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Covid, Omicron Variant and Vaccine Mandate News: Live Updates

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Covid, Omicron Variant and Vaccine Mandate News: Live Updates

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Credit…Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

The overwhelming wave of Omicron variant cases may show signs of receding in the United States, but Dr. Anthony S. Fauci warned that the surge has not yet peaked in some parts of the country and that Americans shouldn’t let their guard down.

The highly contagious Omicron appears to have peaked in the Northeast, parts of the Upper Midwest and other areas where it first arrived, offering some relief to virus-weary Americans. Nationally, new cases and hospital admissions have stabilized in recent days.

“What we’re hoping,” Dr. Fauci, President Biden’s top medical adviser for the coronavirus, said during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” “is that as we’re going into the next few weeks or months, we’re going to see across the country the level of infection dropping below what I call this control zone.

That doesn’t mean eradicating the virus, Dr. Fauci said. The infections will continue. “They are there, but they are not disrupting society,” he said. “It’s the best-case scenario.”

For now, the United States remains in a precarious position, with an average of 690,000 daily cases, still far higher than at any other point in the pandemic. Hospitals are overwhelmed and deaths have risen to around 2,100 a day. Parts of the west, south and Great Plains are still seeing steep increases.

“There may be a bit more pain and suffering with hospitalizations in parts of the country that haven’t been fully vaccinated or haven’t been reinforced,” Dr. Fauci said. Hospitals are struggling to keep up after multiple surges and staffing shortages, including in Mississippi, where nearly all of the state’s acute care hospitals have been pushed to capacity. National Guard and active-duty U.S. military doctors have been deployed to hospitals in several states.

States lagging in vaccinations, including Utah, are reporting record levels of cases and hospitalizations.

But Omicron has yet to peak in some western states with higher vaccination rates.

Oregon is reporting a 71% increase in the average number of daily cases over a two-week period and a 65% increase in hospitalizations, according to the Times database. This month, Governor Kate Brown said she would deploy up to 500 members of the National Guard to help hospitals overstretched with the growing workload.

California reported a 47% increase in the average number of daily cases over the past two weeks and a 61% increase in hospitalizations. Masks continue to be mandated indoors by state officials, and Governor Gavin Newsom has also called in the National Guard to his state.

Scientists say it remains an open question whether Omicron signified the coronavirus’ transition from a pandemic to a less threatening endemic virus, or whether future surges or variants would introduce a new round of turmoil.

Dr Fauci indicated that it would be wise to stay prepared for the possibility of what he called “the worst case scenario”. “I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but we have to be prepared,” he said, describing the situation as follows: “We get yet another variant that has characteristics that would be problematic, like a degree high transmissibility or a high degree of virulence.

But overall, he said, “things are looking good. We don’t want to be overconfident, but they seem to be going in the right direction at the moment.

Esha Ray, Kenneth Chang, Michael Smith, Julie Bosmann and Tracey Tuly contributed to this report.

Covid, Omicron Variant and Vaccine Mandate News: Live Updates

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