Health Experts Warn of ‘Viral Blizzard’ in US as Omicron Hits 41 States

Health experts have warned of “viral blizzard” in the US as the new Omicron variant is spreading rapidly nationwide and has already been detected in at least 41 states. In recent weeks, Covid-19 cases, deaths and hospitalisations have all surged in the country, with many parts experiencing high levels of community transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The current seven-day daily average of Covid-19 cases is about 122,000, a 1.5 per cent increase from the previous week, latest CDC data show.

The seven-day average of daily deaths is about 1,180, up 8.2 per cent from the prior week, the CDC said.

Currently, the US is witnessing about 7,800 new hospital admissions each day, a 4.4 per cent increase from the previous week, the data showed.

The Omicron variant, which is possibly more contagious than the Delta strain, has been found in at least 41 states so far, since the first case in the country was detected in California on December 1.

There is a two- to three-week lag between sample collection for SARS-CoV-2 testing to producing and analyzing sequence data, so it is likely that more U.S. infections with Omicron from late November will be detected over the coming days, according to the CDC.

Despite the increased attention for Omicron, Delta continues to be the main variant circulating in the US. For the week ending December 11, the Delta variant had accounted for 96.7 per cent of circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants, according to the CDC.

Holiday travel rush has already begun amid Omicron concerns. The Transportation Security Administration expected up to 21 million Americans will fly between December 23 and January 3.

“As we head into the holiday season, when many will be gathering with their loved ones, I want to again encourage everyone to utilize the proven prevention strategies that keep everyone safe: get vaccinated and get boosted, mask in public indoor settings, physical distancing, handwashing, improve ventilation, and testing to slow transmission,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.

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