(NEW YORK) — As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.3 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 809,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
About 61.6% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
-Biden calls out those spreading misinformation ‘that can kill their own customers’
-New York City has highest new case rate in US
-Biden to announce plan to send 500 million free rapid tests to Americans
-Fauci on omicron’s ‘unprecedented’ spread
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern.
Dec 21, 4:36 pm
New Hampshire hospital seeing record-high number of patients
Elliot Hospital in New Hampshire is now seeing three to four times as many patients as it had at the beginning of the pandemic, Dr. Laura McPhee told ABC News.
She said their ICU is full with COVID-19 patients and staff is running thin.
“We’re tired. It’s been extremely hard on everybody,” McPhee said, stressing that “most of the patients that we’re seeing are unvaccinated.”
“Most days I’ve been angry and frustrated. … Because this is preventable. It doesn’t have to happen,” she said. “I’ve not ever seen a patient here in the ICU who has been fully vaccinated with a booster.”
ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos
Dec 21, 4:08 pm
Inmates on home confinement due to pandemic can stay out of prison, DOJ says
About 4,000 nonviolent inmates placed under home confinement due to COVID-19 will not be forced to return to prison at the expiration of the public health emergency, as long as officials determine they have not broken rules and made rehabilitative progress during the period of their release, the Justice Department said.
The announcement follows an extensive review by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel that for months weighed whether there was any way to keep the inmates placed on home confinement from being forced back into incarceration. An earlier OLC opinion released during the final days of the Trump administration determined they would have to return to prison within a month of the emergency’s expiration.
ABC News’ Alexander Mallin
Dec 21, 3:42 pm
Biden calls out those spreading misinformation ‘that can kill their own customers’
With omicron now the dominant variant in the U.S., President Joe Biden said in a public address Tuesday, “If you’re not fully vaccinated, you have good reason to be concerned.”
“The unvaccinated have a significantly higher risk of ending up in a hospital — or even dying,” he said.
Biden said “the unvaccinated are responsible for their own choices” but also blamed “dangerous misinformation on cable TV and social media.”
“These companies and personalities are making money by peddling lies and allowing misinformation that can kill their own customers and their own supporters. It’s wrong. It’s amoral,” he said. “I call on the purveyors of these lies and misinformation to stop it.”
When reporters confronted the president about people struggling to find tests before the holidays, Biden said omicron “spread even more rapidly than anybody thought.”
Biden said the omicron surge created a “big rush” for tests and that this does not resemble a “failure” from the administration.
Biden announced a new plan to distribute 500 million free at-home rapid tests to Americans beginning in January. The free at-home rapid tests will be delivered by mail to Americans who request them. Americans will have to request the tests through a website that will launch in January.
The federal government is also opening more testing sites and mobilizing 1,000 military doctors and nurses to overburdened hospitals.
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