Covid Live Updates: Virus cases are rising across the United States, amid Omicron concerns


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Credit…Hiroko Masuike / The New York Times

Offices are cancellation of holiday parties. Broadway performances being closed due to breakthrough infections among the gypsum. College finals being moved online.

Coronavirus cases are rising again in New York City, beyond anything seen since last winter, and in large parts of the United States, where the Delta variant is still by far the dominant version. The country reports more than 120,000 new cases per day on average, according to a New York Times database an increase of 40 percent from two weeks ago and 70 percent more than when cases stopped falling in early November.

While most people who are unvaccinated remain at much higher risk, a combination of factors – widespread transmission, declining immunity and the circulation of highly contagious variants – has led to breakthrough infections among the vaccinated.

Several new laboratory studies indicate that vaccines, and in particular boosters, can provide significant protection against the worst results from the rapidly spreading Omicron coronavirus variant. Still, according to research, the new variant will infect many people who have been vaccinated or recovered from older versions of the virus.

US passed two milestones this week – A total of 50 million known cases and 800,000 died in total – and experts say the addition of Omicron is likely to push the track even higher. The same goes for the holiday season, public health officials say, when people travel and families gather indoors, where the virus spreads most easily.

Eruptions grow most severely around the Great Lakes and in the northeast. Connecticut averages more than 2,600 new cases a day, up from about 330 in early November, and Rhode Island is adding cases with the highest rate in the country. Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania have the highest proportion of coronavirus admissions.

In some hard-hit states, federal doctors have been sent to help exhausted hospital staff. About 68,000 coronavirus patients are hospitalized nationwide, an increase of 21 percent from two weeks ago, but well below the level seen over the summer and at the peak of last winter.

Biden administration officials are preparing for a potential wave of Omicron infections that could overwhelm the health care system. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently warned that the percentage of coronavirus cases in the United States caused by Omicron had risen sharply and could herald an increase in infections as early as next month.

The administration is trying to encourage all eligible Americans – those 16 years and older who received their second dose of Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago, or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson shot at least two months ago – to get a booster.

Across the country, cultural institutions and many ordinary Americans are rethinking what is safe. Metropolitan Opera announced Wednesday that from next month it would require booster shots for all eligible employees and audiences. The NFL and NBA are discussing changes to their protocols in response to a wave of infections among players. Some Wall Street banks tells workers who had been on their way into the office to stay home during the holidays.

Similar increases and accompanying repression are taking place in many countries, especially in Europe. The French government on Thursday banned unnecessary travel to and from the UK and tightened test requirements for travelers, as a record increase in Omicron cases in the UK raised concerns that France would soon face a similar tsunami of new infections.

As of Thursday, an average of 3,700 new cases a day had been reported in New York City, a level not seen since early April. New York State also reports high case volumes – almost 13,000 new cases Thursday A level not seen since the holiday rise in January last year.

Officially, the city’s surveillance system had only intercepted the Omicron variant in about 3 percent of the cases it analyzed in the week of December 4th. But the CDC recently reported that in the region, which includes New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, about 13 percent of cases were Omicron.

“We have seen a very significant increase in Covid cases in the last few days. It is clear that the omicron variant is here in New York City in full force,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday.

Sarah Gancher, a teacher at The New School who lives in Queens, said eight of her friends, who were fully vaccinated, tested positive this week. The speed with which cases have increased has frightened her, she said.

“That’s literally everything I’ve been thinking about,” Ms. Gancher.

Sitting on a bench in Madison Square Park in Manhattan Thursday morning, she opened her bag to show off the five home test kits she had just purchased. Several holiday parties she had planned to attend this weekend had been canceled, and although she had booked tickets to fly home to California to visit her family, she said she was not sure how safe it would be anymore .

“I’m really sorry and worried,” she said.

Ashley Wong, Mitch Smith and Joseph Goldstein contributed with reporting.



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