Some infectious disease experts are predicting America could see up to one million new Covid-19 cases per day as the highly contagious omichron variant of Covid-19 is expected to become the dominant strain in the coming weeks. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has issued a public health advisory in response to a surge in new positive COVID-19 cases. Hospitals in the Southeast Region of Wisconsin are at capacity, in part due to the increased spread of COVID-19.
In an address to the nation today, President Biden said that the U.S. will not return to the shutdowns we experienced at the beginning of the pandemic, and families who have all received the booster shot should be safe to gather.
Americans are being urged to get their booster shots, and the administration is going to provide free tests, expanded federal testing, expanded vaccination clinics, and support for hospitals and hospital personnel.
Early studies suggest the omicron variant can at least partially escape vaccine protection, but adding the third dose booster has been shown to at least provide some protection and prevents serious illness.
Here is an outline of White House’s plan for fighting the upcoming omichron surge:
Increasing support for hospitals:
1,000 military doctors, nurses, medics, and other military medical personnel will be deployed to overburdened hospitals in January and February. FEMA planners have been activated to assess hospital needs, and several steps will be taken to ensure states and hospitals around the country have the personnel, beds, and supplies needed to battle rising Omicron cases among the unvaccinated. Hospital capacity will also be expanded where needed.
Increase in testing – half a million free tests delivered to Americans who want them:
- The Biden administration will purchase half a billion at-home rapid tests this winter to be distributed for free to Americans that want them. The initial delivery of these tests from the manufacturer willbe in January, and a website will be set up where Americans can order at-home tests delivered for free to their home.
- The federal government will set up new federal testing sites around the country.
Expanding capacity to get shots in arms
FEMA is setting up new pop-up vaccination clinics. Hundreds of additional federal vaccinators will be deployed to help add thousands of appointments each week. Pharmacies nationwide are adding appointments and capacity across their networks.