

At Tufts Medical Center in Boston, the CDC’s new directive was good news.

“We have 115 staff members sick with Covid this morning who have tested positive,” COO Diana Richardson said on Monday.

“But some of them are not that seriously ill. In fact, some of them are completely asymptomatic – we have a highly vaccinated population. So that will help us get these people back into the workforce.”

Vacationers stranded as Omicron skyrockets

Thousands of flights were canceled over the holiday weekend – in part due to winter conditions, but in large part due to downsizing of airline staff, with employees reporting ill.
Travel nightmare: 2,000 additional flights canceled on Monday
More than 2,000 flights were canceled on Monday, according to flight tracking site FlightAware. This is in addition to the approximately 1,200 Sunday flights that were canceled.
And at least four ocean-going cruise ships were turned away from ports or banned from allowing passengers to disembark last week due to cases of Covid-19 on board.
Sporting events have also been postponed or canceled due to the increased spread of Covid-19. At least five college football games have been affected, including two games canceled this weekend. Professional basketball and hockey have also been slowed down by the virus.

The best way to protect yourself against serious illness is to get vaccinated and get vaccinated, Fauci said.

“Boosters are always good for any variant, but especially for Omicron,” he said.

“If you have been vaccinated and have not yet received a booster, and it is time to do so, please do so. It will make all the difference in preventing you from contracting serious illness. “

CNN’s Virginia Langmaid, Deidre McPhillips, Artemis Moshtaghian, Jacqueline Howard, Veronica Stracqualursi, Pete Muntean, Aaron Cooper, Wayne Sterling and Jill Martin contributed to this report.

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