NEW YORK (WABC) -- Amid concerns about the rapidly spreading omicron variant, Dr. Anthony Fauci is reminding Americans that we already have the tool to fight the spread.
"Our booster vaccine regiments work against omicron," he said. "At this point, there is no need for a variant-specific booster."
While a specific booster is not needed, booster shots, in general, have been shown to greatly restore antibody levels in the fight against omicron.
Here are more of today's COVID-19 headlines:
MSG requiring proof of vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11
MSG Entertainment announced Thursday that in order to comply with the City's COVID-19 vaccination mandate for children, it will begin checking for proof that children ages 5 to 11 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to gain entry to MSG Entertainment venues.
As of tomorrow, December 17, MSG Entertainment is pleased to announce that it is working with the de Blasio Administration to have an onsite mobile unit at Radio City Music Hall that will provide vaccinations exclusively for children ages 5 to 11. The mobile site will be located at 44 West 51st Street (between 5th and 6th).
MSG Entertainment venues include: Madison Square Garden, Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theatre.
Health advisers recommend Pfizer/Moderna
A CDC committee recommends opting for Pfizer or Moderna over J&J, if given the choice-- The CDC's advisory committee recommended Thursday that people who have a choice should get an mRNA vaccine, either Pfizer or Moderna, over the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine after a review of new CDC data on rare blood clots linked to J&J.
The vote was unanimous.
The rare blood clots are not a new safety concern, and the vaccine has already become far less common in the US after it was given an FDA warning label about the clotting condition. But more data that confirmed a slightly higher rate of clotting cases and deaths than was previously reported caused the CDC and FDA to take another look at the data this week.
No plans for NYC schools to go remote
Amid increasing cases in New York City, the Education Department informed superintendents and principals that "there is no plan for a systemwide school closure and pivot to remote learning."
However, superintendents and principals are being advised that increasing cases could lead to increased class closures.
"Our schools are some of the safest places to be for our students and staff due to our multi-layered approach to health and safety, which is why only one percent of classrooms are in quarantine at this moment," the education department said in a statement. "In anticipation of a winter increase in cases we already started hiring more Situation Room staffers, expanded in-school testing to include teachers, fully vaccinated our staff and offered vaccinations to every student, and are constantly in communication with schools to reiterate the importance of closely following safety measures."
103 Marines discharged for refusing to take COVID vaccine
One hundred three Marines have been discharged for refusing to take the COVID vaccine, the Marine Corps said Thursday, as the military services have begun to discharge a pool of possibly as many as 30,000 active duty service members who still refuse to be vaccinated -- even after multiple opportunities to do so past vaccination deadlines.
Proof of vaccination required for Hoboken SantaCon
Any Hoboken bar or restaurant participating in a bar crawl must require attendees to show proof of vaccination in order to enter that establishment on Saturday, Dec. 18, and Sunday, Dec.19.
The SantaCon bar crawl returns this Saturday, Dec. 18, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
NYC mayor details 6-pronged approach to curbing COVID
The COVID-19 positivity rate nearly doubled over three days in New York City, and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced to steps Thursday to hopefully slow the surge. Cases in the city have tripled in the last month, and Health Commissioner Dr. David Chokshi expects they will continue to rise based on patterns in the United Kingdom and South Africa.
"We have seen a very substantial increase in COVID cases in the past few days," de Blasio said. "It is clear that the omicron variant is here in New York City in full force, and we are announcing a series of measures."
Those measures include:
--Issuing a health advisory with guidance on keeping safe, including recommendations for mask wearing, vaccination, testing and booster shots
--Increase testing capacity with more mobile sites and a doubling down on brick and mortar sites, along with creating new fixed sites an expanding hours of operation
--Distributing 1 million kn95 masks to health centers and clinics
--Distributing half a million at home rapid tests, all for free
--Doubling down on boosters, being aggressive with a paid media campaign to encourage all who qualify to get a booster
--Doubling down on inspections to enforce all current mandates in place
Broadway shows cancel performances, Met Opera to require booster shots
Broadway has taken a major hit this week after several shows, including "Hamilton," canceled some performances due to COVID concerns. Some of the major musicals include "Hamilton," "Tina - The Tina Turner Musical," "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," and "Ain't Too Proud," all of which had some shows canceled due to positive COVID cases. In each case, at least one member of show's cast or crew tested positive for the coronavirus.
Apple delays return to offices indefinitely
Apple will delay bringing its workers back to the office until a "yet to be determined" date while giving all of its corporate and retail employees $1,000 to buy equipment for their home offices. The development was shared with Apple employees in an email from CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday, according to multiple reports. Apple confirmed the details of the email to CNN Business. The Silicon Valley giant's move comes amid a rise in Covid-19 cases and concerns about the spread of the Omicron variant. Earlier this week, Apple reinstated a mask mandate at all of its US stores and is reportedly also closing some of them because of a surge in cases.
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