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(NEW YORK) – As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, more than 5.4 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including more than 839,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
About 62.6% 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 evolves. All times Eastern:
January 11, 7:00 a.m.
Red Cross declares ‘serious’ blood shortage as omicron increases
The American Red Cross said Tuesday it was facing its worst blood shortage in more than a decade.
“While some types of medical care can wait, others cannot,” Red Cross chief medical officer Dr Pampee Young said in a statement. “Hospitals are still seeing accident victims, cancer patients, people with blood disorders like sickle cell anemia, and seriously ill people who all need blood transfusions to live, even though Omicron cases are increasing at across the country.”
The Red Cross, which provides around 40% of the country’s blood, said it saw donor numbers plummet as the delta variant of COVID-19 spread in August. The number of blood donors has decreased by around 10% since the start of the pandemic. This trend continued as the omicron spread, the organization said.
“We’re doing everything we can to increase blood donations so that every patient can receive medical treatment without delay, but we can’t do that without more donors,” Young said. “We need the help of the American people.”
January 11, 6:27 a.m.
Omicron will infect more than 50% of European population within weeks, WHO warns
The highly contagious omicron variant is expected to infect more than half of Europe’s population in the next two months, the top World Health Organization official in the region warned on Tuesday.
Over 7 million new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported across Europe in the first week of 2022, more than doubling over a two-week period. So far, 50 countries in the region have detected omicron infections, according to Dr Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe.
Kluge said the omicron, which was first identified in southern Africa in November, “represents a new tidal wave from west to east” and “is rapidly becoming the dominant [variant] in Western Europe and is now spreading in the Balkans.
“As of January 10, 26 countries are reporting that more than 1% of their population catches COVID-19 every week,” Kluge told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday. “At this rate, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts that more than 50% of the region’s population will be infected within the next six to eight weeks.”
January 11, 4:40 a.m.
More than 65,000 Los Angeles public school staff and students test positive for COVID-19
More than 65,000 Los Angeles public school staff and students have tested positive for COVID-19 as the nation’s second-largest school district returns to classrooms on Tuesday.
The Los Angeles Unified School District requires all employees and students to get tested for COVID-19 before returning for the spring semester. Staff returned to campuses on Monday, while the first day of classes for students was pushed back to Tuesday.
As of Monday evening, 424,230 employees and students were tested and 65,630 tested positive for the virus. The student positivity rate stands at 16.6% and the employee positivity rate at 14.9%, according to data released by the Los Angeles Unified School District.
“Our positivity rate remains lower than the county’s overall positivity rate due to our enhanced safety measures and the continued partnership of families and employees,” the school district said in a statement late Monday.
Since the start of the pandemic, Los Angeles County has reported a total of more than 2 million cases of COVID-19, with a positivity rate of 21.4%, according to data released Monday evening by the Department of Health. Los Angeles County Public Health.
January 11, 2:49 a.m.
Pentagon spends $442.1 million on Pfizer antiviral pills
The US Department of Defense announced a $442.1 million contract with Pfizer to produce 835,000 doses of Paxlovid, the first oral antiviral authorized to treat Covid-19.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Monday he expected distribution of the pill to increase “exponentially” in the coming months, with 6 million courses available by March.
The Pentagon’s announcement came less than a week after the White House said it would double its purchase of Paxlovid from 10 million to 20 million treatments, with 10 million treatments ready by June.
The estimated completion of the Pentagon contract has been set for the end of March, officials said Monday.
ABC News’ Sasha Pezenik
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