In the latest blow to the multi-billion dollar cruise industry, Royal Caribbean International is pausing operations on multiple ships due to COVID-19, canceling some voyages and rolling back the return of a cruise ship.
While most cruises have yet to be canceled, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised against cruise travel in the coming weeks.
The latest CDC decision was made because COVID-19 cases are increasing on ships, in the US, and around the world. Many US-based cruise ships at sea have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases on board, the CDC reports.
The Royal Caribbean news comes as the Ruby Princess cruise ship, the same ship that hosted a devastating coronavirus outbreak in 2020, reportedly allowed a dozen infected passengers to disembark in San Francisco.
“All people are asymptomatic or experience mild symptoms. No passenger has required medical attention and no hospitalization is needed, ”the port of San Francisco said in a statement. Princess Cruises said that “guests who tested positive will either return home in their personal vehicles or will be taken to hotels arranged in advance for quarantine.”
Between November 30 and December 14, cruise ships operating in US waters reported 162 cases of COVID-19 to the CDC. Between December 15 and 29, cruise ships sailing in US waters reported 5,013 COVID-19 cases to the CDC. That’s nearly 31 times the number of cases reported in the first two weeks of December, the CDC said.
Also in the news:
► Tennis star Novak Djokovic received a medical exemption to compete at the Australian Open after he tested positive for COVID-19 last month and recovered. The number one tennis player, who had previously criticized vaccination mandates, was denied entry to Melbourne for failing to comply with vaccination requirements and has since launched a legal battle ahead of this month’s tournament.
► Congress will begin providing KN95 masks to staff members amid a surge in cases across the country, the Washington Post reported. Previously, house officials were provided surgical masks, which provide less protection than higher-quality K95 masks.
►Most of the Supreme Court noted on Friday that it is skeptical of the authority of the Biden administration to require millions of Americans who work for large companies to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly tests.
► A Florida Department of Health report released Friday shows the state totaled nearly 400,000 new COVID-19 cases during the week ending Thursday, according to News 4 JAX. In all, Florida has totaled 823,153 new cases over the past three weeks.
► An Alabama high school switched to virtual classes this week after an outbreak of cases in the school’s 410-person marching band that kicked off this year’s Tournament of Roses Parade with “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”
► University of Illinois system students, staff and faculty will be required to receive a COVID-19 booster shot once they are eligible, school officials said.
► New York joined a handful of states in requiring booster shots for healthcare workers. Gov. Kathy Hochul said Friday that too many workers are falling ill from breakthrough infections.
► The Food and Drug Administration said Friday that the time needed between completing the first doses of Modern COVID-19 vaccine and a third booster dose can be shortened to five months. A similar change was announced for Pfizer’s vaccine earlier this week.
📈Today’s numbers: The United States has recorded more than 59 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 836,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. World totals: more than 302 million cases and 5.47 million deaths. More than 207 million Americans (62.4%) are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘What we are reading: What about us? The 16 million Americans who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are “questioning our protection” against COVID-19, but have waited for a third injection. Read the full story.
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning Americans to use COVID-19 tests at home as instructed, saying in a cheep that swabs should not be used to collect saliva from the throat.
Recently, as the symptoms of the omicron variant changed to include a sore throat, swabs intended for the nasal passages are being used as throat swabs.
But most home tests in the US require nasal swabs. Tests that require saliva generally include spitting into a tube.
Chicago classes can be canceled until next week
Mayor Lori Lightfoot again blamed the city’s powerful teachers union for a third day of canceled classes in the nation’s third-largest school district on Friday, but said she hopes to reach an agreement soon as negotiations continue on the remote learning and other COVID-19 safety measures.
But some parents reported that individual school principals already sent out notices on Friday warning they won’t be able to teach on Monday. District media staff did not immediately return an email and phone call regarding those reports.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools Executive Director Pedro Martinez released a joint statement Friday night saying that “the negotiating sessions continued today and continued into the evening. The sessions are still productive but must conclude this weekend ”.
Lightfoot did not provide any other details about the ongoing conversations between the Chicago Teachers Union and the district.
– Associated Press
Peru reports death from ‘flurone’: what you need to know about coinfection
Peru reported one death from “flurone,” a co-infection of coronavirus and influenza, the Peruvian newspaper El Comercio reported on Thursday. The death occurred in an 87-year-old man with comorbidities who had not been vaccinated against flu or COVID-19, the newspaper reported.
While flu-related co-infections are rarer than other viruses, health experts still expect to see an increase in “fluron” cases as the US nears peak flu activity.
It is not clear whether “flurone” causes more serious illness, but vaccination against both viruses can help provide protection, health experts say. In general, immunosuppressed people and younger children, whose immune systems are unfamiliar with many common viruses, are at increased risk for coinfections. Read more about flurone here.
– Adrianna Rodríguez, USA TODAY
Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Delayed for Younger Children
Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine will not be available soon for children under 5 years of age.
In early tests, the lowest dose given to children ages 2 to 5 did not produce as much immune protection as injections given to other age groups, a Pfizer scientist said at a federal advisory committee meeting Wednesday, expanding on the information. provided. late last year.
The company expects a third dose of the vaccine eight weeks after the first two injections to provide the desired effectiveness, said Dr. Alejandra Gurtman, Pfizer vice president of clinical research and vaccine development at a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. . But that means waiting until late March or early April for results, he said, allowing time for the children in the trial to receive a third injection and then have their immune responses assessed.
“This could be a three-dose vaccine,” Gurtman said, adding that Pfizer-BioNTech is also testing a third dose in children ages 5 to 12. The vaccine has been shown to be safe in younger children, he said, as well as older children and adults.
Contributing: The Associated Press