Los Angeles and Rhode Island moved to reflect growing concerns about a winter COVID-19 epidemic. Federal health officials have revealed that omicron was responsible for 73% of all new infections last week. This is nearly six times the increase in just seven days.
Omicron's prevalence in some areas of the U.S. is higher than others. Federal officials stated that Omicron is responsible for approximately 90% of all new infections in the New York, Southeast, Midwest, and Pacific Northwest.
This announcement highlighted the variant's extraordinary ability to race across continents and oceans. It was reported for the first time in southern Africa less that a month ago.
Scientists believe that omicron spreads faster than other coronavirus strains including delta. However, many details remain unknown about the virus, including whether or not it causes more severe illness. The sheer number of infections could overwhelm healthcare systems even if the strain is milder.
The New Year's Eve party that was planned for Grand Park in Downtown LA has been cancelled. Instead, the event will be streamed live, just like last year. For the next 30 days, indoor facilities will require masks or proof that you have been vaccinated in Rhode Island, the state with the highest number of new cases per head over the past two weeks.
Boston's Democratic mayor has announced that everyone entering any indoor restaurant, bar, or business will have to present proof of vaccination starting next month. All city employees will be required to have their vaccinations.
"There's nothing more American than getting together to take care of one another," Mayor Michelle Wu stated at City Hall, as protestors blew whistles and shouted, "Shame on Wu!"
Erika Rusley (44-year-old Providence resident from Rhode Island) says that recent events have prompted her family's to put the brakes on their daily activities.
The mother of the two daughters was an elementary school teacher. Her husband is a physician. They pulled their children from swimming lessons, canceled their appointments and limited their play dates.
"We've just shut down everything for the past week. Rusley stated that it was not worth the effort. "We are back where we were before summer, pre-vaccine. It's almost square one.
New York City's epidemic of infections has already caused Broadway cancellations and long lines at testing centres. Mayor Bill de Blasio will decide whether Times Square's New Year's Eve celebrations will return to their "full strength", as he promised in November.
The Canadian province of Quebec, north of the border, imposed a 10 pm closing time for restaurants and banned spectators from sporting events. It also shuttered gyms, schools, and required remote work.
The World Economic Forum announced Monday across the Atlantic that it would delay its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, of business leaders and other elites.
However, Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, stated Monday that officials have decided not to impose further restrictions for now.
The conservative government ordered that face masks be reimposed in shops, and that people show proof of vaccinations at nightclubs and other places where there are many people earlier this month. It is considering curfews as well as stricter social distancing.
He said, "We will need to reserve the option of taking further actions to protect the public." "The arguments in either direction are very, very balanced."
Johnson's warning puts into stark relief an unpalatable choice facing government leaders: ruin holiday plans for millions for the second consecutive year or face disruption and a potential tsunami of cases.
The U.S. President Joe Biden was planning to address the nation about the latest variant Tuesday. This is less than a year since he said that the country would be back to normal by Christmas.
Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said that the president would issue "a stark warning" and clarify that non-vaccinated people "will continue driving hospitalizations and death."
Moderna, a U.S. vaccine manufacturer, announced Monday that laboratory tests indicated that a booster dose should provide protection against omicron. Pfizer also tested similar results on its vaccine and found that a booster caused a significant increase in omicron fighting antibodies.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the country has an average of nearly 130,500 COVID-19 cases per day. This is up from 122,000 two weeks ago.
A Houston hospital reports that 82% of all new COVID-19 cases are being treated by omicron. This is a significant increase over Friday's results, which showed that it was only responsible for 45%.
Missouri was the epicenter of the delta surge. According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the variant accounts for 98%-99% of COVID-19 samples.
Hospitals in Ohio are holding off on elective surgery, while Governors in Maine, New Hampshire and Maine have sent National Guard reinforcements to assist hospital staff.
Rural hospitals in Kansas are having trouble transferring patients. Some have been left waiting for beds for up to a week in emergency rooms while they wait. Overwhelmed hospitals from as far as Minnesota and Michigan are calling Kansas hospitals to find beds. There is often not enough room.
"It's already insane as it can get when you talk about moving people from Minnesota into Kansas City for treatment," said Dr. Richard Watson, founder and CEO of Motient. Motient works with Kansas to manage transfer operations.
Many political leaders hesitate to take the same harsh measures that they used to during the pandemic.
France is trying desperately to avoid a new lockdown which would hurt the economy, and cloud President Emmanuel Macron’s re-election campaign. However, the Paris government has banned fireworks and public concerts at New Year's Eve celebrations.
Ireland has placed an 8 p.m. curfew in pubs and bars, and restricted attendance at indoor or outdoor events. Greece will have 10,000 officers on duty during the holidays to perform COVID-19 pass inspections.
The news is concerning for Rusley's family of Rhode Island, but it's not enough to stop them from traveling to Denver to see her husband.
They will fly out after Christmas but they have decided to spend more time indoors with only vaccinated people this holiday season. This is something they wouldn't have thought of a few months ago.
Rusley stated, "We've been there before, and know how to do it." Rusley said, "We won't be hiding in our home, but we won't be taking unnecessary risks."