COVID-19 STATS FOR December 26, 2021

Dec 26, 2021 | Uncategorized

Debra Schrishuhn for PDA National Staff

*Reporting delays.

** Still 44 countries report more than one million cases of COVID-19, with the remainder being Italy  (surpassing Argentina), Argentina, Colombia, Indonesia, Poland, Mexico, Ukraine, South Africa, Netherlands, Philippines, Malaysia, Czechia, Peru, Thailand, Iraq, Belgium, Canada, Romania, Chile, Japan, Vietnam  (surpassing Bangladesh), Bangladesh, Israel, Slovakia, Pakistan, Serbia, Portugal (surpassing Austria and Sweden), Sweden, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, Greece  (surpassing Jordan and Kazakhstan), Kazakhstan, and Jordan.

Top Ten states with COVID-19 cases:

  • California 5,291,605
  • Texas 4,469,813

  • Florida 3,864,213

  • New York+ 3,098,290

  • Illinois+ 2,025,804

  • Pennsylvania 1,947,649

  • Ohio 1,910,991

  • Georgia 1,698,099

  • Michigan 1,642,383

  • N. Carolina++ 1,607,774


Top Ten states with COVID-19 deaths:

  • California 76,319
  • Texas 75,635

  • Florida 62,347

  • New York 58,422

  • Pennsylvania 36,050

  • Illinois 30,566
  • Georgia 30,061

  • New Jersey 28,854

  • Ohio 28,720

  • Michigan+++ 28,310

+New York tops 3M cases; Illinois tops 2M cases.

++Still 17 states post more than 1M cases, the remainder being New Jersey, Arizona, Tennessee, Indiana, Wisconsin, Massachusetts  (surpassing Virginia), and Virginia.

+++Still 27 states with more than 10K COVID-19 deaths, the remainder being Arizona, Tennessee (surpassing Indiana, North Carolina, and Massachusetts), Massachusetts, North Carolina, Indiana, , Alabama, Missouri, Virginia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Maryland, Wisconsin, Minnesota (surpassing Mississippi), Mississippi, and Colorado.

CNN, 12/25: Airlines have canceled thousands of flights on Christmas weekend, including over a thousand US domestic flights, as staff and crew call out sick during the Omicron surge. Globally, airlines have canceled about 5,700 flights on Christmas Eve day, Christmas and the day after Christmas, according to FlightAware. That includes about 1,700 flights within, into or out of the United States.

Operational snags at airlines are coming as millions are still flying in spite of rising coronavirus cases. The TSA says it screened 2.19 million people at airports across the country on Thursday, the highest figure since the uptick in holiday travel started a week ago.

On Thursday, United Airlines (UAL) said it had to “cancel some flights” because of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. “The nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation,” said a United memo obtained by CNN.

United canceled 201 flights on Friday, representing 10% of its total schedule, and 238 flights on Saturday, representing 12% of its schedule, according to flight tracking site FlightAware. United said it is “notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport,” according to a company statement. “We’re sorry for the disruption and are working hard to rebook as many people as possible and get them on their way for the holidays.”

Later Thursday night, Delta Air Lines (DAL) also canceled flights. The airline canceled 173 Christmas Eve flights, according to FlightAware. Delta said the cancellations are due to multiple issues including the Omicron variant. “We apologize to our customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans,” Delta said in a statement. “Delta people are working hard to get them to where they need to be as quickly and as safely as possible on the next available flight.”

Additionally, JetBlue (JBLU) canceled 80 flights, or about 7% of its overall schedule, on the day before Christmas., 12/24: Yesterday, we had an item about paxlovid, which is Pfizer’s anti-COVID pill. It’s not preventative, but it does reduce the severity of symptoms in most patients. It could make a big difference for people who are unwilling or unable to get vaccinated due to politics or underlying health problems or fear of needles.

After that post went live, there was additional good news, pandemic-wise. To start, the FDA approved a second pill, molnupiravir, which comes from Merck. Who knows where they come up with these names, since that looks more like a word jumble than a drug name. Actually, maybe that IS how they came up with it, since “molnupiravir” unscrambles to “murr pavilion,” which would mean something like “place for people with congestion of the nose or throat.” That George Soros sure is clever! Or is it Bill Gates?

In any event, the Merck pill is to be used in the same way as the Pfizer pill; if a person gets sick and then quickly commences a course of the medication, their chances of being hospitalized are reduced. That said, the Merck pill appears to be less efficacious than the Pfizer pill, and it could also have side-effects, particularly for pregnant women. So, it looks like it will be a backup/stopgap until Pfizer can produce enough doses to satisfy demand.

Meanwhile, there may soon be another vaccine available, courtesy of…the U.S. Army. This one is called the Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle COVID-19 vaccine, which sounds like it was created by a 1940s big band leader. Early results suggest it is effective against all variants of COVID, including omicron. The last two trial stages still have to be conducted, a task complicated by the fact that the Army is having trouble finding enough unvaccinated folks who are willing to take part. However, if the vaccine is proven to be safe and effective, it could represent another big step forward. First, because at least some of the conspiracy theorists are also military fetishists, and it might be harder for them to dismiss a vaccine that comes straight from the Pentagon. Second, because if and when the Biden administration decides to launch a worldwide vaccination campaign, it’s easier and cheaper if there’s no need to worry about the intellectual property rights of a private corporation.

There was also some promising news about the omicron variant. South Africa was the first place the new variant was identified, and so the first place where there was a huge surge in cases. Now, the surge is dissipating almost as rapidly as it came on. This trendline may be specific to the omicron variant, though there is much supposition that it’s actually a product of widespread vaccination. That is to say, even though omicron is quite infectious, there just aren’t enough potential carriers or enough severe cases for there to be a repeat of what happened in, say, April of last year.

And speaking of the seriousness of omicron, two draft papers released on Thursday (see here and here) both reach the same conclusion: If omicron sends you to the hospital, then it’s just as bad as delta, but omicron is roughly 75% less likely to reach that point. These papers are based on analysis of hospital admissions data, and haven’t been peer-reviewed yet, so don’t take them to the bank. Still, it’s another tentative indication that omicron won’t exact as great a toll as past COVID variants.

We said it yesterday, but it’s worth saying again: The quicker the pandemic recedes, the better it is for Joe Biden and the Democratic Party. They were given full control of the federal government just less than a year ago, and so they now own COVID, for better or worse. It is improbable that the disease is going to disappear anytime soon, but there are plenty of projections that suggest it will settle in alongside the flu or pneumonia: annual vaccinations (for those who partake), a sizable number of moderate-level infections each year, and a small number of serious-to-fatal infections each year. In the last pre-COVID year, namely 2019, the U.S. had 13 million flu-related medical visits, 380,000 flu-related hospitalizations, and 28,000 flu deaths. If that is where COVID settles in, well, clearly the nation has decided that those are acceptable levels of hospitalization and mortality. (Z)

Insider, 12/24: “The fringe factions of the right-wing have erupted in anger and confusion at former President Donald Trump’s enthusiastic lauding of the COVID-19 vaccine this week. On two separate occasions, Trump advocated for people to take the COVID-19 vaccine this past week.”

Washington Post, 12/24: “Now, nearly a full year into Biden’s term, as the virus has mutated its way through the Greek alphabet to the omicron variant, testing is in short supply in many places, leaving frustrated Americans waiting in long lines for tests — if they can get them at all. That is feeding into a wave of concern, despondency and in some places near-frenzy at the likely approach of yet another spike in a pandemic the country has battled for nearly two years. This late-December disarray — crowded testing sites, empty drugstore shelves — is raising fresh questions about how Biden and his team have executed on his pledge to defeat the pandemic.”

Wall Street Journal, 12/24: “Biden administration officials have sometimes expressed frustration with what they see as developments largely out of their control, from Democrats’ narrow majority in the Senate to the rise of the Omicron variant. Much of that frustration is directed outward—at the media, at Republicans and at other outside critics who some in the administration believe are eager to see Mr. Biden fail, according to the president’s allies. Mr. Biden, for his part, has expressed annoyance both in public and in private with the way the media covers him, aides said.”, 12/24: The two presidents aren’t cooperating directly—there are no phone calls or strategy meetings. But they are both pulling in the same direction on vaccines, and urging people to get them. In Biden’s case, the motivations are simple and clear: He has empathy for Americans, and he also ran for office on a promise to wind down the pandemic. So, he’s willing to stand on his head if it will cause more people to get jabbed.

In Donald Trump’s case, he is also urging people to get vaccinated. Sitting for an interview with The Daily Wire‘s Candace Owens, he pushed back against her claims that the shot doesn’t work, telling her: “Look, the results of the vaccine are very good, and if you do get (Covid), it’s a very minor form. People aren’t dying when they take the vaccine.” While the former president said that he respects the rights of people to go unvaccinated, he reiterated that “The ones that get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don’t take their vaccine.”

Trump’s motivation is also pretty clear: He wants credit for the vaccine and for its positive effects. He said so in the Owens interview, asserting that “I came up with a vaccine, with three vaccines. All are very, very good. Came up with three of them in less than nine months.” Presumably he did that in the same Washington, DC, lab where Al Gore invented the Internet. It’s possible that Trump also has empathy (though that’s not really his thing), and it’s also possible that he’s noticed that a disproportionate number of the dead are people who voted for him. But his #1 concern is clearly bringing glory and honor to himself.

Interestingly, Trump’s ego/desire to be loved has also encouraged his “partnership” with Biden in a different way. In his address this Tuesday, Biden twice took time to thank Trump for his work on the pandemic. Well, the way to Trump’s heart is through his id, as Kim Jong-un demonstrated multiple times. And the former president says it’s now “very tough” to attack Biden. We shall see how long that holds, though a joint Trump-Biden PSA, which once seemed a pipe dream, is increasingly plausible. (Z)

Washington Post, 12/24: President Joe Biden will lift travel restrictions on eight Southern African countries on Dec. 31, citing new “understanding” of the omicron variant’s risks and spread.

Vanity Fair, 12/24: With omicron cases spreading like wildfire, the White House is finally taking steps to make free antigen tests available to all. But in October, it dismissed a bold plan to ramp up rapid testing ahead of the holidays. The 10-page plan, which Vanity Fair has obtained, would enable the U.S. to finally do what many other countries had already done: Put rapid at-home COVID-19 testing into the hands of average citizens, allowing them to screen themselves in real time and thereby help reduce transmission. The plan called for an estimated 732 million tests per month, a number that would require a major ramp-up of manufacturing capacity.

CNBC, 12/24: “Airlines have ramped up pressure on the CDC to lower the quarantine recommendation for breakthrough Covid cases.”

Wall Street Journal, 12/23: “Signs are mounting that the U.S. economy is losing some steam as the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus spreads rapidly through parts of the country. The number of diners seated at restaurants nationwide was down 15% in the week ended Dec. 22 from the same period in 2019, a steeper decline than in late November… U.S. hotel occupancy was at 53.8% for the week ended Dec. 18, slightly below the previous week’s level.”

AP, 12/23: “The Marine Corps discharged 66 Marines in the past week for refusing to get the coronavirus vaccine as mandated by the military, outpacing the other services at discipline related to the shots. The latest Corps actions brought the total number of Marines booted out of the service for vaccine refusal to 169.”

Wall Street Journal, 12/23: “The Omicron variant’s aggressive advance is the latest twist in the course of a disease that public-health experts say is on a path toward becoming endemic in the U.S. In other words, the Covid-19 pandemic won’t have an end date. Rather, a crisis that engulfed the world within months of the coronavirus’s discovery in China will dissipate in fits and starts into something that feels more like normal over the course of years.”

Washington Post, 12/24: “The United States logged a seven-day average coronavirus case count of 168,981 on Wednesday, amid a nationwide spike driven partly by the omicron variant, Washington Post figures show, surpassing a summer peak of just over 165,000 infections on Sept. 1. The latest surge is the second-largest wave of the pandemic so far, behind the spike in infections between November 2020 and January 2021. On Jan. 12, the United States marked a record seven-day rolling average of 248,209 cases.”

CNN, 12/23: “A North Carolina police chief has been placed on unpaid leave and probation for telling officers about a ‘clinic’ that would issue them a Covid-19 vaccination card without actually receiving the shot.”

Political Wire: An Axios-Ipsos poll finds anvaccinated Americans’ already low trust in the federal government plummeted over the course of 2021, exacerbating the challenges in getting the pandemic under control. Said pollster Chris Jackson: “The people who remain unvaccinated have almost no trust in the government. It doesn’t really matter what Biden says. They don’t believe anything you’re saying.”

Mediaite, 12/23: Former President Donald Trump pushed back on Candace Owens when the conservative commentator appeared to argue against the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines.

Trump joined the Daily Wire host for a wide-ranging interview, which was released on Wednesday, in which the two pushed various conspiracy theories surrounding the riot in the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. But the issue of vaccines came up and the former president continued to tout the efficacy of the vaccines in a manner that will likely encourage some of the vaccine-hesitant and eventually save lives. Said Trump: “Oh no, the vaccines work, but some people aren’t the ones. The ones who get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don’t take the vaccine. But it’s still their choice. And if you take the vaccine, you’re protected.” He added: “Look, the results of the vaccine are very good, and if you do get it, it’s a very minor form. People aren’t dying when they take the vaccine.”

NPR, 12/23: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the second antiviral pill to treat COVID-19 at home. The medicine, called molnupiravir and made by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, is taken twice a day for five days. Merck says it will have 10 million packs available by the end of the month.

These new antiviral pills could totally change how people treat COVID-19 infections at home, since the only FDA-authorized treatment for nonhospitalized COVID-19 patients is monoclonal antibodies, which typically require an intravenous infusion.

The agency authorized Pfizer’s Paxlovid treatment for COVID-19 on Wednesday. “Today’s authorization provides an additional treatment option against the COVID-19 virus in the form of a pill that can be taken orally,” Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said Thursday.

“Molnupiravir is limited to situations where other FDA-authorized treatments for COVID-19 are inaccessible or are not clinically appropriate and will be a useful treatment option for some patients with COVID-19 at high risk of hospitalization or death,” she added.

The drug works by introducing mutations into the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s genetic code to prevent it from replicating. FDA didn’t authorize molnupiravir for use in patients younger than 18 because the drug may interfere with bone and cartilage growth.

The agency also said the medicine is not recommended for use during pregnancy because animal studies suggested it could harm the fetus. The FDA warned people who may become pregnant to use a reliable method of birth control while taking molnupiravir until four days after the final dose. Men who are sexually active with women who may become pregnant are advised to use birth control while taking molnupiravir and for at least three months after the final dose.

The pill is available by prescription only, and treatment should begin as soon as possible after a COVID-19 diagnosis and within five days of the onset of symptoms in order to treat mild-to-moderate disease, the FDA said.

Political Wire, 12/23: Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), who is the third ranking House Democrat, announced in a statement that he has tested positive for Covid-19.

Forbes, 12/23: “The omicron variant of the coronavirus raises the risk of infection on board a passenger plane by two or even three-fold, according to the airline industry’s biggest trade body, a finding that may foreshadow an exponential increase in cases as millions of travelers take to the skies to be with their families during the holiday season.”

New York Times, 12/23: “Biden’s administration has not yet signed a contract to buy the tests, and the website to order them will not be up until January. Officials have not said how many tests people will be able to order or how quickly they will be shipped once they begin to be available next month. Manufacturers say they are already producing tests as fast as they can.”

Washington Post, 12/23: “The Supreme Court Wednesday night announced it will hold a special hearing next month to consider challenges to the Biden administration’s pandemic efforts to impose a nationwide vaccine-or-testing requirement for large employers and a separate coronavirus vaccine mandate for health-care workers. Both have been at least partially blocked from going into effect by lower courts after challenges from Republican-led states and from business and religious coalitions. It is highly unusual for the justices to schedule such hearings on emergency requests.”

Washington Post, 12/22: “Researchers looking at real-world coronavirus cases in Britain reported Wednesday that the omicron variant appears to be less severe than the once dominant delta strain. Early evidence from Scotland and England suggests that omicron is sending fewer people to the hospital with severe symptoms.”

Political Wire, 12/22: A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds that just 12% of unvaccinated Americans said the Omicron variant’s emergence would make them more inclined to get their first shot.

Vice News, 12/22: “A group of unvaccinated people who attended a huge conspiracy conference in Dallas earlier this month all became sick in the days after the event with symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath, and fever. Instead of blaming the global Covid pandemic, however, the conspiracy theorists think they were attacked with anthrax.”

New York Times, 12/22: “The warnings started to stream in early this fall: Shop early or you may not get your gifts on time. Global supply chain problems that have led to long delays in manufacturing and shipping could ripple outward, slowing package deliveries to millions of Americans in the weeks and days before Christmas, experts warned. The prospect even became a talking point in conservative attacks on President Biden’s policies. Despite early fears, however, holiday shoppers have received their gifts mostly on time.”

Reuters, 12/22: “More than 4.6 million people gained health coverage in the United States in 2021 through the Affordable Care Act amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

CNBC, 12/22: “President Joe Biden received a negative coronavirus test result on Wednesday, days after he was exposed to a staffer who later test positive for the virus. The aide spent about 30 minutes near the president on Air Force One on the way from South Carolina to Philadelphia.”

Wall Street Journal, 12/22: “U.S. health regulators cleared use of a Covid-19 pill from Pfizer Inc., the first drug that newly infected patients can now take at home to stay out of the hospital. The authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday permits doctors to prescribe the medicine to high-risk patients age 12 and older early in the course of disease, shortly after they develop symptoms.”

MSNBC, 12/22: “When you’re dealing with one that spreads so rapidly and you are unvaccinated, the virus is going to find you.”— Dr. Anthony Fauci

New York Times, 12/22: “Britain surpassed 100,000 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday for the first time since the start of the pandemic, as the England’s government announced an easing of isolation restrictions. The new toll of 106,122 new infections — the highest ever — comes as the highly transmissible Omicron variant continues to surge across the country. The uptick is a 50 percent increase over the past week.”

Defense One, 12/22: “Within weeks, scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research expect to announce that they have developed a vaccine that is effective against Covid-19 and all its variants, even Omicron, as well as from previous SARS-origin viruses that have killed millions of people worldwide.”

Wall Street Journal, 12/22: “Final data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that Americans’ life expectancy fell 1.8 years to 77 years in 2020. The drop was 0.3 years more than that of provisional estimates released in July 2021 and remains the biggest life-expectancy decline since at least World War II.”

Bloomberg, 12/22: “South Africans contracting Covid-19 in the current fourth wave of infections are 80% less likely to be hospitalized if they catch the omicron variant, compared with other strains, according to a study released by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. Once admitted to the hospital, the risk of severe disease doesn’t differ from other variants.”

The Atlantic, Yascha Mounk, 12/22: “Muddy early data mean that, for now at least, the immediate epidemiological future is uncertain. We could be in for a few months of relatively mild inconvenience before Omicron goes out with a whimper. Or we could be about to experience yet another exponential rise in hospitalizations and deaths. And yet I wager that, whatever course Omicron—or future strains of the disease—might take, we are about to experience the end of the pandemic as a social phenomenon…”

“Scientists have their own way of deciding that a pandemic is over. But one useful social-scientific marker is when people have gotten used to living with the ongoing presence of a particular pathogen. By that definition, the massive surge of Omicron infections that is currently coursing through scores of developed countries without eliciting more than a half-hearted response marks the end of the pandemic.”

Axios, 12/22: “The U.S. is facing an overwhelming surge of cases driven by the Omicron variant less than six months after President Biden celebrated ‘Independence from Covid-⁠19,’ and experts say the administration could have done more to better prepare the country. A common theme is that the Biden administration has been reactive, chasing the latest Covid crises rather than getting ahead of them. Some experts say the administration’s cardinal pandemic sin has been moving too slowly, while others say it’s over-relying on vaccines. But there’s widespread agreement that the administration should have made cheap, at-home rapid tests more widely available months ago.”

Playbook, 12/22: “The White House is increasingly frustrated that the burden of tackling a worldwide pandemic is falling disproportionately on the U.S. and not enough on other large, wealthy countries. At the same time, pressure is growing on the U.S. to do even more as the pandemic drags on and, in many low-income countries, gets worse. The longer poorer countries remain unvaxxed, the better conditions for the virus to thrive. And the longer it thrives, the more likely that another variant (maybe one more dangerous than Omicron) reaches the United States, bogging Biden down even further in this Covid quagmire.”

Washington Post, 12/22: “Biden’s speech marked the clearest distillation to date of a new message from the White House, as officials acknowledge the virus is unlikely to disappear but Americans no longer have to fully upend their daily lives even as cases rise. And it reflected the extent to which many Americans and political leaders show little appetite for the widespread shutdowns of the early pandemic period that hobbled the economy, forced millions of students into virtual learning, and sparked bitter partisan and cultural battles over how to combat the virus.”

Bloomberg, 12/22: “The U.S. health-care profession is suffering its own Great Resignation, pushing more hospitals into financial distress just as a winter surge of the coronavirus hits. Across the country, hospitals are buckling under the strain of nursing shortfalls and the spiraling cost of hiring replacements.”

New York Times, 12/22: “Staffing shortages may require infected health care workers to continue working if possible, despite the risk to patients.”

AP, 12/22: “Just as Americans and Europeans were eagerly awaiting their most normal holiday season in a couple of years, the omicron variant has unleashed a fresh round of fear and uncertainty — for travelers, shoppers, party-goers and their economies as a whole. A heightened sense of anxiety has begun to erode the willingness of some people and some businesses to carry on as usual in the face of the extraordinarily contagious omicron variant, which has fast become the dominant version of the virus in the United States.”

New York Times, 12/22: “It is not yet clear whether the variant causes milder illness than earlier variants. But there is a concern among some scientists that the notion has gained wide circulation and that the pandemic-weary public has let down its guard.”

AP, 12/22: “South Africa’s noticeable drop in new Covid-19 cases in recent days may signal that the country’s dramatic omicron-driven surge has passed its peak, medical experts say. Daily virus case counts are notoriously unreliable, as they can be affected by uneven testing, reporting delays and other fluctuations. But they are offering one tantalizing hint — far from conclusive yet — that omicron infections may recede quickly after a ferocious spike.”

New York Times, 12/21: “Israeli officials said Tuesday that the country will administer a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, in a bid to curb the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. Israel is believed to be the first country to offer a fourth round of doses.”

Fox News, 12/21: Former President Trump told Fox News that he is “very appreciative” and “surprised” that President Biden thanked him and his administration for their success in making COVID-19 vaccines available to the public, adding that “tone” and “trust” are critical in getting Americans vaccinated. Said Trump: “I think it was a terrific thing, and I think it makes a lot of people happy… I think he did something very good. You know, it has to be a process of healing in this country, and that will help a lot.”

CNBC, 12/21: “Criminals have stolen close to $100 billion in pandemic relief funds. The stolen funds were diverted by fraudsters from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and a another program set up to dole out unemployment assistance funds nationwide.”, 12/21: Today, Joe Biden will address the nation on the subject of COVID-19, and more particularly, the subject of omicron and what his administration is planning to do in response to the new variant. According to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, the theme will be “please get vaccinated,” and the President will not announce a national lockdown or any other measures of that sort.

We will see about that. Yes, we would be very surprised if Psaki was proven wrong, and Biden was to announce some major new COVID-19 policy tonight. However, the speech might just be the calm before the storm. The omicron variant has, as expected, become the dominant strain of the disease. Last week, 12.6% of Americans with COVID-19 were infected with omicron. This week, it’s up to a staggering 73.2%.

The Atlantic, 12/21: “I don’t think it’s possible that we’re going to eradicate this infection, because we’ve only eradicated one infection in human history, and that’s smallpox.”— Dr. Anthony Fauci

Dallas Observer, 12/21: The family of a QAnon member “who left her husband and children behind in Delaware to follow a fringe QAnon cult leader to Dallas last month, has been drinking a chemical cocktail containing chlorine dioxide, an industrial disinfectant, among other substances. It’s unclear why the group is drinking the chemical potion, as many believe the coronavirus, which has killed over 800,000 people in the U.S. and millions worldwide so far, is a government fabrication.”

The Intercept, 12/21: “Last year, right-wing groups that have long opposed the concept of increased government spending on ‘handouts’ were the recipients of more than $1.7 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans while seeing significant increases in contributions or net assets.”

NBC News, 12/21: “The federal government next month will start mailing at-home Covid test kits for free to any U.S. household that requests one. The White House is preparing to ship as many as 500 million kits, and it is setting up a website for people to submit their requests, without specifying how many tests each household can receive or how quickly. The federal government also plans to set up 20,000 new testing sites nationwide, with the first one opening in New York City before Christmas.”

New York Times, 12/21: “Fox Corporation, the owner of Fox News, told employees on Friday that those working in New York City would have to show proof they’d had at least one dose of the Covid vaccine by Dec. 27, removing the option to get tested weekly instead,”

MSNBC, 12/21: “It’s going to be a surge like we haven’t seen before, numbers that are completely out of control.” —Former Biden pandemic adviser Andy Slavitt, on the Omicron variant.

Fox News, 12/20: Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) told Fox News that President Biden’s response to the coronavirus has been geared towards control and vilifying the unvaccinated. Said Biggs: “It gets to the notion of what this has been about — and it’s about control. Biden wants control. So, his minions, like Fauci was on saying from now on, you’re going to have to wear a mask on the airplanes forever.” He added: “This kind of outrageous conduct is a method to try to create an ‘other’ — to create people to hate, to create people to ostracize, that allows them to claim control.”

Axios, 12/20: The omicron variant now makes up a majority of COVID-19 cases in the United States, at 73.2% of all reported cases, Axios reports.

New York Times, 12/20: “The estimates underscored the rapid spread of the new variant. Two weeks ago, the CDC said Omicron accounted for just 1% of U.S. cases; a week ago, it was about 13%. Delta, which for months had been the dominant form of the virus, accounted for about 26% of new cases over the last week.”

Political Wire, 12/20: Sarah Palin gloated about being unvaccinated, telling an audience over the weekend that they should “stiffen” their spines against pressure to get vaccinated. Said Palin: “It’ll be over my dead body that I’ll have to get a shot.” She added: “If enough of us, though, rise up and say, ‘No, enough is enough’ — There are more of us than there are of them!”

Washington Post, 12/20: “The swift arrival of a new coronavirus variant has rekindled economic anxieties in Washington, as congressional lawmakers, business leaders and consumer advocates begin to worry whether there is enough federal aid to shield Americans from another round of financial despair. Over the course of the nearly two-year pandemic, Congress has committed nearly $6 trillion toward combating the contagion and bringing a battered economy back from the brink. But some of the most significant programs to keep businesses afloat and help households pay bills have expired or run out of funds, raising new risks for the future of the country’s recovery, particularly as the omicron variant wave begins to take hold.”

CNN, 12/19: “The outgoing director of the National Institutes of Health said Sunday that he faced political pressure from then-President Donald Trump and other Republicans to endorse unproven Covid-19 remedies such as hydroxychloroquine and to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci.”

Associated Press, 12/19: “Ohio became the latest state to summon the National Guard to help overwhelmed medical facilities. Experts in Nebraska warned that its hospitals soon may need to ration care. Medical officials in Kansas and Missouri are delaying surgeries, turning away transfers and desperately trying to hire traveling nurses.”