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The World Health Organization says a record 9.5 million COVID-19 cases were tallied over the last week as the omicron variant of the coronavirus swept the planet, a 71% increase from the previous 7-day period that the U.N. health agency likened to a “tsunami.” But there was a decrease in the number of new deaths recorded. “Last week, the highest number of COVID-19 cases were reported so far in the pandemic,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday. He said the WHO was certain that was an underestimate because of a backlog in testing around the year-end holidays. The U.N. health agency, in its weekly report on the pandemic, said the weekly count amounted to 9,520,488 new cases.

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The family of a retired school superintendent who died from an infection unrelated to COVID-19 believes he would have had a better chance of surviving had his transfer to a larger hospital not been delayed for 15 days by the coronavirus pandemic. Dale Weeks’ twin daughters told the Des Moines Register that said Weeks stayed at the relatively small hospital in Newton, west of Des Moines, because larger hospitals couldn’t spare a bed for him. Weeks died Nov. 28 at age 78. He'd been at a University of Iowa hospital since Nov. 17, but his arrival there from a smaller hospital in Newton had been delayed. 

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says the nation’s third-largest city will require proof of coronavirus vaccination at restaurants, bars, gyms and other indoor venues. Lightfoot said Tuesday that the requirement will take effect Jan. 3. It comes as the rapidly spreading omicron variant has led to a spike in COVID-19 infections. Lightfoot says she hasn't been as concerned about COVID-19 as she is now since the early days of the pandemic in 2020. On Monday, Illinois reported about 12,330 new COVID-19 cases, which is the highest daily total in more than a year. Chicago is seeing an average of 1,700 cases per day, up from about 300 per day just weeks ago. Much of that increase has been driven by the omicron variant, prompting fears of a winter surge.