January 5 coronavirus pandemic and Omicron variant news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 2:03 a.m. ET, January 6, 2022
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8:44 p.m. ET, January 5, 2022

Colorado sees rapid rise in Covid-19 positivity rate

From CNN’s Raja Razek

Colorado's seven-day average positivity rate is above 25%, the highest since the start of the pandemic, according to health officials.

When introducing a slide showing the data during a news conference, state epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy said, "You can see our percent positivity data. This is the percentage of tests that are being reported to Public Health that come back positive. Specifically, this data looks at PCR based tests or molecular tests."

"You can see this really rapid rise in our percent positivity value. We are now up above 25%, which is the highest value we've had since the beginning of the pandemic," she added. 

Colorado is estimated to be on day 18 of the Covid-19 surge, according to Herlihy, and it will take several more weeks before a clear peak in hospitalizations is seen. 

"We have seen a rapid increase in the number of hospitalizations here in Colorado," she said. "But, while we see case numbers that are unlike anything we've seen previously, we see percent positivity values that are higher than we have seen previously, we are not seeing that same trend, at least at this point, in our hospitalization numbers." 

There are "lots of unknowns" about what hospitalizations may look like over the next couple of weeks, according to Herlihy. 

"There is a variety of reasons that are really leading to challenges in trying to predict what hospitalization numbers might look like," she said. "It's difficult to really predict precisely what could happen in the next couple of weeks."

8:05 p.m. ET, January 5, 2022

Kyrie Irving makes season debut for Nets after missing first 35 games due to vaccination status

From CNN's Jill Martin

(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving has taken the floor to play for the first time in this NBA regular season this evening in Indianapolis, Indiana, against the Pacers.

Irving, who previously has said is unvaccinated against Covid-19, missed the team’s first 35 games this season. 

In September, the NBA warned the Nets as well as the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors that Covid-19 policies set by local governments prohibit any unvaccinated player from playing in home games in New York City and San Francisco. 

In October, Nets general manager Sean Marks had said Irving “will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant.”

On Dec. 17, the Nets reversed course, announcing they would be bringing back Irving in a part-time role “for games and practices in which he is eligible to participate,” at the time citing players missing games due to injuries and health and safety protocols when making that decision.

8:09 p.m. ET, January 5, 2022

California extends indoor mask mandate for at least another month, health officials say

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

(Mario Tama/Getty Images)
(Mario Tama/Getty Images)

California’s mask mandate for indoor public places will remain in effect until at least mid-February, health officials announced Wednesday.

The mandate to wear face coverings at indoor locations was reinstated in California on Dec. 15 as the Omicron variant began to take hold in the state.

Health officials will be eyeing hospitalizations as a metric to drop the mandate, but don’t have a specific number as a goal and will rather look at the big picture of Covid’s current status as well as predictive models to make their decision.

"We are looking at the impact of Covid on our hospital system and its collective ability to serve Californians, as what is going to help us determine when it's appropriate to lift the indoor mask mandate,” state Health Secretary Mark Ghaly said in a teleconference with reporters.

Ghaly urged the public to ensure that masks are high-quality, well-fitted and have a good seal around the nose and mouth. Double masking is also an acceptable approach.

Though he encouraged the use of surgical grade masks, Ghaly said there is no plan to mandate the use of N95 or KN95 masks, even in schools. Health officials are instead focused on amplifying and educating people on best practices and suggest parents get their kids into better-fitting masks if necessary.

Every variant of Covid-19 "teaches us to continue to be humble in the face of a fast-moving, sneaky infection that mutates rapidly throughout different parts of the globe," Ghaly said.

8:37 p.m. ET, January 5, 2022

Sao Paulo's Carnival to be canceled amid fear of Covid-19

From CNN’s Stefano Pozzebon

Revellers participate in the Carnival group "Bloco Tarado Ni Você" parade on March 2, 2019, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. 
Revellers participate in the Carnival group "Bloco Tarado Ni Você" parade on March 2, 2019, in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)

More than 600 organizations behind Carnival in the city of Sao Paulo announced they were canceling events in the city due to a lack of guarantees around health conditions, according to a statement published by CNN’s affiliate CNN Brasil.

The organizers, called blocos de rua, accused local authorities on Wednesday of not inviting them to discuss how to maintain the traditional street parades in a safe way, and for that reason, they announced all events were canceled.

Several other cities in Brazil, including Rio de Janeiro, have already announced total or partial cancellation of Carnival due to a surge in Covid-19 cases.

On Wednesday: Brazil reported 27,267 new Covid-19 cases and 129 new deaths due to the virus, according to the country’s National Council of Health Secretaries.

5:49 p.m. ET, January 5, 2022

CDC vaccine advisory committee votes to recommend expanding boosters for ages 12-17

From CNN's Katherine Dillinger

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 13-1 Wednesday in favor of expanding the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine booster recommendation to include people ages 12 to 17.

“A single Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine booster dose is recommended for persons aged 12-17 years at least five months after primary series under the FDA’s emergency use authorization," the new recommendation said.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky must sign off on the recommendation for it to take effect.

The advisers made the recommendation after hearing research on rare cases of myocarditis and pericarditis in young people who have gotten Covid-19 vaccines and noting that many parents are concerned about long-term side effects of vaccines.

They also considered that vaccine uptake among 12- to 17-year-olds has slowed recently and weighed the record numbers of Covid-19 cases in children amid a surge of the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

On Monday: The FDA expanded the emergency use authorization for Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine boosters to children ages 12 to 15.

The CDC signed off Tuesday on shortening the booster interval from six months to five months for people who got the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. It has also been recommended that moderately or severely immunocompromised 5- to 11-year-olds receive an additional primary dose 28 days after their second shot; only the Pfizer/BioNTech shot is authorized for that age group.


5:07 p.m. ET, January 5, 2022

Canada to deliver 140 million rapid Covid-19 tests to residents

From CNN's Laura Studley

Canada will provide 140 million rapid tests for residents this month, weeks after more than 80 million tests were delivered to provinces and territories in December, officials announced.

"With the speed at which Omicron is propagating through our communities and through our country, it makes sense to have rapid testing," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a news conference Wednesday.

The tests will be distributed on a per capita basis in each territory and province, Canada's Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos said.

In addition to tests, Trudeau announced that there are enough vaccines for every Canadian to get their vaccine shot. 

"It's about all of us doing our part to make sure that through this Omicron wave, we do not overwhelm our healthcare system," Trudeau said. 

More than 40% of children ages 5-11 have received one dose, Duclos said, adding that there are enough vaccines for those who are eligible for both doses. 

And with booster shots rolling out across Canada, Duclos said there have been 7 million shots given to date. 

"January 2022 is not March 2020," Duclos said. "We have made significant progress and we're continuing to add resources and tools to help protect and support Canadians." 

As of Jan. 4, there have been 284,893 Covid-19 cases in the past seven days. 

4:32 p.m. ET, January 5, 2022

New York City hospitals are around 80% full, official says

From CNN's Laura Ly

New York City’s hospital beds, both including Covid-19 and all non-Covid-19 patients, are currently around 80% full and that rate has been fairly stable over the past month, City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said Wednesday.

Chokshi said while he does expect hospitalizations to increase in the coming days, the city’s Covid-19 hospitalization rate remains less than half of what it was during its peak in spring 2020. Additionally, even as Covid-19-related hospitalizations are increasing, non-Covid-19 admissions are generally not increasing and are, in some cases, declining, making for a stable citywide hospital bed capacity rate, Chokshi said.

Chokshi also noted that while there has been a steep increase in Covid-19 cases, the city has seen a “leveling off” in recent days. It’s too early to know if the pattern is significant or simply due to holiday testing schedules, Chokshi said.

However, the city’s health commissioner noted that despite the availability of beds, New York City’s hospitals remain “under some degree of strain” due to staffing shortages, stating it was “vital to surge resources” into the city’s healthcare system.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams answered that call on Wednesday by announcing millions of dollars of new funding to the city’s hospitals and public health system. He also pledged to expand staffing in the city’s health department.

3:25 p.m. ET, January 5, 2022

Grammy Awards postponed due to Covid-19 surge

From CNN's Megan Thomas

(Chris Pizzello/AP)
(Chris Pizzello/AP)

Organizers of the Grammy Awards, scheduled for later this month, have postponed the event, citing the current Covid-19 surge.

“After careful consideration and analysis with city and state officials, health and safety experts, the artist community and our many partners, the Recording Academy and CBS have postponed the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards Show,” CBS and the Recording Academy announced in a statement.

“The health and safety of those in our music community, the live audience, and the hundreds of people who work tirelessly to produce our show remains our top priority. Given the uncertainty surrounding the Omicron variant, holding the show on January 31 simply contains too many risks. We look forward to celebrating Music’s Biggest Night® on a future date, which will be announced soon," the statement added.
1:17 p.m. ET, January 5, 2022

CDC vaccine advisers are meeting now to discuss boosters for 12- to 15-year-olds

From CNN's Jamie Gumbrecht

A teenage boy receives a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in Barcelona, on December 22, 2021.
A teenage boy receives a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in Barcelona, on December 22, 2021. (Davide Bonaldo/Sipa USA/AP)

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is meeting today to discuss and vote on whether to recommend Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine boosters for people ages 12 to 15.

It’s not clear what time the vote will take place, but it’s scheduled to follow two presentations and a discussion that begins at 3 p.m. ET.

On Monday, ahead of today's CDC meeting, the US Food and Drug Administration expanded the emergency use authorization for Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine boosters to children ages 12 to 15.

Adolescents ages 12 to 15 became eligible to receive their initial series of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in mid-May, opening vaccinations up to about 17 million additional people.

Now, about half of the 12 to 15 population — about 8.7 million — is fully vaccinated, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 5 million of them have been fully vaccinated for more than five months and are now eligible to receive a booster shot.