Nearly 50 House and Senate Democrats are calling on the Biden administration to substantially increase the nation’s supply of rapid COVID-19 tests.
In a letter led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), along with Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the lawmakers acknowledged efforts already underway, like acquiring 500 million additional tests and setting up federal testing sites, but said the administration needs to do more to boost supplies.
“But as the Omicron variant spreads and we enter an ominous and unprecedented next phase of this pandemic, it is critical that we ensure these efforts meet the severity of the moment,” the lawmakers wrote.
The availability of low-cost rapid tests has been a major point of criticism for President Biden. As the omicron variant rapidly spreads across the country and infections spike, tests have become a difficult commodity for many Americans to find online or in retail stores. When they are available, the costs for multiple test kits can be too much for some families….
Even the same morning as that news was reported, Walensky appeared on ABC News and caused a stir by saying it was “really encouraging news” that 75 percent of people who were dying from the coronavirus had four or more comorbidities. This led to criticisms that she was trivializing the tens of millions of Americans who have such comorbidities. She tried to clean up that mess Sundayby tweeting that she “went into medicine … and public health to protect our most at-risk.”
Just a few hours earlier, though, Walensky had slipped up again — and on much the same topic….
But despite surging case numbers, deaths and severe hospitalizations rates have not followed that rise quite as intensely. Health-care workers are cautiously waiting to see if the United States’ omicron wave will follow that of South Africa and London, where the variant passed its peak while causing relatively few deaths and hospitalizations.
So far, omicron seems much more contagious, resulting in many more cases. However, while the variant is more transmissible, it seems less likely to result in death or severe hospitalizations.
Cases are higher, but deaths and hospitalizations are
fewer compared to their previous peaks
Lines show case, death and hospitalization 7-day averages as a percentage of their respective
Jan. 2021 peaks, with the peaks being 100 percent. Comparatively, cases are 235 percent that of their peak, but current deaths are only about 38 percent.
Unlike previous waves, deaths and hospitalizations drastically separate from cases, indicating a decoupling of cases and severe disease….
Most at-home COVID tests in Massachusetts cannot be formally reported to public health authorities, sparking questions about whether virus cases are being undercounted in the Commonwealth and beyond.
A spokesperson for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health told the Globe in an e-mail that there is no avenue for residents to alert the state of positive results from antigen tests.
The majority of at-home tests “are not reportable,” the spokesperson wrote….
A new AP-NORC poll finds just 37% of Americans name the coronavirus as one of their top five priorities for the government to work on in 2022, compared with 53% who said it was a leading priority at the same time a year ago.
The economy outpaced the pandemic in the open-ended question, with 68% of respondents mentioning it in some way as a top 2022 concern…
Tuesday: Top Biden health officials will testify before the Senate HELP Committee about the administration’s plans for handling Omicron and any other Covid-19 variants that might emerge in the future. Aside from the now-routine sparring between the NIH’s Anthony Fauci and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), the hearing is expected to include tough questions for CDC Director Rochelle Walensky about her agency’s shifting guidance on quarantine and isolation.
Walensky has also come under fire in recent days from disability rights advocates for saying she finds it “encouraging” that deaths from Omicron have largely happened among people with multiple comorbidities.
Walensky attempted a clean-up Sunday night, posting on Twitter that “CDC is taking steps to protect those at highest risk, incl. those w/ chronic health conditions, disabilities & older adults.”
Thursday: President Joe Biden will make a speech on his administration’s “whole-of-government COVID-19 surge response.”
With arguably his strongest Covid control measure — twin vaccine mandates for health care workers and large businesses — in the hands of a highly skeptical Supreme Court, the president will have to convince a fatigued and frustrated public to take the steps needed to bring the ever-evolving pandemic back under control….