COVID News: Omicron appears less severe than delta, new data finds

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- Encouraging new data suggests the omicron variant, while highly contagious, is less severe than the delta variant.

The variant has now been found in 21 states, as the U.S. continues to see 1,150 COVID deaths every day.

That's up 57% from last week.

Health experts say the number one way to stay vigilant is to get vaccinated and boosted.

Here are more of today's COVID-19 headlines:



Senate votes to repeal Biden's vaccine mandate for private companies
The Senate voted Wednesday night to repeal President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate on private businesses with over 100 employees by a vote of 52-48.

Two Democrats crossed party lines and voted with all Republicans present to repeal the mandate. Both Democratic yes votes, cast by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Jon Tester, D-Mont., were expected.

While the legislation has now passed the Senate, it will almost certainly not impact the mandate.

It's unclear if the senate passed repeal will be brought up in the House. Speaker Pelosi is not required to bring it up for a floor vote, and at least 218 signatures would be needed to force consideration. Even then, if the House were to pass it, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that Biden would veto it should it land on her desk.

CT seeing 'extremely concerning' spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations
Connecticut has seen an "extremely concerning" rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations in recent weeks, health officials said, as the number of cases also continues to trend up.


The state health department reported at least 500 hospitalizations on both Monday and Tuesday, marking a roughly 80% increase in the past two weeks -- and the highest numbers since April.

Study raises renewed alarm about missed cancer diagnoses during pandemic
Oncologists have been warning about dangerous gaps in cancer care since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, a nationwide study based on data from Veterans Affairs hospitals is raising new alarms.

Since March 2020, COVID-19 has caused a disruption in surgeries and treatments for patients with cancer. At different periods during the pandemic, some states have also required health care facilities to suspend elective procedures, many of which include cancer screenings, to preserve resources during COVID surges.

Staten Island school goes remote amid surge in COVID-19 cases
A school on Staten Island is going all remote for 10 days amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. P.S.62, The Kathleen Grimm School for Leadership and Sustainability at Sandy Ground, is the fifth public school forced to cancel all in-person classes due to coronavirus cases. The school, in the Rossville section, will be closed through Monday, December 13. The school reported five full classroom closures and eight partial classroom closures.

Class-action lawsuit planned against NYC's private-sector vaccine mandate
The lawsuits continue against New York City's vaccine mandate, with the latest coming from a Staten Island attorney who wants to file a class-action suit on behalf of anyone who works in the city that doesn't want to get vaccinated. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the most aggressive vaccine mandate in the country, requiring private-sector workers to get vaccinated by December 27.
"We are going to be filing a class-action lawsuit, we received dozens, dozens of calls yesterday and dozens more today, on behalf of any employee," attorney Louis Gelormino said. "Anybody that works in New York City that has a job in New York City, this could be from 16 years old to 75 years old, anybody that works in New York City that doesn't want to get the vaccination, we are going to be filing a class-action lawsuit on their behalf."


Pfizer says booster dose of COVID vaccine offers protection against omicron variant
Pfizer said Wednesday that a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine may protect against the new omicron variant even though the initial two doses appear significantly less effective. Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said lab tests showed a booster dose increased by 25-fold the level of so-called neutralizing antibodies against omicron. Pfizer announced the preliminary laboratory data in a press release and it hasn't yet undergone scientific review. The companies already are working to create an omicron-specific vaccine in case it's needed.

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