The White House’s COVID-19 response team reminded Americans on Wednesday that there is a continuing need to slow its spread despite the Omicron version’s lack of seriousness and announced new efforts to help keep schools open.
As the Omicron variant continues to spread across the US, Dr. Rochelle Valensky stresses that wearing a mask, getting vaccinated, and undergoing COVID-19 testing when necessary are the best strategies to help lower cases of the virus .
The Omron version accounts for 98% of new COVID-19 cases in the US, said Valensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Earlier this week, the US recorded a record number of nearly 1.5 million daily infections. Made, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
“We must all do our part to protect our hospitals and our neighbors and reduce the spread of this virus,” Valensky said.
The White House team also announced that the Biden administration would distribute 10 million tests each month to schools across the country to ensure they remain open, more than doubling the amount of testing from last year.
Although the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, it tends to be less severe than the delta variant, with a lower risk of hospitalization and death.
Valensky cites a recent study comparing the two types, saying that Omicron infection was associated with a 91% reduction in the risk of death and a 74% reduction in the risk of ICU admission.
She also said that the risk of symptomatic hospitalization from infection with the variant was reduced by 53%.
While the risk of hospitalization remains low, according to Valensky, a “surprising increase in cases” has led to an increase in the number of hospitalizations in the country.
Still, she said, patients infected with Omicron are experiencing 71% shorter hospital stays than those infected with the Delta variant.
On average, Omicron patients are hospitalized for about 1.5 days and 90% of patients are expected to be discharged in three days or less.
As the surge continues, Valensky reiterated that variant cases are expected to peak in the coming weeks. She also said that there has been an increase in deaths, with more than 2,600 being reported by Johns Hopkins on Wednesday.
America’s top infectious-disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said the country will not be able to eliminate or eliminate COVID-19, but will “ultimately control it.” As the virus becomes endemic, it is likely that “virtually everyone is going to be exposed and possibly be infected,” he said.
However, he said, this does not mean that vaccination or preventive measures are ineffective or pointless. Fauci clarified that staying up to date with vaccinations and booster shots will prevent serious illness.
“If you’ve been vaccinated and if you’ve been promoted, your chances of getting sick are very small,” Fauci said.
To help fight the current surge, the White House team stressed that mitigation efforts are important, including the wearing of masks. While N95 masks have been shown to be most effective in resisting airborne transmission of the virus, the CDC still recommends that, for the time being, people choose the right mask for themselves, and that one wears a well-fitting mask. is better. without mask.
“We want to highlight that the best mask for you is the one that you can wear comfortably,” Valensky said.
White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeffrey D. Ziants was asked about finding masks and said the administration is “strongly looking at options to make more high-quality masks available to all Americans.”
As far as schools are concerned, the team said that along with increased testing, vaccinations and other mitigation efforts are the key to keeping students in the classroom.
Valensky said now that pediatric vaccines are available, schools should be able to continue operating as planned. She also reminded reporters that 99% of schools remained open in the fall during the boom in the Delta version.
“One of the best things we can do is vaccinate our children and our teens,” she said.