COVID Omicron News: FDA approves another at-home test as virus surges across the country

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Thursday, December 30, 2021
COVID cases hit new highs worldwide
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ABC's Ines de la Cuetara has more on rising COVID cases

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The new wave of COVID-19 infections continues to rise shattering record highs, set at the peak of last winter's surge.

New daily cases have more than doubled over the last two weeks, as concerns grow amid the fast-approaching New Year celebrations.

Meantime, the FD has authorized another at-home COVID-19 test.

One manufactured by Siemens was given approval Wednesday, and another by SD Biosensor gained approval Christmas Eve.

Now the Department of Health and Human Services says this will bring tens of millions of new tests per month in the United States amid the wave of new cases.

RELATED: What are the symptoms of the COVID omicron variant?

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

Adams says private-sector vaccine mandate to remain

Mayor-elect Eric Adams laid out his game plan to confront the COVID crisis in the new year, including how he plans to keep schools open as cases continue to surge.

Adams held a COVID news conference Thursday morning, unveiling his plans as he prepares to take office this weekend.

Adams said the plan is to, "Keep our city open. That's the goal. We can't shut down our city again." As for existing mandates regarding vaccines and masks, they will stay in place with a few changes and adjustments.

6 NJ school districts switching to remote learning amid spike in cases

Six school districts in Hudson County have decided to switch back to remote learning next week as daily COVID cases skyrocket in New Jersey.

Bayonne, Harrison, Union City, West New York, Weehawken and North Bergen will go remote from Jan. 3 to at least Jan. 7. But the largest school district in the county -- Jersey City -- still plans to hold in-person classes, as does Hoboken.

Woman spends 5 hours in airplane bathroom after testing positive for COVID mid-flight

A woman spent five hours in an airplane bathroom after learning she tested positive for COVID-19 mid-flight.

Marisa Fotieo, a teacher from Chicago, revealed in a Dec. 20 TikTok video that was flying from Newark International Airport to Iceland when her throat started to hurt. She took a self-test and tested positive for coronavirus.

CDC warns travelers to avoid cruise ships, 'regardless of vaccination status'

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new warning Thursday to avoid all cruise ship travel -- regardless of vaccination status -- amid dozens of reported COVID-19 outbreaks.

The alert comes the agency says 88 vessels are now either under investigation or observation, but it does not specify how many COVID-19 cases have been reported.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective for children: 3 CDC studies say

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for children, according to three new studies released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One study, which evaluated the safety reports of more than 42,000 children ages 5 to 11 who received a Pfizer shot, found the side effects from the Pfizer vaccine were mostly mild and temporary. It also found that myocarditis, a heart inflammation side effect that has been associated with the mRNA vaccines in very rare cases, does not appear to be a risk.

2 doses of J&J vaccine 85% effective against hospitalizations, real-world study finds

A real-world study of South African health care workers found that two doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine offer 85% protection against hospitalization from the omicron variant.

Separately, the company announced new data from a laboratory study that shows its vaccine likely also works well as a booster for people who got the Pfizer shots originally.

Knicks' Julius Randle enters NBA's health and safety protocols

New York Knicks All-Star forward Julius Randle has entered the league's health and safety protocols and will not play against Oklahoma Cityon Friday, the team announced. Randle, who is averaging 19.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and has played in every Knicks' game this season, played in Wednesday's 94-85 victory against the Detroit Pistons. Under the newly revised quarantine rules under the protocols, Randle could potentially return sometime next week.

CT rapid tests stuck on the West Coast

Connecticut municipalities were notified overnight that the arrival of 500,000 at-home coronavirus testing kits was delayed by "shipping and warehouse delays" on the West Coast, and they will not be distributed as planned Thursday. "No test kit flight overnight. No distributions on Thursday will be possible. More info as received," Gov Lamont's office told the towns. Several municipalities had events surrounding the distribution planned that are now cancelled. Greenwich had already decided that a portion would be set aside for seniors. Bridgeport launched an online registration portal for interested residents to begin signing up.

Some subway lines suspended due to COVID staffing shortages

The B, W, and Z subway lines are suspended due to COVID staffing shortages. The MTA said, "Like everyone in New York, we've been affected by the COVID surge. We're running as much train service as we can with the operators we have available."

JetBlue to reduce schedule through Jan. 13

JetBlue says they are now proactively reducing their schedule through January 13. They say they also expect crew cases and cancellations will surge in the coming weeks.

"While the new CDC guidelines should help get crewmembers back to work sooner, and our schedule reduction and other efforts will further ease day-of cancellations, we expect the number of COVID cases in the northeast - where most of our crewmembers are based - to continue to surge for the next week or two. This means there is a high likelihood of additional cancellations until case counts start to come down," a statement from JetBlue read.

Westminster Kennel Club postpones dog show

Due to the surge of the omicron variant in New York City, the West Minster Kennel Club has announced the decision to postpone the 146th annual dog show. A new date will be announced when confirmed, according to the Westminster Kennel Club president.

What to do if your flight is canceled as omicron-related crew shortages leave thousands stranded

A rise in cancellations during the busy holiday travel season has left thousands of passengers around the country stranded in airport lounges as they attempt to get back home. Airline representatives said that the recent surge in omicron COVID-19 cases has grounded flight crews, and as a result, they don't have enough people to fly their scheduled flights. While such a predicament is hard to plan for, travel experts say affected passengers still have options to reach their destination, or in the worst-case scenario, ride out their extended stay with as little hassle as possible.

Exposed to COVID at a holiday gathering? What to know about quarantining, testing

So many families gathered this weekend, but COVID-19 didn't hide as Santa Claus was coming to town. The U.S. is now averaging 198,404 new coronavirus cases each day as of Sunday, the day after Christmas, according to new data from Johns Hopkins University. That's 47% higher than a week ago and the highest such number since Jan. 19. Those who were exposed to COVID-19 while attending a holiday gathering or visiting loved ones should get tested five to seven days after the day of exposure, said ABC News' contributor Dr. Darien Sutton. Here's what you need to know.

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