Omicron becomes dominant U.S. variant
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Tuesday he will activate up to 500 National Guard members to support hospitals in his state overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday that the omicron coronavirus variant is responsible for at least 73 percent of new COVID-19 infections, ousting delta as the nation’s dominant strain. The United States logged a seven-day average of about 143,000 new cases on Monday, up from around 119,000 a week earlier, according to a New York Times tracker. President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced the government’s plan to buy 500 million rapid COVID-19 tests to ship for free to Americans who may order them through a new website.
Is omicron a serious health threat? Researchers from the United Kingdom, Japan, and South Africa released a new study showing that the variant might easily evade the immune system, but booster shots drastically reduce chances of serious infection. The study also suggests that sickness from omicron might not be as severe as that from previous variants. Officials in Texas reported the first U.S. death from omicron on Tuesday.
Dig deeper: Read Kent Covington’s report in The Sift about possible treatments for COVID-19.