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Tuesday, January 18, 2022
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U.S. airlines cancel some flights, as most Americans go ahead with holiday plans

U.S. airlines canceled hundreds of flights on Christmas Eve (December 24) amid a surge in COVID-19 infections driven by the Omicron variant, but millions of Americans carried on with travel plans through a second pandemic-clouded holiday season.

United Airlines and Delta Air Lines both canceled dozens of Christmas Eve flights because of staff shortages amid the surge in infections.

Delta canceled 138 flights and United Airlines canceled 170 flights, data from the website FlightAware showed as of 9:22 a.m. Eastern Time (1422 GMT). More than 2,000 flights globally were scrapped, with 448 cancellations within, into, or out of the United States.

But most flights went ahead, as many Americans put aside their concerns over infection and plowed ahead with their plans.

COVID-19 infections have surged in the United States in recent days due to Omicron, which was first detected in November and now accounts for nearly three-fourths of U.S. cases and as many as 90 percent in some areas, such as the Eastern seaboard.

The average number of new COVID infections has risen 37 percent to 165,000 per day over the past week, according to a Reuters tally.

At least six states – Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Ohio – all set one-day records for new cases this week, according to the Reuters tally.

While Americans scrambled for COVID-19 tests and weighed varying public health guidance about how to gather safely, many were determined to enjoy some semblance of holiday celebrations and tradition.

The Transportation Security Administration on Wednesday screened 2,081,297 passengers through the nation’s airports, an increase of 144,000 over the number of travelers it screened pre-pandemic on the same date in 2019.

In-person Christmas services will be held at all churches and parishes in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, which includes more than 2.5 million worshipers across 10 counties, spokesperson Joseph Zwilling said.

(Production: Deborah Lutterbeck)

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