The coronavirus pandemic stubbornly persists, infecting 110,000 Americans daily — and likely many, many more — and hospitalizing 29,000 a day on average.
Vaccinations, also, have stayed at the forefront of efforts to deal with the disease, with shots on the brink of being regulator-approved and imminently available for the littlest of kids, and against the Omicron strain that has proven to be highly infectious and continues to mutate rapidly into new variants.
But travelers, who already have seen a relaxation of face covering requirements, have gotten news that also could please many: U.S. officials have decided to end a requirement for those coming into the country from overseas to test negative.
The Biden Administration is juggling federal sums around, shifting available resources to support vaccine development and supplies. Officials say they are ready to roll out enough vaccine as soon as regulators give all the needed sign-offs, so children 5 and younger, at long last, can receive the safe and effective protection against the virus due to proven vaccine regimens.
A pediatricians’ group has underscored the importance of vaccinating kids, reporting that:
“Covid-19 is not a benign disease in children. It has had a significant impact on children’s health … Over 13 million children have been infected with Covid-19 since the pandemic’s onset. More than 42,000 children have been hospitalized. At least 1,240 children aged 18 and younger have died. Over 8,000 patients met the case definition for multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children, and that there have been 68 deaths among these patients. Patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection had 16-18 times higher risk for myocarditis compared with patients without SARS-CoV-2.
“Researchers found that hospitalizations associated with Covid-19 were higher than influenza-related hospitalizations in the three years prior to the pandemic. Studies show that children and adolescents aged 18 years and younger with Covid-19 were more likely to receive a new diabetes diagnosis. Recent studies show that around 2% of children experience Post-Acute Sequelae of Covid-19 and symptoms that persist beyond 56 days.”
Republicans in Congress have not budged in refusing, however, to provide any more money to battle the pandemic, tying up appropriations in arguments over an array of complaints about transparency in how coronavirus funds already were spent, immigration policy and efforts by the administration to relax pandemic-related health measures at the border, as well as resistance, alas, to making any moves that might assist the Democratic president — even if they benefit the American people.
Because the administration has succeeded in boosting home testing, health officials no longer have reliable figures on coronavirus infections. And the improvements in treatment of the disease, notably with effective new antivirals, has for now kept hospitals from being overwhelmed in the current phase of the pandemic.
Still, the nation is recording more than 300 deaths daily on average due to the virus, which has killed more than 1 million Americans in what has become the worst public health crisis in a century. Even with vaccinations and (lagging) boosters, the pandemic keeps taking a terrible toll on older people, especially those in poor health or with underlying health conditions or with an embrace of counterfactual nonsense of painfully partisan disinformation. The pandemic also is leaving millions of Americans suffering with sustained debilitation due to medium- and long Covid, a condition that doctors are struggling to treat.
We are not done with the pandemic — and the infection doesn’t care how casual we wish to be about the death and debilitation it can cause. Those with heightened vulnerability to the illness — those who are older, immunocompromised, overweight, and with underlying conditions, or individuals from hard-hit communities of color — still should stay careful, including by keeping on their masks. And, yes, so-called one-way masking has protective benefits.
The savvy will want to build up not discard their supply of masks, nabbing test kits, too (free from the federal government, including a second round of them, and delivered to your door). Just in case.
The vaccines remain life changers and life savers. If you have not gotten your shots, please do so, boosters and all, pronto. Those who had hang-ups about the existing, novel shots, notably with their innovative underlying technology, soon may have access to a late-arriving vaccine made in more traditional ways.
If you haven’t chatted with your doctor for a bit, you should — especially about whether your individual health would benefit from an additional dose of vaccine and when might be the time to get it. Parents should discuss potential shots for their youngest kids and boosters for the older siblings with their pediatricians. (Get the young folks caught up on their shots now if you can, too.) If you have been exposed or think you have gotten infected, please get tested — and quarantine or isolate to protect yourself and others.