(Reuters) – JetBlue Airways Corp is reducing its schedule through Jan. 13 by about 1,280 flights due to a surge in crew members falling sick from the Omicron coronavirus variant, a spokesperson for the airline told Reuters on Thursday. 

  Carriers have been canceling hundreds of flights every day in the United States since Christmas Eve as they grapple with staff shortages due to COVID-19 infections and bad weather in parts of the country. 

  "We expect the number of COVID cases in the northeast – where most of our crewmembers are based – to continue to surge for the next week or two," JetBlue's spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "This means there is a high likelihood of additional cancellations until case counts start to come down." 

  COVID-19 cases in the United States have been hitting new highs in the past few days, with the average number of daily confirmed cases touching a new record of 258,312 over the past seven days, a Reuters tally showed on Wednesday. 

  The Wall Street Journal reported JetBlue's move late on Wednesday. 

  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this week said it was not currently considering a vaccine mandate for domestic flights. It later shortened the recommended isolation time for Americans with asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 to five days from a previous guidance of 10 days. 

  (Reporting by Anirudh Saligrama in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.) 

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