As Omicron Soars, Biden Announces Hospital Relief, Free Tests

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Dec. 21, 2021 -- With the Omicron variant of the coronavirus blazing crossed the United States, President Joe Biden offered reassurance connected Tuesday to Americans who person followed nationalist wellness guidance to get vaccinated and boosted, and delivered a stark informing to those who haven’t.

“Because Omicron spreads truthful easily, we’ll spot immoderate afloat vaccinated radical get COVID. Potentially successful ample numbers,” the president said. “These cases are highly improbable to pb to superior illness. Vaccinated radical who get COVID whitethorn get ill, but they’re protected from terrible unwellness and death.”

But helium said the federation was not backmost to quadrate 1 with COVID-19.

“This is not March of 2020,” helium said.

In summation to the warning, Biden outlined plans to assistance the federation respond to Omicron, including the acquisition of 500 cardinal accelerated tests for at-home usage and subject assistance for stressed hospitals.

He said vaccinated radical should support their plans to observe the holidays, particularly if celebrating with different vaccinated people.

But helium cautioned the estimated 40 cardinal eligible Americans who stay unvaccinated.

“Omicron is superior and possibly deadly concern for unvaccinated people,” Biden said. “Some of you volition get precise sick.”

He said hospitals would proceed to beryllium dangerously stressed, some successful presumption of instrumentality and staffing.

To assistance easiness staffing shortages, Biden said helium had deployed six exigency effect teams including session unit and paramedics to six states: Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Arizona, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

He volition besides nonstop 1,000 subject doctors and nurses to overwhelmed facilities to easiness demands. He is besides activating the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Response Coordination Center to assistance with readying and logistics. He said captious supplies similar ventilators, masks, gowns, and gloves would besides beryllium offered.

Hospital advocates applauded the help.

“The Biden Administration’s announcement contiguous to deploy further aesculapian unit to COVID-burdened hospitals and stand-up caller wide vaccination sites crossed the state volition assistance alleviate immoderate of the load connected the nation’s already overwhelmed wellness attraction workforce,” said Gerald Harmon, MD, president of the American Medical Association.

Harmon urged each who were eligible to get vaccinated and boosted to further easiness the strain.

“We proceed to impulse the Administration to usage each disposable tools astatine their disposal and not permission immoderate resources oregon enactment connected the sidelines,” Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, said successful a written statement.

Week to week, cases of COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant person soared. Estimates by the CDC amusement Omicron causing astir 13% of cases successful the week ending Dec. 11. By Tuesday, Omicron was causing astir 74% of cases.

“I’ve worked successful infectious illness for 30 years. I’ve NEVER seen thing similar the velocity of Omicron,” erstwhile CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, posted connected Twitter.

For the archetypal coronavirus, the basal reproductive complaint -- the mean fig of radical infected arsenic contacts of a azygous lawsuit -- was 2.5. For the Delta variant, that fig roseate to astir 7. The basal reproductive complaint of Omicron may beryllium arsenic precocious arsenic 10.

On Tuesday, Biden acknowledged the federation was caught disconnected guard.

“I don’t deliberation anybody anticipated that this was going to beryllium arsenic rapidly spreading arsenic it did,” helium said.

He acknowledged that tests and investigating services were successful abbreviated supply.

“All of a sudden, it was similar everybody rushed to the counter. It was a big, large rush,” helium said.

He promised much tests would beryllium connected the way. He said caller investigating sites would beryllium opened successful areas of precocious request similar New York City, wherever radical person been waiting successful enactment for hours to get tested.

Biden announced helium would proceed to usage the Defense Production Act to easiness the proviso crunch for COVID-19 tests, purchasing 500 cardinal tests that would beryllium sent to Americans for escaped done a caller website, which hasn’t yet been launched.

Most of the details of who tin get the escaped tests, and however galore they tin get astatine a time, are inactive being worked out, White House property caput Jen Psaki said successful a briefing earlier the president’s speech.

Public argumentation experts cheered the announcement.

“The U.S. has been a small spot down the curve successful presumption not conscionable getting the tests out, but moving the investigating exertion on compared to European countries,” said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, a prof of wellness argumentation and absorption astatine George Washington University’s Milken School of Public Health.

The 500 cardinal further tests that were announced Tuesday are an other step, beyond the committedness made successful Biden’s wintertime plan, to person backstage insurers screen the costs of at-home tests.

“This feels similar a large measurement forward,” said Levi. “It remains to beryllium seen whether that accumulation capableness tin beryllium met.”

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