Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)
Total U.S. confirmed cases: 57,779,286 (57,341,310)
Total U.S. deaths: 832,169 (831,096)
Total global cases: 298,139,610 (296,374,195)
Total global deaths: 5,468,069 (5,462,426)
CDC recommends boosters for adolescents
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that children aged 12 to 17 get a Pfizer booster shot five months after becoming fully vaccinated. It’s the latest updated guidance from the health agency, which is trying to curb the explosive growth of the Omicron variant.
"It is critical that we protect our children and teens from COVID-19 infection and the complications of severe disease," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.
Walensky acted after a CDC advisory panel voted 13-1 Wednesday in favor of the policy shift. The CDC director said the booster dose will provide “optimized protection against COVID-19 and the Omicron variant.”
Biden reportedly preparing country to ‘live with’ the virus
When he took office a year ago, President Biden declared war on COVID-19 and pledged the resources of the U.S. government to eradicate it. Twelve months later, the Wall Street Journal reports that the administration is ready to tell the American people they’ll have to live with the virus for the foreseeable future.
The move would come during an unprecedented surge in new cases, fed primarily by the Omicron variant. This week, a number of school districts across the U.S. returned to virtual learning, businesses have been strained by staff shortages, and airlines have canceled hundreds of flights.
Meanwhile, Biden renewed his plea for unvaccinated Americans to get the shot, saying the Omicron variant is much less threatening if you are vaccinated. “You can control how big an impact Omicron is going to have on your health,” Biden said.
Unemployment claims rise
Despite staff shortages at many businesses, job losses are apparently continuing. The Labor Department reported today that initial claims for unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly, increasing by 7,000 in the last week.
However, the total number of new claims – 207,000 – is sharply lower than just before the pandemic forced the economy to shut down in March 2020.
Bankrate surveyed a group of economists on the labor market outlook. The consensus opinion was that the market could be uncertain in the weeks ahead. Many said the Omicron variant is a wild card and could slow job growth in the first quarter.
Around the nation
Wisconsin: Test results are one way to track COVID-19; another is to analyze wastewater. State health officials say up to 10 times the amount of COVID-19 is being detected in wastewater in communities in Wisconsin over the amounts detected in August.
Connecticut: Gov. Ned Lamont is making it clear: Public schools across the state will remain open despite the record surge in COVID infections that have stressed the public school system. Lamont said the state has the tools in place to keep both teachers and students safe.
Florida: Gov. Ron DeSantis said he will prioritize at-home COVID-19 tests that the state has secured for long-term care facilities. “I don’t want somebody who is 75 to have to wait in line for an hour,” DeSantis said. The governor also backed the state surgeon general’s guidance that people without symptoms don’t need to be tested.
Arkansas: Public schools in Little Rock have moved to virtual learning for the rest of the week as doctors and public health officials emphasize safety measures amid surging COVID-19 cases in schools. "We are going to shift for the next two days to be in a virtual delivery for instruction," Little Rock School District Superintendent Poore said.
Oregon: COVID-19 tests are in short supply nearly everywhere, but maybe not in Oregon. The state has received nearly 200,000 at-home COVID-19 test kits that will be distributed to health care workers and K-12 schools as soon as Friday, according to the Oregon Health Authority.