U.S. CDC cuts COVID-19 quarantine time

U.S. health authorities on Monday cut the recommended quarantine time for people with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic from 10 days to just five days, in an effort to help with staffing shortages and get students back to school as Omicron tears through the country.

The CDC also said people who have tested positive should wear a mask around others for five days following isolation.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday pledged to ramp up production of COVID-19 tests as the Omicron variant threatened to overwhelm hospitals, spoiling travel plans as it spread across the country.

BIDEN: "Seeing how tough it was for some folks to get a test this weekend shows that we have more work to do, and we're doing it."

Biden said his administration will use the Defense Production Act to boost at-home test manufacturing.

Breakthrough infections are rising among the fully vaccinated population, including those who have had a third booster shot.

The average number of new cases has surged 55% to over 200,000 new infections per day over the last week, according to a Reuters tally.

Biden warned governors that the spike in cases was likely to overwhelm some hospitals, stretching thin staff and equipment like ventilators, particularly in areas where fewer people are vaccinated. He told governors the administration would provide any additional resources they need.

BIDEN: "We're going to have your back in any way we can."

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Monday recommended the federal government consider a vaccine mandate for domestic air travel, after a holiday weekend marred by thousands of flight cancellations due largely to COVID-positive flights crews.

Fauci also urged people to keep New Year's Eve gatherings to family, and avoid large groups.

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