COVID News: UFT calls for more testing of adults in NYC schools

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City Teachers' Union is now calling for more testing of adults in school buildings.

The UFT says testing is important to keep cases down in schools, especially now with the threat of the omicron variant.

The Department of Education says they have the country's largest schools surveillance testing program for students and provide courtesy testing for all staff.

School officials say so far this year, they have only had to close three schools due to COVID-19.

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



1st omicron case in US
A person in California became the first in the U.S. to have an identified case of the omicron variant of COVID-19, a U.S. official told The Associated Press on Wednesday. It comes as scientists continue to study the risks posed by the new strain of the virus. The Biden administration moved late last month to restrict travel from Southern Africa where the variant was first identified and had been widespread. Clusters of cases have also been identified in about two dozen other nations. The official could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

US moving to toughen COVID testing requirement for travelers amid omicron concerns
The Biden administration is moving to toughen testing requirements for international travelers to the U.S., including both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, amid the spread of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a Tuesday statement that it was working toward requiring that all air travelers to the U.S. be tested for COVID-19 within a day before boarding their flight. Currently those who are fully vaccinated may present a test taken within three days of boarding.

More than 1,000,000 New Yorkers boosted

More than one million New York City residents have now received a COVID-19 booster shot, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday. 89% of city residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 81% of 12 to 17 year olds and 16% of 5 to 11 year olds have received at least one dose, the mayor said. As of Wednesday morning, there have been no reported cases of the omicron variant in New York City. But more confirmed cases in Western European countries is "a real concern," said de Blasio.

Some NY hospitals near capacity
Five hospitals in NYC and Long Island have less than 10% capacity remaining and could have elective surgeries cancelled as soon as Friday. Two are in New York City: Long Island Jewish Forest Hills and Queens Hospital Center, both in Queens. There are three on Long Island: Long Island Community Hospital and Southside Hospital in Suffolk County and North Shore University Hospital in Nassau County. The five are on a state list that currently shows 37 hospitals in the state at 10% capacity or less. Under an executive order signed by Governor Hochul last week, any hospital with 10% or less capacity by Friday will need to shut down most elective surgeries until Jan. 15, 2022.

Pfizer to request FDA authorization for boosters for older teens
Pfizer will soon request FDA authorization to expand its booster shots to 16 and 17-year-olds. It's already approved for adults age 18 and older. Pfizer vaccines were authorized for adolescents in May, so some are nearing their six-month mark. The drug maker is also studying the omicron variant. Pfizer's CEO says the company is prepared to develop a new vaccine if necessary.

FDA endorses Merck COVID pill, paving way for US authorization of 1st at-home drug for virus
A panel of U.S. health advisers on Tuesday narrowly backed the benefits of a closely watched COVID-19 pill from Merck, setting the stage for a likely authorization of the first drug that Americans could take at home to treat the virus.

A Food and Drug Administration panel voted 13-10 that the drug's benefits outweigh its risks, including potential birth defects if used during pregnancy.

Health experts say omicron variant is result of COVID-19 vaccine inequity

The emergence of the new omicron variant and the world's desperate and likely futile attempts to keep it at bay are reminders of what scientists have warned for months: The coronavirus will thrive as long as vast parts of the world lack vaccines.

The hoarding of limited COVID-19 shots by rich countries - creating virtual vaccine deserts in many poorer ones - doesn't just mean risk for the parts of the world seeing shortages; it threatens the entire globe.

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