Surgeon general: Omicron slowing in Northeast but don’t expect national peak just yet

Surgeon general: Omicron slowing in Northeast but don’t expect national peak just yet

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Sunday the winter spike of COVID-19 is plateauing in New York City and other parts of the Northeast but the omicron wave will move around the country, so it is unclear when the worst will be over.

“This is a very difficult time,” Dr. Murthy told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We shouldn’t expect a national peak in the coming days. The next few weeks will be tough.”

Dr. Murthy addressed the situation as the U.S. records over 800,000 infections per day and hospitalizations reach an all-time high of nearly 160,000. Roughly 1,900 people are dying per day from COVID-19, but that is far below the 3,300-per-day peak from last January.

Omicron appears to be less severe than previous variants of the coronavirus, but it is inflicting damage because it spreads so easily. The crisis is a major drag on President Biden, who promised adequate testing but has been unable to satisfy demand during the winter spike.

“We certainly have more we need to do on testing,” Dr. Murthy said. “That supply will continue to increase in the months ahead.”

Dr. Murthy also said it is important to be “up to date” on vaccination by getting an extra dose, once eligible, after primary series of two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or a single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Some public health experts are pressing the Biden administration to update its definition of fully vaccinated to include the booster so that people understand the importance of an extra dose is beating back omicron.

“We see that if you’ve had your primary series … you still have decent protection against hospitalization and death,” Dr. Murthy said. “But you increase that protection even more, and increase your protection against all infection, by getting that booster shot.”