COVID-19 live updates: Israel begins testing fourth vaccine dose

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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 816,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

About 61.7% 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:

Dec 27, 10:12 am
NYC administers 180,000 booster shots in less than a week

Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City has administered more than 180,000 COVID vaccine booster shots since a $100 incentive was announced on Tuesday.

This brings the total number of residents who have received boosters to more than 1.9 million.

“We did a booster incentive and it has been heard and felt by the people of NYC,” de Blasio told MSNBC on Monday.

-ABC News’ Aaron Katersky

Dec 27, 9:58 am
Four cruise ships report COVID outbreaks

At least four U.S. cruise ships are reporting COVID-19 outbreaks aboard, leading to them being denied entry to — or turned away from — foreign ports.

Holland America’s Line Koningsdam was denied entry into Puerto Vallarta on Thursday after 21 crew members tested positive.

Additionally, the Carnival Freedom ship was turned away from the Caribbean Islands of Bonaire and Aruba on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, after “a small number” of passengers aboard tested positive for the virus.

Officials in Aruba and Curacao also turned away Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas on Wednesday after 55 fully vaccinated crew members and passengers tested positive.

On the same day, passengers aboard the Seven Seas Mariner were not allowed to disembark in Cartagena, Colombia, after six crew members and one passenger tested positive for COVID-19.

Dec 27, 8:04 am
Surge in omicron cases will ‘get worse,’ Fauci says

The surge in COVID-19 cases is “going to get worse before it gets better, that’s for sure,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday on Good Morning America.

And it could take weeks for the number of daily cases to start declining, he noted.

“It’s very difficult to predict, because we have so many unvaccinated people in this country who are really quite vulnerable,” Fauci said. “Even with the vaccinated people, you’re going to see breakthrough infections.”

Fauci also sought to ease concerns about the availability of at-home tests. Demand for those tests spiked during the holiday season, as worries about omicron grew and families took precautions before gathering.

“Well certainly omicron is a very, very unusual variant in its incredible degree of spreading,” Fauci said. “As we enter January, there will be many, many more tests that we have.”

Dec 27, 7:23 am
Israel begins testing 4th vaccine dose

Medical staffers at Tel HaShomer hospital near Tel Aviv, Israel, have begun receiving a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose.

About 150 staffers were taking part in the trial, which began on Monday morning. They’ll be monitored for a week.

The Ministry of Health has yet to announce a final decision on a fourth jab. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office last week said on Twitter that it had instructed the government to “prepare for an extensive operation.”

“This is wonderful news that will assist us in getting through the Omicron wave that is engulfing the world,” Bennett said in a statement.

-ABC News’ Bruno Nota

Dec 27, 7:27 am
New York subway scales back service amid COVID surge

Subway trains in New York City will run less frequently than usual this week amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.

“Like everyone in New York, we’ve been affected by the COVID surge,” New York City Transit Authority officials wrote on Twitter.

Officials said the subway was dealing with staff shortages and service would be scaled back until Thursday.

“We’re taking proactive steps to provide the best, most consistent service we can,” officials said on Twitter. “That means you may wait a little longer for your train.”

Dec 27, 2:58 am
Australia records first omicron death, as daily cases top 10,000

A man in his 80s who died near Sydney, Australia, was the country’s first known death linked to the omicron variant, health officials said on Monday.

“The man was a resident of the Uniting Lilian Wells aged care facility in North Parramatta, where he acquired his infection,” New South Wales health officials said in a news release. “He had received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and had underlying health conditions.”

The country’s new daily cases topped 10,000 on Sunday, local media reported on Monday.

In New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, new coronavirus infections dipped to 6,324 on Sunday, down from a record 6,394 new cases on Christmas Day, according to health officials.

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