As Omicron Soars, Biden Pronounces Hospital Reduction, Free Assessments

Dec. 21, 2021 — With the Omicron variant of the coronavirus blazing throughout the US, President Joe Biden provided reassurance on Tuesday to Individuals who’ve adopted public well being steerage to get vaccinated and boosted, and delivered a stark warning to those that haven’t.

“As a result of Omicron spreads so simply, we’ll see some absolutely vaccinated individuals get COVID. Probably in giant numbers,” the president stated. “These circumstances are extremely unlikely to result in critical sickness. Vaccinated individuals who get COVID might get ailing, however they’re shielded from extreme sickness and dying.”

However he stated the nation was not again to sq. one with COVID-19.

“This isn’t March of 2020,” he stated.

Along with the warning, Biden outlined plans to assist the nation reply to Omicron, together with the acquisition of 500 million speedy checks for at-home use and navy assist for harassed hospitals.

He stated vaccinated individuals ought to maintain their plans to rejoice the vacations, particularly if celebrating with different vaccinated individuals.

However he cautioned the estimated 40 million eligible Individuals who stay unvaccinated.

“Omicron is critical and maybe lethal enterprise for unvaccinated individuals,” Biden stated. “A few of you’ll get very sick.”

He stated hospitals would proceed to be dangerously harassed, each when it comes to gear and staffing.

To assist ease staffing shortages, Biden stated he had deployed six emergency response groups together with clinic personnel and paramedics to 6 states: Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Arizona, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

He may even ship 1,000 navy medical doctors and nurses to overwhelmed amenities to ease calls for. He’s additionally activating the Federal Emergency Administration Company and the Nationwide Response Coordination Heart to assist with planning and logistics. He stated crucial provides like ventilators, masks, robes, and gloves would even be provided.

Hospital advocates applauded the assistance.

“The Biden Administration’s announcement as we speak to deploy extra medical personnel to COVID-burdened hospitals and stand-up new mass vaccination websites throughout the nation will assist alleviate among the burden on the nation’s already overwhelmed well being care workforce,” stated Gerald Harmon, MD, president of the American Medical Affiliation.

Harmon urged all who had been eligible to get vaccinated and boosted to additional ease the pressure.

“We proceed to induce the Administration to make use of all obtainable instruments at their disposal and never go away any assets or assist on the sidelines,” Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Affiliation, stated in a written assertion.

Week to week, circumstances of COVID-19 attributable to the Omicron variant have soared. Estimates by the CDC present Omicron inflicting roughly 13% of circumstances within the week ending Dec. 11. By Tuesday, Omicron was inflicting about 74% of circumstances.

“I’ve labored in infectious illness for 30 years. I’ve NEVER seen something just like the pace of Omicron,” former CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, posted on Twitter.

For the unique coronavirus, the fundamental reproductive charge — the typical variety of individuals contaminated as contacts of a single case — was 2.5. For the Delta variant, that quantity rose to round 7. The essential reproductive charge of Omicron could also be as excessive as 10.

On Tuesday, Biden acknowledged the nation was caught off guard.

“I don’t assume anyone anticipated that this was going to be as quickly spreading because it did,” he stated.

He acknowledged that checks and testing companies had been in brief provide.

“Unexpectedly, it was like all people rushed to the counter. It was a giant, large rush,” he stated.

He promised extra checks can be on the way in which. He stated new testing websites can be opened in areas of excessive demand like New York Metropolis, the place individuals have been ready in line for hours to get examined.

Biden introduced he would proceed to make use of the Protection Manufacturing Act to ease the provision crunch for COVID-19 checks, buying 500 million checks that will be despatched to Individuals at no cost by way of a brand new web site, which hasn’t but been launched.

A lot of the particulars of who can get the free checks, and what number of they’ll get at a time, are nonetheless being labored out, White Home press secretary Jen Psaki stated in a briefing earlier than the president’s speech.

Public coverage consultants cheered the announcement.

“The U.S. has been slightly bit behind the curve in phrases not simply getting the checks out, however shifting the testing expertise alongside in comparison with European international locations,” stated Jeffrey Levi, PhD, a professor of well being coverage and administration at George Washington College’s Milken Faculty of Public Well being.

The five hundred million extra checks that had been introduced Tuesday are an additional step, past the promise made in Biden’s winter plan, to have personal insurers cowl the prices of at-home checks.

“This seems like a serious step ahead,” stated Levi. “It stays to be seen whether or not that manufacturing capability may be met.”

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