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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: You can start ordering free COVID tests Wednesday — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy — Biden deploying military medical staff to help overwhelmed hospitals.
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— Nurses across the U.S. strike against COVID working conditions— CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: Biden admin threatens to take back Arizona's COVID aid over anti-mask rules — Students across U.S. walkout of classes to demand safer COVID protocols — West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers.
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker

Cases:

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET on Saturday: 325,207,334— Total deaths: 5,533,710 — Total vaccine doses administered: 9,601,442,748Map
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET on Saturday: 65,342,285 — Total deaths: 849,971Map

What should I do? Axios asked the experts:

Other resources:

Download our app and follow the Coronavirus channel to get the latest news.

Editor's note: Johns Hopkins University stopped reporting U.S. COVID-19 recoveries on its dashboard on Dec. 15, citing a Coronavirus Tracking Project post that explained the national data is incomplete since several states do not keep records of recovered patients. It stopped reporting global recoveries and began reporting doses administered in May.

Go deeper

17 hours ago - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on January 14, 2022 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

22 hours ago - Health

Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New data suggests that people with the Omicron variant frequently stay infectious for longer than five days, raising concerns about the CDC's updated isolation guidelines.

Why it matters: Experts say the issue could be resolved by using rapid tests to determine whether it is safe to exit isolation, but the CDC has not recommended a negative test as a condition to end isolation.

19 hours ago - Health

Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics

A man looks through a window in a fence as a security guard walks in front of a hotel being used for people who have arrived for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics on January 14, 2022 in Beijing, China. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Beijing on Saturday reported its first locally transmitted case of Omicron, less than three weeks before the start of the Olympic Winter Games, Reuters reports.

Driving the news: Lab testing found "mutations specific to the Omicron variant" in the individual, an official at the city's disease control authority told a news briefing, per Reuters.

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