White House warns of winter virus surge
What's your Covid-19 action plan? WH urges tests before events and pre-positions ventilators, masks, other supplies; Florida politician aims at vaccine makers, CDC, FDA, science and public health.
What’s your personal Covid-19 plan?
While many of us want to think of Covid-19 in the rear-view mirror, the White House Thursday announced it is taking steps in anticipation of a potential Winter surge. “While Covid-19 is not the disruptive force it once was, the virus continues to evolve, and cases are on the rise again as families are spending more time indoors and gathering for the holidays,” said a White House statement.
Especially because responses now vary widely from state to state and county to county, individuals may want to make their own Covid-19 action plan. The CDC published a handy worksheet with reference information and a step-by-step guide to gathering the information you might need in case of a Covid infection.
Fueling concerns is the lackluster uptake of the omicron-thwarting bivalent booster shot. As of December 14, 13.5% of eligible Americans have received the new boosters. The shots are recommended for most people over age 5. Rising rates of flu and other illnesses are also adding pressure to many hospitals. Triage tents have returned in some places, including California, New Mexico and Pennsylvania. Hospitals in the US are the fullest they've been throughout the pandemic -- but it's not just Covid | CNN
People are being urged to get vaccinated and up-to-date boosters and to use self-tests before traveling and before going indoors where vulnerable people may be present. [To find Covid vaccines near you, visit Vaccines.gov.]
There appears to be widespread disinterest in Covid vaccinations or other precautions, yet hundreds of Americans are dying every day from mostly preventable Covid cases. There were 2,981 Covid deaths in the USA in the week ending Dec. 7, 2022, according to the CDC.
“The U.S. government has hundreds of millions of N95 masks, billions of gloves, tens of millions of gowns, and over 100,000 ventilators stored in the Strategic National Stockpile,” according to a White House statement.
The White House plan includes tests, vaccines, and treatment
Among the elements of the administration’s winter plan:
Reopening CovidTests.gov so that each household can order 4 Covid self-tests. This distribution was suspended in September “because Congress hasn’t provided additional funding to replenish the nation’s stockpile of tests,” according to a banner on the site.
Distributing Covid tests through food banks, senior centers and other community facilities.
Encouraging states to activate additional testing and vaccination sites and to request federal support, if needed.
Preparing protective gear like gowns, gloves and masks and equipment such as ventilators in “strategic locations” around the country so that it is ready to ship if and when states need the supplies.
Distributing a “winter playbook” for nursing homes so that the most vulnerable get vaccinated and are as protected as possible.
For those who do get sick, the U.S. government has procured millions of doses of the antiviral drug Paxlovid. “We feel very good about our resources with regard to Paxlovid,” a senior administration official told reporters late Wednesday. There have been concerns that people who could benefit from this drug have not gotten it.
More data supports Paxlovid antiviral therapy
A study of more than 44,000 Covid-19 patients treated at the Mass General Brigham health system in Massachusetts and New Hampshire found that Paxlovid reduced hospitalization or death by 44% in a population of mostly vaccinated people over age 50.
“Our findings suggest that Paxlovid can save lives, and it can have a real impact on keeping hospital beds available for the treatment of other conditions,” said Scott Dryden-Peterson, MD, medical director of Mass General Brigham’s COVID outpatient therapy and one of the study authors. The paper was published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Paxlovid and other Covid therapeutics are free during the current public health emergency (PHE.) However, there is considerable pressure in Washington to end the PHE. When that happens, you can expect to pay a lot for Covid shots and treatments. Paxlovid Has Been Free So Far. Next Year, Sticker Shock Awaits. | Kaiser Health News (khn.org)
DeSantis names panel of public health opponents
Meanwhile, in Florida, the governor petitioned the state’s Supreme Court to convene a grand jury to investigate “vaccines purported to prevent COVID-19 infection, symptoms, and transmission.” He also announced a committee intended to review recommendations by the FDA and CDC.
We may have done the “Time Warp”
Do the last three years feel like a blur? You’re not alone, according to this report from NPR: How COVID warped our time perception : Shots - Health News : NPR