WASHINGTON – The government of the United States announced this Thursday, the 13th, that it will distribute 500 million more tests, better quality masks to the population, in addition to sending the military to help hospitals in six American states that face peaks in cases of Covid-19 caused by the variant omicron. The country broke records followed by cases and hospitalizations.
the american president Joe Biden said he was directing his team to purchase an additional 500 million coronavirus tests for distribution to Americans, doubling the previous purchase as his government struggles to respond to the highly contagious variant. “That will mean a billion tests in total to meet future demand,” Biden said. “And we will continue to work with retailers and online sellers to increase availability.”
But it’s unclear when the tests will be available. Biden announced the first batch of 500 million just before Christmas, and the first batch of that announcement will not begin shipping until later this month, according to White House officials. Details on how Americans can apply for the exams, including a government-run testing website, are expected to be revealed on Friday.
The president did not say when the new batch of 500 million will be manufactured and ready for distribution. But he said home testing – along with more than 20,000 testing sites across the country – will help meet growing demand as people try to continue working, studying and socializing despite the rapid spread of the virus.
“We are on track to launch a website next week where you can order free tests to be shipped to your home,” he said, adding that people with medical insurance will also soon be able to be reimbursed for the purchase of up to eight tests a month.
Help for hospitals
In addition, the president said he is sending a total of 120 military medical personnel to six states where hospitals have been overrun by cases. He also promised to reveal plans next week to help Americans by providing free, high-quality masks that are better at preventing infection with the virus.
According to Biden, this announcement about sending aid to hospitals is just the beginning of deploying 1,000 military members to help doctors and nurses deal with an increase in Omicron cases.
The president appeared alongside Lloyd J. Austin III, secretary of defense, and Deanne Criswell, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, at the White House to detail teams heading to the hardest-hit locations across the country. Biden had already said late last month that he would turn to the military to help hospitals in early January.
New teams of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals would begin arriving at hospitals in Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island, the president said, to help triage patients arriving at hospitals, allowing for clearance of spaces in emergency departments.
Biden did not provide details on what he said was a plan to ensure Americans have access to high-quality masks. Experts said KN95 and N95 masks protect better against the Omicron variant than the more common cloth or surgical masks that many people use.
“As I’ve said for the past two years, please wear a mask. I think it’s part of your patriotic duty,” he said, acknowledging that “it’s not that comfortable, it’s a headache.”
Consecutive case records
The deployments are part of the Biden administration’s efforts to combat the latest outbreak of cases caused by the Ômicron variant. As the variant emerged, new cases increased, reaching more than 780,000 on average per day nationwide. Although it appears to cause a less serious illness, the number of Americans hospitalized with covid-19 also increased and hit a record of about 142,000.
Soon after the end of the year, the country began to record daily records of new cases, having even passed a million in a single day. The high number of people infected at the same time almost led to a collapse in the country’s services, as many workers began to be absent due to isolation.
The rise in the United States boosted the increase in the number of infections worldwide, which recorded 3.6 million cases last Wednesday, 12, according to Our World in Data. In the world, however, the increase in cases has not yet converted into an increase in hospitalizations and deaths.
In the United States, there was an increase in these indicators, although at much lower levels compared to infections. US health officials have highlighted that the majority of hospitalizations have been among unvaccinated people, especially children.
For Biden, the inability to control the pandemic has helped lower his approval ratings as he enters his second year in office. His advisers intend to publicly communicate their efforts to deal with the virus.
Since Thanksgiving, when the Omicron was first discovered in South Africa, the government has deployed more than 800 military personnel and emergency responders to 24 states and territories, officials said, not counting the personnel Biden announced on Thursday. -market.
In addition, more than 14,000 National Guard members have been activated in 49 states to help hospitals with vaccinations, testing and other medical services, officials said. These deployments were paid for by the American Rescue Plan, a law Biden championed early in his tenure.
At the same time, the Supreme Court from United States blocked the Biden administration on Thursday from demanding a vaccine or testing mandate for large employers., imposing a defeat on a key element of the White House plan to deal with the pandemic. But the court allowed a more modest mandate that requires health care workers at facilities that receive federal money to be vaccinated.
Possible start of fall in the curve
However, scientists have observed that infections appear to be stagnating in some American cities, reinforcing the suspicion that the Ômicron causes a faster wave. New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Tuesday that positive testing rates and the increase in cases appear to be slowing, particularly in New York City, which has emerged as an early epicenter of the variant.
“Cases are still high, we’re not at the end of it, but I want to say this is, for me, a glimmer of hope at a time when we desperately need it,” Hochul told a news conference.
Levels of coronavirus in Boston-area sewers are falling, a promising sign as high levels detected in these areas in the past anticipated record infections to come.
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has seen the rate of teachers testing positive during asymptomatic weekly screening drop from 25% in the week between Christmas and New Years to 2% in recent days.
“We really try not to make predictions about this virus, because they always put us in a loop,” said Shira Doron, an epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center. “But at least the sewers are suggesting a sharp decline, and so we expect this to mean that cases will also decline sharply, and then hospitalizations and deaths will follow.”
As Doron suggested, it’s too early to be sure that the Ômicron wave has peaked even in areas with encouraging data – which tend to be the places where the Ômicron first arrived in the US.
The same trend seems to be being observed in the United Kingdom, where there was also a record of consecutive records and the risk of collapse in services due to lack of workers. New Covid-19 cases have dropped to about 140,000 a day in the last week, after skyrocketing to more than 200,000 a day earlier this month, according to government data.
Figures from the UK’s National Health Service this week show that hospital admissions for coronavirus for adults have started to fall, with infections falling across all age groups.
But experts warn that there is still a lot of uncertainty about how the next phase of the pandemic could play out. The plateau in both countries is not happening everywhere at the same time or at the same pace. “There are still a lot of people who will be infected as we go down the curve,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, director of the University of Texas Covid-19 Modeling Consortium.AP, NYT and WP