White House's omicron plan alone can't prevent winter surge, health experts say

Public health officials say actions the White House announced this week to address the omicron variant's spread will not prevent COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations from increasing over the next few weeks, The New York Times reported Dec. 21.

President Joe Biden announced several new pandemic response measures Dec. 21, including the distribution of 500 million free at-home COVID-19 tests for Americans and the use of 1,000 military medical professionals to support overburdened hospitals nationwide. 

However, some public health experts have expressed concern that omicron, which is spreading faster than any other COVID-19 variant, cannot be contained without more aggressive measures.

"I still can't quite wrap my head around how quickly this is moving," Joseph Fauver, PhD, a genomic epidemiologist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, told the Times. "I think it's going to be really bad. I don't know how else to put it."

Saskia Popescu, PhD, an infection prevention epidemiologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, said the White House's new omicron measures must be paired with additional precautions at the community level, such as wearing masks at large events and limiting indoor gatherings in areas with high transmission.  

"Now is the time to reinforce safety measures, and I think people are hesitant because everyone is burned out, but the truth is that we need them now more than ever," Dr. Popescu told the Times.

 View the full article here.


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