Dr. Vivek Muthy, the U.S. surgeon-general, warned Sunday that the Omicron surge in coronavirus cases has not yet reached its peak nationally. He said that it would be difficult for many areas of the country to recover over the next few weeks as hospitalizations and death rise.
In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Dr. Murthy noted the “good news” of the plateaus and drops in known cases in the Northeast, especially in New York City and New Jersey.
But “the challenge is that the entire country is not moving at the same pace,” he said, adding “we shouldn’t expect a national peak in the coming days.”
“The next few weeks will be tough,” he said.
According to the New York Times database, Omicron variant is highly contagious and has caused an explosion in known cases. On average, there are more than 800,000. New cases reported every Saturday.
Dr. Ashish Jha is the dean of Brown University School of Public Health. He also expressed concern that hospitals and staff would be overwhelmed in the coming weeks. “Right now we’re at about 150,000 people in the hospital with Covid,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “That’s more than we’ve ever had. I expect those numbers to get substantially higher.”
In addition, Omicron has brought into sharp relief the longstanding lack of adequate testing supplies, with consumers now depleting pharmacies of costly rapid tests — a boxed set of two tests ranges from $14 to $24 — and creating long lines at testing sites.
The federal government has pledged to give one billion rapid at home coronavirus tests to Americans. Each household can request four tests free of charge. A new federal rule requires private insurers to cover eight at-home tests per month for members.
The delays in the reimbursement and test order processes mean that Americans won’t have their tests in hand for several weeks. This may be too late in some cases where demand is high due to infections spreading.
“We’ve ordered too few testing kits, so our testing capacity has continued to lag behind each wave,” Tom Bossert, the homeland security adviser to President Trump, said on ABC’s “This Week.” “It’s too little and too late, but noteworthy for the next wave.”
While many people infected with Omicron have had no or mild symptoms, others — especially those who were not vaccinated and those with chronic conditions — suffered more serious illnesses that were already overwhelming hospitals in some states late last year.
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Dr. Murthy disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision last week that rejected President Biden’s vaccine-or-testing mandate for large employers that would have applied to more than 80 million workers.
“Well, the news about the workplace requirement being blocked was very disappointing,” Dr. Murthy said. “It was a setback for public health. Because what these requirements ultimately are helpful for is not just protecting the community at large; but making our workplaces safer for workers as well as for customers.”
Nearly 63% of the U.S. populace is fully vaccinated. However only 38% of those who have received booster shots have been vaccinated. Some argue that this should be the new definition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not changed the definition of full vaccination, but said recently it considers three doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna’s vaccines to be “up-to-date,” as well as Johnson & Johnson’s shots with a second dose, preferably of Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech.
The C.D.C. acknowledged last week that cloth masks do not offer the same protection as a surgical mask or respirator. Last week, the C.D.C. acknowledged that cloth masks are not as effective as surgical masks or respirators. Some experts have asked the agency to make this recommendation for the public.
“Please, please get vaccinated,” Dr. Murthy said on ABC, issuing a reminder that the shots still provide good protection against severe illness. “It’s still not too late.”
Source: NY Times