January 10 coronavirus pandemic and Omicron variant news

By Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Aditi Sangal and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 0748 GMT (1548 HKT) January 11, 2022
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9:14 a.m. ET, January 10, 2022

Travel industry continues to suffer due to Omicron wave with ongoing cancellations

From CNN's Pete Muntean

George Bush Intercontinental Airport last week in Houston.
George Bush Intercontinental Airport last week in Houston. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

US airlines canceled thousands more flights over the weekend and a major cruise ship company canceled four cruises on Friday due to the continued fallout from the fast-moving Omicron wave of coronavirus which is hitting the travel industry hard.

Data from FlightAware shows that airlines canceled another 1,334 flights nationwide on Sunday – that’s on top of tens of thousands of cancellations since Christmas. Southwest Airlines canceled 239 flights, 6 % of its total schedule for Sunday, and delayed another 833 flights. 

Monday cancellation numbers could be rounding a corner after airlines were dealt near back-to-back winter storms last week and continue to struggle with workers calling out sick with coronavirus. FlightAware said airlines have canceled 705 flights as of 7:45 a.m. ET Monday.

On Friday, Royal Caribbean International announced it has canceled voyages on four ships because of "ongoing Covid-related circumstances around the world."

"In abundance of caution, Royal Caribbean International is pausing operations" on some ships, the company said in a statement.

The cruise line said it moved forward with the cancellations despite its health and safety measures, including vaccination and testing requirements for guests and crew.

Earlier last week, Norwegian Cruise Line canceled the voyages of eight ships.

8:22 a.m. ET, January 10, 2022

At least 2 US health care providers forced to prioritize Covid-19 testing for symptomatic people

From CNN’s Tina Burnside and Keith Allen

As laboratories struggle to keep up with the increased demand for Covid-19 tests triggered by the surging Omicron variant, at least two US health care providers have prioritized coronavirus testing for those who exhibiting symptoms of the virus.

The University of Washington last week at multiple locations began prioritizing Covid-19 testing solely for those “who have symptoms of respiratory illness or who have a known exposure to COVID-19,” UW Director of Media Relations Susan Gregg told CNN in an email Sunday.

University facilities are not currently testing people without symptoms, including those seeking tests related to travel or gatherings, according to Gregg, “due to the high volume of omicron cases that are being processed in our laboratory.”

Nine UW Covid-19 testing locations are currently open throughout King County, including in Seattle, but Gregg tells CNN that three other university sites run in concert with the city and county have been forced to temporarily close due to “capacity limitations.” 

“Because each positive sample must undergo additional testing, the recent surge in positive tests limits the total number of samples that we can handle,” Gregg said of the updated policy that went into effect on Jan. 4.

The University of North Carolina Medical Center in Chapel Hill is facing a similar testing crush due to the Omicron variant and is also restricting Covid-19 tests to those exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms, as well as university employees, and those requiring a test prior to a surgery, according to UNC Health Director of News Alan M. Wolf.

“We implemented those restrictions because of the surge in demand, and to ensure we have adequate supply,” Wolf told CNN in an email Sunday. “We expect to keep the restrictions in place until the number of cases begins to decrease,” Wolf said.

 

9:10 a.m. ET, January 10, 2022

Chicago cancels public school classes Monday as clash over Covid-19 safety protocols continues 

From CNN's Brad Parks

Darwin Elementary, a Chicago public school, closed, last week.
Darwin Elementary, a Chicago public school, closed, last week. (Jim Vondruska/Reuters)

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) informed parents Sunday evening that classes will be canceled again on Monday for the fourth consecutive school day as the district and Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement over the weekend.

"Out of fairness and consideration for families who need to prepare, we are writing to inform you that, at this time, classes will remain canceled for all CPS students on Monday, January 10. Although we have been negotiating hard throughout the day, there has not been sufficient progress for us to predict a return to class tomorrow. We will continue to negotiate through the night and will provide an update if we have made substantial progress," the district said in the message to parents.

The decision comes as CPS, the third largest school district in the country, canceled classes for more than 340,000 students Wednesday through Friday last week after the Chicago Teachers Union voted Tuesday night to refuse to show up for in-person work, citing concerns over Covid-19 safety