dr. US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned on Sunday that the Omicron surge in coronavirus cases had not yet reached a national peak, saying the coming weeks would be very difficult in many parts of the country as hospitalizations and deaths mount.
In an interview on DailyExpertNews’s “State of the Union,” Dr. Murthy picked up the “good news” of the plateaus and dips in known cases in the Northeast, especially in New York City and New Jersey.
But “the challenge is that the whole country is not moving at the same pace,” he said, adding “we should not expect a national peak in the coming days.”
“The next few weeks are going to be tough,” he said.
The highly contagious Omicron variant has led to an explosive increase in known cases, with an average of more than 800,000 new cases a day on Saturday, according to a DailyExpertNews database.
dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, also expressed concern that the coming weeks would overwhelm hospitals and staff. “Right now we are about 150,000 people hospitalized with Covid,” he said on Fox News Sunday. “That’s more than we’ve ever had. I expect those numbers to get significantly higher.”
In Kansas City, Mo., Omicron has been flooding hospitals since the holidays, city mayor Quentin Lucas said in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“We’ve seen incredible challenges in our healthcare network, even getting employees to work in our EMS services, fire departments and public safety,” said Mr. Lucas. “It’s a big concern.”
In addition, Omicron has sharply alleviated the long-standing lack of adequate testing supplies, with consumers now exhausting pharmacies with expensive 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 provide Americans with one billion rapid home coronavirus tests, limiting each household to four free tests. And new federal rules require private insurers to cover up to eight home tests per member per month.
But with delays hampering test orders and refund processes, Americans will likely be out of tests for weeks, which could be too late in some places where demand is high as infections spread.
“We’ve ordered too few test kits, so our testing capacity has lagged with each wave,” Tom Bossert, President Trump’s homeland security adviser, told ABC’s “This Week.” “It’s too little, too late, but remarkable for the next wave.”
While many people infected with Omicron have had no or mild symptoms, others — especially those who had not been vaccinated and those with chronic conditions — suffered from more serious illnesses that already overwhelmed hospitals in some states late last year.
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dr. Murthy disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision last week rejecting President Biden’s mandate for vaccines or testing for major employers, which would have applied to more than 80 million workers.
“Well, the news about the workplace requirement blocking was very disappointing,” said Dr. murthy. “It was a public health setback. For what these requirements are ultimately useful for is not only the protection of the community in general; but making our workplaces safer for both employees and customers.”
Nearly 63 percent of the US population is fully vaccinated, but only 38 percent of them have received a booster shot, which some believe should be the new definition of full vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not changed the definition of full vaccination, but recently said they consider three doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna’s vaccines “up-to-date,” as well as Johnson & Johnson’s injections of a second dose. , preferably Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech.
Last week, the CDC finally recognized that cloth masks don’t offer as much protection as a surgical mask or respirator, which some experts have urged the agency to recommend to the general public. The arrival of Omicron with its highly transferable speed forced public health officials to promote higher-end mask shields such as KN95 and N95 masks that provide more than 90 percent protection.
Confused and inconsistent messages from the CDC and other agencies have made it more difficult for Americans to understand the state of the virus and how to respond, said Dr. Jha on “Fox News Sunday”.
“I think the White House needs to get its reporting discipline together, make sure people speak from the same side,” said Dr. yah. While the science has changed, the coverage has “not kept up,” he added.
“Please get vaccinated,” said Dr. Murthy on ABC and recalled that the injections still provide good protection against serious illness. “It’s not too late yet.”