Omicron advances Christmas trip to the United States

(Reuters). Millions of Americans were pressing ahead with their travel plans in a pandemic-scarred second holiday season, despite the rising tide of Covid-19 infections fueled by the Omicron variant, though many were forced to revise to lowering their ambitions.

Moisés Jiménez, an accountant from Long Beach, Mississippi, maintained his trip to New York with his wife and three children, despite the fact that the latest wave of coronavirus cases dashed his hopes of attending a performance of “Hamilton » or to visit certain museums.

“Hamilton” was one of 12 Broadway shows forced to cancel performances this week because cast and crew members tested positive for COVID-19. Museums have been dropped from the family itinerary as many now require proof of vaccination and the two youngest children cannot be vaccinated.

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Instead, Jiménez, 33, said his family would take the opportunity to tour the city’s streets and parks, as well as visit relatives and friends in the area. On Christmas Day, they plan to enjoy a home-cooked meal, a family tradition, at their Airbnb in town.

“We just wanted to get out of the house, really, and take the kids into town for Christmas,” Jimenez said Thursday at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

Covid-19 infections have skyrocketed in the United States in recent days due to the omicron variant, which was first detected in November and now accounts for nearly three-quarters of cases in the United States and up 90% in some areas like the east coast.

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The average number of new Covid infections has increased by 37%, to 165,000 a day, over the past week, according to a count of Reuters.

The rapid spread of omicron will also bring New York’s iconic New Year’s Eve celebration to a halt for the second year in a row. Mayor Bill de Blasio said attendance at the Midnight Ball in Times Square will be limited to 15,000 people, about a quarter of the usual size before the pandemic.

Carla Benton, a Chicago-based book publisher, was preparing for a Christmas trip to Europe when the omicron variant of the coronavirus started making headlines in late November.

She quickly canceled her international travel plans due to rapidly changing travel restrictions and testing requirements, so she initially opted to stay in the United States and visit her sister in Houston, Texas. In the end, Benton decided to cancel all of his trips and stay at his home in Chicago for the holidays.

“I originally hoped to be able to do part of my trip,” Benton said. “Although I was fully vaccinated and following precautions here in Chicago, I was concerned about the possibility of a surprise positive result and quarantine overseas.”

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Infections rebound

Daily totals for deaths and hospitalizations, which are considered lagging indicators, barely changed across the country in the past seven days, but rose 55% and 28%, respectively, during the month of December. .

At least six states – Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Ohio – this week broke the record for new cases in one day.

Anticipating an even larger rush of cases requiring medical attention, the Centers for Disease Control reduced the recommended quarantine period for asymptomatic Covid-positive health care workers on Thursday evening by seven days, instead of 10.

U.S. health officials said fully vaccinated people should feel comfortable traveling on vacation and reuniting with family. They warned that those who are not vaccinated are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from the virus.

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