Covid-19 Live Updates: Only One State in U.S. Has Not Detected Omicron

Live Updates
  • President Biden spoke about coronavirus and the Omicron variant Tuesday as the White House says it is "prepared for the rising case levels" of COVID-19. Biden said the U.S. is "not going back to March 2020."
  • He pushed for Americans to get vaccinated, saying it is "free, convenient and saves lives." Biden also said he believes getting vaccinated is "your patriotic duty."
  • Biden said his administration purchases half a billion at-home rapid COVID-19 tests that will be available for every Americans who wants one in January 2022. The administration will set up a website where people can get tests delivered to their homes for free.
  • Biden will also mobilize 1,000 military medical personnel to overburdened hospitals in an effort to confront surging COVID-19 infections and the new, highly-transmissible Omicron variant.
The Moderna Covid-19 vaccine awaits administration at
The Moderna Covid-19 vaccine awaits administration at a vaccination clinic in Los Angeles, California on December 15, 2021. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

49 States now have confirmed Omicron cases

As Covid cases are on a rise before the Christmas holiday, 49 states have confirmed cases of the raging new Covid variant, Omicron.

South Dakota is the only state that hasn't identified any cases.

Michigan hospitals in 'worse situation' today than Spring 2020

Henry Ford Health System officials are bracing for a spike in COVID-19 infections as the Omicron variant spreads across the state.

"We are in a worse situation today than the previous COVID-19 surges that we've experienced in the state of Michigan," Dr. John Deledda, Department Chair of Emergency Medicine of Henry Ford Health System, said during a news conference Tuesday.

"Today more people are hospitalized across the state of Michigan than during the first surge in the Spring of 2020."

As of Tuesday morning, about 400 patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized or waiting to be admitted.

President of Healthcare Operations and Chief Operating Officer Bob Riney reported a 21% increase in infections among individuals between the ages of 21 and 35 this week, compared to the week prior.

Riney expressed concern for January, following holiday travel and gatherings.

"We are bracing for a spike in infections and hospitalizations which could and has the potential to be our largest surge yet."

City of Chicago to require people to be vaccinated to enter certain public places

Chicago Department of Public Health announced starting January 3rd, the City of Chicago will require patrons of certain indoor spaces to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

They stated in a tweet, "This decision is driven in part by the Omicron variant and is in line with requirements already in place in other big cities including NYC and LA".

New Orleans moving forward with Mardi Gras plans

New Orleans will hold its Mardi Gras festival in 2022 despite fears of Omicron cases after last year's festival was canceled due to the raging coronavirus.

Mayor Cantrell said, "the big news and the best news is that Mardi Gras is returning to the City of New Orleans and the world in 2022," she said. "It is happening."

"It is definitely the focus of balance—public safety being that top priority, but making sure that we can balance our economy, balance our culture in ways that we celebrate here in New Orleans."

FULL STORY: New Orleans to Hold Traditional Mardi Gras Festival Despite Rapid Moving COVID Spikes

White House shares grave statistic for unvaccinated people

Unvaccinated people are 14 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than vaccinated people, according to the White House.

During a press briefing Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stood in front of visual aids while answering questions about the coronavirus.

A graph showed the death rate of unvaccinated people is 14 times higher than the death rate for fully vaccinated people.

"The best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated and to get boosted," Psaki said.

White House Vaccination Stats
The White House released statistics on the death rates between vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans. Unvaccinated people are 14 times more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to those who are fully vaccinated. The White House

Covid Test website will be set up by Biden Adminastration

The White House announced more than 500 million at-home COVID-19 tests are set to be distributed to people across the United States.

The Biden Administration will set up a website in January where Americans can go to get at-home tests delivered to their home for free.

Biden considering reversing Omicron travel ban

President Biden said he is considering reversing the travel ban on southern African countries due to the Omicron variant.

Biden reminded reporters the travel ban was put in place to see how much time the U.S. had before Omicron arrived "so we can begin to decide what we needed by looking at what's happening in other countries."

"But we're passed that now," Biden said.

The president said the travel ban reversal is "something that is being raised with me by the docs." He said he will speak with his team and have an answer soon.

Biden assures vaccinated Americans they can celebrate with family for Christmas

During a press briefing, President Joe Biden reassured Americans that if they are vaccinated, they can still proceed with their holiday plans without fear of becoming seriously ill.

"I know some Americans are wondering if you can safely celebrate the holidays with your family and friends. The answer is, yes you can if you and those you celebrate with are vaccinated, particularly if you've gotten your booster shot," Biden said in a White House speech Tuesday.

Biden says 'this is not March 2020'

President Biden said we are not going back to how things were in the beginning of the pandemic.

"This is not March 2020," Biden said. "We're prepared. We know more. We just have to stay focused."

Biden said the country is in a better position to fight the virus than it was in March 2020.

He said more than 200 million people are fully vaccinated, which should add "peace of mind" that people are safe and protected.

Biden said the U.S. is "more ready" to tackle the coronavirus now than it was last year because we are stockpiling masks and ventilators and have more resources to keep schools open.

Biden notes Trump's booster shot announcement

During his speech on COVID-19, President Joe Biden encouraged Americans to get their booster doses.

Biden said he got his booster and noted that former President Donald Trump recently said he received his.

"I got my booster shot as soon as they were available and just the other day former President Trump got his booster shot," he said.

"It may be one of the few things he and I agree on," Biden added.

Biden said getting vaccinated is "free, convenient and saves lives." He added that vaccination is "your patriotic duty."

FULL STORY: Joe Biden Touts Donald Trump Getting His COVID Booster in Latest Speech on Omicron

President Biden showing no symptoms of COVID after exposure

During a press briefing White House press secretary Jen Psaki revealed President Biden has no symptoms after he came into close contact with a White House staff member who tested positive for COVID-19.

Psaki stated the president's speech will still be held this afternoon.

White house press secretary hold news briefing before Biden speech

White House press secretary Jen Psaki is holding a press conference ahead of President Biden's speech Tuesday afternoon.

Here's how to watch: Live | The White House

Minnesota Governor tests positive for COVID-19

Minnesota Governor Tim Waltz has tested positive for COVID-19.

He and his wife tested positive with a PCR test Monday after their son tested positive over the weekend. All three are vaccinated and Waltz and his wife are boosted.

Waltz said he is not experiencing any symptoms and will quarantine for 10 days.

While he said he is upset to miss Christmas traditions with his family, he noted "those things will have to wait."

He encouraged Minnesotans to get tested, vaccinated and boosted.

Atlanta reinstates indoor mask mandate

Atlanta, Georgia has reinstated its indoor mask mandate as the Omicron COVID-19 variant spreads.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued an executive order for the city-wide mandate Tuesday. Maks must be worn in all public and private buildings. The city is also back in the Yellow Zone, the highest risk level of COVID transmission.

"Given this recent surge across the Atlanta area, and based upon the counsel from public health professionals, I am reinstating the citywide mask mandate," Bottoms said in a statement.

The Georgia Department of Public Health reported a seven-day average of 2,162 positive PCR cases Monday, the highest since early October. Fulton and Dekalb counties reported 344 and 248 cases per 100,000 residents, respectfully, according to GDPH data.

"The CDC has designated Fulton and DeKalb counties as areas of high transmission for the COVID-19 virus," Bottoms said. "We are watching the data daily and will continue to engage experts for guidance on how best to provide for the safety and wellbeing of our communities."

President Biden to speak on new dominant Omicron variant

President Biden will address the American people as the Omicron variant has become the dominant variant in the U.S.

Here's how to watch: President Biden Delivers Remarks on the Status of the Country's Fight Against COVID-19 - YouTube

First Omicron death in U.S. caused by reinfection

Health officials say the U.S. first confirmed Omicron death was in a reinfected man aged between 50 and 60 in Harris County, Texas.

Though the man's name has not yet been revealed, health officials also added that the patient was "at higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19 due to his unvaccinated status and underlying health conditions."

Harris County Public Health Director Barbie Robinson said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the patient's family, and we extend our deepest sympathies. We urge all residents who qualify to get vaccinated and get their booster shot if they have not already."

FULL STORY: First Omicron Death in U.S. Was Reinfection—A Warning to Those Who've Already Had COVID (newsweek.com)

Over 2 million people travel through airports Monday, TSA says

Over two million people traveled nationwide Monday, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

A TSA spokesperson said officers screened 2,098,540 travelers at airport security checkpoints Monday. This was the fifth straight day of checkpoint volume above two million.

During a COVID-19 press briefing Tuesday, New York Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi advised unvaccinated people to avoid travel this holiday season.

He said fully vaccinated and boosted individuals who are not in a high-risk category are safe travel with precautions, including wearing a mask and washing their hands.

Chokshi said the "in-between category" where people need "calibrate their individual risk."

New York offers vaccine booster shot incentive

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will provide $100 payments to those who receive Covid-19 vaccination booster shots at city-run sites through December 31. The mayor also said it will be the biggest booster incentive in the U.S.

Mayor de Blasio announced the incentive Tuesday as an effort to slow the rapid surge in infections over the holiday season. He said 1.7 million residents have already received their booster shots.

New York City schools close due to COVID outbreaks

New York City is feeling the impact of the latest COVID-19 surge.

During a press briefing Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said seven city-area schools are closed Tuesday morning due to COVID.

He said hospitals are doing well addressing COVID despite rising cases. But de Blasio adds it will be an "intense few weeks."

The daily average of new cases is now at 9,297 and the hospitalization rate is 1.93 per 100,000 residents, he said. The daily number of people admitted to the hospitals for suspected COVID-19 is 200 with a 50 percent confirmed positivity rate.

Omicron variant now dominant in U.S.

According to new figures updated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Omicron variant now makes up a majority of COVID-19 cases in the United States, at 73.2 percent.

Biden had close contact with COVID-positive staffer, Psaki says

President Joe Biden had close contact with a staffer who tested positive for COVID-19.

According to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, a staff member spent 30 minutes near the president on Air Force One during a trip from South Carolina to Pennsylvania Friday.

"As we stated last summer, we believe it is in the public's interest to know if any of the four principals (President, Vice President, First Lady, and Second Gentleman) are considered to have been in close contact with a White House official who subsequently tests positive for COVID-19 shortly after that contact," Psaki said in a statement.

Psaki said the staffer, who does not regularly have contact with the President, is fully vaccinated, boosted and had a negative test before boarding Air Force One. The staffer began experiencing symptoms Sunday night and was tested Monday.

Biden is tested regularly and had two negative tests since Sunday, Psaki said. He will be tested again Wednesday.

"As CDC guidance does not require fully vaccinated people to quarantine after an exposure, the President will continue with his daily schedule," Psaki said.

Biden set to address Covid response

President Joe Biden is expected to announce Tuesday the purchase of a half-billion, at-home rapid COVID-19 tests. He will also announce the mobilization of 1,000 military medical personnel to overburdened hospitals in an effort to confront rapidly surging COVID-19 infections and the new, highly-transmissible Omicron variant.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday, Biden will reassure Americans that the administration is prepared for the rising case levels, while issuing a "stark warning" to unvaccinated individuals who continue to drive hospitalizations and deaths.

Deliveries for the home tests are expected to be sent by January.

Boston residents protest vaccine mandates outside city hall

New vaccine mandates in Boston sparked protests Monday afternoon at Boston City Hall as COVID-19 cases continue to rage across the United States.

During a press conference, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu stated the city is requiring people to be vaccinated to go to places like indoor dining, gyms and entertainment venues. The mandate will go into effect January 15.

Some Boston residents protested the mandate chanting, "shame on Wu" at Boston City Hall, WBZ-TV reporter Lisa Gresci tweeted.

FULL STORY: Boston Residents Chant 'Shame on Wu' Outside City Hall in Protest of Vaccine Mandates (newsweek.com)

Most of U.S. detects new Omicron COVID variant

Every state in the U.S. except Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Montana have confirmed cases of the Omicron variant. The latest confirmed case comes out of North Dakota.

White House officials are encouraging people to get vaccinated amid a rapid spike in cases. Omicron could soon become the dominant COVID variant in the country.

FULL STORY: Only 3 States Haven't Detected Omicron Weeks After First U.S. Case Reported (newsweek.com)

Biden not exposed to Congressional COVID outbreak, Psaki says

President Joe Biden has not come in close contact with positive COVID-19 cases despite breakthrough cases in Congress, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.

Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Democratic Representative Jason Crow of Colorado have all recently tested positive for COVID-19. All three are fully vaccinated and boosted.

Psaki noted that Biden, who is fully vaccinated and boosted, is tested regularly. She added that those who interact with the president are required to be tested day-off and staff is strongly encouraged to get a booster dose.

"We expect there to be breakthrough cases" across the country and in the federal government, Psaki said.

She would not confirm if there has been an outbreak in the White House or other federal departments but noted Biden does not need to quarantine right now.

Queen Elizabeth cancels annual Christmas gathering

According to Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II has canceled the royal family's annual Christmas gathering in Norfolk, U.K. for the second year in a row. This comes as concerns grow over the new omicron variant of COVID-19.

Buckingham Palace stated that the move to cancel the gathering at Sandringham House is a personal decision by the queen and is being taken as a "precautionary approach,".

Biden's COVID speech will not be about 'locking the country down,' Psaki says

President Biden is set to speak on COVID-19 and the growing Omicron variant Tuesday.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday Biden's speech will not include any new restrictions.

"This is not a speech about locking the country down," Psaki said. "This is a speech being direct and clear with the American people about the benefits of being vaccinated, the steps were going to take to increase access and testing and the risks posed to unvaccinated individuals."

New York Broadway musicals cancel their shows due to breakthrough COVID cases

Hamilton and Aladdin Broadway musicals have canceled performances through Christmas due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

The Hamilton musical announced on social media Monday that performances from Dec. 20 through Dec. 26 are canceled and will be fully refunded. The announcement extends the show's shutdown from last week, after first canceling performances starting the night of Dec. 17 due to positive COVID cases.

"In the ongoing effort to ensure the well-being of our cast, crew and audience, this week's performances of Hamilton on Broadway have been canceled due to breakthrough COVID-19 cases," the Twitter statement said. "On behalf of everyone at Hamilton, we apologize for the disappointment and for any inconvenience this may cause." Information on upcoming performances will be shared "as soon as possible," the message stated.

Aladdin, meanwhile, has canceled all performances from Dec. 21 through Dec. 24, with plans to continue shows on Dec. 26.

A Twitter statement from Aladdin said, "Through our continuing rigorous testing protocols, additional breakthrough COVID-19 cases have been detected within the company of Aladdin at The New Amsterdam Theatre," the "wellness and safety of our guests, cast, and crew are our top priority." Tickets will also be refunded.

Trump was booed after announcing he received a COVID vaccine booster shot

Former President Donald Trump was booed by a tour crowd Sunday at the American Airlines Center in Dallas after he announced he had received a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.

Trump made the statement after telling the crowd they should "take credit" for the coronavirus vaccines developed during his presidency.

"Look, we did something that was historic, we saved tens of millions of lives worldwide when we, together, all of us, we got a vaccine done," Trump said. "This was going to ravage the country far beyond what it is right now, take credit for it... it's great, what we've done is historic. Don't let them take it away."

FULL STORY: Donald Trump Reveals He Got Vaccine Booster Shot, Gets Booed by Tour Crowd (newsweek.com)

9 NHL teams shut down due to COVID outbreaks

Nine National Hockey League (NHL) teams are shut down due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

On Monday, the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Montreal Canadiens had their season postponed through the league's holiday break. The teams join the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.

The holiday break was already set for December 24 to 26 with games set to resume on the 27.

The NHL will pause teams experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks on a case-by-case basis to avoid a full league shutdown but said it will continue with the regular season as scheduled.

"We will continue to play the 2021-22 regular season schedule," the NHL and NHL Players' Association said in a joint statement Sunday. "Although there has been a recent increase in positive COVID test results among players, coaches and hockey staff, there have been a low number of positive cases that have resulted in concerning symptoms or serious illness."

23 states have nearly full ICUs as COVID cases rise

Almost half of U.S. states have 80 percent or more intensive care unit (ICU) beds in use as COVID-19 cases surge.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 23 states have nearly fully ICUs.

Those states include Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas and Washington.

Five states have over 80 percent of ICU beds in use, including, Kentucky (88.22 percent), New Mexico (89.74 percent), New Hampshire (88.26 percent) and Rhode Island (88.28 percent). These states have seen a rise in COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks, according to the CDC.

FULL STORY: 23 States Have 80 Percent or More ICU Beds in Use As COVID Cases Rise

Moderna booster offers protection against COVID Omicron variant

According to the Associated Press, Moderna announced Monday that a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine should offer protection against the Omicron variant.

The company said its authorized booster can "boost neutralizing antibody levels 37-fold higher than pre-boost levels," which it described as reassuring.

A press release by Moderna said a double dose of the booster shot — 100 micrograms, rather than the approved 50 micrograms — was significantly more effective. A 100 microgram booster dose increased neutralizing antibody levels "approximately 83-fold," according to preliminary data.

The 100 microgram dose of its booster shot was "generally safe and well tolerated," Moderna said, though "there was a trend toward slightly more frequent adverse reactions following the 100 [microgram] booster dose relative to the authorized50 [microgram] dose."

D.C. to reinstate indoor mask mandate, expand testing

In response to the newest COVID-19 surge, D.C. has instituted new safety measures.

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Monday that D.C. will reimpose an indoor mask mandate and institute a vaccine mandate for government employees and contractors with no test-out option.

D.C. will also expand free PCR testing, offer free at-home rapid testing kits and expand vaccination centers.

New York Mayor warns of rapid rise in COVID cases

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a warning about rising COVID cases that have rapidly overtaken the state with its third day of Omicron variant confirmed cases.

"This is an urgent situation, and we need to act urgently. We are seeing a very substantial rise in the number of cases in a way we haven't seen previously," de Blasio said.

The New York mayor also stated, "We expect these next weeks to see a very, very big surge in the number of cases. More than we've seen previously. And then we expect, after a period of time, that it will dissipate".

New York City Health Commissioner shares safety tips for holidays

New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi shared a Twitter thread to help people stay safe from COVID-19 ahead of the holidays.

"I know how much people have been looking forward to the holidays — but Omicron has changed the landscape and led to anxiety and confusion," he said.

Chokshi suggested people to plan virtual gatherings, outdoor activities and improve ventilation by opening windows and doors to accommodate the "most vulnerable" family members for the holidays.

He also advised people continue to wear masks, get tested and get the booster dose.

"I do advise older adults and others at higher risk to skip optional activities, at least for the next few weeks," he said.