Officials say a third of the US should consider masks

WASHINGTON – Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in the United States – and could get worse in the coming months, federal health officials warned Wednesday as urging hard-hit areas most strongly consider re-enacting the call to wear masks indoors.

The growing number of COVID-19 Infections and hospitalizations are bringing the country more in line with guidelines issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. call to wear a mask and other infection prevention measures.

Currently, about one-third of the U.S. population lives in areas considered higher risk — primarily in the Northeast and Midwest. Those are areas where people should consider wearing masks indoors — but Americans elsewhere should take note, officials said.

Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said at a White House press conference with reporters: “The previous increase in infections, in different waves of infection, has demonstrated this. happening all over the country.

For a growing number of regions, “we urge local leaders to encourage the use of prevention strategies such as face masks in indoor public facilities and increase access to testing.” testing and treatment,” she said.

However, officials are cautious about making specific projections, saying the severity of the pandemic will depend on a number of factors, including how well previous infections will protect against the virus. new variations.

Last week, the White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha warns The United States will become increasingly vulnerable to the coronavirus this fall and winter if Congress does not quickly pass new funding for a variety of vaccines and treatments, in an interview with the Associated Press. than.

Jha warned that without more funding from Congress for the virus it would cause “unnecessary loss of life” in the fall and winter, when the US runs out of treatments.

He added that the US had lagged behind other countries in securing supplies of the next-generation COVID-19 vaccine, and said the domestic production base for home trials had dried up as demand reduced.

Read more: One million Americans have died from COVID-19. Here are some of their stories

Jha said that domestic test manufacturers have begun closing lines and laying off workers, and in the coming weeks will begin to sell less equipment and prepare to leave the field of trial production entirely except when the US government had money to buy more tests, like hundreds of millions it was sent free to requesting households this year.

That would leave the US reliant on other countries to check supplies, risking shortages during a spike, Jha warned. About 8.5 million households have placed orders for the latest of eight free trials since placing orders on Monday, Jha added.

Epidemic 2 and a half years old now. And the US has seen – depending on how you count them – five waves of COVID-19 during that time, with subsequent spikes fueled by mutated versions of the coronavirus. The fifth wave mainly occurs in December and January, caused by the omicron variation.

The omicron variant spread much easier than previous versions.

Some experts are worried that the country is showing signs of a sixth wave, driven by a sub-variable omicron. On Wednesday, Walensky recorded a steady increase in COVID-19 cases over the past five weeks, including a 26% increase nationally last week.

Hospitalize are also rising, up 19% over the past week, though they are still far below the omicron wave period, she said.

In late February, as that wave was waning, the CDC released a series of new measures for communities where COVID-19 was loosening its grip, not focusing on positive test results. and more on what’s happening at the hospital.

Walensky said more than 32% of the country’s population currently lives in an area with moderate or high levels of COVID-19 community, including more than 9% at the peak, where the CDC recommends mask use and other efforts. other mitigating force.

In the last week, an additional 8% of Americans are living in a county with moderate or high community-level COVID-19.

Officials said they were concerned that waning immunity and eased mitigation measures around the country could contribute to the continued rise in infections and illnesses around the country. They encourage people – especially the elderly – to take energy pills.

Some health experts say the government should take bolder and clearer steps.

Dr. Lakshmi Ganapathi, an infectious diseases expert at Harvard University, said the CDC’s community-level guidelines are confusing the public and don’t give a clear picture of the extent of virus transmission. withdraw in the community.

When government officials make recommendations but do not set rules, “in the end it is up to the individual to choose and make the public health choices that are right for them. But that’s not what works. If you’re talking about preventing hospitalizations and even deaths, all of these interventions work better when people do it collectively,” she said.


Stobbe reports from New York.


The Associated Press Health & Science Division receives support from the Howard Hughes Health Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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