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Biden deploys navy medical groups to hospitals in six states as omicron disrupts important providers

A soldier transports a affected person at UMass Memorial Medical Heart in Worcester, Massachusetts on December 30, 2021.

Joseph Prezioso | AFP | Getty Photographs

President Joe Biden on Thursday introduced the deployment of six groups of navy medical personnel to overwhelmed hospitals in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Michigan and New Mexico.

The deployments, which whole 120 personnel, come as hospitals grapple with staffing shortages as nurses and different medical personnel name out sick from omicron amid a surge of sufferers contaminated with the extremely contagious Covid variant.

Biden additionally mentioned the administration plans to purchase a further 500 million Covid checks, on prime of the 500 million it’s already procuring, to distribute totally free throughout America.

The U.S. has deployed greater than 800 navy and emergency personnel since Thanksgiving, Biden mentioned. Greater than 14,000 Nationwide Guard members have additionally been activated in 49 states to help with the response to Covid, in response to the president.

Biden mentioned the U.S. has additionally greater than tripled the nationwide stockpile of high-quality N95 masks.

“I’ve made positive that our docs and nurses and first responders have the masks that they want,” he mentioned. “By no means once more are we will have our nurses utilizing selfmade masks and rubbish luggage over their clothes for hospitals as a result of they do not have the robes.”

Biden mentioned his administration would additionally make extremely protecting masks out there totally free to People who can not afford them.

“I do know that for some People, the masks shouldn’t be at all times inexpensive or handy to get,” Biden mentioned. “So subsequent week we’ll announce how we’re making high-quality masks out there to the American folks.”

Covid-19 hospitalizations are increased than final winter’s peak, earlier than the widespread distribution of vaccines. Greater than 152,000 folks within the U.S. had been hospitalized with Covid as of Wednesday, up 18% over the past week, in response to knowledge tracked by the Division of Well being and Human Providers.

“So long as we’ve tens of thousands and thousands of people that won’t get vaccinated, we will have full hospitals and useless deaths,” Biden mentioned. “So the one most vital factor to find out your consequence on this pandemic is getting vaccinated.”

The U.S. reported nearly 900,000 new infections on Wednesday, bringing the seven-day common to greater than 786,000 new circumstances per day — a pandemic report and a 37% enhance over the earlier week, in response to a CNBC evaluation of information compiled by Johns Hopkins College.

A mean of greater than 1,000 hospitals nationwide are presently reporting crucial staffing shortages, in response to HHS knowledge. Nonetheless, it is probably an undercount as a result of many hospitals weren’t reporting their standing as of Wednesday.

Dr. Gillian Schmitz, president of the American School of Emergency Physicians, mentioned the pressure on front-line employees is worse now than at some other level within the pandemic.

“Many locations throughout the nation are attending to the purpose the place even their backup workers are getting sick,” Schmitz instructed CNBC on Wednesday. “Just about the entire nation proper now’s feeling this surge of circumstances that’s impacting staffing.”

CNBC Well being & Science

Biden introduced his plan to deploy 1,000 navy medical personnel to assist hospitals in December as omicron was quickly overtaking the delta variant. The Federal Emergency Administration Company can also be offering extra hospital beds and sending ambulances and EMS groups to assist transport sufferers.

“It is not sufficient,” Schmitz instructed CNBC on Wednesday. “I do know everyone seems to be making an attempt to assist as greatest we will, however there are restricted sources even inside our nationwide construction.”

Epidemiologists have warned that the sheer magnitude of omicron infections nonetheless threatens to overwhelm hospitals with sufferers, even when the variant is mostly much less extreme than delta.

Infectious illness consultants, in a research this week, discovered that omicron sufferers at Kaiser Permanente Southern California had been 74% much less prone to want intensive care and 91% much less prone to die from the virus in contrast with individuals who caught the delta variant. Not one of the omicron sufferers required mechanical air flow, in response to the research.

The general danger of hospitalizations was additionally 52% decrease for omicron sufferers in contrast with individuals who had delta, in response to the research. Hospital stays for omicron sufferers had been additionally about three days shorter than than their delta counterparts.

Kaiser Permanente Southern California offers care to greater than 4.7 million folks. The research, which has not been peer-reviewed but, analyzed greater than 52,000 omicron circumstances and almost 17,000 delta circumstances.

Docs and nurses have warned about staffing shortages for months. The American Nurses Affiliation in September known as on the Biden administration to declare the nursing scarcity a nationwide disaster.

“The nation’s well being care supply programs are overwhelmed, and nurses are drained and pissed off as this persistent pandemic rages on endlessly,” ANA President Ernest Grant mentioned on the time. “Nurses alone can not remedy this longstanding concern and it’s not our burden to hold,” Grant mentioned.

Performing Meals and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock instructed lawmakers on Tuesday the U.S. should guarantee hospitals and different important providers do not break down as folks name out sick.

“It is laborious to course of what’s truly occurring proper now, which is most individuals are going to get Covid,” Woodcock testified earlier than the Senate well being committee on Tuesday. “What we have to do is ensure that the hospitals can nonetheless operate, transportation, different important providers are usually not disrupted whereas this occurs.”

 — CNBC’s Christina Wilkie contributed to this text.

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