Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in the United States and could worsen in the coming months, federal health officials warned on Wednesday, urging the worst-hit areas to re-issue calls to cover up indoors.
Rising numbers of COVID-19 infections’s hospitalizations put much of the country under guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) calling for other measures to be taken.
About a third of the US population currently lives in areas at higher risk, mainly in the Northeast-Midwest. These are areas where people should already be thinking about wearing masks inside, but elsewhere Americans should pay attention, officials say.
“The previous increase in infections, in the face of different waves of infection, has shown that this is traveling across the country,” CDC Director Rochelle Valensky told reporters at a White House briefing.
“For a growing number of areas, we urge local governments to encourage the use of prevention strategies, such as masks in closed public spaces, increasing access to testing and treatment,” he said.
However, officials were cautious in making specific predictions, saying how much the epidemic would worsen would depend on several factors, including how well previous infections would protect against new ones.
Looking for more funding to fight COVID?
In an interview with the Associated Press last week, White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jahan warned that the United States would be more vulnerable to coronavirus this fall and winter if Congress did not quickly approve new funding for more vaccines.
He said the United States was already lagging behind other countries in supplying the next generation of COVID-19 vaccines, adding that the domestic production base of home tests was already drying up as demand fell.
Jahan said domestic test manufacturers had begun shutting down, firing workers, selling equipment in the coming weeks, and preparing to leave the test business altogether until the US government had the money to buy more tests, like hundreds. out of millions it sent free to households this year.
That would allow the United States to rely on other countries to test supplies, risking a growing deficit, Jan warned. About 8.5 million households have placed orders for the last tranche of the 8 free tests since the order opened on Monday, Jahan added.
The epidemic is now two and a half years old. And the United States has seen, depending on how you count them, five waves of COVID-19 during that time, the further growth of which is due to the coronavirus versions.
The fifth wave took place mainly in December-January, with the emergence of the Omicron version, which spread much faster than the previous versions.
A new wave on the horizon.
Some experts are concerned that the country is now seeing signs of a sixth wave due to the Omicron exchange. On Wednesday, Valensky noted a steady increase in COVID-19 cases over the past five weeks, including a 26 percent increase nationally over the past week.
Hospitals are also up 19 percent over the past week, he said, staying much lower than during the omicron wave.
At the end of February, when that wave was weakening, The CDC has released a new package of activities for communities where COVID-19 eased its impact by focusing less on positive test results, more on what is happening in hospitals.
Valensky said more than 32 percent of the country now lives in areas with moderate to high levels of COVID-19, including more than 9 percent of the highest levels, where the CDC recommends the use of masks and other mitigation efforts.
Over the past week, an additional eight percent of Americans lived in a county with a high or high COVID-19 community level.
Officials said they were concerned that the decline in immunity և mitigation measures across the country could contribute to the continued rise in infections և diseases. They encouraged people, especially the elderly, to take stimulants.
Some health experts say the government needs to take clearer, bolder steps.
The CDC community-level guidelines are confusing to the public, giving no clear idea of how much virus is being transmitted in the community, says Dr. Lakshmi Ganapati, an infectious disease specialist at Harvard University.
When government officials make recommendations but do not set rules, “in the end it is up to each individual to make a choice, choosing the public health that works best for them.” But that’s not what works. “If you talk about hospitalizations, even deaths, then everyone works better than these interventions when people do it collectively,” he said.
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