Since the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, the United States has seen five waves of the deadly virus. In fact, during the last year only, the US went through three of these five waves, with the new variants wreaking havoc across the country.
The Alpha variant of COVID-19 was responsible for a new wave of cases in early Spring 2021 when the US was on a vaccination drive, and a record number of vaccines were administered every day. In the Summer of 2021, the Delta variant was the dominant coronavirus strain in the US, and it led to a large number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the South, the Midwest, and the Rocky Mountain regions of the country. Towards the end of the year, Omicron surfaced as the most contagious coronavirus strain and resulted in a record number of infections.
Even today, in the latter half of 2022, the country is dealing with two new sub-variants of Omicron – the BA.4 and BA.5. Fortunately, however, the severity of cases caused by Omicron is lower compared to the previous variants, and fewer cases have resulted in hospitalization or death. The current wave has caused minimal disruption, and America has managed to weather through it with businesses and schools largely remaining open.
As we look to emerge from the latest Omicron wave, let’s have a recap of the impact COVID-19 has had on the country and how our government has responded to keep us floating.
The Impact Of The COVID-19 Virus
COVID-19 has been devastating during the last couple of years and has inflicted serious damage upon the human capital and the world economies. In the US alone, 98,779,943 coronavirus cases have been registered, leading to 1,089,916 deaths by the time of this writing.
According to an article published in JAMA Viewpoint in October 2020, COVID-19 would cost an estimated $16 trillion dollars to the US in terms of economic damages, monetized health, and life loss combined. Since then, this figure has been cited extensively and even used in policy-making discussions.
Here are some facts from a 2020 study:
- The pandemic has damaged small businesses the most, bringing the revenue down by 20 percent
- The declining business revenue has led many firms to insolvency
- The number of Chapter 11 bankruptcies has increased significantly
- Due to economic contraction, the number of prime-age labor force participants not working has multiplied
- Labor income loss and job loss have affected low-income households and the households with kids the most
These facts are just the tip of the iceberg, but they do give you a fair bit of an idea of the scale of the devastation inflicted by COVID-19 in the United States. Nevertheless, the authorities have been vigilant and taking continuous steps to keep the impact of the virus to a minimum and curb its spread. The administration has initiated awareness campaigns and taken necessary steps to develop and manufacture cures, procure vaccines, and encourage people to have at home PCR test or get a free rt PCR test near me.
Omicron COVID-19 Strain and Its Sub-Variants BA.4 and BA.5
Currently, the United States is dealing with the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of the Omicron strain of coronavirus. These are the most contagious variants of the virus discovered so far, and they spread at a fast pace, resulting in recent surges in the number of COVID-19 cases.
According to reports, the BA.5 strain is responsible for almost two-thirds of the new infections in the United States, and the cases have been increasing in all the states.
In July, New York Times reported a 17 percent increase in the number of COVID-19 cases over a 14-day period. During that same period, an 18 percent rise was observed in hospitalizations, and a 22 percent increase was noticed in the average number of COVID-19 patients in the ICU. The death average also saw a 10 percent rise.
The actual numbers are believed to be higher than the projections above as many people prefer at home PCR test, and the data does not include those as they are not reported often.
A Look Into The Characteristics and Transmissibility of the New Strain
Every successive coronavirus variant has been more contagious than the one preceding it. The same goes for the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of Omicron.
Though the BA.5 substantially evades the vaccination- and infection-induced neutralizing antibodies, the vaccines can still effectively reduce the possibility of severe illness. Nevertheless, the BA.5 subvariant is more immune evading and transmissible than other Omicron sub-variants known to date.
Reports suggest that in most individuals the new strain causes a mild infection, with younger patients experiencing severe fatigue. It does not show some common symptoms like loss of smell or taste. Still, however, some people might get a severe disease that may lead to hospitalization and death in some cases.
Doctors recommend that keeping updated on your COVID-19 vaccines puts you at a reduced risk of getting the virus. However, if anyone has COVID-19 symptoms, they should instantly get a PCR test near me.
How The Government Has Dealt With COVID-19 So Far?
The US has been through five waves of the COVID-19 pandemic since the outbreak in 2020. In the early phases, we had fewer tools for protection against COVID-19, and the supply of these tools was also very limited. In the last year or so, the US Administration – together with the states, localities, and partners from the public and private sectors – has produced an unprecedented response to provide Americans with the tools required for their protection.
The vaccines have been at the core of the government’s COVID-19 response, as they make the best tool available for preventing new cases, hospitalization, and death. During the pandemic, the Administration initiated the biggest free vaccination program in the history of the country, setting up over 90,000 vaccination sites, including various federally-administered mass vaccination centers. These vaccination locations could administer over 125,000 shots per day.
Due to this unprecedented effort, over 215 million Americans have been fully vaccinated today. An estimate from December 2021 suggested that the American vaccination drive has helped saved more than 1 million lives in the US while also preventing more than 10 million hospitalizations. This certainly reduced the load on hospitals significantly and helped ensure those hospitalized get the best care possible.
There’s been a serious effort to bring life back to normal, and America has reopened in phases, with the latest Omicron wave causing the least disruption to schools and businesses.
Furthermore, the government has managed to dramatically increase the country’s testing supply. Today, we have 21,500 free testing sites all over the country. Besides, by January 2022, Americans had access to over 480 million home PCR antigen tests along with other options for local PCR testing.
The Administration is continually making efforts to enhance the available tools for protection against COVID-19 and treating the infection. There’s been a robust plan in place to ensure life continues as normal moving forward. The US citizens should also play their part to support the government’s efforts by getting vaccinated and maintaining social distancing and other recommended measures. If you notice symptoms in yourself or your loved ones, instantly order a PCR home test here.