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Omicron live updates: Variant detected in Houston’s wastewater

(NEW YORK) — As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.2 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 789,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Just 60% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Dec 06, 10:26 pm
Omicron detected in Houston’s wastewater, Houston Health Department reports

The omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been found in Houston’s wastewater, the Houston Health Department announced Monday night. “The detection is the first indication the new variant is in Houston, although a case has not yet been confirmed in the city,” the department said.

Wastewater samples collected between Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 showed omicron at eight of the city’s 39 wastewater treatment plants, and the genomic sequencing results confirming the variant were received Monday evening.

“The Houston Health Department and Houston Water continue to do an exceptional job tracking the impact of the virus in our community. While no specific case of the Omicron variant has been confirmed in an individual in the city of Houston, we should use this information as a reminder to get fully vaccinated, including a booster shot,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement. “Vaccines help protect us, our loved ones, friends, and colleagues in the work environment. As the holidays approach, I encourage everyone to remain vigilant about their health and safety.”

The health department said it routinely tests the city’s wastewater for COVID-19, including variants, and recently started testing samples for omicron, as “people infected with COVID-19 shed the virus in their feces.”

“The wastewater data helps to more quickly identify emerging outbreaks and hotspots needing interventions to help stop the spread of the virus,” the health department added.

Dec 06, 8:40 pm
CDC recommends people use rapid tests before indoor gatherings

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on COVID-19 testing and is advising people, even those who are vaccinated, to get a test before they head to an indoor gathering.

The agency said a rapid test ahead of a gathering is important if the gathering includes unvaccinated children and older people who are more vulnerable to COVID-19.

“Even if you don’t have symptoms and have not been exposed to an individual with COVID-19, using a self-test before gathering indoors with others can give you information about the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19,” the CDC said in its guidance.

-ABC News’ Anne Flaherty

Dec 06, 8:12 pm
Omicron detected in Harris County, Texas

Harris County, Texas, Judge Linda Hidalgo tweeted Monday night that the area recorded its first case of the omicron COVID-19 variant.

The judge shared few details about the case but said the patient was “a woman in her 40s from [north west] Harris County with no recent travel history.”

ABC News’ Scottye Kennedy

Dec 06, 6:05 pm
France shuts down night clubs as cases rise

French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that the country’s night clubs will be closed for four weeks starting Friday, amid rising cases in the country.

“We are doing this because the virus is spreading amongst young people, even those who are vaccinated, because it is extremely difficult to keep a mask on at these venues,” Castex said at a news conference Monday.

The decision came after the French Health Defense Council held a meeting to decide on what new health measures have to be taken to stop the spread of the virus in France.

Castex also announced that primary school students would have to wear face masks at recess and between classes — not only inside the classroom — starting Thursday.

France will not follow other European Union countries, like Germany and Italy, that are imposing restrictions on unvaccinated residents, the prime minister said.

ABC News’ Christine Theodorou

Dec 06, 5:57 pm
2nd omicron case detected in Los Angeles

Los Angeles health officials announced Monday a second case of the omicron variant was detected in the county.

The patient is a student at the University of Southern California, who was returning from a trip from the East Coast, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The student likely acquired the infection outside of LA county, health officials said in a statement.

“The individual is fully vaccinated, had mild symptoms, and is self-isolating,” the health department said in a statement.

Officials at USC said the student “did not attend classes or organized activities on campus during their infectious period.”

ABC News’ Bonnie McClean and Jen Watts

Dec 06, 3:17 pm
Northeast sees highest number of child cases since beginning of pandemic

Another 133,000 children tested positive for COVID-19 last week, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. Hospital admissions among children have also increased by 20% over the last week, according to federal data.

The Northeast is currently seeing its highest number of child cases since the beginning of pandemic, though the Midwest continues to see the highest number of pediatric cases.

Twenty million children ages 5 to 17 have received at least one vaccine dose, accounting for about 38.3% of that population.

Severe illness due to COVID-19 remains “uncommon” among children, the two organizations wrote in the report. However, AAP and CHA continue to warn that there is an urgent need to collect more data on the long-term consequences of the pandemic on children, “including ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its emotional and mental health effects.”

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