COVID-19 Live Updates: Covid-19 Cases in Kids Increasing, Pediatric Report Says

Live Updates

Cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant are "likely to rise" in the coming weeks while the country continues to struggle with the Delta strain, CDC chief Rochelle Walensky has warned.

Over a dozen U.S. states have reported cases since the first Omicron infection was found in California last week. Other states affected so far are Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, researchers in South Africa and elsewhere are rapidly investigating the variant amid fears it could trigger a major wave of infections across the world due to more infectiousness and could possibly evade current vaccines.

The live updates for this blog have ended.

COVID-19 cases increase amongst children

According to a report from The American Academy of Pediatrics, COVID-19 cases in kids are up 32% from two weeks ago.

For the week ending November 18, there were at least 141,905 new cases among children, with children making up a disproportionate number of the cases, representing more than a quarter of all new Covid-19 cases for the past week.

The report also stated the number of children with Covid-19 is still considered "extremely high."

Dr. Anthony Fauci said, "With millions of people still unvaccinated, that "results in the dynamic of virus in the community that not only is dangerous and makes people who are unvaccinated vulnerable, but it also spills over into the vaccinated people because no vaccine is 100% effective."

Most states have at least 70 percent of ICU beds in use

Nearly all U.S. states have at least 70 percent of intensive care unit (ICU) beds in use, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HSS).

According to the HSS data, at least six states have 85 percent or more of ICU beds in use. Rhode Island and New Mexico currently have the highest percentage of ICU beds in use, with 92 percent and 90 percent, respectively.

Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, South Dakota and Wyoming are the only states with less than 70 percent of their ICU beds in use.

This comes as COVID-19 cases have increased across the country.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the U.S. was averaging around 106,132 new daily cases per week December 3, up from around 70,000 in October.

FULL STORY: Nearly Every State Has 70 Percent of ICU Beds or More in Use as COVID Cases Climb

NYC mayor announces new vaccine mandate for kids

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has imposed a vaccine mandate for kids aged 5 to 11.

Starting Dec. 14, kids will be required to show proof of one vaccine for indoor dining and other activities.

Mayor de Blasio stated, "We've got Omicron as a new factor. We've got the colder weather which is going to really create additional challenges with the Delta variant, we've got holiday gatherings," de Blasio said Monday as he announced the mandate on MSNBC. "We in New York City have decided to use a preemptive strike to really do something bold to stop the further growth of COVID and the dangers it's causing to all of us."

New York program to help homeowners affected by pandemic

The federal government approved $539 million for a program to help homeowners affected by the coronavirus pandemic, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced Monday.

Hochul said the New York Homeowner Assistance Fund is the first of its kind in the United States.

According to state officials, the program is "dedicated to assisting homeowners who are at risk of default, foreclosure or displacement as a result of a financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic."

Cruise ship with COVID infections sets sail with new passengers

A Norweigan Cruise ship sets sail again with new passengers after it docked with 17 people who tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend.

The nine crew members and eight passengers infected with coronavirus were fully vaccinated and showed no symptoms. The ship returned to New Orleans Sunday after stopping in Mexico, Belize and Honduras.

Passengers were tested for COVID-19 Saturday and those who left the ship received take-home rapid tests Sunday.

The new passengers who boarded the Norwegian Breakaway Sunday were able to cancel their trip without penalty. COVID vaccines are required to board.

"Guests who opt to sail must wear masks while indoors except while actively eating or drinking and will be tested twice during the cruise," the company said in a statement.

FULL STORY: Norwegian Cruise Ship Sets Sail Again After Docking With COVID-Infected Travelers, Crew

NYC Mayor imposes new vaccine mandate for private-sector workers

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that all private-sector employees in New York City will be required to be vaccinated against COVID by the end of this month.

The New York mayor's sweeping decision comes as cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant climb in the U.S.

"We've got Omicron as a new factor. We've got the colder weather, which is going to really create additional challenges with the Delta variant. We've got holiday gatherings. We in New York City have decided to use a preemptive strike to really do something bold to stop the further growth of COVID and the dangers it's causing to all of us," de Blasio said.

Miss Universe pageant continues despite Omicron spread

The Miss Universe pageant will continue as planned, despite a contestant testing positive for COVID-19 and the global spread of the Omicron variant.

The pageant will be held in Israel and is scheduled to air live on Fox on December 12.

Mississippi confirms first case of COVID-19 Omicron variant

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reported the first case of the COVID-19 Omicron variant in the state on Monday, December 6.

This comes after a fully vaccinated individual, who was not hospitalized contracted the virus after traveling to New York.

MSDH State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs stated, "We were prepared for the appearance of this variant in Mississippi, and we need to remember that Delta is still a very active variant of COVID-19 currently in the state, as vaccines remain the best public health measure to protect people from COVID-19, slow the transmission rate and reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging," Dobbs said. "COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death."

Mississippi now joins 16 other states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Washington) in the U.S. that have reported cases of Omicron.

Hippos in Belgiun zoo test positive for COVID-19

Two hippos in a Belgium zoo test positive for COVID-19.

The hippopotami, named Imani and Hermien, show no symptoms other than "runny noses," the Antwerp zoo said in a news release. The animals are being kept in isolation.

The zoo does not know how the hippos were exposed to COVID, as none of their caretakers have tested positive for coronavirus or displayed symptoms.

"To my knowledge, this is the first known contamination in this species," zoo veterinarian Francis Vercammen said. "Globally, this virus has mostly been reported in great apes and felines."

Several zoo animals and pets have tested positive for the virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the risk of animal-to-human transmission is low, the CDC warns people can spread COVID-19 to pets.

Massachusetts hospitals fire workers who refuse to get COVID vaccine

Massachusetts hospitals began firing workers who refuse to comply with COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Southcoast Health hospital system fired 216 of its 7,500 employees last week, spokesperson Katie Cox told the Herald News of Fall River.

Additionally, 102 workers who were placed on unpaid leave for missing the November 15 vaccination deadline have returned to work after providing proof of their first dose of the vaccine. They will be tested regularly until they are fully vaccinated, Cox said.

Southcoast Health operates several facilities, including Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford and Tobey Hospital in Wareham.

UMass Memorial Health, which operates several hospitals in central Massachusetts, fired more than 200 employees who refused to get vaccinated, CEO and President Dr. Eric Dickson told The Telegram & Gazette.

"It was for the safety of other staff members and patients that we had to do this," spokesperson Debora Spano said.

Pandemic stress affecting Americans of all ages, new poll finds

A new poll finds Americans of all ages have been faced with mental and emotional struggles due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The poll from MTV Entertainment Group and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research also states teens and young adults have been having a hard time as well. More than a third of Americans ages 13 to 56 say the pandemic is a major source of stress, and many say it has made certain parts of their lives harder.

Roughly half of Americans across generations, including Gen Z, said the pandemic led to struggles having fun and maintaining mental health.

FDA approves antibody treatment for young children with COVID-19

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Eli Lilly's monoclonal antibody treatment for children under the age of 12.

This is the first antibody drug approved to treat young children, including infants, with COVID-19 who are at a high risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death.

"Now all patients at high risk of severe COVID-19, including children and newborn babies, have an option for treatment and post-exposure prevention," Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. "Children under one year of age who are exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 may be at particularly high risk for severe COVID-19 and this authorization addresses the medical needs of this vulnerable population."

The FDA previously approved this treatment for high-risk COVID-19 patients ages 12 and older.

EU leads as biggest COVID vaccine donors globally

According to the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der leyen, the EU is the biggest donors of COVID-19 vaccines in the world.

Von der leyen said that the EU has shared 350 million doses so far, but she vowed that the EU will do more.

She also stated, "Our aim is to ensure that 70 percent of the world's population is fully vaccinated by the middle of next year."

Norwegian Cruise Line ship reports 17 positive COVID-19 cases

A Norwegian Cruise Line ship returned to New Orleans Sunday with 17 positive COVID-19 cases.

The company initially reported 10 cases. All of those cases were asymptomatic, the cruise line said in a statement Sunday.

The ship left New Orleans on November 28 and traveled to Belize, Honduras and Mexico, the Louisiana Department of Health confined in a news release Sunday.

The Louisiana Health Department believes there is "one probable case" of the Omicron variant identified amount the crew.

Norwegian said all passengers and crew members are required to be vaccinated prior to departure.

"We are testing all individuals on Norwegian Breakaway prior to disembarkation, as well as providing post-exposure and quarantine public health guidance by the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]," the company said in a statement. "Any guests who have tested positive for COVID-19 will travel by personal vehicle to their personal residence or self-isolate in accommodations provided by the company."

FDA gears up for National Influenza Vaccination Week

The Food and Drugs Administration has begun its week-long campaign to boost the number of people getting a flu shot this year.

New York City introduces tough vaccine mandate

Mayor Bill de Blasio has told MSNBC just now that all private sector employees will be required to get a shot and vaccine passports will be required for children 5-11 who want to enter restaurants.

We in New York City have decided to use a preemptive strike, to really do something bold to stop the further growth of COVID and the danger it is causing to all of us.

South African president asks for $100 billion for continent

Cyril Ramaphosa, tweeting about the money awarded to African Union countries, has decried the "paltry" $33 billion given by richer nations during the pandemic and called for more.

WHO director slams countries over flight bans on African countries

An outraged Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has taken to Twitter once again to condemn the actions by many countries - including the U.S. - to block inbound flights from several African countries.

He said it "remains disappointing" the measure - designed to stop the spread of the Omicron COVID variant - is still being adopted despite calls from the World Health Organization for a rethink and a likening to apartheid by the United Nations.

Croatia confirms first Omicron cases

The European country has reported two infections involving the variant in the past week, health officials confirmed.

Over 40 countries now have confirmed and active cases of the strain, fuelling concerns it could rapidly overtake Delta as the most dominant.

Fauci slams senator over COVID 'overhyping' accusations

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson compared Fauci's handling of the pandemic to AIDS while appearing on Fox News host Brian Kilmeade's radio show on Wednesday, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - but the White House doctor was having none of it.

Hitting back, Fauci asked: "How do you respond to something as preposterous as that?"

Overhyping AIDS? It's killed over 750,000 Americans and 36 million people worldwide. How do you overhype that? Overhyping COVID? It's already killed 780,000 Americans and over 5 million people worldwide.

FULL STORY: Anthony Fauci Rips GOP Sen. Ron Johnson's 'Preposterous' Accusation He's 'Overhyped' COVID

Russia confirms first Omicron cases

Two people who recently returned from South Africa have tested positive for the variant out of 10 arrivals who tested positive for COVID in general, according to independent Russian news agency Interfax.

President Vladimir Putin last week told officials to create a plan to tackle the variant should it put significant strain on hospitals in the country.

Over 80 percent of COVID vaccine 'have gone to G20 countries' - WHO

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has been critical of the lack of vaccines being donated to poorer nations by the wealthiest.

The figures show the stark contrast between the vaccinated population in each continent, with Europe and North America hosting the most vaccinated countries in the world.

Fauci: Omicron 'does not look like there's a great degree of severity to it'

The White House expert said that while it remains too early for experts to make conclusions, early reports suggest that Omicron might result in less severe COVID infections in comparison to the Delta variant.

During a Sunday appearance on CNN's State of the Union, he still urged caution as researchers continue to investigate the severity of the strain.

Thus far, it does not look like there's a great degree of severity to it. But we have really got to be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or it really doesn't cause any severe illness, comparable to Delta.

Which states have active cases?

Almost 20 states have recorded cases of the variant since its discovery in the U.S. last week - the first state to confirm being California.

But in the days since, cases have been cropping up everywhere, with 17 states recording infections as of yesterday. Here are the states affected:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

Omicron spreads to 17th state

In less than a week, the variant has spread rapidly across over a dozen U.S. states - the latest being Georgia. Health officials confirmed the state's first Omicron infection last night.

The person recently traveled from South Africa and developed mild symptoms, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. They are now isolating at home and contact tracing is underway to identify close contacts at risk of infection.

Good morning and welcome to Newsweek's liveblog

It is hoped this week scientists investigating the COVID-19 Omicron variant will be able to say confidently just how dangerous it is. In the meantime, the new strain is spreading across the U.S. and the world.

Follow Newsweek's liveblog throughout Monday for all the latest.