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    Fauci: US ‘confident’ Omicron will soon peak even as hospitals struggle

    Fauci: US ‘confident’ Omicron will soon peak even as hospitals struggle
    Biden chief medical adviser also predicts ‘a bit more pain’
    Cloth or N95? Mask disputes pit employees against bosses
    US authorities are confident most states will soon reach and pass a peak in coronavirus Omicron variant cases, even as hospitals struggle to cope with the current surge, Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser said on Sunday.Public health experts say schools are safe – but districts struggle to convince parents and teachersRead more“I think [we’re] as confident as you can be,” Anthony Fauci told ABC’s This Week. “You never want to be overconfident when you’re dealing with this virus, because it has certainly surprised us in the past.“But, if you look at the patterns that we have seen in South Africa, in the UK and in Israel, and in the [US] north-east and New England and upper midwest states, they have peaked and started to come down rather sharply.“There are still some southern states and western states that continue to go up but if the pattern follows the trend that we’re seeing in other places … I believe that you will start to see a turnaround throughout the entire country.”Fauci also predicted “a bit more pain and suffering with hospitalisations in those areas of the country that have not been fully vaccinated or have not gotten boosters”.But, he said, “we do know – and these are the recent data that have come out – that even with Omicron, boosting makes a major, major difference in protecting you from hospitalisation and severe outcomes.“So things are looking good. We don’t want to get overconfident. But they look like they’re going in the right direction right now.”More than 865,000 people have died in the US during the coronavirus pandemic.Fauci said Omicron “looks like” it is causing less severe disease than other variants, though “it’s by no means exempt from making people sick and putting them into the hospital, particularly those who are not vaccinated”.That relative lack of severity, he said, helped efforts to get Covid under control.“Control means you’re not eliminating it, you’re not eradicating it, but it gets down to such a low level that it’s essentially integrated into the general respiratory infections that we have learned to live with.“I mean, we would like them not to be present, but they’re there. But they don’t disrupt society. They don’t create a fear of severe outcomes that are broad. You will always get some severe outcomes with respiratory infections. Even in a good pre-Covid era, you have always had that. We’d like it to get down to that level where it doesn’t disrupt us, in the sense of getting back to a degree of normality.“That’s the best-case scenario. We have got to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but we have to be prepared, which is, I think, that we get yet again another variant that has characteristics that would be problematic, like a high degree of transmissibility or a high degree of virulence.”According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 75.5% of eligible Americans have received at least one vaccination dose and 63.3% are considered fully vaccinated. However, only 39.7% (or 53.2% of those eligible) have had booster shots.Further boosters could be recommended, Fauci said, once it is known how long a third shot of an mRNA vaccine or a second of the single-shot Johnson&Johnson vaccine will last.“Certainly you are going to see the antibody levels go down,” he said. “That’s natural, but … it is quite conceivable, and I hope it’s true, that the third-shot boost will give a much greater durability of protection. We’re following that very carefully.“And when I say protection, I mean protection against severe disease. You are going to see breakthrough infections as we’ve seen now, even in boosted people, but for the very most part, they’re mild or even asymptomatic.”Virginia woman charged for threats to ‘bring every gun’ over school mask ruleRead moreFauci also said supplies of Covid tests still had to be improved. The Omicron surge has coincided with problems which the Biden administration is attempting to solve, including by offering free at-home tests.Fauci was asked if it was safe to send children to school without a mask, in states where mandates are being removed, often due to political pressures.“We want to get the children back to school,” he said. “And the way you do that, you … surround the children with people who are vaccinated. For the children who are eligible to be vaccinated, get them vaccinated, and provide masks … as well as ventilation to make sure that you can get a respiratory infection at its lowest level of infectivity.“All of those things go together and masking is a part of that.”TopicsAnthony FauciBiden administrationUS politicsCoronavirusOmicron variantnewsReuse this content More

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    Joe Biden says his administration has ‘outperformed’ in bruising first year

    Joe Biden says his administration has ‘outperformed’ in bruising first yearPresident touts coronavirus relief aid and infrastructure law but acknowledges pandemic is unfinished job
    ‘I don’t believe the polls’: Biden gives testy press conference02:04Joe Biden on Wednesday conceded that the unshakable threat of the Covid-19 pandemic had left many Americans demoralized, but insisted that his administration had “outperformed” expectations despite the myriad crises facing the nation during his first year in office.Speaking to reporters in the East Room of the White House for his first news conference in months, the US president said he was confident Democrats could pass “big chunks” of his sprawling domestic policy bill currently stalled in the Senate before the 2022 midterm elections.Biden pledged media reset after Trump – so why so few press conferences?Read more“It’s been a year of challenges but it’s also been a year of enormous progress,” Biden said, outlining the administration’s early successes: passing coronavirus relief aid that slashed child poverty rates and a bipartisan infrastructure law that will shower funding for major public works projects on every state in the nation.Biden was also realistic about the difficult road ahead, as the extremely contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus overwhelms hospitals, inflation rises and his agenda languishes before a Congress controlled by Democrats.“After almost two years of physical, emotional and psychological impact of this pandemic, for many of us, it’s been too much to bear,” he said. “Some people may call what’s happening now ‘the new normal’. I call it a job not yet finished. It will get better.”Grading his efforts to combat the pandemic, Biden insisted the US was better positioned now than when he took office, while acknowledging mistakes, such as not ordering more tests earlier. He vowed the US would not go back to the earliest days of the pandemic when lockdowns and school closures were widespread. “I didn’t overpromise,” he said. “I have probably outperformed what anybody thought would happen.”Wednesday’s press conference was his 10th since taking office, far fewer than his most recent predecessors. Only a limited number of journalists were credentialed for the press conference, and all were required to wear masks, a reminder of the virus’s continuing threat.In a revealing split screen, Biden’s press conference took place as Senator Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat and key holdout on much of Biden’s agenda, took to the floor of the Senate to denounce his party’s efforts to amend the filibuster rule to pass voting rights protections. Biden defended his pursuit of what appeared to be a hopeless effort to pass the bills, which are all but certain to fail without full Democratic support in the evenly-divided Senate.Biden said he was still hopeful that the Congress would find a path forward on voting rights legislation, and as such wasn’t prepared to divulge possible executive actions he might take on the issue. The bills, Biden argued, were urgently needed to counter voter suppression and subversion efforts being carried out in Republican-led states. Lacerating speeches by the president on the need for these protections failed to move Republicans.In the coming months, Biden said he would travel to states and districts across the country to promote his agenda and sell his administration’s accomplishments, trying to correct what he described as a communication failure on his part. Citing the coronavirus and his work in Washington, he lamented not being able to leave Washington more frequently during his first year to “do the things I’ve often been able to do pretty well – connect with people”.He believed key pieces of his Build Back Better agenda could pass the Senate, including popular plans to combat climate change and create a universal pre-kindergarten program.Plans to extend a monthly child tax benefit expanded temporarily as part of the $1.9tn pandemic relief package may not be included in a scaled-back version of the bill, he indicated. The payments, which expired in December, helped keep millions of children out of poverty during the pandemic.To the chagrin of many Democrats, Biden, a veteran of the US Senate, said he failed to anticipate that there would be “such a stalwart effort” by Congressional Republicans to obstruct his agenda.“One thing I haven’t been able to do so far is get my Republican friends to get in the game at making things better in this country,” Biden said. He assailed the Republican party for its deference to Donald Trump, wondering how “one man out of office could intimidate an entire party?”Previewing a line of attack he will use against the party in the midterms, he accused Republicans of lacking a policy core or a set of guiding principles. “What are Republicans for? What are they for? Name me one thing they’re for.”Biden bristled at the notion that his agenda was radical in any way. “I’m not asking for castles in the sky,” he insisted. “I’m asking for practical things the American people have been asking for for a long time.”At ease behind the lectern, Biden parried with reporters for nearly two hours. At one point, he checked his watch, smiled and agreed to take questions for 20 more minutes.The range of questions he fielded – on the pandemic, rising inflation, Russian aggression, the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, a daunting electoral landscape, his falling approval ratings – underscored the extent of the challenges that lie ahead for the administration as it aims to recalibrate after a string of setbacks.Addressing the brewing threat at the Ukrainian border, where Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops, Biden predicted that Moscow would invade Ukraine and promised Vladimir Putin would pay a “dear price” if he moved forward with an attack. He also appeared to suggest that a “minor incursion” would draw a lesser response from Nato than a full-scale invasion.Moments after he spoke, White House press secretary Jen Psaki sought to clarify the remark, saying that any act of aggression by Russia, including cyberattacks and paramilitary tactics, would be “met with a decisive, reciprocal, and united response.”On Afghanistan, Biden said there was no easy way to leave the country after 20 years of war: “I make no apologies for what I did.” And asked about talks with Iran, he said now was “not the time to give up” on efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.Pressed on the economy, he said it was the “critical job” of the Federal Reserve to tame inflation, but touted his domestic agenda as a remedy for rising costs, which has left voters pessimistic about the state of the economy and Biden’s ability to improve it.But Biden was bullish: “I’m happy to have a referendum on how I handled the economy.”Looking ahead, he was unequivocal when asked whether vice-president Kamala Harris would again be his running mate in 2024. “Yes,” he replied.In one exchange, a reporter with a right-wing news outlet asked why some Americans view Biden as mentally unfit to run the country. “I have no idea,” he replied tartly.In another, he pushed back on the notion that he was trying to pull the country leftward. “You guys have been trying to convince me that I am Bernie Sanders. I’m not,” Biden said, asserting that he was a “mainstream Democrat” as he always had been.Asked how he could win back independent voters who supported him in 2020 but have become disillusioned with his leadership so far, Biden pushed back. “I don’t believe the polls.”TopicsJoe BidenUS politicsCoronavirusUS domestic policynewsReuse this content More

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    Glenn Youngkin attempts to ban critical race theory on day one as Virginia governor

    Glenn Youngkin attempts to ban critical race theory on day one as Virginia governorNewly elected Republican unveils sweeping conservative orders, including loosening public health mandates during the pandemic Virginia’s newly elected Republican governor has immediately passed a swath of conservative orders – ranging from attempts to alter local school curriculums to loosening public health mandates during the pandemic – after being sworn into office on Saturday.Glenn Youngkin, a former private equity CEO who has never served in public office before, became the state’s first Republican governor since 2010 after a closely watched gubernatorial election last year.The 55 year-old placed the issue of critical race theory (CRT) at the centre of his campaign, capitalizing on a conservative backlash against the discipline and pledging to ban teaching of it in Virginia’s schools. Critical race theory is an academic practice that examines the ways in which racism operates in US laws and society.The fight to whitewash US history: ‘A drop of poison is all you need’ Read moreOn Saturday, after taking the oath of office, Youngkin unveiled a list of nine executive orders and two executive directives, with the first on the list described as a directive to “restore excellence in education by ending the use of divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory, in public education”.The order lists 13 instructions, many directed to the state’s school superintendent, who has been tasked with reviewing the state’s curriculum and policies within the department of education, to identify “inherently divisive concepts”. The order also bans an executive employee from “directing or otherwise compelling students to personally affirm, adopt, or adhere to inherently divisive concepts”.The order does not define “divisive concepts” but cites critical race theory as an example.At least 22 other states have moved towards imposing limits on the teaching of critical race theory in recent months, as rightwing media in the US continues to fuel disinformation about the teaching of the previously little-known discipline.Despite the sweeping and ambiguous language, the governor’s power to intervene in local school districts is limited. And although Virginia’s general assembly has the power to compel school boards to adopt specific policy via legislation, state Democrats hold a slim majority in the Senate, meaning new laws are unlikely.From viral videos to Fox News: how rightwing media fueled the critical race theory panicRead moreOn Saturday, senior state Democrats told local media they planned to block much of the new governor’s agenda.The sweeping executive orders also included loosening of public health mandates, aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19 during the coronavirus pandemic. Youngkin’s second order eliminated mask ordinances for pupils in the state’s schools, while his last executive directive abolished vaccine mandates for state employees.Like many other areas of the US, Virginia continues to see a surge in Covid cases as the omicron variant rips through the country. Cases are up 288% in comparison to last winter’s surge, according to the New York Times. The current seven day positivity rate sits at over 35%, according to the state health department.15,803 have died in the state from the virus since the pandemic began.TopicsVirginiaRepublicansUS politicsCoronavirusUS educationnewsReuse this content More

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    The BBC’s flat Earth policy should be roundly condemned | Letters

    The BBC’s flat Earth policy should be roundly condemnedHelen Johnson, Bob Ward, Dr Richard Milne and Piers Burnett on the BBC’s director of editorial policy and his pursuit of impartiality It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry at the BBC’s latest pronouncement rejecting cancel culture, when the example given is the willingness to give a fair hearing to flat-Earthers (BBC does not subscribe to ‘cancel culture’, says director of editorial policy, 11 January). It’s nothing new for the BBC to give a platform to fantasists, of course; but there did seem to be an acknowledgment post-Brexit that it had perhaps been wrong to give equal weighting to fact and delusion. And there must be someone at the national broadcaster who regrets affording quite so many opportunities to Nigel Lawson to deny climate change reality on the airwaves.Which other minority beliefs can we now expect to be expounded in the 8.10am interview on the Today programme? It’s surely time we looked seriously at the view that the Covid vaccine is connecting us to a vast AI network, and that upstate New York was once inhabited by giants. There are also apparently people who still believe that Boris Johnson is a great prime minister, though finding a government minister to represent that view this week may be beyond even the bending-over-backwards, non-cancelling capacity of the BBC.Helen JohnsonSedbergh, Cumbria It was disappointing to read that David Jordan, the BBC’s director of editorial policy, told a House of Lords committee that “if a lot of people believed in flat Earth we’d need to address it more” in order to ensure impartiality. He appears to have forgotten that the BBC’s editorial guidelines also state that the broadcaster is “committed to achieving due accuracy in all its output”. Or perhaps he is genuinely unaware that for the past couple of millennia the shape of the Earth has not been just a matter of opinion, but instead has been established as a verifiable scientific fact.Either way, let us hope that the BBC’s new action plan on impartiality and editorial standards does not lead the broadcaster to promote more of the daft and dangerous views of those who believe that Covid-19 vaccines do not work or greenhouse gas emissions are not heating Earth.Bob WardPolicy and communications director, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment The BBC’s stated policy to “represent all points of view” is worrying on two levels. First, where does the policy stop? There are people out there who think the value of a person depends upon their gender or skin tone – should those views be represented? What about Holocaust deniers? And those who think homosexuality, or marrying the wrong person, should be punished by death?Second, one of the BBC’s worst failures this century has been to present ill-informed opinion as being equal in value to professional expertise – most notably on climate change. At the absolute minimum, it needs to make crystal clear who is and who is not an expert. A lot of misinformation originates from well-funded pressure groups, which need no help getting their message across. So if we must hear ill-informed opinions, let it be from a person on the street – then at least the defence of representing public opinion would have some merit.Dr Richard MilneEdinburgh According to your report, David Jordan, the BBC’s director of editorial policy, told a Lords committee that the corporation does not subscribe to “cancel culture” and that everyone should have their views represented by the BBC, even if they believe Earth is flat, adding that “flat-Earthers are not going to get as much space as people who believe the Earth is round … And if a lot of people believed in flat Earth we’d need to address it more.”I understand that many Americans fervently believe in the QAnon conspiracy theory and most of the Republican party believes that Donald Trump won the last presidential election – and here in the UK there are substantial numbers of anti-vaxxers. I assume that Mr Jordan will now ensure that the views of these groups are given airtime on the BBC’s channels commensurate with their numbers.In fact, it appears that Mr Jordan has no genuine editorial policy – which would require him to make judgments based on facts and values – only a desperate anxiety to appease the cultural warriors on the right of the Conservative party.Piers BurnettSinnington, North YorkshireTopicsBBCHouse of LordsConservativesClimate crisisCoronavirusBrexitQAnonlettersReuse this content More

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    US supreme court blocks Biden’s workplace vaccine-or-test rules

    US supreme court blocks Biden’s workplace vaccine-or-test rulesCourt says vaccine mandate for healthcare workers is validPresident to purchase another 550m at-home Covid tests The supreme court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a requirement that employees at large businesses be vaccinated against Covid-19 or undergo weekly testing and wear a mask on the job.Sinema speaks out against filibuster reform after House sends voting rights bill to Senate – liveRead moreAt the same time, the court is allowing the administration to proceed with a vaccine mandate for most healthcare workers in the US.The court’s conservative majority concluded the administration overstepped its authority by seeking to impose the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (Osha) vaccine-or-test rule on US businesses with at least 100 employees. More than 80 million people would have been affected.“Osha has never before imposed such a mandate. Nor has Congress. Indeed, although Congress has enacted significant legislation addressing the Covid-19 pandemic, it has declined to enact any measure similar to what Osha has promulgated here,” the conservatives wrote in an unsigned opinion.In dissent, the court’s three liberals argued that it was the court that was overreaching by substituting its judgment for that of health experts. “Acting outside of its competence and without legal basis, the court displaces the judgments of the government officials given the responsibility to respond to workplace health emergencies,” Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a joint dissent.When crafting the Osha rule, White House officials always anticipated legal challenges – and privately some harbored doubts that it could withstand them. The administration nonetheless still views the rule as a success at already driving millions of people to get vaccinated and for private businesses to implement their own requirements that are unaffected by the legal challenge.Both rules had been challenged by Republican-led states. In addition, business groups attacked the Osha emergency regulation as too expensive and likely to cause workers to leave their jobs at a time when finding new employees already is difficult.The vaccine mandate that the court will allow to be enforced nationwide covers virtually all healthcare workers in the country. It applies to healthcare providers that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding, potentially affecting 76,000 health care facilities as well as home health care providers. The rule has medical and religious exemptions.Earlier on Thursday, Biden announced plans to send 1,000 military medical personnel to hospitals and medical facilities, the president said on Thursday, as he announced plans to purchase another 500m at-home Covid tests.The military members will begin arriving in states across the country next week, amid a surge in cases largely attributed to the Omicron variant. This week a top government official admitted it was likely that most Americans would be infected with the coronavirus.Biden to meet Senate Democrats in bid to revive voting rights pushRead moreOn Tuesday the US recorded a record number of hospitalisations due to Covid-19 as daily infections soared to more than 1.35m. A test kit shortage across the country continues to hamper efforts to control the Omicron variant, but a silver lining has emerged, with signs that Omicron may be peaking in parts of the north-east.In New York City the number of new cases has flattened in recent days, the New York Times reported, while New Jersey and Maryland have seen a slight decrease in the number of infections.“Every case is one too many, but if you watch the trend line, it looks like we may be cresting over that peak,” Kathy Hochul, governor of New York, said in a briefing this week.“We are not at the end, but this is a glimmer of hope when we desperately need that.”Speaking at the White House on Thursday, Biden said his administration would double its order of home test kits, which will be delivered free of charge to Americans, to 1bn.The White House announced it would purchase 500m tests in December, but those tests are yet to be distributed.“I know we’re all frustrated as we enter this new year,” Biden said, as he noted that virus cases have reached new heights. But he insisted that it remains “a pandemic of the unvaccinated”.Biden said a website where people can request tests will launch next week. The president also announced that, for the first time, his administration was planning to make high-quality N95 masks, which are most effective at preventing transmission of the virus, available free.The 1,000 members of the military will help mitigate staffing crunches at hospitals across the country, Biden said, with many facilities struggling because their workers are in at-home quarantines due to the virus at the same time as Covid-19 cases have surged.They will supplement the more than 800 military personnel who have already been helping civilian hospitals since Thanksgiving, and the more than 14,000 national guard members who are assisting with testing and vaccinations.This week Janet Woodcock, the acting head of the Food and Drug Administration, said most Americans were likely to contract coronavirus.“I think it’s hard to process what’s actually happening right now, which is [that] most people are going to get Covid, all right?” Woodcock said.Biden also announced that six additional military medical teams will be deployed to hospitals in Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island.The US leads the world in the daily average number of new infections reported, accounting for one in every three infections reported worldwide, according to a Reuters tally.TopicsUS politicsCoronavirusJoe BidenUS supreme courtnewsReuse this content More

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    Fauci clashes with Rand Paul at Senate hearing as daily Covid cases soar

    Fauci clashes with Rand Paul at Senate hearing as daily Covid cases soarThe daily infection rate hit a new record of 1.35m while 145,982 people were in hospital with coronavirus on Monday

    Covid loses 90% of ability to infect within minutes – study
    02:21The US recorded a record number of hospitalisations due to Covid-19, the Biden administration said, as daily infections soared to more than 1.35m. Nonetheless, politics dominated a Senate hearing on the pandemic on Tuesday, as Republicans attempted to use the disease for political gain.Covid live: France confirms record 368,149 new cases as Italy reports all-time high of 220,532 new casesRead moreRand Paul of Kentucky clashed once again with Anthony Fauci, Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser.“In usual fashion, Senator, you are distorting everything about me,” Fauci said. “You keep coming back to personal attacks on me that have absolutely no relevance.”Paul, who has repeatedly used public health hearings for political grandstanding and launching personal attacks on Fauci, variously accused the immunologist of working to smear scientists and being responsible for school closures, while reiterating rightwing theories about the origin of Covid-19.Fauci has been subjected to death threats and said his family had been harassed “because people are lying about me”.He held up a printout of a page on Paul’s campaign website, which had the banner “Fire Dr Fauci” next to an invitation to donate to Paul’s re-election effort.“You are making a catastrophic epidemic for your political gain,” Fauci said.He also described the arrest in Iowa in December of a man who police said planned to kill Fauci and other powerful figures and was carrying an assault rifle.“What happens when [Paul] gets out and accuses me of things that are completely untrue,” Fauci said, “is that it kindles the crazies out there and I have threats upon my life, harassment of my family and my children with obscene phone calls because people are lying about me.”There were 145,982 people hospitalised with coronavirus in the US on Monday, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. Reuters reported that the previous high was 132,051, set in January 2021.According to Reuters there were 1.35m new Covid infections on Monday, also a record. Measures vary and observers point out that many home tests are not officially logged. But NBC News reported at least 1,343,167 new infections.The highly contagious Omicron variant has seen hospitalisations double in three weeks. The seven-day average for new cases has tripled in two weeks to more than 700,000 a day.Large numbers of Covid cases tend to be reported on Mondays due to many states not reporting over the weekend, but the 1.35m total reported this week comfortably outstripped the previous record of 1.03m, recorded on Monday 3 January.Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Vermont, Virginia, Washington DC and Wisconsin have reported record levels of cases recently.Only seven states have not set records for cases in 2022: Arizona, Idaho, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio and Wyoming, Reuters said.At the Senate hearing, Fauci was asked for an update on the effect of the virus on vaccinated people compared with unvaccinated people. He reiterated that getting vaccinated was the best way to avoid serious illness.Fauci said unvaccinated people were 10 times more likely to test positive for Covid-19, 17 times more likely to be hospitalised and 20 times more likely to die.As cases and hospitalisations soar, health authorities around the US are increasingly taking the once unthinkable step of allowing nurses and other workers infected with Covid to stay on the job if they have mild symptoms or none at all, the Associated Press reported.The move is a reaction to the severe hospital staffing shortages and crushing caseloads that Omicron is causing.California health authorities announced over the weekend that hospital staff members who test positive but are symptom-free can continue working. Some hospitals in Rhode Island and Arizona have given employees similar guidelines.In December, the CDC said healthcare workers who have no symptoms can return to work after seven days with a negative test but that the isolation time “can be cut further if there are staffing shortages”.In Tuesday’s hearing, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), clarified federal guidance. She said fully vaccinated people exposed to the virus do not need to stay at home unless they develop symptoms, but should wear a mask, get tested and avoid travel until after day 10.The threat of Omicron and number of new cases has led to an increased demand for tests, with long lines and shortages around the country.On Monday the White House said insurance companies will be required to cover eight over-the-counter at-home tests per person each month starting on 15 January.In December, Joe Biden said half a billion at home tests would be sent free to Americans, beginning in January.TopicsCoronavirusOmicron variantUS politicsnewsReuse this content More

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    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announces positive Covid test

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announces positive Covid testProgressive congresswoman ‘experiencing symptoms’Office says political star had booster vaccine shot last year The Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has tested positive for Covid-19.Biden health chief endures Fox News grilling over mixed Covid messagingRead moreIn a statement on Sunday evening, the office of the New York progressive said she was “experiencing symptoms and recovering at home.“The congresswoman received her booster shot this fall and encourages everyone to get their booster and follow all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance”.New York is experiencing a huge surge of Covid cases linked to the Omicron variant, placing strain on hospitals and public health resources.The city has posted high rates of vaccination.Earlier, in an interview on Fox News Sunday, the director of the CDC, Rochelle Walensky, was asked about the severity of the Omicron variant compared to the Delta variant.Walensky said: “We are starting to see data from other countries that indicate on a person-by-person basis it may not be. However, given the volume of cases that we’re seeing with Omicron we very well may see death rates rise dramatically.”According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 837,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the US. Around two-thirds of the eligible population is considered fully vaccinated but resistance to public health measures stoked by conservative politicians and media has dogged the federal response.Walensky also emphasised the importance of vaccination and booster shots, saying: “We have seen with the Omicron variant that prior infection protects you less well than it had … with prior variants.“Right now, I think the most important thing to do is to protect Americans. We do that by getting them vaccinated and getting them boosted.”TopicsAlexandria Ocasio-CortezCoronavirusNew YorkUS CongressHouse of RepresentativesUS politicsnewsReuse this content More