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The contagious Omicron variant continued to wreak havoc across the country, cancelling flights for the third consecutive week, forcing schools and businesses to shut their doors, and even pushing one hotel to use robots to fill in for overstretched staff.
On Tuesday, 1,500 flights were cancelled and more than 4,000 were delayed across the country as airlines cited a shortage of pilots during the latest outbreak.
Schools closed to prevent staff and students from getting sick, with more than 3,500 public schools across the country shuttered in the first week back since the Christmas break.
Big chain stores like Walmart and CVS shut dozens of branches to clean and sanitize as the US smashed records for new daily COVID cases, which reached 1,082,549 on Monday.
And in a sign of desperation across multiple industries, a hotel in Silicon Valley has begun using robots to deliver room service to customers.
The US is smashing records for daily COVID-19 cases, which reached 1,082,549 on Monday
Evidence is mounting that the Omicron variant maybe less deadly, with experts hoping it represents a turn toward herd immunity
Widespread flight disruptions continued on Tuesday, with nearly 1,500 flights cancelled and 4,000 delayed across the country. Above, Orlando International Airport on Sunday
Travelers line up at a ticket counter at Salt Lake City International Airport on December 30
Stores are also feeling the crunch, with retailers like Walmart and CVS closing locations last month for sanitizing. Above, a sign outside a CBS in Jackson, Mississippi on Monday
The Radisson Sunnyvale is now deploying a small robot designed by manufacturer Savioke.
‘They’re in this kind of crunch mode where the higher paid staff are filling in for things that frankly robots can do,’ Savioke CEO Steve Cousins told KGO-TV.
The robot has reportedly reduced room service delivery time from 30 to five minutes and quelled the COVID anxiety of some guests.
‘There are guests that like the fact that they can have items delivered and not have that contact with a human being,’ Radisson Sunnyvale general manager Alex Martinez told the TV station.
‘It’s more of an enhanced experience than it is replacing someone.’
The moves come COVID infections soar but hospitalizations and deaths remain relatively low. On a rolling-average basis, daily COVID-19 cases are at 494,732 over the past seven days, up more than 110 percent from a week ago, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.
There were 1,688 deaths recorded across the country on Monday, and the seven-day rolling average of deaths stood at 1,340, marking a 12 percent decline from week-ago levels.
Hospitalizations have risen by about a third in the past week, at around 100,000, but remain nearly 30 percent below the peak levels recorded last January, when case numbers were much lower than they stand today.
‘The virus is always going to be with us, but my hope is this variant causes so much immunity that it will quell the pandemic.’
Though evidence is mounting that Omicron is a milder strain with less risk of severe illness, businesses are still struggling as workers call out sick .
Flight disruptions that began before Christmas Eve are still piling up by the thousands.
Flight disruptions that began before Christmas Eve are still piling up by the thousands every day. Above, travelers at a Delta ticket counter at the Salt Lake City airport on December 30
Airlines have cited a shortage of pilots due to COVID-19 infections. Above, travelers at LaGuardia Airport in New York City
Infections have skyrocketed in the US due to the more infectious Omicron variant
About 73 percent of the US population has at least one dose. Only 62 percent are fully vaccinated
By Tuesday afternoon, 1,442 flights within the US were canceled and more than 3,600 were delayed. On Monday, more than 3,200 flights were cancelled and nearly 9,000 flights were delayed, according to flight tracker FlightAware.
The cancellations have resulted in missed holiday reunions and intense frustration for many travelers, who have taken to Twitter to express their woes.
One user tweeted on Tuesday: ‘@delta cancelled my flight without emailing me this morning, and had the audacity to be cordial about the first available flight being over a week from today.
‘I don’t want a response, I just want to yell into the void about a corporation that faces no consequences.’
Another user wrote: ‘Land in Dallas, turn on phone, text message saying my final flight home is cancelled till tomorrow. I swear I am not going on a vacation anytime soon after this.’
Some airlines have cited the Omicron variant and a lack of available pilots as reasons for the cancellations.
Schools are delaying reopening after the holidays, or remaining closed altogether, as a result of the Omicron variant.
Schools are delaying reopening after the holidays, or remaining closed altogether, as a result of the Omicron variant
Most of the school disruptions have been in the Northeast, according to a Burbiotracker
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has vowed to keep schools open. Above, children walk into an elementary school past a Mayor Adams press conference in the Bronx on Monday
For the week starting January 2, 3,556 schools across the country were closed, according to a tracker on aggregator Burbio.com. That’s more than triple the amount of the 1,029 schools closed the week of December 19.
Most school disruptions between December 13 and January 13 were concentrated in the Northeast, according to a map on the website.
But in an unusual alignment, the new mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vowed to keep schools in their districts open.
‘It’s chaos,’ said Keri Rodrigues, president of the National Parents Union, which has polled families throughout the pandemic.
‘The No. 1 thing that parents and families are crying out for is stability.’
In Chicago, students returned to school on Monday, but the school district has said it will cancel classes on Wednesday if the teacher’s union votes to switch to remote learning on Tuesday, according to WLS-TV.
‘Unfortunately, our union is again being backed into a corner of being the leader in the city that the mayor refuses to be,’ said Chicago Teacher’s Union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates in an interview with the station.
The Radisson Sunnyvale in Silicon Valley, above, is now deploying a small robot designed by manufacturer Savioke to help with room service and alleviate the burden on staff
The robot has reportedly reduced room service delivery time from 30 to five minutes and quelled the COVID anxiety of some guests
Walmart stores in states like Texas and New Jersey were closed for two days in December for cleaning. Above, a Walmart store in Bentonville, Arkansas in 2015
Pharmacy and retailer CVS said it temporarily closed ‘fewer than 10 locations’ for ‘enhanced cleaning’ last month
Walmart shut nearly 60 stores in states like Texas and New Jersey for two days in December ‘to present a safe and clean in-store environment for our associates and customers,’ a company spokesperson told Reuters, according to a CNBC report.
The retailer has 4,700 locations across the country.
Pharmacy and retailer CVS, on the other hand, said it temporarily closed ‘fewer than 10 locations’ for ‘enhanced cleaning’ last month.
The variant has affected the availability of staff at health care facilities, which are crucial as hospitalizations rise.
In Rhode Island, the state Department of Health recently updated its guidelines to allow COVID-positive health staff to return to work in ‘crisis’ situations. At least two hospitals have allowed COVID-infected staff to work with patients.
In South Florida, a hospital temporarily closed its maternity ward due to staff shortages related to recent outbreaks of COVID-19.
Mothers-to-be who had planned on giving birth at Holy Cross Health in Fort Lauderdale will have to find another option.
Holy Cross spokeswoman Christine Walker says in a statement: ‘In the best interest of patient safety, the Labor and Delivery unit is on diversion until further notice.’ She says the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Post-Partum units at the hospital remain open.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden urged 35 million unvaccinated Americans to get their shots as the best way to protect themselves from the rampant Omicron variant of COVID-19
Nearby hospitals including Memorial Healthcare System and Broward Health are taking on patients from Holy Cross in the meantime.
In his address to the nation on Tuesday afternoon, President Joe Biden said that cases will continue to rise, but there are enough booster shots for the ‘whole nation’.
About 73 percent of the US population has at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Only 62 percent are fully vaccinated and just 34.7 percent have a booster shot.
‘Omicron is very transmissible, transmissible variant, but much different than anything we’ve seen before. But you can protect yourself. And you should protect yourself, quite frankly. Get vaccinated. Get boosted. There’s plenty of booster shots. Wear a mask while you’re in public,’ Biden said.
He added that this continues to be the pandemic of the unvaccinated, and that there was no excuse for people not to be vaccinated by this point.