U.S. to deploy troops to hospitals, buy 500 million Covid assessments

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks throughout a gathering with the White Home Covid-19 Response Crew within the Roosevelt Room of the White Home December 16, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Drew Angerer | Getty Photographs

The White Home will deploy 1,000 navy medical personnel to help hospitals dealing with a surge of sufferers contaminated with Covid this winter, and can buy 500 million at-home assessments that People can order on-line at no cost with supply starting in January, in line with 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 “extreme sickness and dying,” calling on them to get immunized and to obtain a booster shot to guard their well being.

Hospitals from the Nice 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 worry the omicron variant will overwhelm healthcare suppliers with one other wave of sufferers.

The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention on Monday reported that omicron is quickly spreading and is now the dominant variant representing 73% of U.S. circumstances, whereas the delta variant makes up 26.6% of infections. Only a week earlier, delta represented 87% of circumstances.

The omicron variant’s speedy sweep of the U.S. in the course of the busy vacation journey season has forged uncertainty over folks’s plans to assemble with household. People looking for at-home assessments to ensure they are not 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 an internet site the place People can order free at-home assessments for supply to their houses, however these kits is not going to be prepared for supply till January. A senior administration official stated the White Home continues to be finalizing the main points.

“The primary supply of those assessments from the producers will arrive in January, we’re establishing a free and simple system to get these assessments out to People, together with the web site,” the senior administration official stated. “We’re actively working to finalize these distribution mechanisms, and we’ll share extra particulars within the weeks forward on that.”

The UK delivers free at-home assessments to individuals who request them. When requested in a Dec. 6 press briefing why the U.S. would not do the identical, Psaki questioned the price of such a plan.

The White Home stated Biden has already invoked the Protection Manufacturing Act to extend the manufacturing of at-home assessments and can proceed to make use of it to provide as many kits as attainable. The White Home can be establishing new free federal testing websites across the nation, with the primary opening in New York Metropolis this week, the officers stated. There are presently 20,000 free testing websites across the U.S., in line with the White Home.

The Huge Apple is the epicenter of omicron infections proper now. Mayor Invoice de Blasio over the weekend known as on the administration to make use of the Protection Manufacturing Act to ramp up take a look at manufacturing and assist buttress town’s testing capability.

“We’re discovering the provides have gotten a problem as a result of all around the nation, testing goes up instantly and we’re seeing a provide drawback that must be addressed,” de Blasio stated on Monday.

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

Biden can be activating response groups from the Federal Emergency Administration Company to work with states to broaden hospital mattress capability paid for by the federal authorities, the officers stated. FEMA is able 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 Home stated provides of ventilators, N-95 masks, gloves and robes are prepositioned throughout the U.S. prepared for speedy cargo to states that want them. Final week, 330 ventilators have been despatched to Indiana, Michigan, Maine and New Hampshire, the White Home stated, with extra deliveries deliberate for states that request them.

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

The White Home 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. At present, 61% of People are absolutely vaccinated towards Covid, and about 30% of the absolutely vaccinated have acquired a booster dose, in line with CDC information.

Omicron is extra transmissible than delta, however a lot is unknown about how sick it makes folks. Whereas vaccinated sufferers who’re contaminated with breakthrough omicron infections are usually reporting delicate signs, infectious illness consultants and the World Well being Group have cautioned towards assuming the variant is much less extreme than earlier strains.

Epidemiologists have warned that even when omicron proves milder, it might nonetheless overwhelm hospitals just by spreading at a really speedy fee. An actual-world research from the UK discovered the Pfizer and BioNTech booster gives sturdy safety towards symptomatic illness. The unique two-dose vaccine additionally offers 70% safety towards hospitalization, in line with a South Africa research. Nevertheless, the preliminary vaccination sequence solely gives 33% safety towards an infection by omicron, in line with the information.

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