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U.S. Faces ‘Double COVID Surge’ As Omicron Spreads to More States

U.S. Faces ‘Double COVID Surge’ As Omicron Spreads to More States

The new Omicron coronavirus mutation is exploding around the world and across the United States, and experts worry it may bring another wave of cases that will further stretch hospital workers already struggling with the Delta variant surge. Scientists around the world are working furiously to understand the new variant, which has a large number of worrisome mutations in important regions of its genetic structure that could affect how it spreads from person to person. How quickly the number of cases doubles, known as “doubling time,” can give a preview of what the disease burden could be in a few weeks.

Despite the rise in cases impacting holiday plans for the second year in a row, the White House said on Wednesday that there was no need for a lockdown because vaccines are widely available and appear to offer protection against the worst consequences of the virus. But even if Omicron proves milder on the whole than Delta, it may still severely impact the supply of the remaining lifesaving tools available, which would put immune-compromised and elderly people at particular risk as it begins a rapid assault on the country.

Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Most likely an omicron surge is already underway in the United States, with the latest mutant coronavirus outpacing the nation’s ability to track it, according to health experts who spoke to the press on Tuesday.

Globally, more than 75 countries have reported confirmed cases of Omicron. In the United States, 36 states have detected the variant. Meanwhile, Delta is surging in many places, with hot spots in New England and the upper Midwest. The five states with the highest two-week rolling average of cases per 100,000 people are New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Michigan, Minnesota, and Vermont. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Omicron accounted for about 3% of genetically-sequenced coronaviruses nationally. Percentages vary by region, with the highest in the New York/New Jersey area at 13%.


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In a related story, an advisory committee voted on Thursday to make the COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna the “preferred” options over Johnson & Johnson’s. The panel updated its recommendation after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new data on the risk of rare but potentially life-threatening blood clots linked to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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