COVID-19 live updates: Omicron to infect over 50% of Europe’s population, WHO warns


(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 839,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

About 62.6% 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:

Jan 11, 5:07 pm
US daily case average surges past 750,000 following weekend data dump

On average, the U.S. is now reporting more than 750,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, a more than sixfold increase compared to one month ago, according to federal data.

On Monday, the U.S. recorded a single-day high of more than 1.4 million new cases, following soaring demand for tests and a backlog of weekend reporting data.

The surging national case numbers may not be indicative of what is happening in every region of the country and the overall increase in the U.S. does not necessarily mean that some regions will not see a plateau or decline in numbers.

Although the incredibly high case totals are most certainly due, in large part, to the country’s latest omicron surge, the data is incredibly volatile on a day-to-day level. Many states no longer report data over the weekends, which can create an illusion of very low totals on weekends and very high daily numbers on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Also, there was a major surge in demand over the holidays, which could artificially increase numbers. However, experts say overall totals are likely undercounted given the increased use of at-home COVID-19 testing.

-ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos

Jan 11, 4:14 pm
LA hospital ‘in complete disaster mode’

In Los Angeles, the hard-hit Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center is “in complete disaster mode,” Dr. Eric Snyder, medical director of the emergency department, told ABC News.

The emergency room is overflowing, with 22 patients currently waiting for beds.

“These are patients who’ve been accepted by a doctor, but have no place to go,” he said.

Snyder said the hospital is in far worse shape than at any point in the pandemic. Tents have been set up behind the hospital and a doctor is going patient to patient, hoping to send those home who don’t need hospital care, he said.

“We are 100% broken,” Snyder said.

-ABC News’ Matt Gutman

Jan 11, 3:45 pm
Maine, Massachusetts activate more National Guard members

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said he’s activating 500 more National Guard members to support the state’s strained health care system.

Baker had activated 250 National Guard members when students returned to classrooms in the fall to help with school transportation, ABC Boston affiliate WCVB reported.

In Maine, Gov. Janet Mills is activating up to 169 National Guard members to help overrun hospitals, ABC affiliate WMTW reported. Maine hit a hospitalization record Monday with over 400 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, according to WMTW.

Jan 11, 2:12 pm
New Orleans reinstates mask mandate ahead of Mardi Gras

New Orleans will reinstate its indoor mask mandate beginning Wednesday as the city gears up for Mardi Gras celebrations.

Masks will be required in restaurants, bars, gyms, entertainment venues and public transportation.

About 64.6% of New Orleans residents are fully vaccinated, according to the city.

People 5 and older must show proof of vaccination or a negative test to access indoor restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, bowling alleys, indoor playgrounds, arcades and similar settings.

Jan 11, 1:49 pm
Omicron estimated to account for 98% of new US cases: CDC

Omicron is estimated to account for 98.3% of new cases in the U.S. as of Jan. 8, according to new data released by CDC Tuesday. (These figures are calculated using modeling and may not be exact.)

Delta now accounts for only 1.7% of new cases nationally, forecasters estimate.

In three areas of the country — the deep South, the Southeast and the New York/New Jersey region — omicron is estimated to account for more than 99% of new cases.

In early December, omicron was estimated to account for just 0.6% of all new cases.

-ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos

Jan 11, 1:33 pm
White House limiting gatherings to 30 people due to omicron

The White House has been limiting its in-person gatherings to 30 people “over the last several weeks” due to the omicron surge, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

“We wear masks in the West Wing at all times, including in your office, unless you’re in your office alone,” Psaki said.

-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson

Jan 11, 1:11 pm
Fauci, Sen. Paul engage in heated exchange at Senate hearing

Dr. Anthony Fauci and Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul engaged in a heated exchange at a Tuesday Senate hearing on COVID-19.

When Paul claimed Fauci was attacking scientists who disagreed with him, Fauci responded, “you keep distorting the truth.”

“I brought together a group of people to look at every possibility with an open mind … you’re completely turning it around,” Fauci said.

Fauci said the purpose of the committee was to get help to the American public, but he said Paul instead chooses to “keep coming back to personal attacks on me that have absolutely no relevance.”

Fauci told the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions that Paul’s attacks are “for political reasons” and inspire “the crazies out there.”

Fauci referenced the December arrest of a California man who, at a traffic stop, was allegedly found with an AR-15 style rifle, loaded magazines, boxes of ammunition and body armor. Prosecutors said the driver downloaded TikTok videos, compiling a list of people he allegedly wanted to kill, including Fauci and former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Jan 11, 12:45 pm
US death toll, hospitalizations on the rise

The U.S. daily death average from COVID-19 is steadily rising, with an average of 1,550 new fatalities each day — up by about 44% since Christmas, according to federal data.

This average is still significantly lower than last winter when the nation peaked at about 3,400 deaths per day.

Indiana now has the nation’s highest death rate, followed by Delaware and Wyoming.

Nearly 146,000 Americans with COVID-19 are currently in hospitals — a pandemic high — according to new data from the Department of Health and Human Services.

On average, more than 18,500 virus-positive Americans are being admitted to the hospital each day, a figure which has more than doubled over the last month. It’s still not clear how many COVID-19-positive people in hospitals were admitted to the hospital for the virus or admitted for other reasons and coincidentally tested positive.

About 30% of hospitals (with available data) are facing critical staffing shortages.

-ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos

Jan 11, 12:23 pm
New York cases drop for 1st time in weeks

With 48,686 New Yorkers testing positive on Monday, the state saw a case drop for the first time in weeks, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced.

Hochul called this “a glimmer of hope,” but warned, “we are not at the end.”

While hospitalizations continue to rise, “the rate of increase is slowing, and to us that is very encouraging,” the governor said.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Jan 11, 10:52 am
Chicago handing out 1.5 million KN95 masks

Chicago residents can head to their local alderman’s office to get a free KN95 mask as the city distributes 1.5 million of them on Tuesday, ABC Chicago station WLS reported.

With another 4,793 daily cases, Chicago’s test positivity rate stands at 18.9% as of Tuesday, according to city data.

Jan 11, 10:25 am
Feds buy more monoclonal treatment that fights omicron

The U.S. government is buying 600,000 more doses of sotrovimab, the only the monoclonal antibody treatment expected to hold up against omicron, according to the drug makers, GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology.

These doses are set to be delivered to the government over the next two months, the drug makers said.

This brings total sotrovimab doses purchased by the federal government to approximately 1 million.

Short supply of sotrovimab has been a growing concern for the White House as omicron spreads.

Until recently the government had not invested in buying bulk stock of sotrovimab, as it has with other monoclonal treatments. The government spent billions buying Regeneron and Eli Lilly’s products to ensure there would be enough supply, but both of those may not hold up against omicron.

-ABC News’ Sasha Pezenik

Jan 11, 9:50 am
Florida sees over 126,000 cases in 1 weekend

Florida reported 126,704 new COVID-19 cases this weekend, ABC Miami affiliate WPLG reported, citing CDC data.

Orlando opened a new testing site Monday at Camping World Stadium.

Jan 11, 9:20 am
United cuts flights, 3,000 employees out with COVID-19

About 3,000 United Airlines workers currently have COVID-19, though none are in the hospital, the airline said.

On one recent day, one-third of all United Airlines employees at Newark Airport called in sick, the airline said.

United CEO Scott Kirby said the airline is cutting its near-term flight schedule to ensure they have enough staffing.

Kirby added that, prior to the vaccine requirement, United had one employee die each week from COVID-19.

-ABC News’ Sam Sweeney

Jan 11, 8:35 am
3 cities, 20 million people under lockdown in China

Some 20 million people across three Chinese cities are now under lockdown due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

Anyang, home to 5.5 million people, was the latest city to lock down its residents after discovering two cases of the fast-spreading omicron variant. Another 13 million people are under lock down in Xi’ian and 1.1 million in Yuzhou, with both cities still battling the highly contagious delta variant. Neither has reported any cases of omicron.

Meanwhile, restrictions have been imposed in the port city of Tianjin, about 80 miles southeast of Beijing, which is to host the 2022 Winter Olympics next month. The city’s 14 million people are being tested for COVID-19 after two locally transmitted cases of omicron were detected over the weekend — the first for mainland China.

-ABC News’ Karson Yiu

Jan 11, 7:58 am
Mexico’s president reveals he has COVID-19 for 2nd time

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been reinfected with COVID-19.

Lopez Obrador, 68, who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and received a booster shot in December, revealed Monday evening that he has tested positive for the virus a second time.

“Although the symptoms are mild, I will remain in isolation and will only do office work and communicate virtually until I get through it,” the president wrote on Twitter. “In the meantime, the interior secretary, Adan Augusto Lopez Hernandez, will take over for me at press conferences and other events.”

The announcement came after two of the president’s cabinet secretaries announced that they had tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days. Lopez Obrador attended a press conference earlier Monday without wearing a face mask.

The president, who has been accused of downplaying the highly contagious omicron variant as “a little COVID,” contracted the virus for the first time and recovered in early 2021.

Jan 11, 7:00 am
Red Cross declares ‘dire’ blood shortage as omicron surges

The American Red Cross said on Tuesday it’s facing its worst blood shortage in over a decade.

“While some types of medical care can wait, others can’t,” said Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer of the Red Cross, in a statement. “Hospitals are still seeing accident victims, cancer patients, those with blood disorders like sickle cell disease, and individuals who are seriously ill who all need blood transfusions to live even as Omicron cases surge across the country.”

The Red Cross, which supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood, said it saw donor numbers fall as the delta variant of COVID-19 spread in August. The number of blood donors has fallen by about 10% since the beginning of the pandemic. That trend continued as omicron spread, the organization said.

“We’re doing everything we can to increase blood donations to ensure every patient can receive medical treatments without delay, but we cannot do it without more donors,” Young said. “We need the help of the American people.”

Jan 11, 6:27 am
Omicron to infect over 50% of Europe’s population within weeks, WHO warns

The highly contagious omicron variant is expected to infect more than half of Europe’s population within the next two months, the World Health Organization’s top official in the region warned Tuesday.

Over 7 million newly confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported across Europe in the first week of 2022, more than doubling over a two-week period. So far, 50 countries in the region have detected omicron infections, according to Dr. Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe.

Kluge said omicron, which was first identified in southern Africa in November, “represents a new west-to-east tidal wave” and is “quickly becoming the dominant [variant] in western Europe and is now spreading in the Balkans.”

“As of Jan. 10, 26 countries report that over 1% of their population is catching COVID-19 each week,” Kluge told reporters during a press conference Tuesday. “At this rate, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation forecasts that more than 50% of the population in the region will be infected in the next six to eight weeks.”

Jan 11, 4:40 am
Over 65,000 Los Angeles public school staff and students test positive for COVID-19

More than 65,000 public school staff and students in Los Angeles have tested positive for COVID-19 as the nation’s second-largest school district returns to classrooms on Tuesday.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is requiring all employees and students to get tested for COVID-19 before returning for the Spring semester. Staff headed back to campuses on Monday, while the first day of classes for students was pushed back to Tuesday.

As of Monday evening, 424,230 employees and students have been tested and 65,630 were positive for the virus. The student positivity rate stands at 16.6% and the employee positivity rate stands at 14.9%, according to data released by the Los Angeles Unified School District.

“Our positivity rate remains lower than the overall county positivity rate as a result of our heightened safety measures and the continued partnership of families and employees,” the school district said in a statement Monday evening.

Since the start of the pandemic, Los Angeles County has reported a total of more than 2 million cases of COVID-19, with a positivity rate of 21.4%, according to data released Monday evening by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Jan 11, 2:49 am
Pentagon spends $442.1 million on Pfizer antiviral pills

The U.S. Department of Defense announced a $442.1-million contract with Pfizer to produce 835,000 doses of Paxlovid, the first oral antiviral authorized to treat Covid-19.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Monday he expected distribution of the pill to rise “exponentially” in the coming months, with 6 million courses available by March.

The Pentagon’s announcement came less than a week after the White House announced it would double its purchase of Paxlovid from 10 million to 20 million treatment courses, with 10 million treatment courses ready by June.

The estimated completion for the Pentagon’s contract was set for the end of March, officials said on Monday.

ABC News’ Sasha Pezenik

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