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COVID-19 live updates: Fauci predicts most states will be past omicron peak by mid-February

Eric Lee/Bloomberg 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 855,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

About 63% 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 20, 4:37 pm
Hospitalizations at record high, cases dropping in some areas

More than 160,000 COVID-19-positive Americans are currently in hospitals — a pandemic high and double the number from about three weeks ago, according to federal data.

It’s still not clear how many were admitted with COVID-19 and how many tested positive for the virus after they were admitted for other reasons.

The U.S. is reporting an average of 760,000 new cases per day, according to federal data.

Although case levels remain high, there’s growing evidence to suggest the omicron surge is receding in the parts of the country first struck by the variant.

In New York, daily cases have dropped by 33% in the last week, while in New Jersey new cases are down by 43.7%.

Wisconsin now leads the nation in new cases per capita, followed by Rhode Island, Utah and South Carolina.

-ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos

Jan 20, 3:12 pm
San Francisco appears to pass peak of omicron surge: Officials

In San Francisco, COVID-19 cases are “dropping rapidly” following record highs that appeared to peak on Jan. 9, officials announced.

While “cases are still extremely high,” they “have plateaued and are starting to go down,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the Department of Public Health.

“We’re looking at data from other places … the consistent data seem to show that cases go up very fast, they started to come down very fast. So we’re on that downward trend now,” Colfax said.

Jan 20, 2:28 pm
Austria becomes 1st European country to mandate vaccines for all

Austria’s parliament voted Thursday to mandate vaccinations for all adults, making Austria the first country in Europe to mandate the vaccine for all eligible residents.

According to the Austrian Health Ministry, 72% of the country’s population is fully vaccinated.

The COVID-19 Vaccination Act will go into effect on Feb. 1. Beginning March 15, reminder letters will be sent to those who remain unvaccinated. Noncompliance can result in a fine.

Exempt from the new law are: minors, pregnant women, those who had COVID-19 within 180 days and people with medical exemptions.

-ABC News’ Christine Theodorou

Jan 20, 1:49 pm
France to ease some restrictions

Beginning Feb. 2, masks will no longer be required outdoors in France and public establishments will no longer have to apply quotas for receiving the public, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Thursday.

Working from home will be recommended but won’t be mandatory as of Feb. 2, he said.

Beginning Feb. 16, nightclubs will reopen and standing consumption in bars will resume.

Some epidemiologists have suggested a peak in cases has been reached. But the prime minister warned that in a normal year the flu generates 10,000 hospitalizations in the winter, while omicron is causing 10,000 hospitalizations every five days.

Beginning Monday, the vaccine pass will come into force and will apply to everyone 16 and older.

-ABC News’ Ibtissem Guenfoud

Jan 19, 10:30 pm
NIH panel discourages use of 2 monoclonal antibody treatments against omicron

The National Institutes of Health’s COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel is discouraging the use of monoclonal antibody treatments from Regeneron and Eli Lilly in its updated guidance Wednesday, as both have shown to be less effective against the predominant omicron variant.

Sotrovimab, from Vir Biotechnology and GlaxoSmithKline, is the only monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 that has so far been shown to hold up against omicron. Last week, the federal government bought 600,000 more doses of the treatment, bringing the total to approximately 1 million, but supplies remain short while production ramps up.

Federal health officials had announced last month they would pause shipments of the treatments from Eli Lilly and Regeneron due to omicron efficacy concerns.

Monoclonal antibody therapy is recommended for nonhospitalized COVID-19 patients who are at high risk of getting severely ill.

-ABC News’ Sasha Pezenik

Jan 19, 7:32 pm
NJ mandates booster for workers in hospitals, nursing homes, prisons

New Jersey will require workers in health care and high-risk congregate settings such as nursing homes and correctional facilities to get the COVID-19 booster, Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday.

“The science tells us that it’s no longer good enough to just receive your primary series, as being boosted is necessary to protect yourself and those around you,” Murphy said at a press briefing announcing the executive order.

The executive order also ends COVID-19 testing as an alternative to vaccination, requiring all workers in health care and high-risk congregate settings to be fully vaccinated and boosted unless they have a medical or religious exemption. The requirement is in line with the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for health care workers at facilities that treat Medicare and Medicaid patients.

Health care workers subject to the federal vaccine mandate have until Feb. 28 to submit proof that they have completed their primary vaccination series or received a booster shot if eligible. All other health care workers and employees in high-risk congregate settings have until March 30. Newly vaccinated workers will have to submit proof of a booster within three weeks of becoming eligible for the shot.

Anyone found noncompliant can face disciplinary action, including termination.

“We are no longer going to look past those who continue to put their colleagues, and perhaps I think even more importantly those who are their responsibility, in danger of COVID,” Murphy said. “That has to stop.”

Jan 19, 6:45 pm
US COVID-19 hospitalizations reach record level

Nearly 159,000 Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 — a pandemic high — according to federal data.

On average, more than 21,000 Americans with COVID-19 are being admitted to the hospital each day, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. Nearly 26,000 Americans with the virus currently require intensive care.

Americans 65 years and older currently account for the largest percentage of COVID-19-related hospitalizations, followed by 18- to 49-year-olds.

Emergency department visits for COVID-19 patients declined nearly 14% over the last week.

It is largely unclear how many patients were admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 versus coincidentally testing positive for the virus after they were admitted for other reasons. Experts say these totals likely vary widely, community by community, and that a COVID-19 diagnosis, regardless of the reason behind the initial admission, can cause additional strain on a health system.

-ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos

Jan 19, 4:10 pm
Fauci predicts most states will be past omicron peak by mid-February

Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts that most states will be past the omicron peak by mid-February.

“I would imagine as we get into February, into the middle of February, first few weeks of February, it is very likely that most of the states in the country will have turned around with their peak and are starting to come down with regard to cases, and then obviously hospitalizations,” Fauci said at a Blue Star Families event.

“Right now, there’s no doubt that in New York City and other parts of New York state and in New Jersey, it has already peaked and is rather dramatically on its way down,” Fauci said. “We’re seeing that also in bigger cities such as Chicago, where as in cities in the South, it has not yet peaked and likely will have more of a slower incline and a slower decline, such as in places like New Orleans and in other cities in Louisiana.”

Fauci said he expects data on vaccines for kids under 5 will be delivered to the FDA in the next month.

“They’re determining now that for children within that age group, it is likely that it will be a three-dose vaccine. And that being the case, it’s going to take a little longer to get those data to the FDA and approved,” he explained. “My hope is that it’s going to be within the next month or so and not much later than that. But I can’t guarantee that because I can’t out guess the FDA, I’m gonna have to leave that to them.”

-ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett

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