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Tag: omicron surge

DeSantis Covid Address Is Cluster Of Lies And Blaming

After weeks of being MIA during an unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases in his state, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a press conference in Fort Lauderdale Monday.

He spent much of his time, as did his stunningly anti-science surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, dismissing COVID-19 vaccines as a help, downplaying the severity of symptoms of the omicron variant, and whining and complaining about how the federal government isn’t giving him the monoclonal treatment meds he’s convinced he needs.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, who oversees Orlando County, the largest in the state, ripped into DeSantis Tuesday, demanding to know where the governor was and why he wasn’t offering any help.

“Our residents, all Florida residents, should be outraged, and they should ask the question, ‘Where is our state? Where is our governor? Where is Ron DeSantis now?’ When is the last time you saw the governor do a press briefing on COVID-19?” Demings said at a press conference.

Miami-Dade had officially hit a 25 percent positivity rate, meaning one in four tests has returned positive in the last week.

DeSantis continues to advocate for COVID-19 treatment—meaning monoclonal antibody, specifically Regeneron, treatments—versus vaccinations, masks, social distancing, and virtual gatherings as prevention or as a way of minimizing illness. He repeatedly said Monday he would open more sites to offer treatment, but only based on what the state would be provided by the federal government.

DeSantis, along with Sen. Marco Rubio, has been going on and on for months about how they’re begging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to reverse course on the November decision to ration monoclonal antibody (mAb) drugs for the outpatient treatment of COVID-19.

DeSantis went on to make light of the COVID-19 cases, and again blamed the federal government for the lack of home tests, but took no responsibility for the lack of testing centers in the state.

What DeSantis left out of his finger-pointing presser was that vaccines and boosters are significant when it comes to how sick you get, with omicron or any known variant of COVID-19.

DeSantis also attempted to divert blame and diminish stunning coronavirus cases as just something that happened when patients are admitted, for one thing, get tested, and find out they have COVID-19.

According to a new study done in the U.K., COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of hospitalization from omicron across the board, and a booster dose provides the highest level of protection.

The study analyzed more than 528,000 omicron cases and 573,000 delta cases from November 22 through December 26 in England.

Ladapo admitted that hospitalizations weren’t nearly as high as case numbers in the state, which is likely due to vaccines and boosters, but instead focused on the reversal of the “completely senseless” decision of the federal government to withhold “effective treatments” for people.

In reality, there was a pause on Sotrovimab shipments for about three weeks, but by December 17, the federal government resumed shipping, distributing about 1,000 doses to Florida, and on December 27, another 2,580 doses.

Federal data shows that Florida hospitals also have nearly 10,000 doses of Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment on hand, and about 4,000 doses of Eli Lilly’s treatment. However, according to the Tampa Bay Times, those therapies have not proven to be effective against the omicron variant of the virus, leaving an overwhelming demand for GlaxoSmithKline’s Sotrovimab.

Ladapo spoke extensively about treatments but refused to discuss using masks or getting vaccines.

”It’s time for people to be living and make the decision they want regarding vaccination and enjoy the fact that many people have natural immunity and unwind this preoccupation with only Covid as determining the boundaries and constraints and possibilities of life,” Ladapo said.

The surgeon general then went on to talk about “low-value” COVID-19 testing versus “high-value” testing. Meaning that older and more at-risk people should get tests versus children and healthier adults.

Again, in reality, Ladapo’s comments are 100 percent irresponsible and inaccurate. Bloomberg reports pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen to record levels in the omicron surge, amplifying the need for kids to get boosters and vaccines.

New hospital admissions of kids with COVID-19 have increased 66 percent to 378 a day on average for the week ending Tuesday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The last peak occurred in early September at a daily count of 342.

On Monday, the FDA authorized Pfizer booster vaccines for kids 12 to 15.

“The majority of our hospitalized kids are in the hospital because they are sick with COVID symptoms,” Roberta DeBiasi, the hospital’s infectious disease chief told Bloomberg. She added that it’s rare for children to arrive for another reason and be incidentally diagnosed with COVID-19.

“We occasionally have someone who, for instance, was here for surgery or trauma and was noted to be positive for Covid, but that is not very common,” said DeBiasi.

Ladapo defended Regeneron, saying that there’s “a difference between laboratory data and clinical data,” and alleging that perhaps monoclonal treatments were withheld because the head of HHS, Becerra doesn’t have a clinical background.

DeSantis finished the press conference declaring that Florida schools would not close and should not have mitigations. He railed against masks, particularly cloth masks—which the CDC has recently said aren’t as effective for omicron and urged the public to up their mask game. “I think they have a right to breathe,” DeSantis said, referring to mask usage.

”Let’s just be honest with people. When you have something that’s this widespread that is airborne, simply putting a cloth over [their faces] and thinking that it will somehow provide good protection, that’s just not accurate,” DeSantis said about what he called “draconian policies.”

DeSantis ended by slamming vaccine passports, saying they haven’t worked and that not having them is the reason people enjoy traveling to Florida.

Watch the entire DeSantis address below:

Florida Governor Ron Desantis Offers Lies and Blame on Omicron 

Article reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Omicron's March Sparks Urgent Global Calls For Vaccinations

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's political leaders were set to hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday as cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant broke infection records and forced countries around to world to double down on vaccinations, just days before Christmas.

Authorities globally have imposed new restrictions and stepped up inoculation efforts as Omicron emerges as the dominant strain of the virus, upending imminent reopening plans that many governments hoped would herald the start of a post-pandemic era in 2022.

Singapore will freeze all new ticket sales for flights and buses under its programme for quarantine-free travel into the city-state from Dec. 23 to Jan. 20, the government said on Wednesday, citing risk from the fast-spreading Omicron.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday promised half a billion free rapid COVID-19 tests and warned the quarter of American adults who are unvaccinated that their choices could spell the "difference between life and death."

In response to the surge in cases, Asia-Pacific countries are also looking to shorten the time between second vaccination shots and boosters. However, wary of public lockdown fatigue, there is reluctance to return to the strict curbs imposed during the spread of the Delta variant earlier this year.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday urged leaders of the country's states to reopen hundreds of vaccination hubs to accelerate the rollout of booster shots after they were shut down as demand slowed when double-dose rates in people above 16 years topped 80 percent.

"That's a very important part of today's discussion," Morrison said ahead of a snap meeting of national Cabinet on Wednesday, which includes of federal and state leaders.

He said decisions about bringing forward the vaccination scheduled would depend on expert advice.

Australia on Wednesday reported more than 5,000 daily infections for the first time during the pandemic, eclipsing the previous high of around 4,600 a day earlier, with the bulk of cases in its most populous states of New South Wales and Victoria.

Despite the Omicron surge, Morrison on Tuesday ruled out lockdowns and insisted that limiting the spread of the virus comes down to personal responsibility.

There was also resistance to new lockdowns in South Korea, where authorities announced restrictions on gatherings and operating times for restaurants, cafes and bars.

While polls still show wide support for South Korea's fresh curbs, some of its strictest yet, many small businesses have complained that restrictions leave them overstaffed and overstocked, having prepared for a holiday season under looser rules.

Small business and restaurant associations issued statements protesting the decision and calling for compensation, with one of the groups vowing to stage a demonstration on Wednesday.

New Urgency

Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization's European head, on Tuesday warned of a "storm" that Omicron would bring, "pushing already stretched health systems further to the brink."

Germany, Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands and South Korea are among countries that have reimposed partial or full lockdowns or other social distancing measures in recent days.

Portugal ordered nightclubs and bars to close and told people to work from home for at least two weeks from Saturday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would not introduce new COVID-19 curbs in England before Christmas, but the situation remained extremely difficult and the government might need to act afterwards.

Governments have stepped up vaccination and treatment efforts with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration set to authorise COVID-19 treatment pills from Pfizer Inc and Merck , Bloomberg News reported.

Israel will offer a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to people older than 60.

For now, financial markets have taken Omicron's spread in their stride, having reclaimed some of the heavy losses made after virus headlines earlier this week.

Policymakers are, however, scrambling to address the economic hit that might come from new outbreaks with Britain announcing 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) of extra support for businesses hit hardest by Omicron.

With much still not known about the severity of Omicron infections, businesses are also worried about a swathe of cancellations affecting big-ticket events in the new year.

North America's National Hockey League will not send its players to compete in the men's ice hockey tournament at the Beijing Winter Olympics due to COVID-19 concerns, ESPN reported on Tuesday.

That would not only affect league players in the U.S. and Canadian ice hockey teams, but also those in the Olympic squads of Sweden, Finland and Germany

(Reporting by Renju Jose in Sydney, Josh Smith in Seoul; Writing by Sam Holmes; Editing by Michael Perry)