COVID Live Updates: Home Prices Surge 18 Percent as More People Look to Relocate Amid COVID

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COVID Test Kits Los Angeles
A young girl receives a self-administered COVID-19 test kit at a screening center at the Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Medical Center Campus in South Los Angeles, California, on Dec. 27, 2021, as the Omicron variant continues to spread across the country. ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Home prices surge 18 percent as more people look to relocate amid COVID

Home prices continue to climb across the U.S. amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index shows prices increased 18.4 percent in October 2021, compared to the year prior.

The latest figures released Tuesday list Phoenix, Tampa and Miami as the hottest markets, up about 32 percent, 28 percent and 25.7 percent, respectively.

Las Vegas, Dallas and San Diego round out the top six, up 25.5 percent, 24.6 percent and 24.2 percent respectively.

S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index
Sources: S&P Dow Jones Indices and CoreLogic Data through October 2021, as included in a news release on Dec. 28, 2021. S&P Dow Jones Indices and CoreLogic

"We have previously suggested that the strength in the U.S. housing market is being driven in part by a change in locational preferences as households react to the COVID pandemic," Craig J. Lazzara, managing director at S&P Dow Jones Indices said in a news release.

California reports 5 million COVID cases

California became the first state to report more than 5 million known COVID-19 cases, according to the California Department of Public Health.

This milestone comes after data collected over the holiday weekend.

California averaged 25.3 new cases per 100,000 people and the positivity rate is up to 9.7 percent, according to state data released Tuesday, and COVID-related hospitalizations were up to 4,747.

The first case in the state was confirmed Jan. 25, 2020, and California reached 1 million infections on Nov. 11, 2020.

Flights across the world cancel due to rapid COVID spread

As COVID surges across the world, thousands of flights have been delayed or canceled.

According to tracking website FlightAware, 2,800 flights have been canceled Tuesday and more than 8,000 flights have been delayed.

Travelers trying to rebook for future flights are encouraged to book the earliest flights on any given day.

Kathleen Bangs, a former commercial airline pilot and current spokesperson for FlightAware, said, "The early bird gets airborne, statistically, with less delays and fewer cancellations. The later it gets in the day, the more likely your flight is to be delayed or canceled. As the day wears on, airlines have less options for passengers which is why if you really need to be on-time, taking the morning flight is often your best bet."

Universities issue new COVID measures

Universities are continuing to issue new protocols amid a surge in COVID-19 cases across the country.

Emory University will go virtual to start the spring semester. President Gregory Fenves said the school plans to transition back to in-person learning on Jan. 31, "should conditions permit."

While resident halls will be open, students are encouraged to delay their return to campus.

"I understand that beginning the semester with remote learning and teaching is inconvenient," Fenves said in a email. "But we must be adaptable during this surge so we can continue our important work...in the face of this ever-evolving pandemic."

Oregon State University is the latest school to require students, staff and faculty get a COVID booster shot.

More than 30 colleges have issued booster shot requirements since last week, including Boston University, New York University, the University of Chicago, Michigan State University, the University of Oregon, California State University and the University of California.

"In the days ahead, we will provide you more information about this booster requirement, including means and dates of when compliance will be required as you become eligible for a booster," Oregon State University officials said in an email.

In-person instruction and other campus activities are set to resume Jan. 3. Students will also be tested before returning to university-managed residence halls.

Multiple Texas centers run out of treatment effective against new COVID variant

The Associated Press reported that the Texas Department of Health and Human Services announced five large infusion centers in Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, San Antonio and the Houston area have run out of sotrovimab, the monoclonal antibody treatment effective against Omicron.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in an statement posted online that "supply of the drug is extremely limited, and additional doses of the product will not be available until the week of January 3rd."

The agency also stated that antibody drugs for coronavirus variants other than Omicron are still available.

U.S. issues new COVID travel advisories

The United States issued new travel advisories Tuesday due to COVID-19.

There are "Level 4: Do Not Travel" advisories for Sweden, Malta, French Polynesia, Suriname and New Caledonia.

COVID levels in these countries are "very high," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The U.S. advises people to avoid going to these areas and be fully vaccinated if they must travel.

Guatemala, Argentina and Gabon are under "Level 3: Reconsider Travel" advisories.

Level 3 countries have a "high" level of COVID. The CDC advises people are fully vaccinated before traveling to these countries.

College football bowl games canceled amid COVID increase

Four college football bowl games have been canceled so far due to COVID-19 protocols. Boise State is the latest team to be affected.

The school announced Monday they have stopped all football team activities due to COVID-19 protocols. The announcement means the Broncos will not compete against the Central Michigan Chippewas in the Arizona Bowl scheduled for Friday.

The decision was made in coordination with campus and public health officials along with Boise State's medical staff.

Biden revokes travel ban on southern African countries

President Joe Biden has lifted travel restrictions for 8 countries in southern Africa. The restrictions were issued in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 omicron variant that originated in South Africa.

"In light of these changed circumstances, and based on the recommendation of the CDC, I have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to revoke Proclamation 10315," Biden said.

In November, Biden issues the proclamation to suspend travel into the United States for non-citizens who had traveled to eight southern African countries, including Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana.

However, the variant has spread to more than 100 countries and is "prevalent" in the U.S. since the proclamation was issued.

Biden said health officials "have made substantial progress in understanding the Omicron variant" and the administration has implemented "stringent" international travel protocols.

Those guidelines include requiring international travelers to show a negative COVID test within one day of departure to the U.S., regardless of vaccination status.

"The travel restrictions imposed by that proclamation are no longer necessary to protect the public health," Biden said.

Germany tightens restrictions, bans New Year's Eve fireworks

New restrictions began Tuesday across Germany to slow the spread of the Omicron variant. Chancellor Olaf Scholz detailed the new mandates on gatherings ahead of New Year's Eve.

For vaccinated individuals, private gatherings are limited to 10 people. For unvaccinated individuals, private gatherings are limited to the household plus two other people.

Fireworks to celebrate the New Year will also be banned.

"We have to stand together and still keep our distance so that our country can get through well in the near future," Chancellor Scholz tweeted.

Clubs will be closed until further notice, and major national events, including soccer, will have no fans.

Monday night, thousands protested the new mandates across the country. Some demonstrations turned violent, resulting in arrests and officers injured.

First vaccine recipient in U.S. still encourages other to get their shot

The first person to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. is still advocating for Americans to get their shot.

New York nurse Sandra Lindsay just "happened to go first" when officials at Northwell Health's Long Island Jewish Medical Center asked for volunteers to get the vaccine on Dec. 14, 2020.

Lindsay witnessed the impact of the coronavirus firsthand as the director of critical care nursing at the Queens hospital.

"I just felt broken, defeated; just tired and burned out,'' Lindsay said. "Witnessing the overwhelming loss of lives, loss of livelihoods.''

More than a year later, she is still campaigning others to get vaccinated.

"I encourage people to speak to experts who can answer their questions, to access trusted science," Lindsay said. "I let them know that it's OK to ask questions."

FULL STORY: Sandra Lindsay, First to Get COVID Vaccine in U.S., Still Pushing for Shots 1 Year Later

COVID has halted many college basketball games

According to the Associated Press, this college basketball season is being hit hard by the pandemic.

With COVID-19 cases increasing, many games are being canceled and postponed. Reports indicate that dozens of teams have paused their basketball seasons due to the virus.

Some teams have been able to find quick replacements, like No. 6 Kansas, which played Nevada Wednesday night after Harvard canceled due to newly enforced COVID-19 protocols.

Other teams have not been able to find replacements when opponents have canceled, forcing them to extend their Christmas breaks.

Omicron accounts for about 59% of new COVID cases

The Omicron COVID-19 variant accounted for nearly 59 percent of new cases in the U.S. last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Tuesday's figure is lower than the CDC previously estimated last week.

The CDC revised its estimate of Omicron cases from 73 percent down to 22.5 percent for the week ending Dec. 18.

For the week ending Dec. 25, CDC data shows the amount of Omicron cases increased to account for 58.6 percent of new COVID cases.

Flight attendant union gives a statement after the CDC updated isolation rules

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA International President Sara Nelson released a statement expressing her disapproval of the CDC's new updated isolation rule.

Nelson pointed out how the new rule will cause a greater disruption for businesses, stating, "There are two significant caveats in the guidance that recognize concerns raised by our union. CDC recommends reducing quarantine to five days only if asymptomatic and with continued mask wearing for an additional five days. If any business pressures a worker to return to work before they feel better we will make clear it is an unsafe work environment, which will cause a much greater disruption than any 'staffing shortages.'"

The union's president continued her pushback in the statement by also stating, "After more than 800,000 funerals, millions suffering effects of long COVID, our hospitals so full people can't get the medical treatment they need, and frontline workers facing violent attacks simply for working to keep everyone safe, can we finally take this pandemic seriously and do what needs to be done to end it? Our workplace is the world. We will isolate ourselves from the world if we don't lead on safety. This is not freedom. Only truth and solidarity will get us there."

Expanded testing to keep NYC students in class

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio detailed a back-to-school plan for NYC schools Tuesday. The goal of "Stay Safe, Stay Open," is to keep students learning in classrooms safely as NYC battles the Omicron variant.

There will be a "wide distribution" of at-home test kits for every classroom, de Blasio said.

If a student tests positive, every student in that classroom will take home a COVID-19 test. All students will return to school the next day if they are asymptomatic and test negative.

"This guarantees more consistency in their education," de Blasio said.

New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi echoed the importance of keeping students physically present in class.

"Schools remain among the safest settings in our communities," Dr. Chokski tweeted.

"For any case identified in an NYC public school between October to December, only 1 in 120 close contacts developed COVID-19."

NYC schools are set to reopen on Jan. 3.

Cases, hospitalizations increase across U.S.

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have surged in recent days across the U.S.

New York state reported more than 5,500 COVID hospitalizations for the first time since February, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Monday. With 5,526 people hospitalized with COVID, this figure is a near 190 percent increase since Nov. 1.

There is also a steep increase in pediatric hospitalizations. Admissions for kids with COVID are at 184 statewide, up from 70 two weeks ago.

The COVID positivity rate in Louisiana hit 20 percent as hospitalizations doubled in one week, according to the state Department of Health.

Alabama is seeing a similar COVID positivity rate, as 18.2 percent of tests taken in the state over the past week came back positive, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

COVID cases surged over the holiday weekend in Florida, as the state reported 39,000 cases Monday.

Hospitalizations are increasing, but at a slower rate. Just under 5,000 likely COVID patients were admitted to hospitals last week, compared to just over 3,000 the week before, Florida Today reported.