Chris Lange, FISM News
Schools and businesses across the nation are closing their doors following President Biden’s announcement that the winter could become a season of “severe illness and death” for those who are unvaccinated. The president issued the dire warning Thursday after meeting with top health advisors, renewing his push for all Americans to get their vaccinations and booster shots up to date.
“If you’re vaccinated and have your booster shot, you’re protected from severe illness and death,” he said, adding that the COVID-19 Omicron variant has not spread as rapidly in the U.S. as in other nations, thanks to his administration, but added “It’s here now. It is spreading and it’s going to increase.”
Biden, who did not take questions from reporters, will address the nation on Tuesday to announce added steps his administration will take to combat the virus.
Schools and universities across the country responded to the President’s message with announcements that they will reinstitute remote learning after the winter holidays, according to a Fox News report. Officials at both Harvard University and Stanford University will return to online classes in the spring, while students enrolled at Pennsylvania State University have been advised to “be prepared to alter plans” should remote learning become necessary.
Georgetown University, meanwhile, has closed its fitness centers and canceled all upcoming indoor events. GU students are no longer permitted to eat in dining halls and will, instead, be provided with “grab-and-go” meals to be eaten outdoors or in their private rooms. Several other colleges and universities have instituted vaccine and booster requirements. Meanwhile, multiple public schools across the country have either returned to remote learning or announced plans to do so in the coming days, including schools in New York, Washington D.C., and Illinois, among others.
Concurrently, many businesses and restaurants have temporarily closed as a result of reported infections among staff. In New York, the Rockettes canceled their “Christmas Spectacular” shows for the remainder of the year. Audience members seated for a performance of “Moulin Rouge!” at the Al Hirschfeld Theater on Broadway were told the show had been canceled as a result of a “late-in-the-day” positive test, according to a Daily Voice report.
Hours ahead of their final production of the season, Saturday Night Live tweeted an announcement that the show would proceed without a studio audience and with “limited cast and crew.”
Meanwhile, the National Football League, National Hockey League, and NCAA recently postponed some games, citing an uptick in players testing positive for COVID-19.
The return to 2020 COVID-19 protocols is not restricted to the U.S. FISM previously reported a renewal of sweeping restrictions across the globe in response to the omicron variant. While the latest iteration of the virus appears to be more contagious than the original, symptoms presented are much milder than those of its progenitor.
To date, cases of Omicron have been reported in at least 36 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In addition to vaccines, the agency is again recommending social distancing of at least six feet and indoor mask wearing “in areas of substantial or high community transmission, regardless of vaccination status.”