The holiday season appeal is too strong. Millions of Americans have started traveling across the United States despite the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, which is reigniting fears related to the pandemic. With 171,000 daily cases on average over seven days, according to the site Covid Act Now, the wave due to Omicron, already largely dominant among new infections, is about to exceed the peak of that due to the Delta variant.
Although policies and restrictions vary from state to state, President Joe Biden set the tone on Tuesday by urging his compatriots not to “Don’t panic” and, thanks to vaccines and tests, to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones as planned – however avoiding too large gatherings. Result: traditional Christmas trips were in full swing on Thursday.
According to estimates by the American Automobile Association, more than 109 million people were expected to leave their immediate area by plane, train or car between December 23 and January 2, a figure up 34% from the year last.
For example, the airline American Airlines had planned 5,300 flights on Thursday, as many as the two previous days. “This represents 86% of our flight program for the same period of 2019”, during the last end-of-year celebrations before the Covid-19 comes at length to obstruct most of the trips, the company said.
But the spread of Omicron, including among airline crews, could complicate plans for many passengers. United Airlines has canceled about 120 flights for the day Friday. “The peak of Omicron cases across the country this week has had a direct impact on our crews and the people who run our operations.”, explained to Agence France-Presse (AFP) the company, which said it was trying to find solutions for the passengers concerned to leave as planned.
Rise in vaccinations and rush for tests
The movements of travelers are accompanied by a vaccination rate that seems to increase again, especially for booster doses, of which 1.3 million were inoculated in twenty-four hours, according to the latest figures made public on Wednesday.
“The best gift you can give yourself is a booster dose”, who protects ” much better “ against severe forms of the disease, tweeted Cyrus Shahpar, White House official for Covid-19 data.
In addition, there has been a scramble for testing sites and self-testing kits in recent days. In the New York neighborhood of Queens, where the federal government has opened three new sites, Gabriel Arevalo explains wanting to make sure it is negative before the holidays: “Even though I’m vaccinated, I know you can still carry the virus, so I just try to make sure that I don’t unnecessarily expose other people, especially at this time, during the holidays and on the go. winter, where we are all on top of each other. “
“It is prudent for everyone to be tested at home, at their convenience, before meeting with members of their family”, abounds Marisha Praman, another resident of Queens, while the municipality also distributes 2,000 screening kits in each of the five boroughs of the city. Overall, the American authorities hope that the policy combining vaccines, tests and barrier gestures will be enough to pass the course without multiplying the new restrictions.
Two new pills against Covid-19
On Thursday, the New York City Hall confirmed that the traditional New Year’s party in Times Square would take place, even if it imposed reduced capacities and the wearing of the mandatory mask.
To cope with the new wave, the country is now also counting on two pills against Covid-19. The day after the authorization of the one developed by the Pfizer laboratory, the American Medicines Agency (FDA) gave its approval on Thursday to the Merck pill, intended for adults at high risk.
And in the event that the Omicron wave does overwhelm the US hospital system anyway, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the main US health agency, on Thursday relaxed its guidelines for the release. isolation of caregivers infected with Covid-19. The latter will be able, if they are asymptomatic, to return to work after seven days of quarantine – against ten days previously – and obtaining a negative test. “This isolation time can be shortened in the event of staff shortages”, even specify the CDC.
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Covid-19: Despite the spread of the Omicron variant, Americans determined to travel for the holidays