(NEW YORK) — As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.4 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 824,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
About 62% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern.
Dec 31, 5:13 pm
People infected with omicron variant have reduced risk of hospitalization: Study
A report published on Friday by the U.K. Health Security Agency found that people who were infected with the omicron variant had a reduced risk of requiring hospitalization, as compared to people who were infected with the delta variant.
The risk of hospital admissions among those with omicron was about half of that for delta, researchers found.
Individuals who had a booster dose were also found to have a “substantial reduction” in the risk of hospitalization, compared to those who are unvaccinated.
Researchers noted that these lower risks do not necessarily correlate to a reduced hospital burden during a COVID-19 surge, particularly given the higher growth rate and immune evasion seen with omicron.
Preliminary analyses also estimated a lower risk of hospitalization among omicron cases in school-aged children 5 to 17 years old, compared to delta cases in the same age group.
-ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos
Dec 31, 4:24 pm
Rep. Ayanna Pressley latest lawmaker to test positive
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., is the latest lawmaker to test positive for COVID-19. Pressley announced the news Friday afternoon, saying she was experiencing “relatively mild ” symptoms and isolating.
She also took the opportunity to say she was vaccinated and boosted and advocate for others to do the same.
“Vaccines save lives,” she said in a statement. “With this unprecedented pandemic continuing to rage, I am deeply grateful for the scientists, researchers, and frontline healthcare workers who have worked tirelessly to develop vaccines that are safe and effective, and ensure that our communities are protected.”
Pressley, who has garnered national attention as a member of “The Squad” alongside Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, is one of more than a dozen members of Congress to test positive in the past two weeks. Illinois Rep. Chuy Garcia announced Thursday that he had also tested positive for a breakthrough case and was experiencing mild symptoms.
Dec 31, 2:24 pm
COVID surge continues in New York, single-day case record broken
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to surge in New York. The state is reporting more than 76,000 positive cases over the last 24 hours, marking another single-day record for the state.
“We’re breaking records every day,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said Friday at a COVID-19 briefing.
Meanwhile, nearly 8,000 New Yorkers were in the hospital with the virus on Thursday, an increase of more than 500 from the previous day.
Hochul announced that students in the State University of New York and City University of New York systems will need to receive their booster shot by Jan. 15, or whenever they are eligible for the extra shot. The requirement affects roughly 2.3 million students across the state.
The governor also said she is extending the mandate that businesses require either masks or vaccines, by two weeks, to Feb. 1.
Hochul pushed the importance of vaccines, especially for 5 to 11-year-olds, only 28% of whom have received their first dose, according to Hochul.
“We are not going to leave any stone unturned in terms of finding out how we can get parents to do the right thing for their children,” she said.
In a piece of encouraging news, the number of hospitals in the state with less than 10% capacity has dropped from 35 to 21, according to Hochul, who signed an executive order in November that required hospitals with such limited capacity to pause non-essential surgeries.
-ABC News’ Will McDuffie
Dec 31, 12:40 pm
Texas governor requests federal COVID-19 aid
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has requested resources for federally-supported COVID-19 testing locations, medical personnel, as well as additional federal allocations of monoclonal antibodies.
“Detecting COVID-19 and preventing COVID-related hospitalizations are critical to our fight against this virus,” Abbott said in a press release Friday.
Texas has seen more than 104,000 confirmed COVID cases in the past week, with a 22.30% testing positivity rate, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronaivrus Research Center. The center also reports that the state has a 58.45% vaccination rate.
Dec 31, 10:47 am
US breaks weekly COVID-19 case record
The United States has recorded 2.2 million confirmed COVID-19 cases over the last week, setting a grim record as the highest number of cases confirmed in one week.
The previous record was set just a few days earlier from Dec. 22 to Dec. 29, when the U.S. confirmed 1.9 million COVID-19 cases. Before that, the previous record totaled 1.75 million cases from Jan. 5 to Jan. 11 at the start of 2021.
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