COVID live updates: Chicago cancels classes as teachers vote for remote learning

(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 827,000 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.

Jan 05, 6:55 am
Michigan governor isolating after husband’s positive test

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was isolating after her husband, Dr. Marc Mallory, tested positive for COVID-19, her office said in a statement.

Whitmer’s office said the governor tested negative on Tuesday using a rapid test. She was awaiting the results of a PCR test.

“Thankfully, the entire family is fully vaccinated and boosted, so the governor has not tested positive and is not experiencing symptoms,” Whitmer’s office said in a statement. “Until the PCR test comes back, the governor is isolating in a separate area of the house and has taken steps to complete contact tracing to keep others safe.”

Jan 05, 2:43 am
Chicago cancels classes after teachers vote for remote learning

Chicago Public Schools canceled its Wednesday classes after the Chicago Teachers Union voted against in-person learning amid a wave of COVID-19 cases.

All classes, both in-person and virtual, and all after-school activities have been cancelled.

“I understand your frustration and deeply regret this interruption to your child’s learning,” said Pedro Martinez, chief executive of the schools. “We want out children back in their classrooms as soon as possible and will continue working with the CTU to reach an agreement that addressed their concerns and that is in the best interest of all in our CPS community, especially our children.” 

About 88% of the union’s leadership and 73% of members voted on Tuesday to return to remote education, the union said in a statement.

“To the parents and guardians of this city, we want you to know that when you put your children in our care we put their well-being and safety first,” the union said in a statement. “We fight for your children like they are our own, because they are. As this pandemic continues, we will do everything in our power to ensure that our classrooms are the safest and healthiest places for your children to learn, thrive and grow.”

Teachers were being locked out of their Google Classrooms, the union said on Twitter.

Jan 05, 1:49 am
Mayo Clinic lays off 1% of staff for vaccine noncompliance

Mayo Clinic said it will lay off about 1% of its staff for failing to get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by a company deadline.

“While Mayo Clinic is saddened to lose valuable employees, we need to take all steps necessary to keep our patients, workforce, visitors and communities safe. If individuals released from employment choose to get vaccinated at a later date, the opportunity exists for them to apply and return to Mayo Clinic for future job openings,” Mayo Clinic said in a statement to ABC.

Last October, Mayo Clinic had set a Jan. 3 deadline for all employees to get at least their first vaccine dose or face dismissal.

The health care organization said the number of staffers being let go was “comparable to what other health care organizations have experienced in implementing similar vaccine requirement programs.”

Mayo Clinic employs about 73,000 people, according to its website.

Jan 04, 7:53 pm
FDA: Do not swab your throat with at-home COVID-19 tests

The FDA is warning people not to swab their throats as part of an at-home COVID-19 test.

In a statement obtained by ABC News, the FDA said that is not how the tests were designed and it could pose a safety concern.

“The FDA advises that COVID-19 tests should be used as authorized, including following their instructions for use regarding obtaining the sample for testing,” the statement said.

Social media posts promoting at-home COVID-19 rapid test swabbing techniques claim that throat swabs collect a better sample. However, this hasn’t been proven for currently authorized tests.

– ABC News’ Sony Salzman

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.