The United States on Sunday recorded 305,100 new cases of COVID-19 and 330 deaths.
The drop in cases and deaths was dramatic – falling from 900,000 cases reported on Saturday and 2,615 deaths. But the lower numbers in that analysis of Johns Hopkins University figures by DailyMail.com are believed to be due to a lag in reporting, rather than a significant improvement in the situation.
On Sunday New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the latest high-profile politician to confirm a COVID-19 infection.
The 32-year-old made the announcement on her official Twitter page Sunday night, sharing a statement on House of Representatives headed paper which said: ‘Representative Ocasio-Cortez has received a positive test result for COVID-19.
‘She is experiencing symptoms and is recovering at home. The Congresswoman received her booster shot this Fall, and encourages everyone to get their booster and follow all CDC guidance.’
AOC then added some of her own guidance in a follow-up tweet, writing: ‘For information on what to do if you’re exposed to COVID, test positive or want to schedule a test or vaccine in New York City — see our round-up of CDC and NYC resources here,’ before adding a link to a personal website.
It’s not known where she caught the virus, although she was pictured partying maskless during a brunch event in South Beach, Miami, on January 2
AOC has tested positive for COVID days after she was pictured partying maskless in Miami with actor Billy Porter (pictured in animal print)
AOC and Porter hugged during the outdoor event – he has yet to comment on her diagnosis, and its unclear if the Pose star has himself been exposed or infected
AOC was also snapped enjoying cocktails at a Miami sushi restaurant with boyfriend Riley Roberts, with Roberts’ Birkenstocks sparking a subsequent war of words between the firebrand congresswoman and conservative commentators
The progressive representative revealed her diagnosis on her Twitter page Sunday night
News of AOC’s diagnosis triggered online mockery, with one commentator saying AOC shouldn’t have visited Florida, and another mocking the lawmaker’s claim that conservatives angry about her trip to the Sunshine State were actually harboring a secret crush on her
It is unclear when or how AOC became infected.
Despite staunchly advocating for mask and vaccine mandates, AOC abandoned her own rhetoric last week during a trip to Miami, Florida, where she was spotted maskless at numerous venues.
Her vacation was dragged on Twitter by conservatives, including a Twitter account devoted to and endorsed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, which invited her to ‘enjoy a taste of freedom’ in the Sunshine State.
‘Welcome to Florida, AOC! We hope you’re enjoying a taste of freedom here in the Sunshine State thanks to @RonDeSantisFL’s leadership,’ the tweet, by the Team DeSantis account, read.
Ocasio-Cortez responded to photos and criticism online with a tweet saying: ‘Hasn’t Gov. DeSantis been inexplicably missing for like 2 weeks?
‘If he’s around, I would be happy to say hello. His social media team seems to have been posting old photos for weeks. In the meantime, perhaps I could help with local organizing. Folks are quite receptive here.’
Her infection came as a former member of President Joe Biden‘s Transition COVID Advisory Board said on Sunday he expects COVID will become ‘endemic’ like the flu later this year.
In total, as of Sunday, the United States has seen 60 million cases since the COVID pandemic first began two years ago, with 900,000 deaths.
The surge in cases has led to a nationwide shortage in available staff members to handle business and services, with 5 million people serving in police and fire departments calling out sick.
Many experts have said the infection rate will continue to increase for the next few weeks before the Omicron surge peaks later this month, with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease director Dr. Anthony Fauci saying on Friday that the US will likely record more than 1 million cases daily on a regular basis in coming weeks.
‘It’s still surging upward… I would not be surprised at all if we go over a million cases per day,’ he told WNBC-TV.
‘I would hope that by the time we get to the fourth week in January — end of the third week, beginning of the fourth week – that we will start see this coming down.’
By the end of the year, a former member of Biden’s Transition COVID Advisory Board said on Sunday, the COVID pandemic could even become endemic, meaning diagnoses numbers would become stable and predictable.
‘I would say we’re not yet in the endemic stage. We’re still in the pandemic stage,’ Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel told NBC host Chuck Todd, during a panel discussion on Sunday’s Meet the Press.
‘If you’ve got 1,500 people a dying from this disease it’s still a pandemic and Omicron is spreading.’
But, he continued: ‘We think that over the course of 2022, we will get to an endemic stage – and the plan is – or the proposal is – we need a strategic plan for that, that covers vaccines, getting more people vaccinated, and the only way to do that, as we’ve been very clear over time, is mandates.’
Emanuel said that about 60 percent of Americans voluntarily received a COVID vaccine, but the numbers increased once workplace and jurisdictional vaccine mandates were instituted.
As of Sunday, more than 74 percent of all Americans have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine and 62.5 percent are fully vaccinated.
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a former member of President Joe Biden’s Transition COVID Advisory Board, said on Sunday that COVID could become ‘endemic’ like the flu later this year in the United States
Emanuel also said on Sunday that new treatments and other mitigation measures will also play a role in helping the virus become more manageable, noting: ‘We need to improve our ventilation system. We need to get more therapies and get the link between a positive test and getting therapy much closer so you can actually start in three days and not only the rich and well-off get it.
‘Those are kinds of things we need to put in place over the next three months to be prepared when COVID is really just in the air, like RSV – another respiratory virus, like influenza, like adenovirus, all the respiratory viruses.
‘It’s going to be here,’ he continued. ‘We’re going to learn to live with it.’
His comments come as health officials in the UK reported that cases decreased 6.7 percent on Sunday to 141,472 new cases, and COVID hospitalizations in London, which has been ravaged in recent weeks by the Omicron surge, has decreased 31 percent to 310 on January 6 – the latest date regional data is available for.
UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) figures from Saturday also show there were 146,390 new positive tests over the past 24 hours, down 18.5 percent on the previous week’s figure of 179,637.
That marked the biggest week-on-week fall since the start of November, well before the mutant strain sent cases soaring across the country.
But the number of people dying with the virus, however, rose 32.9 percent in the UK, with 97 deaths reported on Sunday, compared to 73 reported one week prior.
It marked the biggest week-on-week fall since the start of November, well before the mutant strain sent cases soaring across the country.
Experts now hope nationwide numbers will continue to follow London’s trajectory of rapidly falling cases and now hospitalizations. A similar trend was seen Omicron ground zero South Africa, which saw a sharp peak in cases before infections quickly dropped off.
But in the United States, the surge in Omicron infections is causing a breakdown in basic functions and services two years into the pandemic.
‘This really does, I think, remind everyone of when COVID-19 first appeared and there were such major disruptions across every part of our normal life,’ said Tom Cotter, director of emergency response and preparedness at the global health nonprofit Project HOPE.
‘And the unfortunate reality is, there’s no way of predicting what will happen next until we get our vaccination numbers – globally – up.’
First responders, hospitals, schools and government agencies have employed an all-hands-on-deck approach to keep the public safe, but they are worried how much longer they can keep it up.
California is now allowing hospitals to force COVID-positive asymptomatic staff to work as the state grapples with a surge of Omicron cases and staff shortages.
‘Hospitals have to exhaust all other options before resorting to this temporary tool. Facilities and providers using this tool, should have asymptomatic COVID-19 positive workers interact only with COVID-19 positive patients to the extent possible,’ a statement issued by the California Department of Public Health on Saturday read.
The news sparked outrage among advocates for health workers, who argue hospital staff has carried the weight of the pandemic on their shoulders and are now being put at risk, along with their patients.
‘Healthcare workers and patients need the protection of clear rules guided by strong science. Allowing employers to bring back workers who may still be infectious is one of the worst ideas I have heard during this pandemic, and that’s really saying something,’ Bob Schoonover, President of SEIU California told CBS Sacramento.
Health and human Services Secretary Dr Mark Ghaly said on Wednesday ‘some facilities are going to be strapped,’ as the Omicron variants spike worsens the situation.
About 40 percent of hospitals are expected to face critical shortages.
Kiyomi Burchill, a member of the California Hospital Association, said some hospitals have reported as much as one quarter of their staff out for COVID-19.