US surgeon general warns that Omicron has not yet peaked

17/1/2022 12:59:00 AM

US surgeon general warns that Omicron has not yet peaked

https://str.sg/wQmmWASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - Dr Vivek Murthy, the US surgeon general, on Sunday (Jan 16) warned that the Omicron surge of coronavirus cases had not yet peaked nationally, saying that the next few weeks would be very difficult in many parts of the country as hospitalisations and deaths 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 that"we shouldn't expect a national peak in the coming days."

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Copy to clipboard https://str.Copy to clipboard https://str.LinkedIn WASHINGTON: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday (Jan 14) revised its guidance for Americans on wearing masks to protect against COVID-19, recommending donning"the most protective mask you can" while stopping short of advocating nationwide usage of N95 respirators.Copy to clipboard https://str.

sg/wQmm WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - Dr Vivek Murthy, the US surgeon general, on Sunday (Jan 16) warned that the Omicron surge of coronavirus cases had not yet peaked nationally, saying that the next few weeks would be very difficult in many parts of the country as hospitalisations and deaths 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. In Chicago, the nation's third-largest school district, the walkout came two days after in-classroom instruction resumed for 340,000 students who were idled during a five-day work stoppage by unionised teachers pressing for tougher Covid-19 safeguards. But"the challenge is that the entire country is not moving at the same pace," he said, adding that"we shouldn't expect a national peak in the coming days. N95 masks may be considered for use in places like transit"when greater protection is needed or desired", it added." "The next few weeks will be tough," he said. "I think CPS is listening, but I'm not sure they'll make a change," said Jaden Horten, a junior at Jones College Prep High School, during a rally at district headquarters that drew around a thousand students. The highly contagious Omicron variant has fuelled an explosive surge of known cases, with an average of more than 800,000 new cases a day reported on Saturday, according to a New York Times database. "Masking is a critical public health tool to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and it is important to remember that any mask is better than no mask," the CDC said.

Dr Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, also expressed concerns that the next several weeks would overwhelm hospitals and staff. About 600 young people from 11 Boston schools participated in student walkouts there, according to the school district, which serves nearly 52,000 pupils. President Joe Biden said on Thursday that the federal government plans to make"high-quality masks" available to Americans for free. "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. An online petition started by a Boston high school senior branding schools a"Covid-19 breeding ground" and calling for a remote learning option had collected more than 8,000 signatures as of Friday morning. I expect those numbers to get substantially higher. It said that"loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection." In addition, Omicron has brought into sharp relief the long-standing lack of adequate testing supplies, with consumers now depleting pharmacies of costly rapid tests - a boxed set of two tests ranges from US$14 to US$24 (S$19-S$32) - and creating long lines at testing sites. The latest wave of infections has renewed the debate over whether to keep schools open, as officials seek to balance fears about the highly contagious Omicron variant with concerns that children could fall further behind academically after two years of stop-and-start instruction. The Omicron surge appears to be slowing in areas that were hit first, including Northeastern and Southern states, according to a Reuters analysis.

The federal government has promised to distribute 1 billion rapid at-home coronavirus tests to Americans, limiting each household to request four free tests. And new federal rules require private insurers to cover up to eight at-home tests per member a month. Ash O'Brien, a 10th-grade student at Boston Latin School who left the building with about a dozen others on Friday, said he didn't feel safe staying in school. More Americans have been recently opting for higher-grade protection amid the surge in cases. But with the test orders and reimbursement processes hampered by delays, Americans will probably not have tests in hand for weeks, which may be too late in some places where demand is high as infections spread. "We've ordered too few testing kits, so our testing capacity has continued to lag behind each wave," Tom Bossert, homeland security adviser to then-President Donald Trump, said on ABC's"This Week."So I don't want to go to school, risk getting sick and come home to them.""It's too little and too late, but noteworthy for the next wave. In Western states, the number of new cases climbed 89 per cent in the past week compared with the previous week. Los Angeles County, the nation's most populous, on Monday will require some employers to provide"medical-grade" masks - surgical masks, KF94, KN95s or N95s - to workers at high risk of contracting a Covid-19 infection on the job.

" Although 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. Earlier this week, students at several New York City schools staged a walkout to protest what they said were inadequate safety measures. Dr Murthy disagreed with the Supreme Court's decision last week that rejected President Joe 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. Nearly 5,000 public schools across the country have closed for at least one day this week due to the pandemic, according to Burbio, a website that tracks school disruptions. The CDC said this week 99."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. PHOTO: AFP The Omicron surge appears to be slowing in areas of the country that were hit first. In December, the Biden administration announced it would extend a mandate on wearing masks on airplanes, trains and public transit and in airports and other transit hubs through March 18.

" Nearly 63 per cent of the US population is fully vaccinated, but only 38 per cent of those have received a booster shot, which some have argued should be the new definition of full vaccination. N95 masks that are worn correctly will filter out at least 95 per cent of particulate matter in the air, preventing anything larger than 0. The Centres 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. In Western states, by contrast, the average number of infections documented every day has climbed 89% in the past week compared with the previous week. Last week, the CDC finally acknowledged that cloth masks do not offer as much protection as a surgical mask or respirator, which some experts have urged the agency to recommend for the general public. "Please, please get vaccinated," Dr Murthy said on ABC, issuing a reminder that the shots still provide good protection against severe illness. More On This Topic. Masks remain polarising."It's still not too late.5 per cent of US counties are covered by the mask recommendation.

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