COVID Omicron News: Push for 1st coronavirus treatment pills to go to NY

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Monday, January 3, 2022
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With two new pills now authorized by the FDA to fight the effects of COVID, there's a push for New York to be first in line for the initial shipments.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- With two new pills now authorized by the FDA to fight the effects of COVID, there's a push for New York state to be first in line for the initial shipments.

Supplies of Pfizer's Paxlovid and Merck's Molnupiravir are scarce as production continues to ramp up.

Senator Charles Schumer of New York says the feds should prioritize the roughly 400,000 treatment rounds now available for places most affected by the omicron surge, including New York.

Schumer likens the pills to Tamiflu, because they can be taken at home and help keep people out of the hospital.

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

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

NY COVID-19 hospitalizations spike to peak levels, but deaths lower

COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York have reached a level not seen since last January as the winter surge related to the omicron variant continues to spike cases. About 50,000 people tested positive for COVID Sunday, Governor Kathy Hochul said, numbers she believes are artificially low because of the holiday weekend. Hochul said 9,563 people were hospitalized with coronavirus, up from 8,773 the day before. The peak last winter came on January 19, when 9,273 people were hospitalized.

"We're not in a good place, I'm going to be really honest," she said. "This is the winter surge we predicted."

NJ hospitalizations reach levels not seen in months

New Jersey reported its highest number of COVID patients hospitalized since May of 2020 on Monday. Statewide, 4,715 patients hospitalized with coronavirus is up 76% in a week.

"Take omicron serious. Go get tested," Governor Phil Murphy said during a briefing.

New Jersey has recorded six straight days of more than 20,000 confirmed positive tests. Murphy said the figure is under counted because people testing at home are likely not reporting to local officials.

Connecticut's COVID positivity rate soars to 21.5%, Lamont urges vaccination

Connecticut's COVID positivity rate soared to a new record at more then 21%, fueled by the omicron variant, and Governor Ned Lamont is urging residents to get vaccinated to curb the spread. Lamont is trying to strike an optimistic tone about COVID in his state in the face of soaring numbers, anticipating that because omicron cases tend to be on the milder side, the surge will eventually lead a decline in numbers. Right now, though, the statewide positivity is 21.5%, and Connecticut is definitely seeing the increase in demand for testing.

FDA expands Pfizer boosters for more teens as omicron surges

The U.S. is expanding COVID-19 boosters as it confronts the omicron surge. The Food and Drug Administration on Monday allowed extra Pfizer shots for children as young as 12. Boosters already are recommended for everyone 16 and older, and the FDA says they're also warranted for 12- to 15-year-olds. The FDA also said everyone eligible for a booster can get one as early as five months after their last dose rather than six months. But the move, coming as classes restart after the holidays, isn't the final step. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must decide whether to recommend boosters for the younger teens.

New York City schools reopen with new COVID safety measures

New York City public schools are resuming in-person classes today with extra precautions in place. Starting this week, both vaccinated and unvaccinated students will now be tested. New York City will also double the amount of weekly testing in public schools. The city has also changed its rules to limit quarantine. Instead of an entire classroom shifting to remote learning, when one or more students test positive, all students in the class will be given a rapid at-home test.

More than 100,000 hospitalized with COVID in US

More than 100,000 Americans are starting the new year in the hospital, sick with COVID-19, according to new data updated Monday morning from Health and Human Services. A total of 103,000 patients are currently receiving care, up by 130% or 58,000 people from early November. The newly updated figures are now just shy of the hospitalization peak seen during the summer delta surge, when a total of 104,000 Americans were hospitalized in early September. Last winter, a record 125,000 patients were hospitalized at one time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

US Secretary of Defense tests positive

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin announced Sunday on Twitter that he has tested positive for COVID-19. Austin met with President Biden on Tuesday, Dec. 21, more than a week since he reportedly began to experience symptoms and tested negative that morning. Austin is fully vaccinated, including a booster shot, which he gives credit for rendering the infection to a much more mild state. Until further notice, he will be attending meetings virtually in order to retain all authorities.

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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