The United States is preparing for an increase in COVID-19 cases as the virus’ Omicron variant spreads worldwide, President Joe Biden said Monday morning.
Researchers are still determining if the Omicron variant is more infectious or severe than other variants of the virus, and should have more information in one to two weeks. They are still studying how effective current vaccines are against the Omicron variant, but believe they are likely to offer protection from severe illness and death, The New York Times reported.
If necessary, vaccines and booster shots will be modified to better protect against the variant, Biden said.
The United States has not reported cases of the Omicron variant, but has implemented travel restrictions from eight nations that have reported cases so far.
The first cases of the Omicron variant were reported on Nov. 25, with the World Health Organization labeling it a “variant of concern” on Nov. 26.
As America braces for the Omicron variant, COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County have dramatically increased over the past two weeks.
Last Wednesday, Allegheny County recorded more than 900 new COVID-19 cases, with an average of 600 to 650 new cases reported each day. The county averaged only 350 to 400 new cases per day just two weeks earlier on Nov. 10.
On Monday, Nov. 29, the county reported 1,527 new cases in the last 72 hours.
Dr. LuAnn Brink, the chief epidemiologist for the health department, said at a Nov. 24 press briefing, that she does not expect the spread of the virus to improve as the holiday season approaches.
“This is the time of year when people head inside and gather with others, and that, as we know, is the exact type of environment that fosters the spread of this virus,” she said.
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