Americans navigating the COVID-19 pandemic in the latest wave of the virus say frequent changes in federal guidelines are not making their lives easier. And they are not alone in their frustration.
The concerns come as the number of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise in most states. Some prominent health experts who have supported the CDC and its scientific decisions since the start of the pandemic are now criticizing the agency for poor communication.
The agency’s “messaging problem” can be broken down into three main issues, health experts said, the most important of which is inconsistent transparency.
With every policy update, the CDC must back up its decision with clear data and translate the science so the general public can understand it, said Thomas Hipper, associate director of the Center for Public Health Readiness and Communication at Dornsife. School of Public Health at Drexel University. .
When announcing the new isolation guidelines on Dec. 27, CDC officials did not specifically cite the science, Hipper said.
“Just announcing the change and trying to explain it without a clear rationale leaves you with questions,” he said. “Letting the public see these flawed choices helps justify why the decision was made.”
Health experts said the second issue contributing to the CDC’s messaging problem is that local health departments and national organizations feel left out of agency decision-making.
Finally, experts said, the CDC has exposed itself to accusations of lack of accountability. The agency reiterated that the science of the pandemic is evolving, and while this is true, health experts say the CDC has yet to acknowledge its mistakes in this space of inherent uncertainty.
“It humanizes this effort and would go a long way in rebuilding trust,” Hipper said. “There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that ‘Hey, we didn’t do everything right, but we are committed to doing it as well as possible.'”
Also in the news:
► COVID-19 hospitalizations in New Jersey have increased by 28% since January 2. And the number of people needing a ventilator jumped to 500 on Monday – a 71% jump during that time.
►Novak Djokovic admitted on Wednesday that his Australian travel declaration form contained incorrect information, and he also confessed to an “error in judgment” while participating in an interview and photoshoot in Serbia last month after testing positive for COVID-19.
►The United States Army, for the first time, is offering a maximum enlistment bonus of $ 50,000 to recruits who sign up for six years as the service struggles to lure soldiers into critical jobs amid the pandemic, according to the Associated Press.
??The numbers of the day: The United States has recorded more than 62.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 843,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: Over 315 million cases and nearly 5.5 million deaths. More than 208 million Americans – 62.7% – are fully immunized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
??What we read: Should you dab your throat with a home COVID test in the middle of omicron? That’s why the experts say no.
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Infections, hospitalizations, deaths on the rise in almost every state
The rate of new COVID-19 reports in the United States continues to increase, averaging more than 9 cases per second over the past week. The country reported more than 5.5 million cases in the week ending Wednesday, according to USA TODAY analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. This is up from 5.3 million in the seven-day period that ended on Tuesday.
Analysis shows that compared to a week earlier, 47 states had an increasing number of cases, 38 states had an increasing number of deaths, and 49 states had more COVID-19 patients in hospital beds. The country now has more than 152,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, according to federal data, with around 25,200 intensive care beds.
– Mike stucka
More children hospitalized, but cases are usually not too severe
More children in America are testing positive for the coronavirus as the country breaks records of cases and hospitalizations. Children have accounted for more than 7 million cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. The United States has seen more than 60 million cases in total.
Given the “astonishing number of new infections” in children every day, University of South Florida professor of epidemiology Jason Salemi expects to see more children hospitalized with COVID-19 within weeks future. Fortunately, due to the relatively mild symptoms in most omicron patients, the vast majority of these cases won’t be too severe, experts say. You can find details and data on children and COVID here.
– Janie Haseman and Aleszu Bajak
COVID patients crowd out other patients in need
Much like a growing wave of COVID-19 patients in need of care, hospitals face serious staffing challenges as many are themselves ill, caring for family members or quarantined due to illness. ‘an exhibition. About one in five hospitals reported having “critical staff shortages” in data released Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services, according to an analysis by USA TODAY. One in four predicted critical shortages over the next week. Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, and New Hampshire have less than 10% capacity remaining in their intensive care units.
Doctors like Chicago’s cancer surgeon, Dr. Ryan Merkow, face heartbreaking decisions about who should be operated on and who should wait. He said Northwestern Memorial Hospital is “full of COVID patients. Our surgical floors have been converted to COVID floors.” Some cancer patients undergo chemotherapy and bring in family members by plane to help them recover.
“And then we have to pull the mat under them,” he said. Read more here.
– Elizabeth Weise and Kristen Jordan Shamus
Biden sends medical teams to wave-submerged states
The federal government is sending medical teams to six states – New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Michigan and New Mexico – to help hospitals overburdened with COVID-19, USA TODAY has learned.
President Joe Biden is expected to announce the deployments on Thursday when reviewing measures taken by the administration to deal with an increase in infections caused by the omicron variant, according to a White House official.
His remarks come as hospitalizations for COVID-19 set records. Some hospitals are delaying elective surgeries as states deploy National Guard personnel to health facilities.
In the face of even pressure from members of his own party to do more to bring the pandemic under control, Biden’s new actions are expected to focus on additional manpower.
– Maureen Groppe and Donovan Slack, USA TODAY
Contribution: The Associated Press