1m infections recorded in single day as Omicron delays thousands of schools reopening

More than one million daily Covid infections were recorded in the US on Monday, setting a new global record which has seen thousands of American schools delaying the return to classrooms.

An explosion of cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant saw the total rise from 55,114,057 on Monday morning to 56,190,946 by midnight, the highest increase that any country has ever reported in 24 hours.

The figure smashed the country’s previous record of about 590,000 set just four days prior. Outside of the US, the highest number of daily confirmed cases came during India’s Delta surge, when more than 414,000 people were diagnosed in May last year.

Cars wait in line at a Covid testing site at Zoo Miami in Florida (Photo: Rebecca Blackwell/AP)

Florida reported 85,707 cases on Monday, the largest increase of newly reported cases since the pandemic began in March 2020. Cases in the state have risen by nearly 850 per cent in two weeks, according to analysis by CNN.

The record cases comes after a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, in Florida, temporarily closed its maternity ward due to staff shortages, telling expectant mothers to find another hospital.

“People are out sick due to the surge in Covid cases,” Holy Cross Health spokeswoman Christine Walker told NBC Miami on Sunday. 

The nationwide surge in cases has affected all aspects of daily American life, with schools closed, worker shortages, cancelled flights and overwhelmed hospitals.

Schools in cities including Milwaukee, Cleveland and Detroit have either implemented online learning or cancelled school altogether, citing both staff shortages and Omicron concerns.

However, New York City, home of the nation’s largest school system, decided to reopen classrooms to roughly one million students with a stockpile of Covid test kits for children to take home and plans to double the number of tests done in schools.

Children arrive at a school in the Bronx borough of New York City (Photo: Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

“We are going to keep our schools open and ensure that our children are in a safe environment,” said the newly sworn in mayor, Eric Adams.

New York mother Trisha White said that she feels the risk is the same for her nine-year-old son in or out of school.

“He could get the virus outside of school,” she told Associated Press.

“So what can you do? You know, I wouldn’t blame the school system. They’re trying their best.”

Hospitals in Maryland, Ohio, Delaware and Washington DC, are all at or near record Covid admission rates.

More on Omicron variant

Staffing shortages due to Covid and a snowstorm moving through the eastern US have created further travel woes, with more than 3,000 flights cancelled on Monday, according to the tracking website FlightAware.

The high infection rates and resulting worker shortages delayed rubbish collection in New Orleans and suspended jury trials in several Colorado counties.

Some libraries on New York’s Long Island and a ski resort in New Hampshire have also had to close. 

Last week, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cut the recommended self-isolation period from 10 days to five.

CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky said: “We want to make sure there is a mechanism by which we can safely continue to keep society functioning while following the science.”

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