CDC Amends Quarantine Guidelines; record number of cases in the United States
The flu season in the United States began this winter after taking time off last year: hospitalizations are increasing and two child deaths have been reported.
The 2020-2021 influenza season – the first new season since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – has been the lowest in decades. Some large cities have not seen any cases. Experts have said COVID-19 prevention measures such as school closings, physical distancing, masks and canceled trips have resulted in less spread of the flu virus.
But a year later, the annual wave of influenza infections is back at a much stronger pace.
“It’s shaping up to be a more normal flu season,” said Lynnette Brammer, who tracks flu-like illness for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Child deaths, said Brammer, are “sadly what we would expect when influenza activity resumes. It is a sad reminder of how serious the flu is.
During the exceptionally mild flu season last year, a child died. In contrast, 199 children died from the flu two years ago and 144 the year before.
In recent years, influenza has been responsible for 600,000 to 800,000 annual hospitalizations and a total of 50,000 to 60,000 deaths.
In the most recent data, the most intense influenza activity has occurred in the nation’s capital, Washington, DC, and the number of states with high influenza activity has increased from three to seven. In released CDC figures On Monday, states with high influenza activity are New Mexico, Kansas, Indiana, New Jersey, Tennessee, Georgia and North Dakota.
Also in the news:
► California became the first state to record more than 5 million known coronavirus infections, according to the state’s scoreboard on Tuesday, which was delayed by the holiday weekend. It is not known how many new cases have been attributed to the omicron variant.
► 3,913 U.S. flights were delayed and 1,079 flights canceled on Tuesday due to a mix of COVID-19 and weather related issues, according to FlightAware, which tracks flight status in real time.
►The CDC has reviewed recent statistics on the number of new cases of omicron in the United States. For the week ending Dec. 18, 22.5% of new U.S. cases were omicron – not 73% as previously reported. Last week, omicron accounted for 58.6% of new cases in the United States; the delta represented 41.1%.
► Apple is temporarily not allowing customers to shop at its 16 retail stores in New York City as cases of COVID-19 increase. Instead, customers can pick up their orders online. Over the past week, the tech company temporarily closed stores in Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach, Florida; two shopping centers in Atlanta; Houston; and one each in Ohio, New Hampshire and Montreal.
► The Biden administration will lift its temporary travel restrictions on eight southern African countries on December 31, the White House announced on Tuesday.
► CDC is investigating Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas as it continues to sail with more than 50 cases of COVID-19 on board.
► About two dozen sailors from a US Navy warship – around 25% of the crew – have tested positive for COVID-19, keeping the ship sidelined in the port of Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba on Monday, according to US defense officials.
?? The numbers of the day: The United States has recorded more than 52.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 818,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: Over 281.5 million cases and 5.4 million deaths. More than 205 million Americans – 61.8% – are fully immunized, according to the CDC.
?? What we read: A man has died after waiting 15 days for a bed at a medical center. His family blames the COVID-19 outbreak.
Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s free Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates direct to your inbox and join our Facebook group.
United States reports record number of COVID-19 cases
The United States reported more than half a million new cases of COVID-19 on Monday – far worse than any other day in the entire pandemic.
Monday’s tally of more than 500,000 new cases was higher than the country’s previous record of more than 303,000, according to USA TODAY analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. The apparent spike likely represents some cases pending over the Christmas holidays, but it also reflects some of the rise in the highly contagious omicron strain.
The world also reported its worst week of COVID-19 cases on Monday – 5.9 million – according to USA TODAY analysis. The previous record of around 5.79 million cases was set in April.
The U.S. figures come after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday reduced the time it recommends people self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19 and self-quarantine after coming into contact with a person tested positive.
New York schools to increase testing and remove quarantine for exposed students who test negative
New York City will increase COVID-19 testing in schools when students return from vacation next week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday.
The city was stepping up testing and changing its quarantine policy to allow asymptomatic students who tested negative for the coronavirus to stay in school.
New York State will provide public schools in the city with 2 million home test kits so that tests can be sent home with students if a classmate tests positive, de Blasio said, and students who test negative will not have to self-quarantine.
“This is how we’re going to look at schools from now on, keep them safe and keep them open,” de Blasio said. “As long as they’re asymptomatic, and as long as they’re negative, they keep coming to school.”
New York City’s public school system, the country’s largest with around one million students, was one of the first in the country to reopen to in-person learning after the 2020 pandemic, but closures frequent schools or classrooms due to disruptive COVID-19 cases.
In addition to distributing home tests, the city will double the number of random COVID-19 tests it performs in schools and include vaccinated and unvaccinated students, the mayor said.
Health officials reported around 22,000 new cases of the virus per day in the week that ended Sunday, up from 3,400 per day in the week that ended December 12, largely because of the emergence of the omicron variant.
– The Associated Press
Fauci: US should consider vaccine mandate for domestic air travel
Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, told MSNBC on Monday that the United States should consider a vaccination mandate for domestic air travel.
Fauci, chief scientific adviser to President Joe Biden on the pandemic response, said such a mandate could increase the country’s overdue vaccination rate and provide stronger protection for flights. Federal regulations require all people 2 years of age and older to wear a mask on flights.
“When you make vaccination a requirement, it’s another incentive to get more people vaccinated,” Fauci told the network. “If you want to do this with domestic flights, I think this is something that should be seriously considered.”
Texas no longer has monoclonal antibody treatment
The Texas State Department of Health is running out of a key treatment to fight the omicron COVID-19 variant, which now accounts for 90% of the virus cases in the state.
Texas State Department Health Services announced on Monday that its regional infusion centers in Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, San Antonio and The Woodlands were running out of sotrovimab monoclonal antibody.
This antibody has been shown to be effective against the omicron variant. Other monoclonal antibodies have not been shown to be effective against omicron. The state does not expect to receive another shipment of sotrovimab from the federal government until January. Read more here.
– Nicole Villalpando and Roberto Villalpando, American statesman from Austin
CDC amends COVID-19 guidelines for isolation and quarantine
On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention slashed the time it recommends people self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19 and self-quarantine after coming into contact with someone who tests positive.
The new recommendations concern:
Isolation: For those infected with COVID-19, isolation begins the day a person tests positive. The CDC now recommends self-isolation for five days and resuming normal activities if a person has no symptoms after that time. Previously, the isolation period was 10 days.
Quarantine: For those who come in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The CDC now recommends that those who are vaccinated and have received a vaccine booster to skip quarantine if they wear a face mask for at least 10 days. If a person is vaccinated and has not received a booster, or if they are partially or not vaccinated at all, the CDC recommends a five-day quarantine and then wearing a mask in public for an additional five days.
Previously, the CDC recommended that unvaccinated people quarantine for 10 days and those who were vaccinated could skip a quarantine.
Tested positive for COVID while on vacation? Here is what to do.
Testing positive for COVID-19 sets off a puzzling, disruptive and at times frightening process – a process millions of Americans will likely experience over the next week or so.
First of all, you need to isolate yourself. It’s a more intense version of quarantine – it means cutting off contact with other people as much as possible in order to reduce the chances of infecting them. It also means forgoing travel, not going to work, and even limiting contact with people in your own household who are not infected.
The CDC says isolation is a necessary step whether or not you are vaccinated and whether you have symptoms or are feeling well.
Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should watch their symptoms. And people who are unvaccinated or at high risk of serious illness should be extra vigilant for symptoms that might require emergency care. Call your doctor to find out about the first treatment options.
How long should you isolate yourself? How long will I be contagious? What if you are in close contact with someone who tests positive? Here’s what you need to know about omicron and COVID-19 this holiday season.
Contributor: Mike Stucka, USA TODAY; The Associated Press