With the introduction of each new covid variant, a lot of us are beginning to wonder when or if the pandemic will ever end? And to be honest, there is no correct answer to that question just yet. But we do have the answers to a lot of other questions we didn’t have before, which will hopefully help us get a grasp on the latest variant.
Covid cases this week
The Omicron variant caused 98.3% of new coronavirus cases in the United States last week, according to estimates posted Tuesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On Monday, January 11th, the United States reported 1.35 million new coronavirus infections, which sets the record for the highest daily total of new infections for any country in the world. Even the 7-day average for cases has tripled to over 700,000 new infections a day in just two weeks.
Dr. Anthony Fauci this week said, “Omicron, with its extraordinary, unprecedented degree of efficiency of transmissibility, will ultimately find just about everybody…Those who have been vaccinated … and boosted would get exposed. Some, maybe a lot of them, will get infected but will very likely, with some exceptions, do reasonably well in the sense of not having hospitalization and death.”
Even though the Omicron variant is spreading like wildfire throughout the United States, the risk of going to the hospital because of Omicron is 40% less than that of its predecessor, the Delta variant. Furthermore, most people who have been infected with the Omicron variant and require hospitalization are unvaccinated.
While the Omicron variant is less severe than Delta, health officials are concerned that the overflowing number of new infections every day will strain hospital systems. Some have already started to suspend elective procedures as they struggle with an increase in patients and staff shortages.
A glimmer of hope for covid and new variants
Although at times it may seem like there isn’t any hope, experts and scientists have agreed that there is a silver lining to the Omicron surge. Many are beginning to believe that COVID-19 will evolve into something more like a common cold over the next few years. With most of the population getting infected, they think this will leave a blanket of enhanced immunity, making the virus easier to live with.
Other experts believe the Omicron surge will peak in the next few weeks and to expect much fewer cases in the following months. If a long-term strategy is developed to manage the virus, many healthcare leaders think we will be able to go back to normal without feeling like we are bouncing from surge to surge.
What can you do to stay safe from the Omicron variant
Across the United States, at least one in five eligible Americans — roughly 65 million people– are not vaccinated against Covid-19. More than 62% of the country has been fully vaccinated, but only 23% are fully vaccinated and boosted, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The best thing you can do for your family, friends, and fellow community members is get vaccinated. And if you are vaccinated but have not received your booster, it is strongly advisable to get it.
Additionally, this week the Biden administration put into effect a guidance on Saturday (1/15/22) that requires private health insurers to cover up to 8 at-home COVID-19 tests a month on their plan. They announced the change in order to alleviate costs for tests while making testing more convenient as frustration arises with the lack of availability and reasonable prices. More convenient ways to attain testing methods and vaccinating our communities is the best way to end this pandemic.
Coverage requirements under this policy apply to OTC (over-the-counter) COVID-19 tests that do not require a health care provider’s order or individualized clinical assessment under the applicable FDA authorization, clearance, or approval. This means self-administered and self-read tests that do not go to a lab for processing.
To learn more about Biden’s new guidance published alongside the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and the Treasury for private health insurers, visit our FAQ.
Stay safe and don’t forget to mask up & social distance when necessary!