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COVID-19 live updates: Breakthrough cases grew fourfold during omicron

PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.5 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 863,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

About 63.3% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Latest headlines:
-California lawmaker proposes letting kids 12 and older get vaccines without parental consent
-LA County sees highest death toll since March 2021
-In 1 month US records more than one-quarter of its total cases for the pandemic
-Breakthrough cases grew fourfold during omicron emergence: CDC

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern.

Jan 21, 2:54 pm
Biden has no authority to mandate vaccines for federal employees, judge rules

A federal judge in Texas shot down the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for federal workers.

A lawsuit was filed in December by Feds for Medical Freedom, compromised of government employees from various agencies and AFGE 918, a union which primarily represents employees from the Federal Protective Service and Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency.

Citing the Supreme Court’s most recent decision against OSHA, U.S. District Judge Jeffery Vincent Brown ruled there is a difference between public health measures and setting workplace and safety standards.

“The President certainly possesses ‘broad statutory authority to regulate executive branch employment policies,’” the judge wrote. “But the Supreme Court has expressly held that a COVID-19 vaccine mandate is not an employment regulation. And that means the President was without statutory authority to issue the federal worker mandate.”

Brown made clear that getting vaccinated is the best protection against COVID-19 and the lawsuit had to do with whether or not a president could issue such a sweeping order with the stroke of a pen.

The Justice Department will appeal the ruling, a spokesman said.

ABC News’ Luke Barr

Jan 21, 1:40 pm
California lawmaker proposes letting kids 12 and older get vaccines without parental consent

California state senator Scott Wiener has introduced a bill lowering the vaccine age of consent from 18 to 12.

“California law already allows 12-17 year olds to access various forms of healthcare without parental consent, eg: HPV & hep B vaccines, abortion care, birth control, mental healthcare, domestic violence-related care,” Wiener tweeted Friday. “Let’s let teens protect their health.”

San Francisco’s director of public health and youth advocates were among those who joined Wiener at a Friday news conference introducing the legislation.

One youth advocate, Nyla, a seventh-grader, said, “We’re exposed to so much that we’re old enough to have a say so when something will benefit us. … This bill gives me hope for kids whose parents don’t always make decisions in their best interest even when they mean well.”

ABC News’ Izzy Alvarez

Jan 21, 12:38 pm
LA County sees highest death toll since March 2021

Los Angeles County reported 102 new deaths on Thursday, marking the highest daily death toll since March 10, 2021.

Daily deaths doubled in just one week, according to county officials.

Of Thursday’s 102 fatalities, 90% were residents who tested positive for COVID-19 after Christmas Eve, which means they likely had omicron, county officials said in a statement.

“As deaths often lag behind surges in cases and hospitalizations, we may see an even higher number of deaths in the coming weeks,” county officials warned.

Jan 21, 11:53 am
New York positivity rate at lowest point since Dec. 20

The positivity rate in New York state has dropped to the single digits for the first time since Dec. 20, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Friday, another indicator that the omicron surge is receding in the state.

The positivity rate now stands at 9.75%, down from over 23% on Jan. 2, which was the highest rate in New York during the omicron wave.

“This is still to be taken very seriously,” Hochul stressed at a Friday briefing, noting that hospitalizations are still high.

ABC News’ Will McDuffie


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