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Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Dec. 27. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The omicron variant and winter storms are prompting fresh waves of U.S. flight cancelations heading into the New Year's holiday weekend.

Driving the news: More than 1,300 domestic flights scheduled for Friday have been cancelled as of 11:30 a.m. on Friday, per FlightAware's latest tally of flights into the U.S., departing or within the country.

  • The tracking site reports nearly 2,660 cancelations globally for the same period. Major carriers including United, JetBlue and Delta have called off planned flights.

Why it matters: The pandemic-related disruptions have scuttled thousands of flights in recent days as COVID cases mount, leaving airlines short staffed.

  • "They just can’t keep up with the amount of folks that are testing positive," Angelo Cucuzza, director of organizing at the Transport Workers Union, tells the New York Times.
  • JetBlue tells Bloomberg: "Like many businesses and organizations, we have seen a surge in the number of sick calls from Omicron."

By the numbers: Delta said Thursday it expects 200-300 canceled per day over the weekend.

  • Per FlightAware, Friday's cancelations include 11% of United's flights and 14% of JetBlue's flights.
  • The U.S. has seen an 84% rise in COVID cases over the past week, according to the Washington Post's data tracking.
  • Axios’ requests for comment to United, Delta and JetBlue were not returned by publication time.

Go deeper: Omicron surge and storms disrupt air travel for 4th straight day

Go deeper

COVID cases soar by more than 200%

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Note: Maryland case counts may be lagging due to ongoing technical issues; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The number of new COVID cases more than tripled over the past two weeks, shattering records all across the U.S.

Why it matters: The Omicron variant appears to be significantly milder than its predecessors, and it's not leading to as much serious illness. But sky-high case counts are still a warning sign, especially in areas whose health care systems are already stretched thin.

COVID is disrupting some North Texas school schedules

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Several North Texas school districts have canceled classes for the rest of the week, while others are now requiring students and staff to wear masks in response to a surge of new coronavirus cases.

Why it matters: Pediatric hospitals have reported an increase in positive COVID test results in the month since the first omicron case was reported in North Texas.

Scoop: Stephanie Ruhle to replace Brian Williams on MSNBC

Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

MSNBC will soon announce plans to move morning anchor Stephanie Ruhle to the 11 pm ET hour that Brian Williams turned into an elite destination, two sources familiar with the move tell Axios.

Details: The 9 am ET hour, currently hosted by Ruhle, will become part of MSNBC's flagship morning show, "Morning Joe," which currently runs from 6 am to 9 am ET.