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COVID-19 live updates: Omicron to infect over 50% of Europe’s population, WHO warns


(NEW YORK) — As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.4 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 839,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

About 62.6% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Jan 11, 9:20 am
United cuts flights, 3,000 employees out with COVID-19

About 3,000 United Airlines workers currently have COVID-19, though none are in the hospital, the airline said.

On one recent day, one-third of all United Airlines employees at Newark Airport called in sick, the airline said.

United CEO Scott Kirby said the airline is cutting its near-term flight schedule to ensure they have enough staffing.

Kirby added that, prior to the vaccine requirement, United had one employee die each week from COVID-19.

-ABC News’ Sam Sweeney

Jan 11, 8:35 am
3 cities, 20 million people under lockdown in China

Some 20 million people across three Chinese cities are now under lockdown due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

Anyang, home to 5.5 million people, was the latest city to lock down its residents after discovering two cases of the fast-spreading omicron variant. Another 13 million people are under lock down in Xi’ian and 1.1 million in Yuzhou, with both cities still battling the highly contagious delta variant. Neither has reported any cases of omicron.

Meanwhile, restrictions have been imposed in the port city of Tianjin, about 80 miles southeast of Beijing, which is to host the 2022 Winter Olympics next month. The city’s 14 million people are being tested for COVID-19 after two locally transmitted cases of omicron were detected over the weekend — the first for mainland China.

-ABC News’ Karson Yiu

Jan 11, 7:58 am
Mexico’s president reveals he has COVID-19 for 2nd time

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been reinfected with COVID-19.

Lopez Obrador, 68, who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and received a booster shot in December, revealed Monday evening that he has tested positive for the virus a second time.

“Although the symptoms are mild, I will remain in isolation and will only do office work and communicate virtually until I get through it,” the president wrote on Twitter. “In the meantime, the interior secretary, Adan Augusto Lopez Hernandez, will take over for me at press conferences and other events.”

The announcement came after two of the president’s cabinet secretaries announced that they had tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days. Lopez Obrador attended a press conference earlier Monday without wearing a face mask.

The president, who has been accused of downplaying the highly contagious omicron variant as “a little COVID,” contracted the virus for the first time and recovered in early 2021.

Jan 11, 7:00 am
Red Cross declares ‘dire’ blood shortage as omicron surges

The American Red Cross said on Tuesday it’s facing its worst blood shortage in over a decade.

“While some types of medical care can wait, others can’t,” said Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer of the Red Cross, in a statement. “Hospitals are still seeing accident victims, cancer patients, those with blood disorders like sickle cell disease, and individuals who are seriously ill who all need blood transfusions to live even as Omicron cases surge across the country.”

The Red Cross, which supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood, said it saw donor numbers fall as the delta variant of COVID-19 spread in August. The number of blood donors has fallen by about 10% since the beginning of the pandemic. That trend continued as omicron spread, the organization said.

“We’re doing everything we can to increase blood donations to ensure every patient can receive medical treatments without delay, but we cannot do it without more donors,” Young said. “We need the help of the American people.”

Jan 11, 6:27 am
Omicron to infect over 50% of Europe’s population within weeks, WHO warns

The highly contagious omicron variant is expected to infect more than half of Europe’s population within the next two months, the World Health Organization’s top official in the region warned Tuesday.

Over 7 million newly confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported across Europe in the first week of 2022, more than doubling over a two-week period. So far, 50 countries in the region have detected omicron infections, according to Dr. Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe.

Kluge said omicron, which was first identified in southern Africa in November, “represents a new west-to-east tidal wave” and is “quickly becoming the dominant [variant] in western Europe and is now spreading in the Balkans.”

“As of Jan. 10, 26 countries report that over 1% of their population is catching COVID-19 each week,” Kluge told reporters during a press conference Tuesday. “At this rate, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation forecasts that more than 50% of the population in the region will be infected in the next six to eight weeks.”

Jan 11, 4:40 am
Over 65,000 Los Angeles public school staff and students test positive for COVID-19

More than 65,000 public school staff and students in Los Angeles have tested positive for COVID-19 as the nation’s second-largest school district returns to classrooms on Tuesday.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is requiring all employees and students to get tested for COVID-19 before returning for the Spring semester. Staff headed back to campuses on Monday, while the first day of classes for students was pushed back to Tuesday.

As of Monday evening, 424,230 employees and students have been tested and 65,630 were positive for the virus. The student positivity rate stands at 16.6% and the employee positivity rate stands at 14.9%, according to data released by the Los Angeles Unified School District.

“Our positivity rate remains lower than the overall county positivity rate as a result of our heightened safety measures and the continued partnership of families and employees,” the school district said in a statement Monday evening.

Since the start of the pandemic, Los Angeles County has reported a total of more than 2 million cases of COVID-19, with a positivity rate of 21.4%, according to data released Monday evening by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Jan 11, 2:49 am
Pentagon spends $442.1 million on Pfizer antiviral pills

The U.S. Department of Defense announced a $442.1-million contract with Pfizer to produce 835,000 doses of Paxlovid, the first oral antiviral authorized to treat Covid-19.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Monday he expected distribution of the pill to rise “exponentially” in the coming months, with 6 million courses available by March.

The Pentagon’s announcement came less than a week after the White House announced it would double its purchase of Paxlovid from 10 million to 20 million treatment courses, with 10 million treatment courses ready by June.

The estimated completion for the Pentagon’s contract was set for the end of March, officials said on Monday.

ABC News’ Sasha Pezenik

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