The organization behind the Grammys on Wednesday postponed the music awards gala scheduled for Jan. 31 due to “uncertainty surrounding the Omicron variant” of COVID-19 that has ripped through the United States in recent weeks.
Minutes later, the prestigious Sundance film festival — which was set to begin Jan. 20 in Park City, Utah — announced it was shifting all of its premieres and events online, a move it deemed necessary “despite the most ambitious protocols.”
In a statement, the Recording Academy said that “holding the show on Jan. 31 simply contains too many risks,” and it would announce a rescheduled date “soon.”
The heavily mutated Omicron variant, the most transmissible to date, accounted for around 95 percent of US cases in the week ending Jan. 1.
The wave that began in December has cases running at nearly 500,000 a day in the United States, according to the latest CDC figures, with new hospitalizations also rising — though numbers of new deaths have remained largely flat, likely due in part to vaccine availability.
The Omicron variant is also milder than previous variants, raising hopes the virus could be evolving into a relatively benign seasonal illness.
Still, the World Health Organization in Europe has sounded an ominous note of caution on Tuesday, warning the soaring infection rates could have the opposite effect.