During this holiday season, over 7,000 flights were delayed or canceled as the nation continues to face an increase in the omicron-driven coronavirus surge. According to FlightAware, approximately 1,400 flights entering, leaving or flying within the U.S. were canceled and more than 5,000 were delayed on Sunday.
On Christmas, nearly 4,000 flights were either delayed or canceled as holiday travelers were left scrambling. Delta, United, and JetBlue blamed the omicron variant for staffing issues that caused the flight cancellations.
As the airlines stepped up their schedules, they have been plagued with flight delays and cancellations. Thousands of employees were driven away from the industry when the air travel industry collapsed and staffing shortages have continued to plague the airlines. Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC's This Week that he supports a vaccine mandate for domestic air travel. However, he said that wearing a mask with a proper filtration system would keep travelers reasonably safe. A new mandate would be another mechanism to convince many to get vaccinated. Fauci believes the omicron variant will cause daily infections to rise much higher across the U.S.
While studies have shown the omicron variant is less severe in terms of hospitalization, an increase in cases could overwhelm hospitals. As the cases rise, Fauci wishes he ordered 500 million at-home tests two months ago.
The newest wave of the virus is hitting hospitals hard in certain parts of the country. Washington D.C. has reported 77% more Covid patients in hospital beds and 42% more in intensive-care beds than a week prior. Covid hospitalizations in Louisiana doubled in the last week.
Right now many airlines are requiring their employees to be fully vaccinated, causing controversy among their staff. The case count continues to grow, an average of 184,000 per day. As the country deals with the omicron variant, America's hopeful return to the office has altered companies' plans, forcing a delay to return to the office.