January 28, 2022

One important — and dangerous — way the Omicron surge is different than previous surges in the US

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The US kicked off 2022 amid a massive Covid-19 case spike — driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant — that some experts warn will be different than any other time in the pandemic.

“What we have to understand is that our health system is at a very different place than we were in previous surges,” professor of emergency medicine Dr. Esther Choo told CNN on Saturday. “We have extremely high numbers of just lost healthcare workers, we’ve lost at least 20% of our healthcare workforce, probably more.” “This strain is so infectious,” Choo added, “that I think all of us know many, many colleagues who are currently infected or have symptoms and are under quarantine.”

The high number of healthcare staff out with the virus will also have an impact on Americans’ doctors appointments and could make for dangerous circumstances when people are hospitalized with Covid-19, Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of Baylor University’s National School of Tropical Medicine, said Friday. “That’s a different type of one-two punch: people going into the hospitals … and all of the healthcare workers are out of the workforce,” he told CNN.

But the latest variant isn’t just shrinking healthcare staff numbers. As the virus spreads like wildfire across American communities, staffing problems are already altering parts of daily life. Plagued with staffing issues, New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced last week several subway lines were suspended.

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