Live updates: Catalonia plans new restrictions amid peak | Health Info

BARCELONA, Spain – Catalonia is preparing to become the first Spanish region to restore serious limitations given the latest spike in infections in a country that is among the world leaders in immunization.

Health officials have asked the courts to authorize a battery of measures, including a new nighttime curfew from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m., a limit of 10 people per social gathering, the closure of nightclubs and capping of restaurants. 50% of seats indoors and in shops, gymnasiums and theaters at 70% of their capacity.

If approved by the courts, they would take effect on Friday and last for 15 days in the northeast region surrounding Barcelona.

Regional health chief Josep Argimon said the measures were needed due to the arrival of the more contagious omicron variant. “Infections have increased 100% over the past week,” he said.

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Spain’s Prime Minister met with heads of Spanish regions on Wednesday to discuss new measures for the country which has seen the number of cases rise rapidly after administering two doses of the vaccine to more than 80% of its total population of 47 million inhabitants.

Spain has relied on the administration of reminders and the mandatory use of a face mask indoors in recent months.


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Go to for updates throughout the day.


WASHINGTON – The White House said President Joe Biden had close contact with a staff member who later tested positive for the coronavirus and is showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Monday evening that the staff member tested positive earlier today. Psaki says the staff member spent about 30 minutes around the president on Air Force One on Friday while traveling from Orange, South Carolina to Philadelphia.

Psaki says the staff member is fully vaccinated and boosted and tested negative before boarding Air Force One. She says the staff member started to experience symptoms on Sunday evening.

Psaki says Biden, 79, is tested regularly for the virus and has had two negative tests since Sunday. She says he will be tested again on Wednesday.

HOUSTON – An unvaccinated man with health concerns has become the first person in the Houston area to die linked to COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced the death of the man in his 50s at a press conference on Monday.

A Houston hospital system reported that the omicron variant accounted for 82% of new COVID-19 cases it treats.

The medical director of diagnostic microbiology at Houston Methodist Hospital said in a tweet Sunday that the omicron variant had become the “qualified majority cause” of the new Houston Methodist cases in less than three weeks. In comparison, the delta variant took three months over the summer to cause more than 80% of cases.

ATLANTA – The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 has increased by almost 50% in Georgia over the past month, and the number of infections detected continues to accelerate.

More than 1,200 patients were hospitalized statewide Monday with respiratory illness. That’s well below the record of around 6,000 that was set in early September at the height of Georgia’s fourth wave of virus cases. But it is well above the recent low of 824 patients recorded on November 22.

Among those who have tested positive for the virus is Atlanta mayor-elect Andre Dickens, who has gone into self-isolation despite reporting feeling well with mild symptoms. Dickens says he’s fully vaccinated.

EUGENE, Oregon – As the highly transmissible variant of omicron spreads across the country, students, faculty and staff at the University of Oregon will need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus as soon as they become eligible .

Currently, the university and the state’s six other public universities require vaccinations for those on campus.

As of Monday afternoon, the University of Oregon is the only public university in the state to publicly announce a recall requirement.

University President Michael Schill said in a letter posted online that “boosters are the next step in the evolving public health strategy into which we have adapted and responded as a community during the pandemic “.

RALEIGH, North Carolina – The governor of North Carolina has issued his most severe public health warning to date as the Christmas holidays approach.

Governor Roy Cooper said on Monday that authorities expect the omicron variant of the coronavirus to take a severe toll on hospitals soon and lead to the highest daily case count since the pandemic hit the state in March 2020.

Cooper also says he will not re-impose any statewide mandate or deploy financial incentives for residents to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Instead of warrants, North Carolina will rely on additional resources for home testing and an information campaign to encourage the roughly 62% of vaccinated residents to get vaccinated.

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana – Louisiana is starting to see an increasing number of COVID-19 cases months after emerging from a fourth wave of the coronavirus outbreak, with the state threatened with another peak as the variant omicron is spreading.

Data released Monday by the Louisiana Department of Health shows that the number of new coronavirus cases has reached more than 2,300 since Friday – and more than 4,800 in the past week. This is more than double the number of new cases from the previous week.

And the Department of Health has warned those numbers are set to rise as dozens of cases of the fast-spreading omicron variant have been confirmed in Louisiana.

Still, the number of people hospitalized in Louisiana with COVID-19 remains low so far, reported at 241 patients on Monday. This continues to be among the lowest number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations since March 2020 and well below the state’s peak of over 3,000 in August.

BOISE, Idaho – State health officials have disabled crisis guidelines for rationing of care at hospitals in northern Idaho as cases of COVID-19 have declined.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said Monday that the number of patients with COVID-19 remains high but no longer exceeds available healthcare resources.

Crisis standards for the state’s five northernmost counties had been in place since September 7.

Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said the situation remains precarious due to the omicron variant that emerged in Idaho last week. Jeppesen says getting vaccinated, receiving booster doses and wearing masks in crowded areas could help keep the health care system from being overwhelmed again.

NEW YORK – “Hamilton” and “Aladdin,” two of Broadway’s greatest musicals, are closing their doors during busy Christmas week after finding groundbreaking COVID-19 cases in their businesses.

All morning and evening performances of “Aladdin” Tuesday through Friday have been canceled. Performances are scheduled to resume on Sunday. “Aladdin” previously canceled its December 19 performance.

“Hamilton” has canceled shows on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday and performances are scheduled to resume on December 27. The production had previously canceled its December 17-19 performances, as well as its December 15 show due to the detection of positive results.

The two hit shows join “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “MJ” and “Ain’t Too Proud,” among others, in announcing multi-day cancellations due to the virus. The shows often add performances around the week of Christmas and the holidays are usually the most lucrative shows of the year.

MISSION, Kansas – Rural Kansas hospitals are struggling to transfer patients as COVID-19 numbers rise, with some patients stranded in emergency rooms for a week while waiting for a bed.

Space was also scarce last winter and again in the summer when the Delta variant first hit the state. The situation improved slightly this fall, but according to Motient, a company that contracted with Kansas to help manage transfers, the situation is getting worse again.

And it’s not just rural hospitals looking for beds. Overwhelmed hospitals as far away as Minnesota and Michigan have called for beds in major Kansas hospitals. Often there is simply no room.

Dr Richard Watson, founder of Motient, said on Friday that long-distance transfers and long waits for beds are unfortunately becoming commonplace as the pandemic ends its second year.

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Edward K. Thompson