Fauci tells Americans to DISINVITE unvaccinated family from Christmas

Fauci tells Americans to DISINVITE unvaccinated family from Christmas with Omicron accounting for 73% of cases: CDC director contradicts Biden and says we EXPECTED variant surge and dodges question on whether U.S. was caught flat-footed with tests

  • Omicron surge raises concerns ahead of Christmas gatherings and travel across the nation 
  • Dr Fauci said on Tuesday that he recommends disinviting any unvaccinated person from Christmas festivities
  • CDC Director Rochelle Walensky defends against criticism that the US did not secure enough at-home tests 
  • Roughly 2 million people have been flying every day since Thursday according to TSA screening data
  • US is averaging 148,384 new cases daily over the past week, a 23 percent increase from two weeks ago
  • Confirmed Omicron cases increased by 19 percent day-over-day, up to 1,781 as of Wednesday morning 
  • Deaths have stabilized, with America averaging around 1,300 deaths per day in line with recent weeks
  • British scientists gave a glimmer of hope in a leaked first study showing Omicron is milder than Delta variant 

Dr. Anthony Fauci has urged Americans to disinvite unvaccinated people from Christmas gatherings

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US expert on infectious disease, has urged Americans to disinvite unvaccinated people from Christmas gatherings as the fast-spreading COVID-19 Omicron variant fuels a surge in infections nationwide. 

‘We’re dealing with a serious enough situation now that if there’s an unvaccinated person, I would say, ‘I’m very sorry, but not this time. Maybe another time when this is all over,” said Fauci in an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday night. 

The warning comes as Omicron now accounts for 73 percent of new cases in the US and pushes Europe to the brink of fresh lockdowns, with Wales the latest to announce harsh new restrictions set to kick in on Boxing Day, a British holiday celebrated the day after Christmas. 

New York, Georgia and Texas are all seeing major surges in new COVID cases, which are up more than 100 percent in the past two weeks in those states. Florida now leads the nation with cases up 371 percent in the past two weeks.

The nation is currently averaging 148,384 new cases daily over the past week, a 23 percent increase from two weeks ago. Confirmed Omicron cases increased by 19 percent day-over-day, up to 1,781 as of Wednesday morning from 1,485 on Tuesday, but that number represents only the tiny fraction of infections that are DNA sequenced. 

Deaths have stabilized, with America averaging around 1,300 deaths per day – a steady figure for the past week and down slightly from two weeks ago. Encouraging new data from a leaked British study suggests that Omicron infections are less severe than prior variants.

Meanwhile, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky appeared to contradict President Joe Biden by insisting that the current surge in cases was expected, after Biden said on Tuesday that ‘the Omicron virus spread even more rapidly than anybody thought.’

‘We expected this, because we have seen the doubling times of this virus in other countries have been really rapid and that’s what we’re seeing here in the United States,’ Walensky insisted in an interview with the Today Show on Wednesday. 

Pressed on criticism that the Biden administration failed to secure enough at-home test kits as Americans struggle to find them, Walensky insisted that resources were being devoted to surge testing capacity. 

‘This has come on quickly. We’ve learned about Omicron just prior to Thanksgiving. The administration is doing a lot with regard to testing and we recognize we have more work to do,’ she said.

In the US outbreaks have forced a wave of disruptions, with holiday parties cancelled, the NHL suspending games through Christmas and withdrawing from the Winter Olympics, and Fox cancelling its New Year’s Eve telecast from Times Square.

Nevertheless many Americans are forging ahead with Christmas plans. Since Thursday, more than 12.5 million Americans have traveled by airplane, more than double last year’s figure for the same period and approaching pre-pandemic levels, according to TSA screening data. 

The Omicron variant (purple) is now the dominant Covid strain in the U.S., making up 73% of cases last week. It overtakes the Delta variant (orange) which had been dominant since July

Six year-old Brielle Peare uses a microphone to talk to Santa Claus, who sits sealed inside a store display window behind glass as virus prevention measure at the Primark store in Boston, Massachusetts on Saturday

British Covid scientists gave a glimmer of hope to Americans in a leaked first study showing Omicron is milder than the Delta variant as Joe Biden reassured people they can celebrate Christmas with their families.

The UK Health Security Agency say most people are likely to have a mild illness with less serious symptoms which is in part due to the large numbers of vaccinated and previously infected people – but also possibly because Omicron is milder.

The scientists also endorsed previous findings that booster jabs offer significant protection from developing symptoms and ending up in hospital, according to Politico.

The tentative findings by Britain’s equivalent of the CDC are due to be published before Christmas and do not mean that the the threat of the variant can be ignored, as it is so transmissible that large numbers are set to end up in hospital.

In a spot of good news, more signs continue to emerge that Omicron appears to cause less severe illness than prior variants, with a South African study has suggesting the risk of hospitalization is 80 percent lower with the variant.

And British scientists gave a glimmer of hope in a leaked study showing Omicron is milder than the Delta variant.

The UK Health Security Agency say most people are likely to have a mild illness with less serious symptoms which is in part due to the large numbers of vaccinated and previously infected people – but also possibly because Omicron is milder.

The scientists also endorsed previous findings that booster jabs offer significant protection from developing symptoms and ending up in hospital, according to Politico.

The tentative findings by Britain’s equivalent of the CDC are due to be published before Christmas and do not mean that the the threat of the variant can be ignored, as it is so transmissible that large numbers are set to end up in hospital.

Although COVID hospitalizations have increased rapidly in New York City, rising more than 100 percent in the past month, one hospital executive insists that capacity is not under strain. 

‘We’re doing very, very well. Very manageable. There’s no crisis… on the hospital side right now, we are doing quite well. It is very manageable indeed,’ said Michael Dowling, CEO of Northwell Health which serves New York City, Long Island and Westchester County in an interview with CNN

Dowling said that the current surge could help the nation achieve herd immunity without mass fatalities. 

‘We are in the middle of a pandemic… you’re going to have surges… if people are not that sick and they are not in the hospital — you’re building up herd immunity. So from that point of view its not the worst thing in the world,’ he said. 

Omicron variant is now the main coronavirus strain in the United States, accounting for 73.2 percent of new cases over the past week for which data is available, health authorities reported Monday. 

In New York and New Jersey , the Midwest, the Southeast, the Gulf Coast, and the Northwest, the Omicron variant now account for more than 90 percent of new cases.

Travelers wait in line to check in for flights at Logan Airport on Tuesday in Boston. Public health officials are urging caution as the new Omicron variant might become the dominant strain in the U.S. during the holiday break

While other regions currently have lower Omicron prevalence, the variant is spreading fast enough that officials expect it will be dominant throughout the country within weeks.

America also reported its first confirmed death from the variant on Monday night, when an unvaccinated Texas man between ages 50 and 60 succumbed to the variant. 

Yet Walensky insisted on Wednesday that ‘there really is no need to panic’ as she defended Biden’s response. 

‘There are going to be breakthrough cases of Omicron … but they will be certainly milder if you’re vaccinated and boosted,’ she said. 

The CDC director said the federal government would spend $3 billion on rapid home-testing kits that will be delivered in January. 

Overall, cases of the variant have been relatively mild compared to Delta and other strains. It is a promising sign, but Fauci warns that the quick transmission of the virus could negate any positive effects of a less severe strain. 

‘The idea that it can spread so rapidly, even if in fact it is less severe, and it appears at least from the South African data that there is less of a ratio of hospitalization to cases and duration of stay in the hospital, so it very well may be less severe. We’re hoping that that’s the case, and we’re hoping that as this evolves here in the United States that that will be our experience,’ he said.

‘Even if it is, quantity of infections, given the extraordinary efficiency of spread might actually obviate that diminution of severity to the point that you still get significant disease so we can not take this lightly at all.’ 

Very few visitors are seen Tuesday in Times Square during the Christmas season because of COVID, Manhattan

Overall cases in the U.S., which we now know are mostly of the newly discovered strain, have shot upwards as well. Johns Hopkins University report 253,954 new cases on Monday. It is the highest total since September 7 – the peak of the Delta wave – and only the third time since January the 250,000 daily case mark was eclipsed. 

The nation is currently averaging 148,384 new cases daily over the past week, with that number likely to increase if Monday’s high case total becomes normal. New cases are up more than 20 percent over the past two weeks.

Deaths have stabilized, with America averaging around 1,300 deaths per day – a steady figure for the past two weeks. 

Hospitalizations have increased though, with 69,224 Americans receiving inpatient treatment for severe infection every day – a 5 percent increase over two weeks ago.

Confirmed Omicron cases increased by 19 percent day-over-day as well, up to 1,781 as of Tuesday morning, up from 1,485 on Tuesday. These figures are highly undercounting the total level of cases in the U.S., though, as it likely makes up hundreds of thousands – potentially millions – of cases at this point.

While things are trending in the wrong direction in the U.S, the situation in the UK is starting to stabilize. The nation was among the first to experience a massive surge in cases caused by the variant, with London in particular erupting as a global hotspot. Daily infections have remained relatively flat since last week, a promising sign that the variant is already burning out.

Still, some British health experts are fearing the worst, believing that new daily cases will jump from 91,743 a day to around 460,000 a day by the end of the year. Some, like original lockdown architect Neil Ferguson, are even calling for lockdowns in some areas to curb the spread of the virus.

On Wednesday, the Welsh First Minister announced new restrictions including curbs on large gatherings, two meter social distancing in most public settings and restrictions on restaurants.  

The Welsh Government is not imposing rules on mixing in private homes, but has issued tougher guidance which ‘strongly’ advises people to limit household mixing.  

The situation in America is erupting right as the holiday season hits fully swing. Christmas is Saturday, and this week, millions of people will travel around the country and attend large gatherings with family and friends. 

Fauci believes that holiday travel and festivities is still safe as long as a person is fully vaccinated, boosted, and takes other precautions to protect themselves from the virus.

‘If you are vaccinated and particularly boosted, and you are going to be involved in an indoor home setting with family, relatives, who are also vaccinated and boosted, you could feel comfortable in doing that social interaction,’ he said. 

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