CG Image by Felipe Esquivel Reed, Creative Commons License 4.0

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly through the US, especially among people who haven't been vaccinated yet. Spikes in new COVID cases in many areas are higher than at any point in the the pandemic, including last winter, when most of us weren't vaccinated but before the extremely transmissible Delta and Omicron variants had yet arrived.

Fortunately, vaccines help, and some 62 percent of Americans are "fully vaccinated" (two shots of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, or one of the Johnson and Johnson), and if you add in folks who've only had one dose, that gets up to 73 percent. For better protection against Omicron, though, people over the age of 16 should also get a booster shot six months after their second vaccination. Honestly, we may as well start thinking of that as fully vaccinated. As of Christmas Eve, only about 40 percent of eligible Americans have gotten the booster. Go do that if you're eligible, you! Breakthrough infections among people who've been vaxed and boosted still happen, but for the most part, they cause comparatively mild symptoms, like a bad cold.


New CDC Isolation Guidelines

UPDATE/CORRECTION: Man, when I screw up, I really do the job: The CDC guidance reducing the amount of time recommended for isolation applies only to asymptomatic cases, not to all people who test positive for COVID-19. If you develop symptoms, then for fuckssake stay home until you're all better! Wonkette regrets the error and feels appropriately stupid as well.

With all that Omicron going around, the biggest COVID news may at first seem odd, but we'll 'splain why it isn't: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday officially reduced the amount of time people need to isolate themselves if they test positive for the coronavirus from 10 days to five, and if they don't develop symptoms, that should be followed by five more days of wearing a mask whenever they're around others. The CDC similarly changed its recommendation for people exposed to someone with COVID, calling for just five days of isolation as well for those who are unvaccinated or who haven't gotten a booster if they're eligible.

The CDC says the new isolation guidelines were released in light of increasing evidence that "the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after."

USA Today notes that a shorter isolation period followed by strict masking will allow more healthcare workers to get back to work sooner, because staff shortages are getting dire. We worry though — couldn't that also accelerate burnout?

Also too, some health experts think the guidelines should have been stronger, requiring that people actually test negative for the virus before leaving isolation, but former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the new guidance "reflects a growing reality that we’re going to have to learn to live with COVID as a persistent risk, and can’t let it shut down society." [CDC / USA Today / WaPo (No Paywall)]


Yes, Kids Are Getting Sick, Too

In New York, city health officials said yesterday that there's been a fivefold increase in pediatric COVID hospitalizations in December, from 22 in the week starting December 5 to 109 during the week starting December 19. Nationally, the Washington Post reports, nearly 2,000 kids were hospitalized last week. The outbreak among kiddos has California health authorities warning parents to get their kids vaccinated ASAP to prevent a similar spike in pediatric cases.

Children ages 5 and up are eligible to get the Pfizer vaccine, so please, get your kids their shots! [WaPo (No Paywall) / LAT]


This Is Your Captain Wheezing: COVID Now Grounding Flights

More than 2,800 airline flights were cancelled Monday in the US (Including arrivals and departures from other countries) because of infections among flight crews and essential ground personnel, CNN reports, continuing a global slowdown in commercial aviation that started last week:

Globally, airlines canceled more than 6,000 flights on Christmas Eve, Christmas and the day after Christmas. In the United States, more than 1,200 flights were canceled and more than 5,000 were delayed on Sunday alone as staff and crew call out sick.

In addition, lots of flights in the Pacific Northwest were cancelled due to the same snowstorms that made Yr Dok Zoom very glad he put those snow tires on his car before his Christmas visit to Yr Editrix in Montana, yowie. (If you're the asshole in the white pickup truck going 15 MPH with 20 cars behind you, I still hate you, though. The road conditions were safe for at least 25 or 30.)

If the holiday travel delays and cancellations mean fewer infections down the line, maybe the inconvenience is a good thing? Or will people just pack into airports and breathe all over each other? [CNN]


Happy New Year, Stay The Fuck Home!

Cities around the world are cancelling or scaling back public New Year's Eve celebrations, because there's still a goddamn pandemic and a new, aggressively transmissible variant of the virus is spreading like crazy. You can still get drunk and puke, but how about doing that at home, OK? The annual Times Square New Year's Eve party will go ahead, but with "only" 15,000 people allowed to attend. They'll be required to mask up and show proof of vaccination, at least, so that ought to limit the potential damage to people who make ill-considered hookups and other bad decisions.

Also too, Fox TV (the slightly less evil entertainment side) cancelled its annual live broadcast from Times Square, leading to at least the 50,000th assault on irony by the Murdoch media empire since the pandemic began. [NYT]

Stay safe, you weirdos! Wonkette loves you. From a safe distance.

[Image: Felipe Esquivel Reed, Creative Commons License 4.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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