The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 passed the 900,000-mark Friday, a tally President Joe Biden described in a statement as a “tragic milestone” fueled by the highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Biden said the victims were “beloved mothers and fathers, grandparents, children, brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends,” and urged vaccinations for all Americans.
“We now have more tools than ever before to save lives and fight this virus — with vaccines remaining our most important tool,” said Biden.
The U.S. death toll reached 900,000 less than two months after eclipsing 800,000, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
Russia reported a record high 177,282 daily infections Saturday as the omicron variant spreads throughout the country. Despite the surge, Russia’s consumer health watchdog said Friday the government would loosen some of its containment measures beginning Sunday, saying the requirements “have lost their reasoning” because of omicron.
The watchdog said as of Sunday, people will no longer need to self-isolate after contacting those infected with COVID-19.
The watchdog also said schools and nurseries in Moscow may halt isolation requirements for students beginning next week.
Austria’s compulsory vaccine program went into effect Saturday for everyone 18 and older. People not vaccinated face a heavy fine. Exemptions are limited to pregnant women, people who have contracted the virus in the past 180 days and people with medical conditions.
A mask mandate remains in place for seven Virginia school districts with an enrollment of over 350,000 students, following a judge’s ruling on Friday that blocked the mask- optional mandate signed by Governor Glenn Youngkin.
A spokesman for the governor said Youngkin will appeal the decision.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday he and his wife have tested positive for the omicron variant of the coronavirus. He said they were tested “after showing mild symptoms.” He said he would continue his work from home during their recovery.
The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported early Saturday that it has recorded nearly 392 million global COVID-19 infections and almost 6 million deaths. The center said over 10 billion shots have been administered.