Officials are bracing for a surge of new coronavirus infections fueled by the Delta variant and
Omicron variant has been reported in 38 states, according to Centers for Disease Control data. Though reported Omicron cases have so far been mild, experts advise that every precaution should be taken to prevent infection.
“If you have a lot of hospital workers, nurses and doctors and ICU staff calling in sick at home because they have symptomatic COVID, that’s going to really tax an already strained health system,” Dr. Peter Hotez, professor of pediatrics and molecular virology at Baylor College of Medicine, told CBS News.
Across the country, many hospitals are already at a breaking point due to winter surges from the Delta variant. In Wisconsin, just over 4% of ICU beds are available. In Nebraska, frontline workers are overwhelmed.
“I would just hope that no one else has to experience the things that we’ve been experiencing,” a nurse at a Nebraska hospital said.
New York City is now reporting 8,300 new cases a day, according to state health officials. The spike is leading to long lines at testing centers and pushing some companies like Citibank to tell employees to work from home.
In Orlando, Florida, Omicron was found in nearly 100% of the wastewater samples taken this week, officials said.
In a press briefing Wednesday, President Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said that COVID-19 vaccines do not currently need to be changed to target the Omicron variant.
The CDC is pushing again for people to get vaccinated but it’sin light of new data about the risk of a rare blood clotting side effect linked to the Johnson & Johnson shot.
“If you have not yet gotten that additional dose of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, that really is important now, especially the spread of the Omicron variant. We are not seeing adequate protection with the Johnson& Johnson vaccine alone,” Infectious disease expert Dr. Céline Gounder told “CBS Mornings.”
In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said the company remained “confident in the overall positive benefit-risk profile” of their vaccine.
Gounder said anyone who has received the vaccine previously is “outside the window of risk” of any blood clot complications. As cases continue to rise, Gounder said that Americans need to “reframe what a win is” when it comes to what to expect moving forward with the Omicron variant.
“If we can turn Omicron, if we can turn COVID into something like the common cold through vaccination, that’s a win. And we are well on our way to doing that, but everybody needs to get vaccinated to get there,” she said.