With millions of Americans still struggling to buy COVID tests at pharmacies and on Amazon, President Joe Biden has decided to order the federal government to procure another 500MM COVID tests to meet “future demand”, according to media reports leaked to preview a speech that Biden will make later in the day.
The president, who has been criticized for not focusing enough on testing, is also preparing to dispatch more military personnel to aide struggling US hospitals, which remain overwhelmed.
Interestingly, most Americans haven’t yet received any of the last batch of 500MM tests that Biden purchased. Several states are still struggling to disburse them to towns and counties. But by buying up more tests, Biden is sopping up critical supply so it can sit in a government warehouse.
Additionally, President Biden is also ordering roughly 1,000 military personnel to six states where they will assist at overwhelmed hospitals. The states include Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island. As daily case numbers continue to eclipse 1MM cases, the number of Americans hospitalized has climbed to 142,000 across the country.
Already, more than 14K National Guard members have been activated in 49 states to help at hospitals with vaccinations, testing and other medical services.
What’s more, as President Biden gears up for his third alarmist press conference since the start of the winter wave, it looks like COVID cases are actually plateauing in a few key areas that were among the first – and hardest hit – areas by omicron.
As the NYT reminds us, the number of new COVID cases in NYC increased by more than 20x since the start of December. In the past few days, it has flattened. In both New Jersey and Maryland, the number of new cases has fallen slightly this week. In several major cities, the number is also showing signs of leveling off.
And it’s not just the case data that are showing a decline. In Boston, researchers have been testing wastewater to track the concentration of virus in the city’s sewers. In recent weeks, the amount detectable in wastewater has plunged about 40%.
“We really try not to ever make any predictions about this virus, because it always throws us for a loop,” Dr. Shira Doron, an epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center, told GBH News.
“But at least the wastewater is suggesting a steep decline, and so we hope that means cases will decline steeply as well, and then hospitalizations and deaths will follow.”
While we can’t be certain that this marks the end of the omicron wave, there’s at least good reason to be confident.
As we shared earlier in the week, analysts at Morgan Stanley projected that the current omicron wave would likely peak in three weeks.
That would certainly be a relief for Biden, who has seen his approval rating sink to a record low 33%…