By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Biden administration is implementing new travel rules to help combat the spread of the omicron variant, which is just now starting to take hold in the states.

Beginning Monday, all travelers flying into the U.S. will have one more thing to do before boarding their flights.

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Everyone aged 2 and up will need a negative COVID test at least 24 hours prior to takeoff.

Previously, you had 72 hours to get tested. The rules cover vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers, and they also apply to U.S. citizens as well as foreign visitors.

So far, there have been zero deaths reported as a result of omicron.

“Thus far, it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it.  But we’ve really got to be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or really doesn’t cause any severe illness comparable to Delta,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said on CNN.

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As of now, all of the cases in the U.S. have been mild, but the variant is already in 17 states and its spread is just getting started.

“Really, what we’re going to see is over the next three or four weeks, a dramatic increase in the number of cases of omicron.  And it’s a perfect storm, right?  The weather getting colder, people getting together for the holidays,” said CBS News Medical Contributor Dr. David Agus.

While scientists say there is still much to learn about omicron, the early indications out of South Africa are that being vaccinated and boosted is the best defense.

“If you get boosted, you’re going to get your level up, way up, and we feel certain that there will be some degree and maybe a considerable degree of protection against the Omicron variant if, in fact, it starts to take hold in a dominant way in this country,” said Dr. Fauci.

New York May Bill de Blasio announced Monday morning that beginning December 27 all private businesses in the city will need to require their employees be vaccinated.

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Mayor de Blasio says he’s confident his mandate will survive the legal challenges which are sure to come. Team