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
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7:49 p.m. ET, December 27, 2021

US flight attendant union criticizes new CDC isolation requirements

From CNN's Greg Wallace

The Association of Flight Attendants is criticizing the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new isolation guidelines for those who test positive for Covid-19, saying it will be on the lookout for employees being pressured to return to work prematurely. The association notes that the five-day period only applies to those who are asymptomatic. 

“The CDC gave a medical explanation about why the agency has decided to reduce the quarantine requirements from 10 to five days, but the fact that it aligns with the number of days pushed by corporate America is less than reassuring," the association says in a statement.

"We cannot allow pandemic fatigue to lead to decisions that extend the life of the pandemic or put policies on the backs of workers. Already the lack of paid sick leave creates pressure on workers to come to work sick. Corporations that fail to recognize this with paid sick leave, or pressure workers to come to work sick or face discipline, are failing their workers and their customers," the statement continues.

Earlier Monday, the CDC 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.

7:42 p.m. ET, December 27, 2021

Boise State withdraws from Friday's Arizona Bowl due to Covid-19

From CNN's Kevin Dotson

Boise State Athletics announced Monday that it has shut down all football team activities due to Covid-19 protocols. As a result, the Broncos will not compete against the Central Michigan Chippewas in the Arizona Bowl scheduled for Friday in Tucson.

Boise State’s decision was made in consultation with its medical staff, in addition to campus and public health officials

“We feel for the young men in our program who were very much looking forward to closing out their season, and for some, their football careers,” Boise State Director of Athletics Jeramiah Dickey said in a statement.

“I would personally like to thank Kym Adair and her team at the Arizona Bowl for putting together at first-class student-athlete and fan experience that we are extremely disappointed to miss,” he added.

7:23 p.m. ET, December 27, 2021

Fauci calls CDC's decision to shorten Covid-19 isolation guidelines "very prudent"

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

(CNN)
(CNN)

Dr. Anthony Fauci said the changes the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made to its isolation guidelines for Covid-19 are a good idea.

“I think that was a very prudent and good choice on the part of the CDC, which we spent a considerable amount of time discussing, namely getting people back in half the time than they would have been out, so that they can do it back to the workplace, doing things that are important to keep society running smoothly,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s Jim Acosta.

The CDC 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.

"With the sheer volume of new cases that we are having and that we expect to continue with Omicron, one of the things that we want to be careful of is that we don't have so many people out," Fauci told CNN's Jim Acosta.

"We want to get people back to the jobs, particularly the essential jobs, to keep society running smoothly," Fauci added.

One way to help slow the spread of Covid-19 is more testing, but tests are still hard to come by in the US, Fauci said, although the situation will get better soon.

“We don't have enough tests at this particular point in time to get everybody uniformly, have the availability of testing – that will change considerably as we get into January,” Fauci said. 

The Biden administration has promised it will make 500 million tests available in the first couple of weeks of January with 200 to 500 million tests per month in the succeeding months.

“It would be great if we had it right now, but unfortunately, we don’t,” Fauci said.

What the country does have right now is vaccines, Fauci said as he encouraged everyone to get vaccinated, including children.  

“I appeal to parents, that if your child is five and over, get that child vaccinated not only for their own safety, because you see there's a lot more infections in children, some of which result in hospitalizations. And that's one of the things you don't want to happen,” Fauci said. “You don't want them to be spreading infections among themselves, and among others, So it's really important to get those children vaccinated.”

Fauci has said vaccine mandates are a good idea, including for people who fly domestically, but don’t expect that mandate to happen any time soon. 

“But we never take anything off the table. We always keep things open for consideration,” Fauci said.

Fauci said public health leaders will be watching the Covid-19 numbers closely. The number he will be particularly focused on is hospitalizations. When there are so many infections, he explained, some can be asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic.

“What really counts is making sure people don't get sick,” Fauci said. “So, what we were saying as we go on further and we may be get more cases but less hospitalizations, it's important to focus on how well we're doing about keeping people well, if they're in the hospital taking good care of them, but trying to keep them out of the hospital by whatever means possible.”

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.