Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker have tested positive for COVID-19 in breakthrough cases, they each announced on Twitter Sunday.

“I regularly test for COVID & while I tested negative earlier this week, today I tested positive with a breakthrough case. Thankfully, I am only experiencing mild symptoms & am grateful for the protection provided against serious illness that comes from being vaccinated & boosted,” Warren wrote. 

Booker Tweets: “I learned today that I tested positive for COVID-19 after first feeling symptoms on Saturday. I have mild symptoms. I’m beyond grateful to have received two doses of vaccine and, more recently, a booster – I’m certain that without them I would be doing much worse.”

The senators from Massachusetts and New Jersey have both been vocal proponents of the COVID-19 vaccine in Washington. Warren lost her older brother to the virus in May 2020. 

The democrats are just two of several senators who have tested positive for COVID despite being fully vaccinated, including Lindsay Graham, R-SC and John Hickenlooper, D-Colo.

Warren and Booker’s positive tests come amid a rise of COVID-19 cases across the nation and the omicron variant, which Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious diseases expert, said has an “extraordinary capability of spreading.”

Omicron has been identified in 43 U.S. states and 89 countries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization. 

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►Israel’s prime minister on Sunday called on parents to vaccinate their children against the coronavirus as the new omicron variant showed signs of spreading, while authorities prepared to expand a travel ban to include the United States.

►For the third day in a row, New York surpassed its all-time record of COVID-19 cases, totaling 22,478, according to Mark D. Levine, New York City Councilmember.

►Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for children 2 to 5 may not be available until the second quarter of 2022, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, after trials suggested two doses weren’t as effective against COVID-19 and children may require three doses. 

►The NBA on Sunday postponed a total of five games involving nine teams in response to rising coronavirus numbers. Three Sunday games were canceled: New Orleans at Philadelphia, Denver at Brooklyn, and Cleveland at Atlanta. The game between Orlando and Toronto, Monday, was also canceled. Washington’s game against Brooklyn on Tuesday was also canceled.

►State Sen. Doug Ericksen, a staunch conservative and former leader of Donald Trump’s campaign in Washington state, died Friday at age 52. Ericksen’s death came weeks after he said he had tested positive for COVID-19 while in El Salvador, though his cause of death wasn’t immediately released. 

►The National Football League announced new revised COVID-19 protocols on Saturday, after an outbreak on several teams caused three games to be postponed. The protocols include a more targeted testing plan, more flexibility to have virtual meetings and a chance for a high-risk player to opt out for the rest of the season.

►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 Saturday after a federal appeals court allowed the rule to go forward.

►Saturday Night Live canceled its live studio audience for its last show of the year “out of an abundance of caution” because of the spike in omicron cases in New York. Rockettes shows to Broadway have had their performances cancelled because of rising cases.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 50.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 806,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 274.3 million cases and 5.3 million deaths. More than 203.7 million Americans – 61.4% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘 We’re looking at: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines over Johnson & Johnson. What does that mean for you? The full story is available here.

This page is updated regularly so you don’t miss any new information. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s free Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group

Dr. Fauci warned that the omicron variant is ‘raging throughout the world.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious diseases expert, said Sunday that the omicron variant of the coronavirus is “raging through the world” and could possibly replace the highly transmissible delta variant as the dominant strain.

The variant has been detected in 89 countries, according to the World Health Organization, and COVID-19 cases involving omicron are doubling every 1.5 to 3 days in places with community transmission.

“The one thing that’s very clear – and there’s no doubt about this – is it’s extraordinary capability of spreading,” Fauci said in an interview with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press Sunday. It’s just spreading throughout the entire world. 

The delta variant makes up more than 96% of coronavirus cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But omicron is quickly gaining ground, making up nearly 3% of total U.S. cases. Fauci said in certain parts of the country the omicron variant is found in about 50% of sequenced cases. 

“When you have a doubling time that’s that short a period, pretty soon that isolate is going to take over,” he said. “I would not be surprised if omicron bumped delta off the table.”

Drs warn that COVID medications may not work as effectively against the omicron.

Doctors are warning two standard drugs they’ve used to fight infections are unlikely to work against the omicron variant.

Because they can prevent severe diseases and keep patients out the hospital, antibody drugs from Eli Lilly and Regeneron have been the best-selling treatments for COVID-19 early stages.

However, both drug companies recently stated that they have found that the effectiveness of their drugs against omicron is less likely based on laboratory testing. This virus contains numerous mutations making it more difficult for antibodies to target it. And while the companies say they can quickly develop new omicron-targeting antibodies, those aren’t expected to launch for at least several months.

“We’re certainly going to see hospitalizations rise,” said Dr. James Cutrell of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “If we have a lack of antibodies that’s certainly going to contribute to that many more patients needing to be in the hospital.”

GlaxoSmithKline has developed a third antibody that is better suited to combat omicron. But Glaxo’s drug is not widely available in the U.S., accounting for a small portion of the millions of doses purchased and distributed by the federal government. U.S. Health officials now restrict drug supply to certain states.

Biden announces new steps for addressing COVID, Omicron in this winter

Americans are gearing up for holidays festivities and the White House prepares for another spike in COVID-19-related cases due to family gatherings, travel, and high transmissible delta variants.

Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, tweeted that President Joe Biden will speak on Tuesday about the state of COVID-19. She also plans to discuss government assistance for those communities who are in dire need. Unvaccinated Americans will be warned by the president.

Fauci told NBC the president would again urge people to get the booster shot, highlight increased availability of testing, discuss “surge teams” for besieged hospitals and explain how important it is to provide vaccines for the rest of the world.

He stated, “We must boost the vaccinations if we are to successfully deal with Omicron.” People who have not been vaccinated need to be vaccinated immediately.

On a Royal Caribbean Cruise, 44 passengers tested positive for COVID

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line announced Saturday that the COVID-19 test was positive in 44 people aboard the Symphony of the Seas Royal Caribbean cruise.

The cruise line also notified passengers on that sailing and on two others that a passenger who sailed on that ship during an earlier itinerary tested positive for the omicron variant.

Lyan Sierra-Caro spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean and said that each individual was quickly quarantined.

According to her, “They were identified by immediately identifying contacts who had been tested positive after an individual guest was confirmed positive.” Everybody who tests positive for HIV is considered asymptomatic and their condition was monitored closely. Six of the guests disembarked from the cruise earlier and were taken home. The assistance was provided to the remaining guests upon our arrival.

All passengers age 12 and older were required to be fully vaccinated and to test negative to board the cruise which departed from Miami on Dec. 11. All children who were not eligible for the vaccine had to also be tested negative.

– Morgan Hines, USA TODAY

Hospitals are not overwhelmed by the latest New York City case surge.

Soaring COVID-19 case numbers, long testing lines and event cancellations might feel a bit like déjà vu, but so far New York City hospitals aren’t seeing a repeat of the surges that swamped emergency rooms early in the pandemic.

The state reported Saturday that nearly 22,000 people had tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday – eclipsing the previous day’s mark for the highest single-day total for new cases since testing became widely available. The city was home to more than half the positive tests.

But new hospitalizations and deaths – so far – are averaging well below their spring 2020 peak and even where they were this time last year, during a winter wave that came as vaccinations were just beginning, city data shows.

At least so far, “we’re seeing a lot more treat-and-release” coronavirus patients than in earlier waves, Dr. Eric Legome, who oversees two of Mount Sinai Health System’s emergency rooms, said.

Florida is now a ‘high transmission’ state as cases double over a week

COVID-19 cases across Florida more than doubled over the course of a week, according to data released by the Florida Department of Health on Friday. 

Florida’s COVID-19 case count increased from Dec. 10, to December 16, with 29,568 and 134.6 COVID-19 incidences per 100,000. In comparison, the week before Florida had 13,530 and 61.6 COVID-19 incidences per 100,000. The increase is 16,038 cases of COVID-19 and 73 cases for every 100,000 cases in just one week. 

The increase in the new case positivity rate saw parallel increases: From Dec. 10 to Dec. 16, Florida had a case positivity rate of 5.4%, up 2.8% from the previous week. 

The increase in cases coincides with the highly-contagious omicron’s arrival in the Sunshine State. Wastewater sampling in Orange County found the omicron variant that has swept other parts of the globe to be the main strain of COVID-19 found in the county’s sewage samples.

– Amira Sweilem, Florida Today

Contribution: The Associated Press



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