Omicron Continues to Spread Like Wildfire Although Some Areas Have Peaked
Over 25% of all COVID-19 cases reported in the U.S. over the course of the pandemic have come in the last month. According to the most recent data from John Hopkins University, the nation has recorded almost 69 million cases since the pandemic first started nearly two years ago. Of that number, nearly 18 million have come in the last month at the hands of the Omicron surge. Here is the latest news on the fight against COVID-19.
Latest on Omicron Surge
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are likely at least four times as many COVID-19 cases in the country than officially recorded. This is in large part due to people who never got tested or the increasing availability of at-home tests that do not get put into the recording system.Read More »
When looking at data over the last week, there have been an average of approximately 764,000 new cases reported each day. This translates to at least one in five people having been infected with the virus since the beginning of the pandemic, although this number is likely much higher.
Hospitalizations at the hands of COVID-19 continue to spike throughout the country with some areas seeing record highs. Deaths are also rising with nearly 1,800 new fatalities each day. The U.S. is closing in on 860,000 fatalities blamed on the virus.
The CDC says that about 63% of the total American population is fully vaccinated. In addition, approximately 25% of Americans are now boosted. Vaccination rates in the younger populations continue to lag.
Atlanta Hospitals at the Brink
Atlanta is just one of many U.S. cities dealing with hospitals stretched beyond capacity. Six of the city’s largest health care systems held a press conference on Thursday to discuss an urgent call to action to address the area’s hospitals. One hospital has reported being at 110% capacity and being forced to divert ambulances over the last few weeks due to the increasing rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations.
January 20 marks two years since the first COVID-19 case was diagnosed in this country. The first documented case was found in the state of Washington after a man returning from Wuhan, China tested positive for the virus. While this man recovered quickly after being hospitalized for a few days, it was just the beginning of what would turn life upside down for nearly every American in the coming months.
Czech Singer Dies After Intentionally Getting COVID-19
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A Czech singer who set out to deliberately contract the virus has passed away. According to the son of Hana Horká, his mom died on Sunday at the age of 57 after intentionally exposing herself to COVID-19 when family members were sick. Jan Rek said his mother wanted to be “done with COVID” so that she could get on with life.
The folk singer had not been vaccinated. However, her son and husband had been vaccinated against the virus.
Biden Address Administration’s COVID-19 Failures
President Biden addressed what his administration could do better in regards to the pandemic during a news conference marking the one-year anniversary of his inauguration. While Biden touted the good things the administration has done to fight the pandemic, he also spent time discussing the challenges. The president acknowledged that his team could have done more to ramp up testing and make at-home kits more readily available. He also addressed what he referred to as the “frustration and fatigue” that continues to plague the American people as the pandemic drags on.
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Some states are now complaining that the massive federal program to send out tests to American homes has made it difficult for them to procure these at-home tests. The White House has allocated half a billion tests for Americans to request for shipment to their homes at no cost. The site to order the tests went live on Tuesday. Each household can request up to four tests.
Omicron Cases Fall on the Coasts
While Omicron cases continue to surge through the bulk of the middle part of the country, the coastal areas are finally starting to see some relief. Just days after New York and New Jersey were believed to hit the peak, health officials in San Francisco have also announced that they think they are done with the worst of the surge.
According to data from the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the seven-day average of confirmed cases hit the peak on January 9. Since then, cases have begun to drop slowly. Mayor London Breed said that hospitalizations are expected to peak over the next few days.
Austria Passes Strict Vaccine Mandate
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The European country of Austria has mandated that all residents over the age of 18 get vaccinated. The mandate by Austria’s parliament is the strictest vaccine mandate in the European Union (EU).
The new law is set to go into effect on February 1. However, officials will not begin to check vaccination proof until March 15. Residents who cannot provide proof of an exemption may be fined up to 600 euro, the equivalent of nearly $700 U.S. dollars.
Exemptions include pregnant women and those who can prove that the vaccine could endanger their health. Individuals still recovering from a previous COVID-19 infection have 180 days to get the shot.
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