With available intensive care beds shrinking in several states, experts encourage Americans to stay vigilant and try to avoid Covid-19 as difficult weeks lie ahead.
Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, cautions that because increases in hospitalizations tend to lag spikes in overall cases, “the next three to four weeks are going to be tough” for the nation, which already has more than 156,000 people currently hospitalized with covid-19, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services on Sunday.
“I expect those numbers to increase substantially. The problem is that we are running out of a health care workforce, we don’t have the staff. So it’s going to be a challenge for many weeks,” Jha told Fox Sunday.
While early data from New York, one of the first flashpoints in this latest surge, shows promising developments: Its test positivity rate is 13%, down from a peak of 23% a couple of weeks ago, according to Governor Kathy Hochul. Omicron’s ongoing wave of infections is expected to peak at different times across the country.
Cases are leveling off and even declining in some regions, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said Sunday, but he warns that’s not the case everywhere.
“The challenge is that the whole country is not advancing at the same pace. The Omicron wave started later in other parts of the country, so we shouldn’t expect a national spike in the next few days,” Murthy told Jake Tapper on CNN. “State of the Union.”
The daily average of new recorded cases of Covid-19 topped 750,000 for the seventh day in a row on Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, meaning Americans at work, school and elsewhere face a higher risk of exposure. unprecedented during the pandemic. Additionally, the US averaged 1,796 Covid-19 deaths per day over the past week, according to JHU data.
Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said on Sunday that the benefits for those most at risk of severe illness from avoiding this surge means they will have a better ability to fight off the virus as the year progresses.
“I would rather have my accounts with Covid after I’ve been vaccinated multiple times, after there are widely accessible orally available drugs to treat this infection, after there are widely accessible monoclonal antibodies to treat it, after diagnostic tests are store”. Gottlieb told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“And those realities will be true this fall, certainly this summer. So I think people will be in a much better position to deal with this coming fall. I think we have to stay vigilant for the next few weeks, try to avoid this.” infection if you can,” he said.
As the virus spreads, school districts are struggling to keep classrooms open and some are instituting more safety measures to prevent a return to remote learning.
Chicago Public Schools, which canceled classes for days in a recent dispute with the teachers’ union that voted in favor of virtual learning, resumed in-person teaching last week after pledging to increase Covid-19 testing and provide masks. Higher quality KN95. .
Experts have stressed that there are more tools available at this stage of the pandemic than ever before to help keep schools open. Masks are one of the key ways to help mitigate the spread of Covid-19, and in Virginia, at least two school districts will continue to require mask wearing despite an executive order from the state’s newly elected governor that allows parents make decisions about whether their child wears a mask to school.
Beware of COVID-19 testing scams, state officials warn
The Biden administration is taking additional steps to expand access to COVID-19 tests, Murthy told CNN on Sunday, which has been hampered in recent months as supply fails to meet increased demand.
One billion Covid-19 tests will be available for people to order through a federal website starting Jan. 19, Murthy said, and 50 million tests have been shipped to community health centers around the world. country. Those with private insurance can now get up to eight tests per person per month, he added.
However, the current lack of availability of testing in some areas has provided an opportunity for scammers to prey on those in need. Attorneys general in Oregon, New Mexico and Illinois last week warned consumers about “pop-up” Covid-19 testing sites that may provide false results or steal personal information.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said Wednesday
that high demand for covid-19 tests “attracts bad actors and some companies trying to make a quick buck from the shadows.”
Residents should be “wary of pop-up testing sites that charge out-of-pocket fees, do not display logos, do not disclose the lab performing the test, are not affiliated with a well-known organization, or ask for sensitive information such as social security numbers, that’s not necessary for insurance,” Rosenblum said.
Study questions that end isolation after 5 days without a negative test
The availability of testing is critical to help slow the spread of COVID-19, not only to better determine if someone has contracted the virus, but also for those who have to find out later if they are negative and not infectious.
Current guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that people infected with Covid-19 can end isolation after five days if they have no symptoms, and that they should wear a mask around their eyes. others for at least five more days.
The best approach for a person with access to a test is to use it toward the end of their five-day isolation period, but testing is not required, according to CDC guidance.
But a new study into the infectivity of the Omicron variant finds that many people were still presumed to be infectious five days after their infections were initially detected, suggesting a more cautious approach may be warranted.
Researchers analyzed 10,324 COVID-19 test results from 537 NBA players and other league affiliates, finding 97 confirmed and suspected Omicron cases.
Among the 27 people who tested positive one or fewer days after a previous negative test, 52% were assumed to remain infectious five days after the infection was detected, the study found. And among 70 people who tested positive two or more days after a previous negative test, 39% were assumed to still be infectious five days after their infection was detected.
Regarding the study’s findings, one of the researchers, Nathan Grubaugh of the Yale School of Public Health
— said: “Finishing isolation on day 5 should include a negative rapid antigen test. Otherwise, isolation should be extended.”
Earlier this month, Gottlieb said that while a certain percentage of people may come out of isolation after five days and still be infectious, they are not “driving the pandemic.”
“I think what underlies the CDC’s recommendation is the recognition that this is an epidemic that is not being instigated, spread, so to speak, by people who are diagnosed, isolate themselves for five days and return to public circulation. on the sixth day,” Gottlieb said.
CNN’s John Bonifield, Eva McKend, Ryan Nobles, Laura Ly, Artemis Moshtaghian, Niah Humphrey and Meagon Whitehead contributed to this report.