Fauci says CDC may add testing to isolation guidance; 5,000 flights already canceled or delayed Sunday: Live COVID-19 updates – USA TODAY

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering amending its new, five-day isolation guidance for asymptomatic patients to include testing, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday.

Last week, the CDC cut in half the amount of time it recommends asymptomatic people should isolate after testing positive. The recommendation does call for wearing masks in public for the next five days but dropped any requirement of a negative test. 

“The CDC is very well aware that there has been some pushback” about dropping the testing requirement, Fauci said on ABC News’ “This Week.” “I think we could be hearing more about that in the next day or so from the CDC.”

Fauci also said he supports reopening classrooms across the nation Monday following winter break. Most teachers and many students are vaccinated, and masks and testing are protocols at many schools, he said.

“It’s safe enough to get those kids back to school,” he said.

Also in the news: 

►Some city of Boston employees will temporarily shift to remote work as part of an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Mayor Michell Wu said city workers who are able to to perform all their essential work from home will be asked to do so until at least Jan. 18.

►Recovery from an omicron infection could provide solid protection from other variants, a preliminary South African study indicates. That could help tamp down dire consequences from future variants, say the authors of the study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed.

►A federal judge has blocked President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for the Head Start program in 24 states.

►Over 85,000 people tested positive for the coronavirus statewide on the last day of 2021, a more than 10% rise from the day before, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Saturday.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 54.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 825,800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 289.3 million cases and 5.4 million deaths. More than 205.8 million Americans – 62% – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC

📘 What we’re reading: 2020 was awful. 2021 wasn’t much better. What’s lurking around the corner in 2022? Read the full story.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s free Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

More than 5,000 flights already canceled or delayed amid surge

Over 5,000 flights entering, leaving or flying within the U.S. today have already been canceled or delayed as the latest coronavirus surge continues to fuel chaos in the airline industry. Wild winter weather sweeping across the Midwest this weekend added to the industry’s struggles.

More than 2,200 flights were canceled and over 3,400 flights had been delayed, according to tracking service FlightAware.

Thousands of flights have been delayed or canceled daily for more than a week, sending travelers scrambling and stranding some amid a huge surge in COVID cases with the omicron variant. Staffing shortages because of COVID and the wintry weather have caused more than 15,000 flights to be canceled since Dec. 24.

Twitter suspends personal account of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene

Twitter has again suspended the personal account used by Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene – this time permanently. The account “@mtgreenee,” was cited for repeated violations of the social media platform’s COVID-19 misinformation policy, Twitter spokesperson Trenton Kennedy told USA TODAY. This is the fifth strike against the account, which was suspended a third time in July 2021 for 12 hours and again in August 2021 for seven days for promoting misleading information about COVID-19. Greene’s other account, @ReptMTG, remains unblocked.

Greene has repeatedly condemned federally mandated measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. She once compared safety protocols to the Holocaust and has been fined repeatedly for failing to wear a mask on the House floor.

Chelsey Cox

Third Pfizer dose for kids 12-15 could win authorization this week

The Food and Drug Administration is reportedly poised to give thumbs-up to a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for kids ages 12-15 as soon as Monday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine advisory committee is expected to meet this week to vote on whether to recommend the changes, the Times said. If the panel agrees, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is expected to sign off immediately.

Consideration of the third shot, or booster shot, comes as schools begin reopening after the winter break amid the omicron surge that has driven record-breaking infection numbers across much of the nation.

New NYC mayor doesn’t want lives of residents controlled by pandemic

Mayor Eric Adams, sworn in Saturday as New York’s 110th mayor, is urging the city’s nearly 9 million residents not to let their lives be controlled by the pandemic. New York, a hot spot early in the pandemic, is once again grappling with record numbers of COVID-19 cases, this time driven by the omicron variant.

“Getting vaccinated is not letting the crisis control you,” Adams said at City Hall. “Enjoying a Broadway show. Sending your kids to school. Going back to the office. These are declarations of confidence that our city is our own.”

Adams has said he plans to keep in place many of the policies of outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio, including vaccine mandates that are among the strictest in the nation. But he has pledged to keep the city open as it struggles to recover after shutdowns that saw Broadway go dark for more than a year. The latest surge has forced subway lines, shops, restaurants and even urgent care centers to temporarily close for days at a time because of staffing shortages driven by positive COVID tests.

COVID has orphaned many children. Relative caregivers face hurdles.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left tens of thousands of children without a parent or primary caregiver. Stepping into that void are grandparents, aunts, cousins – kinship caregivers – now facing their first new year as a new family unit.

Public health researchers know traumatized children often fare better when they live with a relative instead of a foster parent they don’t know. But most of these families, experts say, are “informally” taking in a child without becoming a legal guardian, adopting the child or becoming official foster parents. That means specific benefits to help meet these children’s needs are out of reach, increasing the challenge for caregivers. 

“It’s an enormous issue,” said Kecia Blackson, who leads family and kinship care support services at Southwest Human Development in Arizona. “We’ll see the effects of this for years to come.”

– Nada Hassanein, USA TODAY

Colleges going back online as COVID cases surge again

Dozens of colleges are going back to online-only classes for the first few weeks of the semester after winter break, as the omicron variant is fueling a huge spike in COVID-19 cases across the country. Harvard, The University of Chicago, the University of California, Riverside, and George Washington University are among the schools starting out 2022 online. Some are warning they could extend virtual learning if things don’t improve.

Students on some campuses, such as George Washington, can return to living on campus but will be attending classes online at first. George Washington saw a spike in cases on campus during its finals season at the end of last semester – about 80 new cases per day – compared to only a few per day during the rest of the semester.

“I’m a junior, but about half my schooling experience has been online,” GWU student Jake Maynard, 20, told The Associated Press. “You lose so much of what makes the school the school.”

Syracuse University, meanwhile, has delayed its semester start date by a week without offering remote classes.

Contributing: The Associated Press