By The Associated Press
ATLANTA — Emory University’s president said Tuesday the school is switching to virtual classes to start the spring semester because of a national surge in COVID cases fueled by the omicron variant.
In a letter to the university community, President Gregory Fenves said Emory will transition back to in-person learning on January 31 if conditions permit that.
The switch to remote learning applies to undergraduate, graduate and professional courses. Residence halls will remain open, though students are encouraged to delay their return to campus.
COVID-19 infections in the Atlanta area, where Emory is located, are climbing rapidly.
The seven-day average of COVID-19 cases in Georgia rose to nearly 8,700 a day on Monday, according to the state Public Health Department. That’s nearing the peaks that Georgia saw in infection numbers in early January and early September.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC:
— Undertakers, rabbis join global fight promoting COVID shot
— US officials recommend shorter COVID isolation, quarantine
— Fauci: US should consider vaccine mandate for US air travel
— In eastern Germany, pastors push for shots despite protests
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING TODAY:
LONDON — The U.K. has reported another record number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with a further 129,471 infections on Tuesday.
The data was incomplete because of the Christmas holidays, and did not include figures from Scotland or Northern Ireland.
A further 18 people had died after testing positive for the coronavirus, the government said.
Officials have said some 90% of cases in the country are now the omicron variant.
Despite the high daily infections Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has said it is not imposing further virus restrictions in England before the new year. Meanwhile Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which make their own public health rules, began shuttering nightclubs and limiting social gatherings from Boxing Day.
AUSTIN, Texas — Infusion centers in five large Texas cities have exhausted their supply of the antibody drug that is most effective against the more-transmissible omicron variant.
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services said centers in Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, San Antonio and the Houston area have run out of sotrovimab, which is the monoclonal antibody treatment effective against omicron.
The agency says the treatment cannot be offered until January, when the next shipment of the drug is expected to arrive from the federal government.
Antibody drugs for coronavirus variants other than omicron are still available, the agency said.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland’s judiciary announced plans Monday to postpone jury trials and reduce other court operations amid a surge in coronavirus cases.
The emergence of more contagious variants and the risk to those who are vaccinated and those who haven’t completed the vaccination process requires the return to more restrictive emergency operations, according to an order from Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Joseph Getty.
On Monday, state health officials reported 5,376 new cases, an increase in hospitalizations to 1,714 and an increase in the seven-day testing positivity rate to more than 16.5%.
Jury trials scheduled between Wednesday and Feb. 8 will be rescheduled, but district and circuit courts will hear specific case types remotely or in-person. Ongoing jury trials will be allowed to conclude.
Both the Court of Appeals and Court of Special Appeals will remain fully operational, but the chief judge may determine whether to hold proceedings in person or remotely. Clerks’ offices will remain open to the public.
ANKARA, Turkey — The number of daily COVID-19 infections in Turkey topped the 30,000 mark for the first time since mid-October, as the highly contagious omicron variant begins take hold.
The country reported 32,176 new cases and 184 deaths on Tuesday. A day earlier, the daily infections had jumped to around 26,000, after hovering around 20,000 for weeks.
“Due to the rapid spread of the omicron variant, (infections) appear to be on an upward trend,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter. He warned that the country was entering a period that requires extra care and urged people to get their booster shots as soon as possible.
Turkey reported its first six cases of the omicron variant on Dec. 11. It has not imposed any new restrictions.
MILAN — Experts in Italy will meet Wednesday to discuss altering quarantine rules under pressure from regional governors who say the system is no longer manageable as confirmed positives hit a new pandemic high of more than 78,300 reported in the last 24 hours.
Currently, twice-vaccinated people can come out of quarantine after seven day with a negative test, while non-vaccinated people or people with just one dose must quarantine for at least 10 days.
Under that system, as many as 2 million people are forecast to be under quarantine in the coming weeks as case numbers continue to soar.
Veneto governor Luca Zaia is calling for limiting quarantine to those who have had close contact only with symptomatic people. Other proposals call for doing away with quarantine for anyone who has had the booster.
A health ministry official, Pierpaolo Sileri, estimates that omicron is currently running at around 50% to 60% of new cases. He says the impact of the new variant should be studied before reducing quarantine times.
MIAMI — Officials in Miami-Dade County have opened two new coronavirus testing sites and extended hours at Zoo Miami in response to an increased demand.
“We are working around the clock to make sure Miami-Dade residents have access to testing to protect themselves and their loved ones during the holiday season,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a news release on Tuesday.
She said the county has also distributed 152,000 take home rapid test kits.
The Zoo Miami site is open for testing 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said Ron Gonçalves, General Manager for NOMI Health Florida.
Overall, Florida has seen a sharp increase in new COVID-19 cases in the past week.
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