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COVID live updates: 126,000 Americans hospitalized with COVID-19

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(NEW YORK) -- As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.4 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 832,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

About 62.3% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Jan 06, 7:18 pm
Chicago cancels classes for 3rd day

Chicago Public Schools, the nation's third largest school district, canceled instruction on Friday for the third day in a row amid an impasse over in-person learning.

Classes were first canceled Wednesday, and then again on Thursday, after a majority of the Chicago Teachers Union's membership voted this week in favor of remote learning during a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The district said Thursday evening that all classes will be canceled on Friday, though some schools may be able to offer in-person activities for students.

"Our schools are the best, safest place for students to be during this pandemic, and we are working tirelessly to get everyone back in class every day," Pedro Martinez, head of the school district, said in a letter to families, noting that they are continuing to work with the union "to resolve this situation."

The teacher's union is calling for more robust school COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

Jan 06, 6:43 pm
J&J says vaccine offers lower initial efficacy but more stable protection over time

Johnson & Johnson's single-shot COVID-19 vaccine offers lower initial efficacy compared to Pfizer's and Moderna's, but protection against breakthrough infection remains more stable over time, according to a new study sponsored by the pharmaceutical company.

The study found that the J&J vaccine was 74% effective against breakthrough infection in the weeks following the shot. This level of protection held steady over the next three months and started waning after the fourth month.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, meanwhile, were 88% and 92% effective, respectively, against breakthrough infection in the weeks following the second dose, the study found. This level of protection started waning after the second month, falling progressively over six months.

Protection against severe illness remained more stable over time for all three vaccines.

The analysis, which has not been peer-reviewed, looked at data from 168 million people between Jan. 1 and Sept. 7 of last year. It covers a period of alpha and delta variant dominance, but the results could change now that the omicron variant is also present.

The data supports current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for booster shots after two months for the J&J vaccine to bring initial efficacy higher, and booster shots for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines after five and six months, respectively, to boost efficacy after a period of waning.

-ABC News' Sony Salzman

Jan 06, 4:44 pm
Less than 0.1% of fully vaccinated adults get severe COVID-19: CDC

COVID-19 vaccines dramatically reduce the risk of severe illness and death from the virus, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published Thursday.

The study looked at 1.2 million fully vaccinated adults who received either two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Just 0.18% of patients had breakthrough COVID-19 infections, and 0.015% developed serious illness that led to hospitalization, ICU admission, mechanical ventilation, intubation or death.

The small portion of people who did become seriously sick or die of COVID-19 after being vaccinated were primarily older adults, immunocompromised people or those living with multiple underlying medical conditions.

The study was conducted before the emergence of the omicron variant, which appears to more easily evade --- at least partially -- the protection offered by vaccines.

-ABC News' Sony Salzman

Jan 06, 3:55 pm
About 126,000 Americans hospitalized with COVID-19

An estimated 126,000 Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Of those patients, about one-sixth -- or 21,000 -- are in intensive care units.

The spread of the omicron variant is pushing the U.S. closer to the hospitalization record set last winter when 140,000 patients with the virus were hospitalized .

Meanwhile, the country is averaging 554,000 new COVID-19 cases every day, a five-fold increase from a month ago, federal data shows.

Over the last week, the U.S. has reported about 3.88 million COVID-19 infections, which averages out to about six Americans testing positive every second.

-ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos

Jan 06, 2:34 pm
More than 800 LA firefighters, police officers test positive

More than 800 staff members at fire and police departments in Los Angeles have tested positive for COVID-19, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Thursday.

Currently, 505 police officers and 299 firefighters are quarantining after receiving positive results.

"These are big numbers. Numbers that are reflecting the staffing challenges that all of us face," Garcetti said during a press conference outside a fire station.

He added that five out of six employees in both departments are fully vaccinated, complying with the vaccine mandate set in place for city employees.

Garcetti said that despite the number of officers and firefighters absent from work, the city is still protected.

“Both LAPD and LAFD have maintained staffing levels that are needed to keep Angelenos safe, and we have maintained staffing levels to make sure you, your family, our communities are safe," he said.

Jan 06, 12:33 pm
WHO says global cases increased by 71% last week

Global cases of COVID-19 "increased sharply," the World Health Organization wrote in its weekly epidemiological update published Thursday.

Cases of the virus increased 71% during the week ending Jan. 2 compared to the previous week, meaning there were 9.5 million new infections of COVID-19 reported around the world, according to the WHO.

The Americas saw the largest increase at 100% followed by Southeast Asia at 78% and Europe at 63%.

The United States saw the most COVID-19 cases last week followed by the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Italy.

The WHO added that there was a 10% decrease in the number of new deaths compared to the week prior with more than 41,000 virus-related fatalities recorded.

Jan 06, 11:17 am
1.3 million people in UK have long COVID, data shows

An estimated 1.3 million people in the United Kingdom are suffering from long COVID, according to new data published Thursday by the UK's Office for National Statistics.

Long COVID is a condition in which patients who recover from the virus still experience symptoms for weeks -- or even months or years -- later.

The ONS said the figure, which is based on self-reported symptoms, equates to 2% of the population living with long COVID.

Fatigue was the most common symptom, reported by 51% of those surveyed. Other common symptoms included loss of smell (37%), shortness of breath (36%) and difficulty concentrating (28%).

About 64% said their long COVID symptoms made it difficult for them to carry out day-to-day activities.

Long COVID was most commonly reported in those between ages 35 and 69, females, people living in poorer areas or those working in health care or education, according to the ONS.

Jan 06, 4:05 am
American Medical Association criticizes CDC's new guidance

The American Medical Association, the nation’s largest association of physicians, has criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new quarantine and isolation guidance for COVID-19, saying the recommendations "are risking further spread of the virus."

The CDC updated its guidelines on Dec. 27, saying asymptomatic people who test positive for COVID-19 should self-isolate for five days rather than 10.

"The American people should be able to count on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for timely, accurate, clear guidance to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their communities. Instead, the new recommendations on quarantine and isolation are not only confusing, but are risking further spread of the virus," the American Medical Association's president, Dr. Gerald E. Harmon, said in a statement Wednesday night.

Harmon referenced data cited by the CDC in its rationale for shortening the isolation period, which estimates 31% of people remain infectious five days after a positive COVID-19 test, suggesting that data proves thousands of Americans could return to their lives while still infected.

"With hundreds of thousands of new cases daily and more than a million positive reported cases on January 3, tens of thousands -- potentially hundreds of thousands of people -- could return to work and school infectious if they follow the CDC’s new guidance on ending isolation after five days without a negative test," Harmon said. "Physicians are concerned that these recommendations put our patients at risk and could further overwhelm our health care system."

Harmon said a negative COVID-19 test should be required for ending isolation after a positive test, as reentering society without knowing whether an individual is still positive ultimately risks further transmission of the virus.

Although test availability remains an issue nationwide, Harmon also called on the Biden administration to ramp up production and distribution of tests, adding that "a dearth of tests at the moment does not justify omitting a testing requirement to exit a now shortened isolation."

-ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos

Jan 06, 3:16 am
Chicago cancels school for 2nd day

Officials in Chicago canceled all public school classes on Thursday amid discussions about classroom safety with the city's teachers.

Classes had been canceled on Wednesday after a majority of the Chicago Teachers Union's membership voted in favor of remote learning during a surge in COVID-19 cases. School officials called their action an illegal strike.

"In a time of crisis related to this pandemic, the worst possible thing we can do is abandon the science and data," Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot said on Twitter. "If you care about our students and families as we do, we will not relent. We are standing firm and fighting to get our kids back to in-person learning."

Teachers were locked out of their remote classrooms on Wednesday, according to the union. Union leaders asked members to again try to log in on Thursday, urging them post photos on social media.

The union on Wednesday filed an unfair labor practice charge against the Chicago Board of Education.

"We have rights to safety and we’ve been at the bargaining table for 20 months to secure those rights," Jesse Sharkey, the union's president, said in a statement.

Chicago Public Schools are among the largest in the country, with about 340,000 students in 636 schools.

Jan 06, 2:43 am
TSA reports more than 3,000 employee cases

The Transportation Security Administration reported 3,037 current COVID-19 infections on Wednesday.

The agency's infections have increased by about 16% in two days, according to TSA data.

The agency, which employs about 60,000, said it's had a cumulative 15,191 COVID-19 cases. The agency said 12,154 employees have recovered and 33 have died.

-ABC News' Sam Sweeney

Jan 05, 9:02 pm
CDC signs off on Pfizer boosters for 12- to 15-year-olds

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has given the final go-ahead for children ages 12 to 15 to get Pfizer's COVID-19 booster.

"It is critical that we protect our children and teens from COVID-19 infection and the complications of severe disease," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement endorsing the CDC advisory panel's recommendation to expand booster eligibility.

The CDC recommends that adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 get a Pfizer booster five months after their second dose.

-ABC News' Cheyenne Haslett

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