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The U.S. hit a new high for new daily COVID cases with 512,533 average daily cases reported on Thursday, breaking its previous record of 489,267 reported on Wednesday, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of John Hopkins data.
Daily life continues to be upended in between Christmas and New Year’s Day as over 1,300 U.S. flights were canceled by late Thursday, businesses face shortages due to staff testing positive and Americans continue facing hours-long lines to get tested.
According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of new cases in America are of the Omicron variant, which was first discovered last month by South African health officials.
The US broke a world record for average daily COVID cases for the second day in a row with 512,533 reported on Thursday, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of John Hopkins data
The record bests the nations previous record of 489,267 reported on Wednesday.
Americans are still waiting hours in lines to be tested for COVID-19. Above, a health care workers tests residents in Miami, Florida, at a drive-through COVID testing site
The country also broke a record for daily average cases with 344,543, topping Wednesday’s average of 301,477. Above, rows of cars wait in line to be tested in Houston, Texas
The U.S. is now averaging 300,387 new Covid cases per day, a pandemic record and the first time the 300,000 mark has been reached in America.
More than 500,000 Covid cases were reported on Monday, though that was a result of a large backlog of cases from the Christmas holiday. Wednesday’s total is the largest increase from only a single day.
Deaths are down by five percent, with a daily average of 1,221, though a grim CDC model forecasts that more than 42,000 Americans could die in the next three weeks. Hospitalizations are up by 15 percent, with a daily average of 78,781 per day, according to the New York Times.
The fact that deaths and hospitalizations are not rising at the same pace as positive cases show how the Omicron variant is less severe than Delta and more patients are experiencing milder cases.
Americans are still waiting hours in lines to be tested for COVID-19 as the Omicron variant sweeps the nation. Above, health care workers conduct COVID tests at a site in southeast Denver
Some cases may not even be making the official count because of the rise in at-home tests. What’s more worrisome about the high numbers is that health experts often expect disturbances in testing and data reporting, the news outlet reported.
About 62 percent of the US is fully vaccinated, with 73 percent having received their first dose, according to the New York Times. And about 68.8 million of the fully vaccinated have also received a third dose, or a booster shot, since Aug. 13, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fifteen states reported a record-high number of average daily infections, according to the CDC. They include Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington. Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.
With the case count rising so rapidly, partly due to the highly contagious Omicron variant, the CDC estimates that more than three Americans are testing positive every second.
“We are at the very beginning, unfortunately, and likely have at least four to eight weeks before we’re going to see it rise and then begin to fall again. And during that time, we are going to see COVID activity in this country like we haven’t seen since the beginning of the pandemic,” Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota, told CBS News.
Flights are still being canceled with almost every major airline facing shortage in staff testing positive for COVID. Above, travelers wait for their flights at Miami International Airport
Over 1,300 domestic and foreign U.S. flights were canceled by late Thursday, according FlightAware, which tracks aviation data. Above, travelers wait to board their flight at Miami International Airport
“We’re not going to live forever in a constant crisis, but for the time being, it’s going to be a challenge,” Osterholm added.
Meanwhile, the holiday season ‘flightmare’ continues as over 1,300 domestic and foreign U.S. flights were canceled by late Thursday, according FlightAware, which tracks aviation data. Roughly half as many flights for Friday and Saturday each are also already canceled.
Air-traffic control staff may also face pressure as a rising number of employees test positive for COVID-19, the Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday.
“To maintain safety, traffic volume at some facilities could be reduced, which might result in delays during busy periods,” an FAA spokesman told the Wall Street Journal.
JetBlue Airways Corp. canceled 177 of its flights, or 17 percent, for Thursday; United Airlines Holdings Inc. canceled 203 of its flights, or nine percent, and Delta Air Lines Inc. canceled about 250 flights, or 6 percent. All airline company’s attribute both COVID-19 and harsh weather for the cancelations.
In a Denver suburb in Colorado, residents sat in cars for a COVID testing line that stretch about a mile long before snaking through a parking lot, as seen in video sent to Fox News by Michele Fitzwilliam
A JetBlue spokesman told the Wall Street Journal that the company may have ‘additional cancels each day based on how sick calls are trending and general staffing challenges,’ adding ‘but we hope this proactive reduction will minimize same-day cancels and lessen the inconvenience to our customers.’
Some airline companies were luckier than others, however, as Southwest Airlines Co. had only canceled 20 flights by late Thursday. A spokeswoman said while the Dallas-based company is seeing a rising number of positive COVID cases among staff, “we’ve yet to see any impact on our operation.”
And American Airlines Group Inc. only had to cancel seven of its mainline flights on Thursday.
Meanwhile, residents across the country are still standing on lines or sitting in their cars for hours to get a COVID test. Urgent care centers, pharmacies and other places offering COVID-19 tests are struggling to keep up with demand.
By 11am on Wednesday – just an hour after it opened – 600 cars were waiting in line for a state-sponsored site in the small eastern Missouri city of Winfield, which had previously only administered 50 tests a week before this recent surge.
The traffic backup was so bad that police and city officials eventually closed the site due to safety concerns, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, citing comments made by Winfield police to the state health department.
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services spokeswoman Lisa Cox told the Post-Dispatch that the department plans to add an additional testing site in St. Louis this weekend, three sites in St. Louis next week, and one to three sites in Kansas City.
Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday announced he’s letting the pandemic-related state of emergency expire on Friday. In a statement, he said state government is ready to help but “there is no longer a need for a state of emergency.”
“Thanks to the effectiveness of the vaccine, widespread efforts to mitigate the virus, and our committed health care professionals, past needs to continue the state of emergency are no longer present,” Parson said.
The state’s COVID-19 dashboard on Thursday reported 2,265 people hospitalized with the virus, the highest number since August. Health experts across the state say the surge is far from over.
“We anticipate things will get worse before they get better,” said Dr. Hilary Babcock, a Washington University infectious disease specialist at BJC HealthCare. “The case numbers are really staggering, and are rising at a pace that we have never seen before.”
In Springfield, CoxHealth had 66 inpatient COVID-19 cases two days before Christmas. The hospital had 110 a week later, the Springfield News-Leader reported. A hospital study found that 94.6% of those hospitalized earlier this week were not vaccinated.
The Kansas City region also is being hit hard. The Kansas City Star reported that 1,809 new cases were reported in the metro area on Wednesday alone. The total includes cases in Kansas City and its suburbs in both Missouri and Kansas.
In a Denver suburb in Colorado, residents sat in cars for a COVID testing line that stretch about a mile long before snaking through a parking lot, as seen in video sent to Fox News by Michele Fitzwilliam.
A woman told FOX 31 Denver that she had to wait over two hours for a test on Monday even though she showed up before the site opened.
“I came early. They opened at 9, and I showed up around like 8:40 … [the line] was like wrapped around, and I didn’t get in until 11,’ Crystal told the local news outlet.
America is already at risk of being paralyzed by this latest surge as companies implement their own de facto lockdowns: Restaurants, bars and businesses – including big chains like Walmart and Costco – have been forced to close as they battle staff shortages due to infections.
In New York City, tech giant Apple has shut all its stores. Broadway has also been forced to temporarily shut down some of its shows, including Hugh Jackman’s The Music Man, and others, like Waitress and The Rockettes shut down entirely for the season.
Pro sports leagues have also been forced into postponements. The NHL, for instance, has been forced to reschedule 80 games on both sides of the US-Canada border since the season started.
The NBA, meanwhile, postponed its 10th game of the season on Wednesday due to a breakout within the Miami Heat locker room and the Denver Nuggests were forced to delay their Friday night game against Golden State after falling short of players.
Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, has warned in the past that what happens in the UK in regards to Covid will likely happen in the U.S. weeks later. Across the pond, a record 183,037 people are hospitalized with the virus, as London has emerged as a global virus hotspot. While some fear lockdown could return, Prime Minister Boris Johnson quelled concerns Thursday by telling Britons to enjoy the New Years holiday.
Other European nations like France, Germany, Norway and Denmark have instituted lockdowns to deal with recent Omicron surges, though, as the variant strikes much of the world.
Meanwhile it South Africa, where the variant was first discovered and the site of the first recorded Omicron outbreak, cases and hospitalizations are starting to decline – signaling the variant could already be running out of steam.