New York COVID cases ‘going up exponentially’; state breaks its single-day case record: Latest COVID updates – USA TODAY

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New York state, hit hard in the earliest wave of the coronavirus pandemic, has now tallied a record number of COVID cases in a single day.

The state reported Friday that over 21,000 people tested positive the previous day, the highest single-day total since testing was widespread. Just under half of those were in New York City. The total tops the previous record of just under 20,000 on Jan. 14, 2021.

A slew of performances from the Rockettes to Broadway shows were cancelled due to outbreaks among cast members, causing tourists to cancel their plans to visit.

New York has seen a steady increase in new cases that began in the western part of the state and has taken off in New York in the last week, thanks in part to the newest variant of concern, omicron. New York’s average daily case rate is 13,257 for the week that ended Thursday, up 71% from two weeks ago.

“This is changing so quickly. The numbers are going up exponentially by day,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said Friday on CNN.

Also in the news:

►Washington, D.C., shattered a COVID-19 record that stood since January, reporting 2,517 cases in the week ending Friday, according to USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. The city is reporting cases at a rate about 3.6 times higher than the level the Centers for Disease Control says represents high levels of community transmission. The pace of new coronavirus cases is about four times higher than it was a month ago.

►The omicron variant may spread up to three times faster than the delta variant, according to new, not yet peer-reviewed analysis from the Imperial College London COVID-19 response team.

►Nearly 100 NFL players have tested positive for COVID-19 since Monday, the league’s most significant outbreak since the pandemic started in spring 2020. At least 39 NBA players were in the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols by Thursday evening, while the NHL shut down three teams through the holiday break to curb the spread.

►All of the U.S. military services have now begun disciplinary actions and discharges for troops who have refused to get the mandated coronavirus vaccine, officials said, with as many as 20,000 unvaccinated forces at risk of being removed from service.

►A Taylor Swift album party in Sydney, Australia appears to be connected to 97 new COVID-19 cases, according to the New South Wales Ministry of Health.

►A CDC panel voted to recommend the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines be preferred for adults over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to a small number of rare but dangerous blood clots.

►Allison Baver, a former Olympic speedskater, has been accused of making false statements on loan application to illegally obtain millions in COVID relief funds, according to a Thursday statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.

?Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 50.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 805,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 273.6 million cases and 5.3 million deaths. More than 203.4 million Americans — 65.2% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC

? What we’re reading: Stressed hospitals, weary nurses brace for another COVID winter surge. Here’s how hospitals are doing as cases rise again.

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

‘Major mismatch’ in flu shot could mean bad flu season amid COVID surge

Current flu vaccines may be a bad match for the dominant strain this flu season and, as a result, may not provide as much prevention as hoped for, according to new research.

The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, suggests the U.S. is in for a bad flu season, on top of what is already becoming a devastating COVID surge.

Before each flu season, scientists design a flu shot that matches what they expect to be the most common strains. While the vaccines protect against four flu strains, the study only covers H3N2, the most widely circulating strain this season.

But researchers say the vaccines no longer match up with this strain.

“From our lab-based studies it looks like a major mismatch,” Scott Hensley, a professor of microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania who led the study, told CNN.

Still, he said the vaccine still significantly reduces the risk of serious illness from the flu.

TWINDEMIC: US enters flu season amid rising COVID-19 cases

Biden extends deadline for businesses to comply with vaccine-or-testing requirement

Employers will be given more time to comply with a federal requirement that workers get vaccinated for COVID-19 or be regularly tested, the U.S. Department of Labor announced after a federal appeals court allowed the rule to go forward.

Workers who are not fully vaccinated won’t have to be regularly tested until Feb. 9, more than a month after the original Jan. 4 deadline.

The department said it is exercising enforcement discretion to “account for any uncertainty” caused by the legal challenges that had blocked the rule.

The news comes after a federal appeals court on Friday reinstated a Biden administration rule requiring large companies to mandate COVID-19 vaccines or implement testing, though the ruling is unlikely to be the final word on the matter.

The Cincinnati-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit lifted another court’s order from November that blocked the mandate from taking effect. Businesses with 100 or more employees would be required under the rule to stand up vaccine or regular testing requirements by Jan. 4 or face penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation.

A 2-1 majority of the court found that OSHA was likely within its legal authority to implement the “emergency temporary standard” requiring vaccines or testing.

— Maureen Groppe and John Fritze, USA TODAY

CDC says Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are preferred over Johnson & Johnson

An advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expressed their preference for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccines over Johnson & Johnson’s jab.

Members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said they were persuaded by new data showing that while blood clots linked to J&J’s vaccine remain very rare, they’re still occurring, and not just in younger women as originally thought.

The CDC quickly endorsed the panel’s recommendation Thursday and released a statement saying the updated guidance followed similar recommendations from other countries, including Canada and the U.K.

J&J said in a statement it’s confident the benefits of its vaccine outweigh the risks, and it remains an “important choice” for Americans who can’t or won’t return for multiple vaccinations.

Read more about what the news means for you.

— Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY

Pfizer trials suggest 2 doses safe, but not effective for kids under 5

Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine trial in children ages 2-5 suggests the vaccine is safe but not effective enough to prevent infection with COVID-19, and the companies have decided to add a third dose to their trial. The move will push off the final results well into next year.

Pfizer’s head of vaccine research and development, Kathrin Jansen, said that for children under 5, the company had settled on a dose of 3 micrograms — down from 10 micrograms in older children and 30 micrograms in adults. This dose was chosen, she said, because it reduced side effects, particularly fever, in small children.

But interim results in the research trial suggest two doses, given 21 days apart, do not generate enough protective antibodies believed necessary to prevent COVID-19 infection. Young children may need three shots at this dose to receive full protection, she said, with the third dose coming at least two months after the second.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech expect to file for emergency use of their vaccine in children under 5 in the second quarter of 2022, Jansen said. The companies are also evaluating a third vaccine dose in children ages 5 through 15, who are now authorized to receive only two doses.

— Karen Weintraub

Contributing: The Associated Press