COVID Omicron News: 75% of NYC employers say omicron delayed return to work, survey says

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- According to a survey by the Partnership for New York City, 75% of employers delayed their return to office plans due to the omicron surge.

38% of employers expect daily office attendance will exceed 50% before the end of March.

22% of companies are unable to provide an estimate of when they'll exceed 50% attendance.

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

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

Starbucks no longer requiring US workers to be vaccinated
Starbucks is no longer requiring its U.S. workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, reversing a policy it announced earlier this month.

In a memo sent Tuesday to employees, the Seattle coffee giant said it was responding to last week's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. In a 6-3 vote, the court rejected the Biden administration's plan to require vaccines or regular COVID testing at companies with more than 100 workers.

Murphy announces vax mandate for NJ health care and other workers
NJ Gov. Phil Murphy is requiring workers in health care and high-risk congregant living settings to be fully vaccinated and boosted, with no test out option. Unvaccinated health care workers must get their first dose by January 22 and must have completed the primary vaccination series by February 28. Unvaccinated workers in high-risk congregate living facilities, including prisons, have a little more time. Those deadlines are February 28 for first does and March 30th for second doses. Those already vaccinated have to get their booster shots by Feb. 28 and March 30.

US begins offering free COVID-19 tests, but doubts persist
For the first time, all Americans can log on to a government website and order free, at-home COVID-19 tests. But the White House push may do little to ease the omicron surge, and experts say Washington will have to do a lot more to fix the country's long-troubled testing system.

The website,, allows people to order four at-home tests per household and have them delivered by mail. But the tests won't arrive for seven to 12 days, after omicron cases are expected to peak in many parts of the U.S.

Teaneck hospital sees drop in hospitalizations, ICU patients
COVID case rates are on the decline in New Jersey, including at one hospital in Teaneck that is seeing hospitalizations drop.

In the first frightening wave of COVID-19, Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, was the epicenter of pandemic. It went through waves of sick patients and staffing issues. The recent omicron variant came right at the height of the holidays and once again more patients needed help.

NYC winter tourism
As the city tries to bounce back from a crippling financial blow due to the pandemic, it has now kicked off "New York City Winter Outing." This year's campaign includes special deals at restaurants, broadway shows, and for the first time, hotels. Officials hope it sends a strong signal that the city is open for business. The specials run through February 13.

Debunking the idea viruses evolve to become less deadly over time
Scientists warn that omicron's whirlwind spread across the globe practically ensures it won't be the last worrisome coronavirus variant. As evidence mounts that the omicron variant is less deadly than prior COVID-19 strains, one oft-cited explanation is that viruses always evolve to become less virulent over time. The problem, experts say, is that this theory has been soundly debunked. The idea that infections tend to become less lethal over time was first proposed by notable bacteriologist Dr. Theobald Smith in the late 1800s. His theory about pathogen evolution was later dubbed the "law of declining virulence."
When am I contagious if infected with omicron?
When am I contagious if infected with omicron? It's not yet clear, but some early data suggests people might become contagious sooner than with earlier variants - possibly within a day after infection. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the few days before and after symptoms develop. But that window of time might happen earlier with omicron, according to some outside experts. That's because omicron appears to cause symptoms faster than previous variants - about three days after infection, on average, according to preliminary studies. Based on previous data, that means people with omicron could start becoming contagious as soon as a day after infection.
Stay home or work sick? Omicron poses a conundrum for workers without paid sick days
As the raging omicron variant of COVID-19 infects workers across the nation, millions of those whose jobs don't provide paid sick days are having to choose between their health and their paycheck. While many companies instituted more robust sick leave policies at the beginning of the pandemic, some of those have since been scaled back with the rollout of the vaccines, even though omicron has managed to evade the shots. Meanwhile, the current labor shortage is adding to the pressure of workers having to decide whether to show up to their job sick if they can't afford to stay home.

"It's a vicious cycle," said Daniel Schneider, professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. "As staffing gets depleted because people are out sick, that means that those that are on the job have more to do and are even more reluctant to call in sick when they in turn get sick."

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Omicron variant symptoms: what to know even if you are vaccinated
New York City COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker
New Jersey COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus

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