- 50,000 to 300,000 more Americans may die of COVID-19 before the current surge ebbs in mid-March.
- New York is the third state to report more COVID-19 cases already in 2022 than in all of 2020.
- White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the site is in its beta phase to allow troubleshooting.
Here’s a disturbing notion for anyone feeling complacent with the coronavirus because the now-dominant omicron version causes less-severe sickness than previous strains: COVID-19 might kill another 50,000 to 300,000 Americans before the current outbreak ends in mid-March as reported by USA Today.
According to an Associated Press report, these are modellers’ predictions, and they serve as a sobering reminder that omicron’s amazing infectiousness more than compensates for its seemingly weaker punch.
Since mid-November, the seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 deaths in the United States has been rising increasing, hitting roughly 1,700 on Monday – still far below the peak of 3,300 in January 2021.
New infections peaked
Simple math reflects the most pressing problem in the next weeks: Even if new infections have peaked in some parts of the country, they’re still averaging over 800,000 per day across the country, more than three times what they were during the previous wave. This will inevitably result in hospitals being overburdened and thousands of deaths. COVID is now affecting around 150,000 patients in hospitals.
If the higher end of the forecasts come true, cumulative COVID-19 deaths in the United States could exceed 1 million by early spring.
“A lot of people are still going to die because of how transmissible omicron has been,” said Jason Salemi, an epidemiologist at the University of South Florida.
Katriona Shea of Penn State University, who co-leads a team that combines numerous pandemic models and shares the combined forecasts with the White House, predicts that the next wave of deaths would peak in late January or early February, possibly surpassing last year’s delta peak.
“This is omicron driven,” Shea added, emphasising the threat posed by the latest version once more.
Free COVID test kits availability
Although a federal website offering free COVID-19 at-home testing kits doesn’t officially launch until Wednesday, covidtests.gov was operating at limited capacity Tuesday, allowing some people to order tests.
Americans are supposed to be able to order up to four kits per address.
Once ordered, tests are to be mailed within 7-12 days.
The website is expected to officially launch mid-morning Wednesday.
Some tests are being reserved to prioritize households in the hardest-hit and highest-risk communities.
Alleged ivermectin treatment
Four inmates in Arkansas filed suit against their jail and its doctor for allegedly prescribing them “high doses” of ivermectin without their knowledge to treat COVID-19 even though health officials have warned that the anti-parasitic drug shouldn’t be used for that purpose.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the detainees — Dayman Blackburn, Edrick Floreal-Wooten, Julio Gonzales and Jeremiah Little — against the Washington County jail, Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder and Dr Robert Karas.
Helder in August revealed that ivermectin had been prescribed to inmates to treat COVID-19.
The inmates said they were told they were being given vitamins, antibiotics or steroids, not ivermectin.
They said the drug caused them to develop diarrhoea, stomach cramps, bloody stools and vision problems.
Is omicron the final wave?
It’s too soon to know whether the omicron variant will be the final phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday.
There are two ways for a pandemic to end: the infectious disease is eliminated, like measles, or it becomes endemic, which means it still exists without major disruption to society, much like the flu.
“That’s not going to happen with this virus.”
That means COVID-19 must evolve into a less dangerous disease for the pandemic to officially end.
Although the highly contagious omicron variant is spreading quickly — infecting about 782,000 Americans per day, according to the CDC — some point to its low mortality rate as a sign that the virus may be becoming less severe.
It’s possible that omicron could signal that the pandemic is ending, “but that would only be the case if we don’t get another variant that eludes the immune response,” Fauci said.
Remote learning option
New York City’s public schools are “exploring” a remote learning option amid the omicron surge as roughly a quarter of students in the district weren’t in school last Friday, Chancellor David C. Banks said at a news conference Tuesday.
Local news outlets Gothamist and CBS New York reported the city had changed its attendance policy to allow more students to learn remotely during the surge.
Banks said no change in remote learning policy was set to be announced but said the city’s schools were providing an “on-ramp” to the classroom by allowing more students to be marked as present while receiving instruction online.
Around 75% of the school district’s more than 1 million students were in class Friday, according to Department of Education attendance data.
Banks said meetings with the United Federation of Teachers, which represents most of the district’s teachers, remain ongoing.
A record-high 74 people died due to COVID-19 in Australia on Tuesday, the largest single-day tally in the country since the start of the pandemic, as hospitals are facing a surge of patients and staffing shortages.
“We’ve reached a point in our healthcare system where it’s juggling extreme workforce shortages … alongside a vast number of patients with COVID-19 who require hospitalization, alongside that an extraordinary workforce that is absolutely exhausted,” said James Merlino, the acting health minister in Victoria, where the government last week declared an emergency for some of its hospitals.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said there were signs that New South Wales’ infection rate was peaking and Victoria was near a plateau.
The New South Wales government has said it has ruled out a return to lockdown.
US adults gain weight
Research from New Mexico State University found pandemic-fueled, stress-related unhealthy eating habits in Americans.
Now, a study co-authored by a researcher from the NMSU Department of Public Health Sciences shows nearly half of all adults in the United States gained weight during the first year of the pandemic.
“We wanted to estimate weight changes in the U.S. population and its determinants after the first year of the pandemic.”
The study, published in “Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research and Reviews,” included 3,473 adult participants.
Participants who reported weight gain were more likely to be males, white or Hispanic, married, 45 years old or older, working full time, have less than a college education or living in southern and western states or rural areas of the U.S., according to the study.
Did you subscribe to our newsletter?
It’s free! Click here to subscribe!
Source: USA Today