the region prepares for the possibility of a wave

New York City Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said Covid-19 data show an “alarming trend” and predicted a further increase in the case curve. Illinois’s daily cases surged to the highest in more than a year, and space in intensive care units is shrinking.

Citigroup Inc., Carlyle Group Inc., Millennium Management, Blackstone Inc. and Citadel, Ken Griffin’s hedge-fund firm, are allowing remote work through the holiday in response to the latest rise in infections.

Messenger RNA vaccines made by Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. are preferable for use in adults over Johnson & Johnson’s, U.S. public health advisers said.

Almost half the workers in the City of London didn’t go to the office on Monday, the fewest since September. U.K. cases rose to a record for the second consecutive day.

Virus Tracker: Cases pass 272.7 million; deaths top 5.3 million
Vaccine Tracker: More than 8.59 billion shots given
Here we go again: NYC shows canceled, cases rise, offices empty
‘I was wrong’: Omicron wrecks CEOs’ plans for U.S. office return
Half of U.S. states have big racial vaccine gaps one year in
What quarantine is like inside Hong Kong’s bleak, high-security camp

How the Global Vaccine Campaign Has Succeeded—and Failed
WATCH: This is the inside story of how the worldwide battle to end the pandemic took shape.Source: Bloomberg
Illinois Cases, Hospitalizations Surge (5:02 p.m. NY)
Illinois’s daily Covid-19 cases have surged to the highest in more than a year with the delta variant circulating and omicron entering the mix.

The number of confirmed and probable daily cases reached 11,858, the highest since Dec. 1, 2020, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported on Thursday.

Covid-19 hospitalizations also are rising and have contributed to the overall shrinking of intensive care unit bed availability across the state. Of the 3,021 ICU beds in hospitals statewide, 9% are currently open, according to data on the department’s website.

NFL Tightens Covid Protocols (4:05 p.m. NY)
The NFL on Thursday updated its Covid-19 protocols and will require all clubs to implement measures including masking regardless of vaccination status, remote or outdoor meetings, and the elimination of in-person meals, according to a statement.

U.S. Experts Back Moderna, Pfizer Over J&J (3:47 p.m. NY)
Messenger RNA vaccines made by Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. are preferable for use in adults over Johnson & Johnson’s, U.S. public health advisers said.

All 15 members of an outside panel of experts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted to make the recommendation on J&J’s vaccine. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met Thursday after U.S. regulators announced revisions to the J&J fact sheet to warn of a rare clotting syndrome linked to the shot.

Stanford to Go Back Online (3:40 p.m. NY)
Classes at Stanford University will be held online for the first two weeks of the winter quarter, beginning on Jan. 3 for most students, as scheduled with in-person instruction on Jan. 18, the school said Thursday. Students must take a Covid-19 test before returning to campus.

“The current uncertainty around omicron poses a number of logistical challenges for the start of in-person classes,” the California school said in a statement.

Harvard will require boosters when students, faculty and staff return from the holiday break.

Citadel, Blackstone Allow Work From Home (3:18 p.m. NY)
Citadel, Blackstone Inc. and Millennium Management are among asset managers telling staff this week that they may once again work remotely, at least for the next several weeks, in response to the latest spike in cases.

Ken Griffin’s Citadel, among the earliest hedge funds to require staff to return to the office during the pandemic, isn’t mandating that they stay away, a spokesman for the Chicago-based firm said Thursday in an email. The guidance also applies to Griffin’s market-making operation, Citadel Securities.

Blackstone, the world’s biggest alternative asset manager, told its U.S. employees they can work from home for the rest of the year, as did rival Carlyle Group Inc., according to spokespeople for both private equity firms.

N.J. Hospitalizations Rise 41% in a Week (3 p.m. NY)
Rhode Island and New Jersey led the list of U.S. states with the biggest increases in hospital admissions for Covid-19 during the week through Monday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New Jersey showed a 41% rise, second only to Rhode Island with 55%, according to CDC data.

Next at the top of the list were the District of Columbia, Connecticut and Georgia. Montana, Alaska, North Dakota and Colorado showed the biggest decreases.

Fauci Says Omicron Will Be Dominant Strain (2:38 p.m. NY)
The omicron variant will assume a dominant role in the U.S. “very soon,” possibly within a few weeks, Anthony S. Fauci said Thursday.

“We’re looking over our shoulder at omicron,” Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser for Covid-19, said at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation event. The latest variant of concern will start to dominate in the U.S. “I would imagine within a period of a few weeks as we go into January,” he said.

NYC Health Chief Cites ‘Alarming’ Case Trend (1:35 p.m. NY)
New York City’s virus data show an “alarming trend,” with the rolling average of new cases tripling in the last month, Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said Thursday.

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A further increase is expected in the days ahead, he told reporters. He acknowledged that there’s fatigue among New Yorkers about almost two years of pandemic-linked restrictions, but “unfortunately this virus is not yet tired of us.”

The city will send out 500,000 at-home rapid tests as part of an effort to stem the spread of the omicron variant, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Citi Says NYC Staff Can Work From Home (12:02 p.m. NY)
Citigroup Inc. said staffers in the New York City metropolitan area could work from home again through the holidays if they are able, citing the recent rise in Covid-19 cases in the region.

Citigroup already requires all staffers coming into those offices to be vaccinated.

U.K. Hits Record Cases Again (11:19 a.m. NY)
The U.K. reported 88,376 more Covid-19 cases, a record for the pandemic, according to government data. It was second consecutive day of record-breaking infections, underlining the high transmissibility of the omicron variant.

EU Backs Pfizer Pill for Adults (11:04 a.m. NY)
A European Union advisory committee said Pfizer Inc.’s experimental antiviral pill against Covid-19 can be used to treat adults, opening up another potential tool as the region prepares for the possibility of a wave of infections from the omicron variant.

The drug, Paxlovid, is still under review and hasn’t been formally authorized for sale.

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