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World NewsU.S. to deploy troops to hospitals, purchase 500 million Covid tests

U.S. to deploy troops to hospitals, purchase 500 million Covid tests

A person receives a shot on the FEMA-supported COVID-19 vaccination website at Valencia State College on the primary day the positioning resumed providing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following the lifting of the pause ordered by the FDA and the CDC due to blood clot considerations.

Paul Hennessey | LightRocket | Getty Images

The White House will deploy 1,000 army medical personnel to help hospitals dealing with a surge of sufferers contaminated with Covid this winter, and can purchase 500 million at-home tests that Americans can order on-line at no cost with supply starting in January, in accordance to senior administration officers.

President Joe Biden will announce the plan in a speech later Tuesday addressing how the administration is making ready for the extremely contagious omicron variant of Covid-19. Biden warned final week that the unvaccinated face a winter of “severe illness and death,” calling on them to get immunized and to obtain a booster shot to defend their well being.

Hospitals from the Great Lakes to the Northeast are already struggling after getting hit by a wave of sufferers contaminated with the delta variant in November and December. Public well being officers now concern the omicron pressure will overwhelm health-care suppliers with one other surge of sufferers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday reported that omicron is quickly spreading and is now the dominant variant representing 73% of sequenced U.S. instances, whereas the delta pressure makes up 26.6% of infections. Just per week earlier, delta represented 87% of instances.

The omicron variant’s fast sweep of the U.S. in the midst of the busy vacation journey season has forged uncertainty over individuals’s plans to collect with household. Americans looking for at-home tests to make certain they don’t seem to be contaminated earlier than touring to have a good time the vacations have discovered cabinets in lots of pharmacies throughout the nation empty amid a nationwide scarcity of kits.

The Biden administration will arrange a web site the place Americans can order free at-home tests for supply to their residences, however these kits won’t be prepared for supply till January. A senior administration official stated the White House continues to be finalizing the main points.

“The first delivery of these tests from the manufacturers will arrive in January, we’re setting up a free and easy system to get those tests out to Americans, including the website,” the senior administration official stated. “We’re actively working to finalize those distribution mechanisms, and we’ll share more details in the weeks ahead on that.”

The United Kingdom delivers free at-home tests to individuals who request them. When requested in a Dec. 6 press briefing why the U.S. does not do the identical, White House press secretary Jen Psaki questioned the price of such a plan.

The White House stated Biden has already invoked the Defense Production Act to improve the manufacture of at-home tests and can proceed to use it to produce as many kits as doable. The administration can also be establishing new free federal testing websites across the nation, with the primary opening in New York City this week, the officers stated. There are at present 20,000 free testing websites across the U.S., in accordance to the White House.

The Big Apple is the epicenter of omicron infections proper now. Mayor Bill de Blasio over the weekend referred to as on the administration to use the Defense Production Act to ramp up check manufacturing and assist buttress town’s testing capability.

“We’re finding the supplies are becoming a challenge because all over the country, testing is going up suddenly and we’re seeing a supply problem that needs to be addressed,” de Blasio stated Monday.

The troops deployed to hospitals will embody docs, nurses, paramedics and different personnel throughout January and February as wanted, the senior administration officers stated. The White House can also be deploying six emergency response groups to Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Arizona, New Hampshire and Vermont, the officers stated.

Biden can also be activating response groups from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to work with states to broaden hospital mattress capability paid for by the federal authorities, the officers stated. FEMA is prepared to deploy a whole lot of ambulances and emergency medical groups to assist transfer sufferers between hospitals if a facility reaches capability, the officers stated.

The White House stated provides of ventilators, N-95 masks, gloves and robes are prepositioned throughout the U.S. prepared for quick cargo to states that want them. Last week, 330 ventilators had been despatched to Indiana, Michigan, Maine and New Hampshire, the administration stated, with extra deliveries deliberate for states that request them.

The overwhelming majority of individuals hospitalized with Covid are unvaccinated. White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky have repeatedly confused the significance of getting absolutely vaccinated and receiving a booster dose if eligible forward of the vacation season.

The White House is increasing its vaccination marketing campaign, opening new pop-up clinics in areas of excessive demand and deploying federal vaccination groups throughout 12 states, tribes and territories. Currently, 61% of Americans are absolutely vaccinated in opposition to Covid, and about 30% of the absolutely vaccinated have acquired a booster dose, in accordance to CDC information.

Omicron is extra transmissible than delta, however a lot is unknown about how sick it makes individuals. While vaccinated sufferers who’re contaminated with breakthrough omicron infections are typically reporting delicate signs, infectious illness specialists and the World Health Organization have cautioned in opposition to assuming the variant is much less extreme than earlier strains.

Epidemiologists have warned that even when omicron proves milder, it may nonetheless overwhelm hospitals just by spreading at a really fast price. An actual-world research from the United Kingdom discovered the Pfizer and BioNTech booster presents robust safety in opposition to symptomatic illness. The authentic two-dose vaccine additionally gives 70% safety in opposition to hospitalization, in accordance to a South Africa research. However, the preliminary vaccination collection solely presents 33% safety in opposition to an infection by omicron, in accordance to the information.

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