December 27 coronavirus pandemic and Omicron variant news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Tara John, Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes, Melissa Macaya and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 0601 GMT (1401 HKT) December 28, 2021
48 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
7:27 p.m. ET, December 27, 2021

Nearly 100 NFL players test positive for Covid-19 on Monday

From CNN's Kevin Dotson

(Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
(Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

The National Football League had 96 of its players test positive for Covid-19 on Monday, the league announced today.  

With an additional 10 positive tests among players over the weekend, a total of 106 players have been placed on the league’s Reserve/Covid-19 list since Christmas.

The NFL postponed three games last week but has yet to cancel a game so far this season.

7:21 p.m. ET, December 27, 2021

NBA shortens quarantine time for vaccinated players who test positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Holden Perrelli 

(G Fiume/Getty Images)
(G Fiume/Getty Images)

The National Basketball Association (NBA) will now allow vaccinated players and coaches to clear quarantine after six days – if Covid-19 testing determines the individual is no longer infectious, according to a league memo obtained by CNN. 

The updated NBA protocols were first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The adjustment to six days is a reduction from the previously instituted waiting period of 10 days to clear quarantine.

The changes to the health and safety protocols were made on the same day the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortened the recommended time that people should isolate after they’ve tested positive for Covid-19, from 10 days to five days if they don’t have symptoms – and if they wear a mask around others for at least five more days.

In an interview last week, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said 97% of NBA players are fully vaccinated and 65% have received a booster shot.


7:17 p.m. ET, December 27, 2021

Apple makes all NYC stores pickup only as Covid-19 cases rise

From CNN’s Kate Trafecante

Customers flow through the entrance of an Apple store in New York on November 26.
Customers flow through the entrance of an Apple store in New York on November 26. (David 'Dee' Delgado/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Apple has closed all of its New York City store locations to in-person shoppers due to Covid-19, Monica Fernandez, a spokesperson for the company, said in a statement. 

All of the stores are still open for customers to buy a product online and pick it up at the store, Fernandez said. 

“We regularly monitor conditions and we will adjust both our health measures and store services to support the wellbeing of customers and employees. We remain committed to a comprehensive approach for our teams that combines regular testing with daily health checks, employee and customer masking, deep cleaning and paid sick leave,” the company said in a statement. 

6:05 p.m. ET, December 27, 2021

Hospitalizations of kids at one hospital in Chicago have quadrupled, doctor says

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

The number of children testing positive for Covid-19 at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is “incredibly high,” Dr. Larry Kociolek, an attending physician and infectious disease specialist there, told CNN Monday.

Case numbers are three times as high as the hospital’s previous peak in December of 2020, Kociolek said. 

“Hospitalizations have quadrupled over our baseline over the past week,” Kociolek told CNN. “Fortunately, a lot of these infections are either mild infections or incidental positives, since we screen all children before procedures and at the time of admission, and we've actually not seen any change in the number of children being admitted to the ICU.”

Half of the hospitalizations were in children under the age of five, Kociolek said. Those children are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. 

“I think we’re definitely seeing the impact of vaccines in kids older than 5. The kids that are hospitalized are essentially all unvaccinated,” Kociolek said. 

Kociolek said about 7% of the kids who test positive don’t have any symptoms at all. The sharp rise in cases shows how contagious the Omicron variant is.

“Our community activity just shut up very, very quickly,” Kociolek said. 

Kociolek said the hospital is also concerned about a surge in multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, known as MIS-C, in the near future. MIS-C is a rare, but serious Covid-19 related condition that can affect kids. The condition typically occurs after there has been a surge of Covid-19 cases. Even children who have had mild Covid-19 cases can develop MIS-C, usually several weeks after infection.

“We did not see an increase in MIS-C following the Delta peak, but there’s reason to believe the Delta variant might be different than the Omicron variant in terms of causing MIS-C, so we are cautiously observing these cases,” Kociolek said. 

Kociolek said it is also important for parents to keep in mind that even mild Covid-19 cases can be contagious. To keep schools open, parents have to remember to keep their sick children home from school or any other activity. He also suggested parents may want to get their children tested or use a home test before they return to school. “That way you can ensure that they’re not carrying Covid-19 back to the classroom,” Kociolek said. 

6:00 p.m. ET, December 27, 2021

Nearly a third of fully vaccinated people have received a booster dose, CDC data shows

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

(Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)
(Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

Here's what the latest data on vaccination efforts in the United States, published Monday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows:

  • Fully vaccinated: 61.8% of the total US population (all ages) – more than 205 million people.
  • Not vaccinated: 22.4% of the eligible population (age 5+) have not received any dose of Covid-19 vaccine – at least 66 million people.
  • Current pace of vaccinations (seven-day average): 1,034,442 doses are being administered each day. 
  • An average of 793,160 million booster doses are being administered each day.
  • About 66 million people have received an additional dose, or booster
  • 35.2% of fully vaccinated adults (18+) have received a booster.
  • 47.1% of fully vaccinated people age 50 and older have received a booster.
  • 57.3% of fully vaccinated seniors (65+) have received a booster. 
  • 32.3% of the fully vaccinated population is boosted.

Note: CDC data on Covid-19 vaccinations are estimates. The agency notes that data on people who are fully vaccinated and those with a booster dose may be underestimated, while data on people with at least one dose may be overestimated. 

 You can see a full break-down of CDC data here.

5:13 p.m. ET, December 27, 2021

This surge of Covid-19 patients is different from the others, health expert says

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

The latest surge of Covid-19 patients is different from previous surges, an emergency department expert on Long Island said Monday.

“During the first surge we saw majority of the patients were Covid. This surge, we're seeing a lot of sicker patients that had delayed care because of the different surges that went on,” Dr. Fred Davis, emergency department co-chair at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center Northwell Health, told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “And now we're also starting to see a number of patients presenting with very low acuity, or very minimal symptoms that are also coming into the emergency department to get tested.”

The majority of the more serious Covid-19 cases are unvaccinated, Davis said. There are some breakthrough cases, but those patients don’t tend to be as sick. 

“What we're seeing currently in our own hospitals is that this variant of Omicron seems to be less severe — that those aren't requiring as much of the hospitalizations as we saw during the Alpha variant,” Davis said.

While the staff is tired after two years of managing patients in a pandemic, Davis said they have learned a lot through each wave in cases. 

“While we fear that this is something that's just starting, we also know that we can get through it because we got through something just as bad, if not worse,” Davis said.

6:01 p.m. ET, December 27, 2021

CDC shortens recommended Covid-19 isolation and quarantine times

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

People wait in line for take-home Covid-19 test kits in New York on December 23.
People wait in line for take-home Covid-19 test kits in New York on December 23. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shortened the recommended times that people should isolate when they’ve tested positive for Covid-19 from 10 days to five days if they don’t have symptoms – and if they wear a mask around others for at least five more days.

The CDC also shortened the recommended time for people to quarantine if they are exposed to the virus to a similar five days if they are vaccinated, and often to no time if they are boosted

“Given what we currently know about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to 5 days, if asymptomatic, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others,” the CDC said in a statement on Monday.

“The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after. Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for 5 days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for 5 days to minimize the risk of infecting others.”

Quarantine refers to the time people stay away from others if they are exposed to a disease but not yet testing positive or showing symptoms.

CDC changed those recommendations, too. “For people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than 2 months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, CDC now recommends quarantine for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days,” it said.

“Alternatively, if a 5-day quarantine is not feasible, it is imperative that an exposed person wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure. Individuals who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure. For all those exposed, best practice would also include a test for SARS-CoV-2 at day 5 after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19.”

President Biden was briefed today by his Covid-19 team on the CDC's decision, according to a White House official. 

6:03 p.m. ET, December 27, 2021

Goldman Sachs introduces a new booster policy and mandates twice weekly testing

From CNN's Matt Egan

People enter the Goldman Sachs headquarters New York in June.
People enter the Goldman Sachs headquarters New York in June. (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Goldman Sachs told employees in a memo on Monday that all individuals coming into the bank’s US offices will be required to show proof of a booster shot.

The new booster policy takes effect on Feb. 1 and applies to both employees and visitors. The move comes as a spike in Covid-19 cases complicates the return of office workers in New York and across the United States.

In addition to mandating booster shots for eligible employees, Goldman Sachs plans to double mandatory testing to twice weekly for those entering US offices, beginning on Jan. 10.

News of the new health policies was first reported by Bloomberg and confirmed to CNN by a spokesperson for Goldman Sachs. 

Andy Slavitt, former Covid-19 adviser to President Biden, told CNN earlier this month there’s “no question” CEOs should require employees to get boosters in light of how contagious Omicron is. 

"Boost everybody. If everybody is boosted, that's your best shot at having everyone back," Slavitt said, referring to how business leaders should approach back-to-the-office plans.

4:28 p.m. ET, December 27, 2021

Airlines canceled more than 1,100 US flights on Monday

From CNN's Greg Wallace

A coronavirus surge and winter weather threw off holiday travel plans for a fourth straight day on Monday – and at one airline, would-be travelers are waiting on hold for as long as 11 hours.  

Airlines canceled more than 1,100 US flights today and delayed more than 4,400 flights, according to the aviation tracking website FlightAware. On Sunday, about 1,400 flights were canceled and more than 6,000 delayed, FlightAware reported.  

In all, carriers have canceled nearly 4,000 flights since Friday – Christmas Eve – and more than 11,800 were delayed, according to FlightAware data.    

West coast-heavy Alaska Airlines said severe weather in the Pacific Northwest disrupted its flight schedule. Alaska canceled more than one in five of its flights – 144 – on Monday, according to FlightAware, on top of the 248 cancellations Alaska Airlines reported on Sunday.  

“Reservations is experiencing extremely long hold times of up to 11 hours,” Alaska Airlines told CNN in a statement. “We apologize for the inconvenience our guests are experiencing due to flight delays and cancellations. We realize it’s incredibly frustrating when travel doesn’t go as planned.” 

Alaska said crew members calling out from work sick due to coronavirus is “no longer a factor,” but other carriers said it is an issue.   

United Airlines, which canceled more than one in 10 of its flights on Friday and Saturday, told CNN that “nearly 50% of our passengers have arrived at their final destination either early or within four hours of their originally scheduled flight.” It canceled 115 flights on Monday “due to Omicron staffing issues.”