COVID Live Updates: France to Impose New Restrictions as Cases Soar

Live Updates
  • Hundreds of flights canceled after Christmas Day, as more employees test positive for COVID-19.
  • President Joe Biden joined the White House COVID-19 Response Team call with the National Governors Association Monday.
  • New York City's vaccine mandate took effect Monday, requiring nearly all private-sector workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Some European Nations added restrictions before New Year's Eve, amid spike in Omicron cases.

Live updates for this blog have ended.

COVID testing site
People wait outside a COVID testing site in New York City on December 20, 2021. Some people who have already had COVID before are catching the Omicron variant, data shows. Spencer Platt/Getty

France to impose new restrictions as cases soar

France will impose new restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19, French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Monday.

Beginning next week, public gatherings will be limited to 2,000 people indoors and 5,000 people outdoors.

Castex said working from home will be mandatory at least three day a week, when possible.

Concert-goers will be asked to sit during shows and customers will not be allowed to stand up in bars.

In addition, eating and drinking will not be allowed in cinemas, theaters, sport facilities and public transportation.

Schools will reopen on January 3, as scheduled.

The change comes after 100,000 COVID-19 cases were recorded in a single day across the country.

FEMA made disaster assistance available for COVID-19 testing

According to a White House issued memorandum, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has made available emergency and disaster assistance to get COVID-19 testing to the places that need it most.

The memorandum stated, the Administrator of FEMA shall issue a mission assignment to the Department of Health and Human Services on a fully reimbursable basis, to provide testing sites.

FEMA will also fund 100 percent of the cost of activities associated with the mission assignment.

CDC shortens quarantine, isolation times

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revised its recommended isolation and quarantine periods regarding COVID-19, the agency announced Monday.

The CDC is reducing the recommended isolation time from 10 to 5 days for those who test positive for COVID-19, if the individual has no symptoms, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask around others.

The CDC is also reducing its quarantine recommendations for those who are exposed to COVID-19.

For individuals who are unvaccinated or not boosted, CDC recommends a 5 day quarantine followed by strict mask use for 10 additional days. Those who have received a booster shot do not need to quarantine, but should wear a mask for 10 days.

"CDC's updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and protection provided by vaccination and booster doses," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

Connecticut to distribute millions of at-home tests, N95 masks

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced Monday that the state will distribute 3 million at-home COVID-19 tests and 6 million N95 facemasks to residents.

"Connecticut is currently experiencing another surge in COVID-19 cases that is being driven mostly by the highly transmissible Omicron variant," Lamont said in a statement. "As a result, the demand for tests has outpaced the supply of testing available through our statewide network of about 400 sites."

Lamont said he expects cases to surge between Christmas and New Year's Day. According to state data, the COVID test positivity rate in Connecticut is up to 10.71 percent.

The first 500,000 iHealth test kits are expected to take two weeks to distribute. An additional one million test kits will be distributed to K-12 schools across Connecticut.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health, Connecticut Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and Connecticut National Guard will oversee the distribution in coordination with local officials. Each kit contains two tests.

Economists warn of global economic downturn in early 2022

World economists have downgraded U.S. global growth expectations for the early part of 2022 as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

With COVID raging across the world consumers are staying home to avoid getting sick causing businesses to struggle.

The U.K. government decided not to enforce strict restrictions after reviewing hospitalization data.

Health Minister Sajid Javid encouraged people to celebrated New Year's Eve outdoors if possible.

U.S. health officials consider reduced quarantine times

U.S. health officials are considering shorter quarantine and isolation periods for workers outside of healthcare who test positive for COVID-19, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN Monday.

"There are a lot of people in society that are essential for the smooth running of the infrastructure of our society," Dr. Fauci told ''New Day.''

"So the idea about cutting down the period of quarantine for people who have been exposed, and perhaps the period of isolation for people who have been infected, is something that is under, I would say, serious consideration."

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control revised its guidance for health care workers who test positive for COVID-19. Now, workers with no or mild symptoms can return to work after seven days.

U.S. should consider a vaccine mandate for domestic flights, Fauci says

Chief White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said the United States should "seriously" consider a vaccine mandate for domestic air travel.

"There's requirements whether you want to get into college or a university, if you want to work in certain places, and if you make vaccinations a requirement that's another incentive to get more people vaccinated," Fauci told MSNBC Monday.

"If you want to do that with domestic flights, I think that's something that seriously should be considered," he added.

The U.S. requires foreign nationals to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before traveling to the U.S. There is currently no vaccine mandate for domestic travel.

Over the holiday weekend, hundreds of flights were canceled or delayed due to COVID outbreaks among flight crews.

Thousands of New York residents received booster shot since start of city's incentive

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday, approximately 180,000 COVID-19 booster shots had been administered since the start of the city's latest vaccine incentive.

de Blasio's spokesperson Danielle Filson said on twitter, the $100 incentive announced last week for city-run sites has helped bring the number of booster shots given in the five boroughs from a little over 1.7 million doses to more than 1.9 million.

Along with its latest incentive, the city's new mandate for private employers to check their employees' proof of vaccination goes into effect Monday.

The New York mayor stated, "It's the holidays. We want to protect each other". "The number one way to keep everyone safe is to get vaccinated."

Cruise cancels two stops amid Covid outbreak

A COVID-19 outbreak hit another Florida-based cruise ship.

Carnival Freedom departed from Miami on December 18 for an eight-day trip.

"A small number on board were isolated due to a positive COVID test," Carnival said in a statement to Newsweek.

The total number of people infected was not released, but the ship was denied entry to Bonaire and Aruba because of the outbreak.

Carnival called Freedom a ''vaccinated cruise'' and all guests were tested before boarding.

The ship returned to Miami on December 26, as scheduled.

It marked the third outbreak last week, impacting cruise ships departing out of South Florida.

NBA expands testing, encourages players to get boosted

New testing protocol for players in the National Basketball Association (NBA) went into effect Sunday as COVID cases continue to rise in the league.

The new testing plan for players yet to get their booster shots will remain in place through Jan. 8. The league is encouraging players to get their extra vaccine dose.

There are at least 116 players known to be in testing protocols, but that number could be higher as teams update their injury reports.

Several teams have at least one active COVID case. This has impacted team rosters and game schedules.

"This is the reality of this association right now," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra told the Associated Press.

"This virus is so complex that it really isn't about us. And then now you're dealing with the complexity of this new variant and if you've been fully vaccinated and have a booster shot and you feel fine...then hopefully your return to play or return to work as a staff member can be quicker."

Flight to Shanghai turned back under new COVID rules

A Delta Air Lines flight headed from Seattle to Shanghai was forced to turn around midair because of new pandemic-related cleaning procedures at a Shanghai airport, Delta said Monday.

The new requirements implemented at Shanghai Pudong International Airport, "require significantly extended ground time and are not operationally viable for Delta," Delta said in a statement.

The flight returned to Seattle last week. According to Chinese media, the move left passengers with expired COVID-19 test results and U.S. visas.

Restrictions have been tightened in some areas of China amid the recent outbreak of cases due to the Omicron variant. The Winter Olympics are set to begin in Beijing February 4.

New York's pediatric hospital admissions increased since Omicron surged

Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett addressed vaccination and hospitalizations rates for children and teens ages 5-11 alongside New York Govenor Kathy Hochul at a press conference Monday.

Bassett stated that there has been an increase in pediatric admissions since Dec.5.

As Omicron is rapidly spreading through New York, Governor Hochul is encouraging the FDA to approve vaccines for kids under 5.

Biden on COVID testing availability: 'It's clearly not enough'

President Joe Biden joined the White House COVID-19 Response Team's call with the National Governor's Association Monday.

During the call, Biden said the COVID response is a state issue.

"There is no federal solution," he said. "This gets solved on the state level."

Biden reiterated the main points of his COVID response plan that he outlined in a speech last week. He offered White House support to the governors and told them that "if you need something, say something."

He also noted that testing capabilities have expanded significantly since he took office, including the increased availability of at-home test. But Biden recognized that amid the Omicron surge, "it's clearly not enough."

"Seeing how tough it was for some folks to get a test this weekend shows that we have more work to do and we're doing it," he said.

"If we had known, we would have gone harder and quicker if we could have," he added.

NYC vaccine mandate goes into effect Monday

New York City's vaccine mandate for private-sector businesses goes into effect Monday.

The sweeping mandate will require employees to show proof of at least one does of the COVID-19 vaccine and ban unvaccinated employees from the workplace.

This affects about 184,000 workers, according to the Associated Press. Businesses that do not comply with these new requirements could face fines starting at $1,000.

"We're implementing the strongest vaccine mandate in the country," Mayor Bill de Blasio said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Monday. "This is what we need to do everywhere. Every mayor, every governor, every CEO in America should do vaccine mandates now...2022 has to be the year we leave COVID behind."

Around 2 million travelers at U.S. airports Sunday

Air travel volume returned closer to pre-pandemic levels Sunday, as airlines battle employee shortages due to Omicron.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers screened just over 2 million travelers at U.S. airports December 26.

In 2020, about 1.3 million people were screened on December 26.

Around 2.58 million travelers were screened on December 26, 2019, according to the TSA.

Hundreds of flights canceled, delayed due to COVID

Hundreds of flights were canceled across the country this weekend as COVID-19 cases surge among flight crews and airport workers.

As of Sunday morning, some 633 flights within, into or outside the U.S. were canceled, according to the data tracking website FlightAware. The website also noted that 531 flights were delayed.

These disruptions comes as airline staff call in sick. Delta said it expected more than 300 of its flights would be canceled on Sunday, December 26 as a result due to a surge in Omicron cases as well as poor winter weather.

"The airline canceled 368 mainline and connection flights of the day's schedule that included approximately 3,000 scheduled flights after exhausting all options and resources to prevent those cancelations," Delta said in a statement on Christmas Day. "We apologize to customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans. Delta people are working together around the clock to reroute and substitute aircraft and crews to get customers where they need to be as quickly and safely as possible."

FULL STORY: Hundreds of Flights Canceled After Christmas Day As Omicron Misery Continues