COVID Live Updates: Kids Under 5 Hospitalizations Increase Due to Vaccine Ineligibility

Live Updates

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  • More than 58 million COVID cases have been reported in the U.S. according to Johns Hopkins University
  • The CDC has updated and clarified its COVID-19 booster guidance, unequivocally recommending that everyone ages 12+ receive a booster dose if eligible.
  • Thousands of COVID tests in Chicago deemed "invalid" after not being shipped on time
  • Princess Cruise Ship forced to dock in San Francisco after 12 passengers test positive for the virus
  • More than 1 million COVID test in Florida expired last month, state officials say
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The increasing number of unvaccinated kids lowers the threshold for herd immunity. Experts say as much as 95 percent of a population needs to be immunized for measles to prevent an outbreak. GEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty Images

CDC says hospitalizations in kids under 5 have increased

U.S. children under 5 COVID-19 hospitalizations have rapidly increased in recent weeks to their highest level since the pandemic began, according to government data released Friday, 5 and under the only age group not yet eligible for the vaccine.

According to the Associated Press, since mid-December, the hospitalization rate in young kids has surged to more than 4 in 100,000 children, up from 2.5 per 100,000.

The rate among children ages 5 to 17 is about 1 per 100,000, according to the CDC data, which is drawn from over 250 hospitals in 14 states.

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky said, overall, "pediatric hospitalizations are at their highest rate compared to any prior point in the pandemic".

Royal Caribbean cancels cruise ship sailings due to Omicron surge

Royal Caribbean has canceled upcoming sailings on its cruise ships due to "ongoing COVID-related circumstances around the world," the cruise line announced Friday on its website.

"We regret having to cancel our guests' long-awaited vacations and appreciate their loyalty and understanding," the cruise line said in a statement. "Our top priority is always the well-being of our guests, our crew and the communities we visit."

WHO director says, though Omicron may appear less severe than delta, it isn't

World Health Organization director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom said, just because Omicron appears to be less severe than Delta especially in those who are vaccinated that doesn't mean it's mild.

Adhanom stated, "Just like previous variants, Omicron is hospitalizing people and it is killing people."

CDC says kids under 18 more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes after contracting COVID

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported children and teens 18 years and younger who have had COVID-19 are up to 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes after infection.

The CDC is also urging mask wearing and vaccines for those who are eligible to help combat COVID-19.

Fourth shot not needed yet, UK advisors say

UK experts say a fourth vaccine shot is not needed at this time.

According to BBC, UK Health Security Agency data shows even three months after the booster shot, protection against hospitalization stills remains high at 95% for those 65 and older.

Israel has begun giving a fourth shot to manage the Omicron surge.

New York new requirements for nurse home visitors

New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced Friday new requirements for those visiting residents of nursing homes.

Visitors must now use a surgical paper mask, instead of cloth. They must also have negative COVID test within 24 hours of the visit.

All healthcare works will also need to receive a booster shot, there is no longer a test out option.

COVID hospitalizations approaching a record high

According to a Reuters tally, COVID-19 hospitalizations are heading towards a record high as the Omicron variant continues to dominate the world.

The United States reported 662,000 new COVID cases on Thursday, the fourth highest daily U.S. total ever recorded and just three days after a record of nearly 1 million cases was reported, according to the Reuters tally.

CDC Director Rochelle Walenksy stated, "We are still seeing those numbers rising," noting that while cases outpaced hospitalizations and deaths, rising hospitalizations were primarily among the unvaccinated.

Postal service says enforcing new vaccine rules could slow down mail deliveries

The U.S. Postal Service is requesting that the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine requirements for federal workers be temporarily waived for its 650,000 employees. They argue that enforcing the rules could affect their ability to deliver mail.

Deputy Postmaster General Douglas Tulino sent a letter to the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on Tuesday.

In the letter Tulino stated, "requiring the Postal Service to absorb what could inevitably be a dramatic loss of employees at a time when the labor market is extremely tight and in the middle of the Postal Service's peak season would have a potentially catastrophic impact on our ability to provide service to the American public".

CDC addresses confusion on isolation recommendation

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky clarified their new five-day isolation recommendation Friday during an interview with the Today Show.

The CDC recently updated its guidance of a ten-day isolation to five days, also not recommending a test before leaving isolation. Walensky defended the changes.

"We are now standing on the shoulders of years of science that has demonstrated that if you are infected, you are most contagious in the one to two days prior to your symptoms and the two to three days after your symptoms," Walensky told Savannah Guthrie. "So, we know that the vast majority of your contagiousness by day five is really behind you.

U.S. expected to receive at-home COVID test by mid-January

500 million COVID-19 test kits are expected to arrive at homes by mid- January. The White House and the U.S. Postal Service are currently working together to finalize it.

A website that will allow people to submit COVID-19 rapid test requests will also be established by the administration.

This comes weeks after President Biden announced 500 million COVID-19 tests had been purchased by the administration to be issued to all Americans who wanted one.

The Supreme Court hearing arguments on Biden Administration's new vaccine mandate

The United States Supreme Court began hearing arguments Friday on Biden administration efforts to increase the nation's vaccination rate against COVID-19.

According to the Associated Press, The Biden Administration is seeking to enforce a vaccine-or-testing requirement that applies to large employers and a separate vaccine mandate for most health care workers. The arguments were expected to last at least two hours.

The administration's top Supreme Court lawyer, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar stated, keeping the vaccine mandate for health care workers on hold "will likely result in hundreds or thousands of deaths and serious illnesses from COVID-19 that could otherwise be prevented."

Hospital systems in nearly half of U.S. states to postpone elective surgeries

Hospital systems in states including Maryland, Virginia, and Ohio have announced they will move to emergency-only surgeries during the current wave of COVID infections, reports Reuters.

Staff shortages and COVID patients swamping intensive care units are being cited as the reasons for the drastic measures, which will impact some who are waiting for life-changing operations.

At least three state governments; New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts, have already implemented or recommended state-wide delays so far.

Supreme Court justice to work remotely to avoid COVID

Justice Sonia Sotomayor will be hearing arguments from her chambers today - along with a third of lawyers present - as a precaution due to the rapid spread of Omicron.

She is classified as vulnerable to COVID due to her diabetes, which she has had since childhood.

Boris Johnson thanks soldiers and volunteers at vaccination centers

The Prime Minister visited a major vaccination center in Northampton, England yesterday where he met with soldiers and volunteers to thank them.

His message was upbeat but he warned that people who have not yet got their booster shots should book their appointments as soon as possible.

Johnson remains under significant pressure from opposition parties and parts of the health services, including trade unions, to take tougher action on COVID but his government insists any new restrictions should be a "last resort".

Novak Djokovic thanks fans for support in vaccine row

The tennis star has just posted on his Instagram story after days of arguing and legal action against the Australian Border Force, which stripped him of his visa citing an improper reason for him being unvaccinated against COVID.

He thanked fans around the world and said the support was "greatly appreciated," but did not give an update on his legal fight to be allowed to stay in Australia for the Open.

Major COVID outbreak reported at Missouri prison

More than 100 detainees at the jail have caught the virus so far, St. Louis county officials have confirmed. At least 110 of the 825 people serving time at the Buzz Westfall Justice Center have tested positive, while 30 detainees are showing symptoms and 30 more are in isolation as close contacts.

Meanwhile, 1 in 8 staff members at the jail have also tested positive. The county said about 65% of jail staff are vaccinated. No detainees or staff have required hospitalization so far, Acting Director of the prison Scott Anders said.

The outbreak has also forced St. Louis County Circuit Court to postpone jury trials all of next week.

WATCH: What Scott Morrison says about unvaccinated tennis players entering Australia

Another tennis player detained ahead of Australian Open

Czech player Renata Voracova has had her visa revoked and been put into quarantine by the Australian Border Force, according to a statement from her country's foreign ministry.

She was originally granted a medical exemption because she had recently recovered from a COVID infection, but it now appears that is not being accepted as evidence enough to not have the vaccine.

It follows Novak Djokovic being placed into detention for the same reason - although authorities claim he refused to give an adequate explanation for being medically exempt.

Renata Voracova has been detained over COVID
Renata Voracova is the second tennis player detained in Australia due to her vaccination status Getty Images

Biden's COVID home test plan could be delivered by mid-January

The President's plan to provide 500 million at-home testing kits for Americans could be rolled out imminently, according to a report that said the White House and U.S. Postal Service are finalizing details of the plan.

It is not clear how many test kits households will be able to request or when they will get them but it is understood the scheme will be finalized in the coming days, with the Biden administration under pressure to make good on its pledge announced in December 2021.

FULL STORY: COVID Tests To Be Delivered to Homes Across U.S. by Mid-January

Major cruise ship forced to dock in San Francisco

The Princess Cruise line docked in San Francisco on Thursday after random COVID testing of a quarter of the passengers revealed a dozen people had the virus. The 10-day cruise to Mexico is one of the nearly 100 cruise ships under investigation by the CDC because of the cases, with an outbreak suspected.

The 12 passengers - all vaccinated - are asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms, according to a statement from the Port of San Francisco. A Princess Cruises spokesperson told The Associated Press the vaccination rate on the ship was "approaching 100 percent."

Authorities are now also asking cruise ships to test passengers who have not received their second doses or booster shots before letting them come ashore, while passengers who test positive will either go home or be taken to hotels for quarantine.

WATCH: Jen Psaki hits back at Ron DeSantis criticism

The White House press secretary did not pull punches in her response to the Republican Governor of Florida, who earlier this week hit out at the federal government for being too slow at providing home COVID test kits.

Psaki said it was "pretty rich" that DeSantis criticizes the Biden administration, accusing him of "not exactly advocating" the vaccine.

Omicron outbreak in Navajo Nation sees cases soar

The 27,000-mile reservation, which covers parts of Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah, has reported 294 new infections but no deaths - up from just 10 on Monday.

Cases have spiked since the Omicron variant was confirmed in the territory at the beginning of this week, with infections jumping to 35 on Tuesday, then 168 on Wednesday. President Jonathan Nez said the reservation was "the safest place to be" due to tougher restrictions than U.S. border towns and outside cities.

The rise in new COVID-19 cases is very alarming, but we should not panic because we have the vaccines to help push back on the variants and we know what precautions we have to take to protect ourselves and others. The safest place to be is at home here on the Navajo Nation where we have a face mask mandate, extra precautions in businesses and other safety measures in place that are not in effect in border towns and other cities.

Nurses union says British government can 'no longer deny' NHS crisis

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has told Newsweek that "we need to know that the Government isn't compromising" patient safety and accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of being "dismissive" when asked about NHS staffing problems.

Director for England, Patricia Marquis, said in statement this morning that ministers "can no longer deny" that the latest COVID wave, and a lack of preparation, has triggering a staffing crisis in parts of the health service.

The Government can no longer deny the staffing crisis in the NHS. The Prime Minister and others can no longer be dismissive of questions about the ability of NHS staff to deliver safe care. Once the military has been brought in, where does the Government turn next in a bid to 'ride out' the wave rather than deal with it?

British troops deployed to hospitals in London amid staffing crisis

Around 200 soldiers, including military medics, have been sent to assist healthcare staff with patient care and logistics. Omicron has seen an exodus of workers from hospital units in recent weeks - similarly to the U.S. - at a time when patient numbers are skyrocketing in the U.K. capital.

The country's National Health Service (NHS) has been struggling to keep up with increased demand as COVID patients flood into intensive care following Christmas and New Year celebrations, which saw millions traveling across the country and gathering in large groups.

British troops assist hospitals amid COVID shortage
British troops assist hospitals amid COVID shortage

North Korea withdraws from Beijing Winter Olympics

The country party blamed COVID concerns for its decision but took the opportunity to criticize the U.S. and wish their "Chinese comrades" good luck.

State media reported that North Korea's leadership was agitated by "hostile forces" and suggested the U.S. and its allies are trying to prevent the Games from being a success to embarrass China.

The U.S. and its vassal forces are getting evermore undisguised in their moves against China, aimed at preventing the successful opening of the Olympics ... [it is] an insult to the spirit of the international Olympic Charter and as a base act of attempting to disgrace the international image of China. We could not take part in the Olympics due to the hostile forces' moves and the worldwide pandemic, but we would fully support the Chinese comrades in all their work to hold splendid and wonderful Olympic festival.

Thousands of COVID tests in Chicago schools deemed 'invalid'

Around 36,000 tests were completed between December 26 and January 1 - but 25,000 of them were "invalid" and couldn't be processed, according to data on Chicago Public Schools' (CPS) website.

In-mail COVID kits for CPS students were piled up at FedEx dropboxes last week, CBS Chicago reported, as parents feared many tests wouldn't reach the labs in the 48-hour window to be processed.

FULL STORY: Thousands of Chicago Students' COVID Tests Deemed 'Invalid' After Backlog in Shipments

How many Australians support the country's tough vaccine mandate?

The Novak Djokovic drama has sparked a furious row between those for and against a vaccine mandate on arrivals into Australia - a rule which has landed the tennis star, who refuses to provide "appropriate evidence" for a medical exemption.

However, a Guardian Essential poll in September last year found that over three-quarters of Australians (77pc) were in favor of mandates for inbound air passengers, while 69 percent believe those participating and spectating sporting events should also be fully vaccinated.

Djokovic detention in Austrialia sparks protests

A small group of protesters gathered outside the immigration facility at Melbourne Airport and the hotel where the tennis start is being held to demand his release. One sign read "#FreeNovax" while another claimed that Victoria was "the place to be but only if you are vaccinated" - a criticism of the region's tough COVID rules.

Djokovic's legal team argues that he has the right to a medical exemption but the tennis star has so far refused to explain why, deeming it an invalid excuse by the Australian Border Force, who retracted his visa on Wednesday.

FULL STORY: Vax-Mandate Protesters Gather in Australia to Back Detained Tennis Superstar Novak Djokovic

Djokovic detention in Australia sparks protests
Demonstrators pose with a placard picturing Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic as they take part in a rally in front of Serbia's National Assembly (left) and a hotel in Melbourne, Australia where Djokovic is being held Getty Images

Good morning and welcome to Newsweek's liveblog

The row over Novak Djokovic's detention in Australia over his COVID vaccination status is intensifying, with protesters now demanding his release. Meanwhile, the Omicron variant continues to wreak havoc in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere.

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