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US breaks daily record for 2nd day in row with 5,80,000 cases


WASHINGTON: 2022 is going the way of 2020 too. A third year of global pandemic is on the cards with more than half million new Covid-19 cases recorded in the US heading into the new year. With more than 580,000 infections, the country shattered its own record for new daily cases – beating a milestone it already broke just the day before. Thursday’s count, according to NYT database, toppled the 4,88,000 new cases on Wednesday, which was nearly double the highest numbers from last winter. The only silver lining is that the Omicron strain is causing milder illness and less hospitalisation, particularly among the vaccinated.
Americans, even the fully vaccinated, are being told to eschew reckless New Year’s eve partying and forsake hugs and kisses as the virus has broken into a gallop, infecting essential workers including hospital staff, airline employees, restaurant workers and the like. Dr Michael Osterholm, a member of President Biden‘s transition team’s Covid task force, told CBS News that he expects a “viral blizzard” to exacerbate the situation in the coming weeks.
The effects are already being seen on the ground with US airlines cancelling nearly 1000 flights on Thursday and restaurants starting to shutter down, as the virus put a hex on new year celebrations. Schools and colleges, which are scheduled to reopen on January 3 after the holiday break, are reassessing the situation. Some have already announced a return to online instruction.
All this on the heels of the CDC recently dropping the required quarantine time for a positive Covid case down to five days, from ten, in an effort to keep society functioning amid the surge. About 200 million Americans, nearly 62% of the population, are fully vaccinated, and about a third of them, more than 68 million, have got a booster dose. That could account for the relatively low levels of hospitalisation and mortality. Despite the surge in infections, deaths are down by 5% over the past two weeks with a daily average of 1221 (compared to over 3000 deaths a day at the previous height of the pandemic in 2020) while hospitalisations rose by just 15% to an average of 78,781 per day. But no one is sticking their necks out with projections written in stone (one expert said he’s rather use pencil than pen in calculations) even though Omicron is now a confirmed milder variant. It is only the 15th Greek alphabet of 25. Pi comes next, and humankind is hoping it does not get a life.

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