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COVID live updates: CDC says it isn’t changing definition of ‘fully vaccinated’

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(NEW YORK) — As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.4 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 827,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

About 62% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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

Jan 05, 9:02 pm
CDC signs off on Pfizer boosters for 12- to 15-year-olds

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has given the final go-ahead for children ages 12 to 15 to get Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster.

“It is critical that we protect our children and teens from COVID-19 infection and the complications of severe disease,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement endorsing the CDC advisory panel’s recommendation to expand booster eligibility.

The CDC recommends that adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 get a Pfizer booster five months after their second dose.

-ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett

Jan 05, 8:03 pm
Every cruise ship operating in US with passengers has COVID-19 cases: CDC

COVID-19 cases have been reported on every cruise ship operating or planning to operate in U.S. waters with passengers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 90 ships are currently being investigated by the CDC or have been investigated and are still being observed by the agency.

In order to meet the threshold for a CDC investigation, a ship must report COVID-19 cases in more than 0.10% of passengers or have a single crew member test positive in the previous seven days.

The only ships in U.S. waters that have not met this criteria, according to the CDC, only have crew members on board.

-ABC News’ Mina Kaji

Jan 05, 7:48 pm
LA County requires businesses to provide N95, KN95 masks to indoor employees

The Los Angeles County Department of Health updated its COVID-19 safety measures Wednesday and mandated that all of the county’s businesses must provide N95 or KN95 masks to employees who work indoors.

“Well-fitting medical grade masks, and surgical masks,” are also acceptable under the order.

“Everyone needs to be sensible about how to protect themselves and those they love by layering on protections whenever around non-household members,” LA County’s health director, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, said in a statement. “At work, this means upgrading your mask if you work indoors and you are in contact with other workers or members of the public.”

Jan 05, 5:41 pm
CDC panel votes yes on boosters for 12- to 15-year-olds

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel voted Wednesday to approve COVID-19 boosters for 12- to 15-year-olds.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky will likely to sign off on the move later Wednesday night.

Shots could go into arms as soon as Thursday morning. The Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer boosters on Monday, paving the way for the CDC’s final green light.

-ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett

Jan 05, 5:14 pm
2022 Grammy Awards postponed due to omicron variant

The 2022 Grammy Awards have been postponed due to the surge in COVID-19 cases linked to the omicron variant.

“After careful consideration and analysis with city and state officials, health and safety experts, the artist community and our many partners, thx have postponed the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards Show,” CBS and the Recording Academy said in a joint statement.

The statement continued, “The health and safety of those in our music community, the live audience, and the hundreds of people who work tirelessly to produce our show remains our top priority.  Given the uncertainty surrounding the Omicron variant, holding the show on January 31 simply contains too many risks.”

A future date for the Grammys has yet to be announced.

The awards show was scheduled to be held at the Arena in Los Angeles and hosted by “The Daily Show’s” Trevor Noah.

This is the second year in a row that the Grammys has been postponed. Last year, the show was held in March after its original date was canceled in January.

Jan 05, 4:05 pm
COVID vaccinations in US drop 42% over last three weeks

The number of COVID-19 vaccinations in the U.S. has declined over the last three weeks despite the surging number of cases due to the omicron variant.

In the past, surges have driven Americans to get vaccinated. However, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the average number of total doses administered has fallen 42% since Dec. 14.

An average of 304,000 Americans are currently receiving their first dose every day and 165,000 are reaching “full vaccination” status.

This is a drop from three weeks prior, when 455,000 were getting their first dose every day and 402,000 were reaching “full vaccination” status.

Additionally, the average number of people receiving booster shots every day has declined to 623,000 from more than one million.

A total of 67.4 million eligible Americans — aged five and older — remain completely unvaccinated.

-ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos

Jan 05, 3:17 pm
Testing company detects 1st case of ‘flurona’ in California

A testing company confirmed Wednesday the first known case in Southern California of “flurona,” in which someone is infected with COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.

911 COVID Testing told KABC the case was detected at the Getty Center in Brentwood — a suburban neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles — in a teenage boy.

The minor was returning from vacation with his family in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Steve Farzam, the testing company’s chief operating officer, said the patient has symptoms but was not hospitalized. Since his test, one of his parents has also tested positive for COVID-19, but not the flu.

Jan 05, 1:32 pm
White House confident it can deliver 500 million COVID tests this month

The White House said Wednesday it is confident it can deliver millions of rapid COVID-19 tests to Americans in January.

Last month, the administration announced it was planning to distribute 500 million free at-home rapid tests across the country to combat the surging omicron variant.

However, a website has yet to be launched where people can order the tests and the U.S. is currently producing less than half of the tests needed — 200 million a month.

During a virtual briefing, Jeff Zients, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, said the government not only has the capacity to deliver 500 million tests, but it also won’t dip into the current supply on pharmacy shelves.

“With all the companies that now have been authorized, there’s the capacity for the U.S. government to purchase the 500 million now and not disrupt, or in any way cannibalize, the tests that are on pharmacy shelves and on websites and used and other settings,” he said.

-ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett

Jan 05, 12:31 pm
CDC says it’s not changing definition of ‘fully vaccinated’

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday the definition of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is not changing to include booster shots.

“Individuals are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if they’ve received their primary series. That definition is not changing,” she said during a virtual briefing of the White House COVID-19 Response Team.

This means Americans are considered fully vaccinated if they have gotten two shots of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna vaccine or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

However, Walensky did urge those who have been fully vaccinated to stay “up to date” on additional doses they may be eligible for based on their age and which vaccine they received.

Jan 05, 12:30 pm
NY COVID hospitalizations surpass 10,000 for 1st time in 20 months

COVID-19-related hospitalizations in New York surpassed 10,000 for the first time since the early days of the pandemic.

As of Tuesday, there are 10,411 people hospitalized statewide with the virus, which is the highest figure seen since May 2020.

About 1,300 patients are currently in intensive care units.

Unvaccinated New Yorkers are more likely to be hospitalized than those who are fully vaccinated. During the week ending Dec. 20, unvaccinated people were hospitalized at a rate of 30.01 per 100,000 compared to a rate of 2.08 per 100,000 for fully vaccinated people, according to state data.

Jan 05, 11:29 am
1 in 15 people in England tested positive for COVID last week

About 1 in 15 people in England tested positive for COVID-19 in the week ending Dec. 31, 2021, according to new data published Wednesday by the UK’s Office of National Statistics — a jump from 1 in 25 the week before.

This means that an estimated 3,270,800 people in the country caught the virus last week, with the most infections occurring among those between ages 17 and 24, the ONS said.

Additionally, 1 in 20 people contracted COVID last week in Scotland and Wales as did 1 in 25 people in Northern Ireland.

The ONS noted that these estimates do not include people who tested positive in “hospitals, care homes and/or other communal establishments.”

Jan 05, 10:37 am
NY COVID hospitalizations surpass 10,000 for 1st time in 20 months

COVID-19-related hospitalizations in New York surpassed 10,000 for the first time since the early days of the pandemic.

As of Tuesday, there are 10,411 people hospitalized statewide with the virus, which is the highest figure seen since May 2020.

About 1,300 patients are currently in intensive care units.

Unvaccinated New Yorkers are more likely to be hospitalized than those who are fully vaccinated. During the week ending Dec. 20, unvaccinated people were hospitalized at a rate of 30.01 per 100,000 compared to a rate of 2.08 per 100,000 for fully vaccinated people, according to state data.

Jan 05, 9:41 am
Poland’s president tests positive for COVID for 2nd time

Polish President Andrzej Duda tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday.

This is the second time Duda has contracted the virus. He previously tested positive in October 2020.

“The president is fine, has no severe symptoms and is under constant medical care,” Pawel Szrot, Head of the Cabinet, tweeted Wednesday.

Szrot said Duda is fully vaccinated and received a booster shot last month.

Jan 05, 6:55 am
Michigan governor isolating after husband’s positive test

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was isolating after her husband, Dr. Marc Mallory, tested positive for COVID-19, her office said in a statement.

Whitmer’s office said the governor tested negative on Tuesday using a rapid test. She was awaiting the results of a PCR test.

“Thankfully, the entire family is fully vaccinated and boosted, so the governor has not tested positive and is not experiencing symptoms,” Whitmer’s office said in a statement. “Until the PCR test comes back, the governor is isolating in a separate area of the house and has taken steps to complete contact tracing to keep others safe.”

Jan 05, 2:43 am
Chicago cancels classes after teachers vote for remote learning

Chicago Public Schools canceled its Wednesday classes after the Chicago Teachers Union voted against in-person learning amid a wave of COVID-19 cases.

All classes, both in-person and virtual, and all after-school activities have been cancelled.

“I understand your frustration and deeply regret this interruption to your child’s learning,” said Pedro Martinez, chief executive of the schools. “We want out children back in their classrooms as soon as possible and will continue working with the CTU to reach an agreement that addressed their concerns and that is in the best interest of all in our CPS community, especially our children.” 

About 88% of the union’s leadership and 73% of members voted on Tuesday to return to remote education, the union said in a statement.

“To the parents and guardians of this city, we want you to know that when you put your children in our care we put their well-being and safety first,” the union said in a statement. “We fight for your children like they are our own, because they are. As this pandemic continues, we will do everything in our power to ensure that our classrooms are the safest and healthiest places for your children to learn, thrive and grow.”

Teachers were being locked out of their Google Classrooms, the union said on Twitter.

Jan 05, 1:49 am
Mayo Clinic lays off 1% of staff for vaccine noncompliance

Mayo Clinic said it will lay off about 1% of its staff for failing to get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by a company deadline.

“While Mayo Clinic is saddened to lose valuable employees, we need to take all steps necessary to keep our patients, workforce, visitors and communities safe. If individuals released from employment choose to get vaccinated at a later date, the opportunity exists for them to apply and return to Mayo Clinic for future job openings,” Mayo Clinic said in a statement to ABC.

Last October, Mayo Clinic had set a Jan. 3 deadline for all employees to get at least their first vaccine dose or face dismissal.

The health care organization said the number of staffers being let go was “comparable to what other health care organizations have experienced in implementing similar vaccine requirement programs.”

Mayo Clinic employs about 73,000 people, according to its website.

Jan 04, 7:53 pm
FDA: Do not swab your throat with at-home COVID-19 tests

The FDA is warning people not to swab their throats as part of an at-home COVID-19 test.

In a statement obtained by ABC News, the FDA said that is not how the tests were designed and it could pose a safety concern.

“The FDA advises that COVID-19 tests should be used as authorized, including following their instructions for use regarding obtaining the sample for testing,” the statement said.

Social media posts promoting at-home COVID-19 rapid test swabbing techniques claim that throat swabs collect a better sample. However, this hasn’t been proven for currently authorized tests.

– ABC News’ Sony Salzman

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