American Coronavirus: Finding a Covid-19 test is a struggle right now in the United States as Omicron and vacation plans collide

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With millions of people traveling or planning to join large family reunions, there is a rush to get tested – and many people are unlucky, either taking tests in clinics. or by purchasing home test kits.

Long lines were seen this week in New York, Boston and Miami, as well as Ohio and Minnesota.

Demand will only grow, said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

“We have testing. But what we’ll need, I think, over the next two to eight weeks is going to be remarkable. We’re going to see this big increase nationwide,” he predicted.

And while the Biden administration plans to deliver 500 million new tests by next month, the wave of holiday testing is happening now.

A former deputy secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services is concerned that co-engagement on testing may not meet demand, he said.

“Unless we have a billion or 2 billion a month, I think we will always have to be selective to make sure that we are preventing the people who may die from the disease from dying from the disease,” the admiral said. Dr Brett Giroir. told CNN.

As experts demand greater availability of tests, doctors get another tool to fight Covid-19: The United States Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday cleared Pfizer’s antiviral pill, Paxlovid, to treat the disease.

It is the first Covid-19 antiviral pill allowed for sick people to take at home, before they get sick enough to be hospitalized. It is permitted for persons 12 years of age and over weighing at least 88 pounds.

Paxlovid is a combination of a new antiviral drug called nirmatrelvir and an older one called ritonavir. Pfizer released updated results last week that showed the treatment reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% if given to high-risk adults within days of their first symptoms. If administered within the first five days of symptoms, the efficacy was similar: 88%.

Covid-19 cases in the United States are on the rise: the country has recorded an average of more than 148,000 new cases per day over the past week, 23% more than a week ago and back to the levels last seen in mid-September, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The Omicron variant has been identified in all US states, in addition to Washington, DC and Puerto Rico, according to public statements from hospital systems and state officials in their respective states.

More than 69,700 Covid-19 patients were in US hospitals as of Wednesday – a number that has tended to increase since it fell to around 45,000 on November 8, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services .

The United States has recorded an average of 1,324 Covid-19 deaths per day over the past week, 11% more than a week earlier, according to Johns Hopkins.

Residents line up to receive free Covid-19 home test kits on Tuesday in Chelsea, Massachusetts.

Hospital beds are scarce in some parts of the country

The increase in the number of cases has also resulted in a shortage of hospital beds in some pockets of the country.

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In Delaware, the ChristianaCare Hospital is operating at more than 100% of its capacity, often reaching 110 to 115%, said its president, Sharon Kurfuerst.

“There are patients receiving care in the hallways because that’s the only place we have to put them in the emergency room right now,” she said.

Many people who have delayed treatment for almost two years for health issues unrelated to Covid-19 are currently in need of medical attention, Kurfuerst added.

“This, made worse by the number of Covid patients we see today, is really straining our health system and our resources,” she said.

In Ohio, six Cleveland-area hospitals ran an ad page in the local newspaper on Sunday, begging for help.

“We need your help,” read the ad. “We now have more COVID-19 patients in our hospitals than ever before. And the overwhelming majority are not vaccinated. “

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Getting vaccinated is the most effective tool for preventing serious illness. As of Tuesday, nearly 62 percent of the U.S. population had been fully immunized, while just over 30 percent had received a booster, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

People who have already been infected with Covid-19 and are not vaccinated “should not assume that they are protected against Omicron,” US surgeon general Vivek Murthy said on Tuesday.

“It’s not enough to be able to come to a family reunion and say, ‘It’s as good as being vaccinated,'” Murthy told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “So if you are not vaccinated, it is more urgent than ever to get vaccinated. If you are vaccinated, please get a boost.”

As U.S. health officials urge vaccinations and boosters, Israel is rolling out a fourth dose of the vaccine for certain people: people aged 60 and over, medical workers, and people with weakened immune systems.

In Israel, people eligible for the fourth dose can receive it if at least four months have passed since the third dose, the country’s prime minister’s office said. Almost every citizen vaccinated in this country has received the Pfizer / BioNTech mRNA vaccine.

As to whether the United States could possibly switch to a fourth dose, CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky told CNN this:

“Certainly when we see the science, we will consider that we absolutely consider it,” she said on “AC360” on Tuesday. “Right now we’re working to make sure our vaccinated people get (a) booster – we really want to make sure people get a boost.”

In the United States, Covid-19 vaccine boosters mean a third injection for people who initially received two doses of an mRNA vaccine – those made by Pfizer / BioNTech or Moderna – or a second injection for those who received a single Johnson & Johnson dose. Adults can be boosted with any of three brands of vaccine, regardless of which brand they received initially; Young people aged 16 and 17 are only eligible to receive the Pfizer booster.

Local authorities impose new rules to tackle surges

Some local officials are again imposing new regulations to curb the spread of the virus.

In Chicago, customers of most businesses that serve food or drink must show proof of vaccination starting Jan. 3, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. The measure will apply to all customers over 5 years of age in restaurants, bars, gymnasiums, theaters and other entertainment and sports venues that serve food and drink.

Cleveland area hospitals battling latest wave of Covid-19 ran an ad in a local newspaper that reads: 'Help'

“The unvaccinated affects the health, well-being and livelihoods of everyone else,” Lightfoot said. “To control the spread, we need to limit the risk.”

Miami-Dade County in Florida is reinstating a mask mandate in county buildings, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said on Wednesday.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has also decided to reinstate the city’s indoor mask mandate, while the Massachusetts Department of Public Health recommends that all residents wear a mask indoors when they are are not at home, regardless of their immunization status, officials said on Tuesday.

And in New York City, the police department is seeing an increase in the number of officers calling in sick, including fully vaccinated officers, according to figures shared with CNN by a senior NYPD official.

Covid-19 isolation period could be reduced

Amid the latest wave, authorities are considering shortening the isolation period to 10 days for those who test positive, especially health workers, Dr Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday.
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“For example, if you get a healthcare worker who is infected and without any symptoms, you don’t want to keep that person unemployed for too long… especially if we have a run on hospital beds and the need for it. health workers, ”said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The isolation period is also affecting airline staff, prompting Delta Air Lines officials to ask the CDC to reduce the period to five days as Christmas approaches – adding that more than 90% of its workforce are vaccinated.

Authorities are carrying out an analysis to determine whether it is safe to shorten the period of isolation, Murthy said.

CNN’s Melissa Alonso, Amanda Sealy, Jason Hanna, Oren Liebermann, Artemis Moshtaghian, Jennifer Henderson, Pervaiz Shallwani, Mark Morales, Ben Tinker, Gregory Lemos and Naomi Thomas contributed to this report.


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