Speaking to state governors on Monday, Joe Biden said the dramatic surge in US Covid cases caused by the Omicron variant “should be a source of concern but it should not be a source of panic”.
“If you’re fully vaccinated and got your booster shot,” Biden said, “you’re highly protected. If you’re unvaccinated, you’re at a high risk of getting severely ill from Covid-19, being hospitalised and in some cases dying.”
The president outlined plans to help states tackle the rising caseload. But he did so as uncertainty and disruption continued to spread, particularly in the aviation industry, and as his chief medical adviser said Americans should avoid large New Years events.
Federal officials have said people can safely gather with their families if they are vaccinated but say larger celebrations are riskier. On Monday, Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease official, urged Americans to avoid large gatherings.
“When we are talking about a New Year’s Eve party … I would recommend strongly stay away from that this year. There will be other years to do that, but not this year,” Fauci told CNN.
Fauci added that he hoped the surge in cases would subside in January. But he said infections could still overwhelm hospitals, especially in highly unvaccinated areas.
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Boris Johnson will impose no further Covid restrictions before new year
England will have no further Covid restrictions over New Year’s Eve, Boris Johnson has ruled, meaning nightclubs and mass events can continue but people will be urged to test before seeing those who are vulnerable.
After a virtual briefing with England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, and the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, No 10 said the data would continue to be reviewed but that no new steps would be taken before the new year.
The decision makes England an outlier in the UK, after Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland put limits on social gatherings and mass events.
Instead, Johnson and the health secretary, Sajid Javid, will put an emphasis on personal responsibility, despite warnings from health bosses and trade unions, stressing the needs to wear masks indoors, keep areas ventilated and to take tests before seeing elderly or vulnerable relatives.