TAMPA, Fla. — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday reported more than 75,900 new cases of COVID-19 in Florida.
That tally raises the 7-day average daily to 42,600, which is twice as high as it was at the peak of this summer’s surge when the delta variant fueled a surge of infections in the state.
Friday’s report marks a single-day record for the number of new cases in Florida. It breaks the record set a day earlier when more than 58,000 cases were reported in the state. The omicron variant of the coronavirus has spiked in Florida and across the nation over the past few weeks.
Soaring numbers during the holiday season have sent tens of thousands of people to COVID-19 testing centers across Florida, resulting in long lines in many areas.
Three people collapsed while waiting in line at a Tampa testing site on Friday morning.
Authorities received three medical calls at the Al Lopez Park testing site, according to Lauren Rozyla, a spokeswoman for the city of Tampa. She said one person left before medics arrived, but two women in their 60s — both with a history of blood pressure issued — fainted while standing in line.
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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC:
— Muted New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world as omicron rages on
— US children hospitalized with COVID in record numbers
— UK estimates 1 in 15 had virus in London before Christmas amid omicron surge
— New COVID-19 cases in US soar to highest levels on record
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING TODAY:
CARSON CITY, Nev. — Hundreds of unvaccinated employees who work at public colleges and universities in Nevada were being fired Friday, a day after the state Board of Regents voted to keep a staff vaccine mandate in effect.
The Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents on Thursday deadlocked 6-6 on a measure to repeal the staff vaccine mandate and then rejected a measure to push the effective termination date back two weeks. Without majority support for a repeal, the mandate — which Gov. Steve Sisolak and the Nevada Faculty Alliance support — remained in effect.
Higher education officials said on Friday that 379 employees were being terminated, 188 attribution employees ended their contracts and 18 more voluntarily resigned. Employees who are fired can seek reinstatement if they show proof of vaccination in January, regents said.
With the staff mandate remaining in effect, universities are set to begin the semester with a mandate on staff and without one on students. Last week, an emergency mandate imposed on students by the state Board of Health expired and a state legislative panel on a 6-6 tie vote decided against making it permanent.
Regents in support of the mandate said it was the best way to maintain health on campuses, while those opposed said it was unfair to impose a mandate on staff but not on students.
PARIS — Describing himself as “resolutely optimistic,” French President Emmanuel Macron has used the last New Year’s address of his current term to express the hope that, with vaccinations, 2022 will see the end of the coronavirus pandemic.
Macron stopped short of saying that he will stand for re-election in April. He said only that he intends to continue serving the French “whatever my place and the circumstances.”
The president appealed to the 5 million unvaccinated but eligible people in France to get coronavirus jabs, saying: “All of France is counting on you.”
Vaccines offer “real reasons to hope” and are “our surest ace,” he said. “Perhaps 2022 will be the year we come out of the epidemic — I want to believe that with you — the year where we will be able to see the exit from this day without end.”
France has lost 123,000 people to COVID-19 and new cases are at unprecedented levels, surging with the highly contagious omicron variant. France reported a record 232,200 new cases on Friday, its third day running above the 200,000 mark.
But with nearly 77% of the population fully vaccinated and 24 million people having had booster shots, Macron’s government is betting that omicron can be tamed without recourse to economically damaging lockdowns or curfews and without hospitals collapsing under growing numbers of gravely sick.
ROME — Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, has used the last New Year’s Eve speech of his term take to task those who “waste” opportunities to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, calling that choice an “offense” to all those who haven’t been able to receive the injection.
In a televised speech to the nation Friday night, Mattarella, who is head of state, noted that he was serving in the final days of his seven-year term, with Parliament to elect his successor in the first weeks of 2022. Referring to recent COVID-19 surges in Italy and many other countries driven by virus variants, Mattarella noted a “sense of frustration” over the setbacks.
He recalled his feelings of “impotence and desperation” in the pandemic’s first months and dramatic images such as columns of Italian army trucks transporting coffins to other parts of the country as the hardest-hit areas reeled under the soaring death toll in Europe’s first nation to be slammed by the virus.
“What would we have given in those days to have the vaccine?” Mattarella asked rhetorically. “Research and science delivered to us, well before one could have hoped, this opportunity” to be vaccinated, he said.
“To waste it (the opportunity) is also an offense” to those who can’t even today access it, Mattarella said.
ALBANY, N.Y. — Federal ambulance teams and additional National Guard members are headed for New York City, and western New York hospitals are getting more federal help as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations keep rising.
State officials announced the new deployments Friday.
Gov. Kathy Hochul also said students at state universities and the City University of New York will have to get coronavirus vaccine booster shots to be on campus in the spring semester and must test negative before returning from the holiday break.
New confirmed case counts have been breaking records by the day in the state, topping 76,500 on Thursday, Hochul said at a news briefing.
An average of 53,000 New Yorkers a day tested positive in the week that ended Thursday, compared to 13,000 per day two weeks earlier. Over 7,900 people with COVID-19 are hospitalized statewide, up 67% in a week.
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas officials on Friday requested federal aid for increased COVID-19 testing and treatment following reports that the state is running low on the antibody treatment that has proved most effective against the omicron variant.
In a statement, Gov. Greg Abbott said the Texas Division for Emergency Management and the Texas Department of State Health Services made the request.
They are seeking federal resources for additional COVID-19 testing locations in six counties, increased medical personnel and more sotrovimab, the monoclonal antibody treatment that has proved most effective against the more-transmissible omicron.
Abbott called on the Biden administration “to step up in this fight and provide the resources necessary to help protect Texans.”
On Monday, the Texas Department of State Health Services said that regional infusion centers in some of the state’s largest cities — Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, San Antonio and The Woodlands — “have exhausted their supply of sotrovimab.”
The scarcity stems from a national shortage of the treatment, according to the agency. The centers are expected to receive new shipments in early January.
GAITHERSBURG, Md. — Novavax Inc. said it filed data Friday with the Food and Drug Administration to support clearance of its long-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine, a different kind of shot than current U.S. options.
Novavax said the data package is the last requirement before the company formally submits its emergency-use application next month to become the fourth U.S. COVID-19 vaccine. The announcement comes shortly after the European Commission and World Health Organization cleared use of the Maryland-based company’s two-dose shot.
Novavax developed a protein vaccine, similar to shots used for years against other diseases and a strategy that might appeal to people hesitant to use COVID-19 vaccines made with newer technologies. But Novavax, a small biotech company, faced months of delays in finding manufacturers to mass-produce its vaccine.
The Serum Institute of India currently is manufacturing the vaccine. Novavax has lined up additional production facilities in the Czech Republic, South Korea and elsewhere that are expected to eventually add to supplies.
In studies of tens of thousands of people in the U.S., U.K. and Mexico, the vaccine proved safe and 90% effective against symptomatic infection from earlier coronavirus variants. A booster dose six months later revved up protection against the recent delta variant. Novavax says it is currently testing how the shots hold up against the newest scourge, omicron.
The vaccine is made with lab-grown copies of the coronavirus spike protein and mixed with an immune-boosting chemical.
LONDON — Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp says three of his players have tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of Sunday’s English Premier League soccer game at title rival Chelsea in London.
Klopp did not name the trio and remains hopeful the game will go ahead.
A continuing coronavirus outbreak at Newcastle led to its EPL game at Southampton on Sunday being postponed. That brought the total to 18 EPL games postponed in three weeks.
The French league postponed the home game between Angers and Saint-Etienne on Jan. 9 because of 19 coronavirus cases in the Angers squad.
ROME — Italian health officials are warning that the rate of occupation by COVID-19 patients of hospital beds both in intensive care units and in regular wards has surpassed the “critical level” nationally.
A top Health Ministry official, Gianni Rezza, also said on Friday evening that the incidence of cases is growing, with 783 confirmed COVID-19 infections per every 100,000 residents in Italy. The country hit another high for daily new caseloads — 144,243 confirmed cases in the last 24 hours.
Nearly 12% of some 1.234 million swab tests conducted since Thursday resulted positive, according to the ministry, which urged vaccinated persons to get a booster shot if they are eligible.
With the nation slammed by a surge of infections largely driven by the omicron variant, the government banned public New Year’s Eve celebrations.
LONDON — New figures from Britain’s official statistics body estimate that about 1 in 25 people in private households in England had COVID-19 in the week before Christmas, as the highly transmissible omicron variant spread rapidly across the country.
The number jumped from 1 in 45 in the previous week, the Office for National Statistics said Friday.
One in 25 is the equivalent of about 2 million people with coronavirus in England, the highest number since the statistics body began estimating infection levels in May 2020.
The figure was even higher in London, the British capital, where officials said around 1 in 15 people was likely to test positive for the coronavirus in the week to Dec. 23.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina’s health department reported Friday a record-high number of nearly 9,000 COVID-19 cases in one day.
The record-shattering 8,882 cases confirmed by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control comes less than a year after the state marked its previous high of 7,686 cases in early 2021.
“I think January’s going to be a very difficult month for South Carolina,” Department Director Dr. Edward Simmer said during a Friday news conference.
The state has seen significant rises in the number of people hospitalized and on ventilators in the past week. Hospitals are managing the increase, but the rise in cases has strained staff, Simmer said. Some emergency rooms and urgent cares are already getting overwhelmed, with wait times increasing, he added.
A third of the state’s hospitals reported critical staffing shortages to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday.
DALLAS — Flight cancellations surged again on the last day of 2021, with airlines blaming it on crew shortages related to the spike in COVID-19 infections.
By late morning Friday on the East Coast, airlines scrubbed more than 1,300 flights, according to tracking service FlightAware. That compared with about 1,400 cancellations for all of Thursday.
The disruptions are likely to inconvenience hundreds of thousands of air travelers over the New Year’s holiday weekend. Canceled flights began rising shortly before Christmas.
The remnants of the delta variant and the rise of the new omicron variant pushed the rate of new daily infections in the U.S. well above 200,000 a day, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.
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