The White House COVID-19 Response Team and Public Health Officials held a teleconference on Friday morning to discuss the current state of the virus and America’s response.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director, said the current seven-day daily average of cases is about 86,400, with the seven-day average of hospital admissions being about 6,300 per day. The seven-day average of daily deaths is about 860 per day.
Walensky talked at length about the Omicron variant.
“Around the world, we’ve seen cases in about 40 countries,” she said.
After the first confirmed case was detected in California on Wednesday, additional states such as Minnesota, Colorado, Hawaii and New York have reported the Omicron variant.
“We are prepared and ready to rapidly recognize the Omicron variant,” Walensky said.
Genomic sequencing conducted at the University of California San Francisco led to the first case being reported in the U.S.
As cases emerge, the CDC will continue to collaborate with state and local public health authorities to support contact tracing, encourage post-arrival testing of international travelers and assist with prevention strategies.
The CDC is urging providers to get all eligible Americans boosted immediately. In addition, there is support to enhance and streamline genomic sequencing nationally as well as expanding surveillance of international travelers.
Walensky said while the news is fixated on the Omicron variant, it is important to remember 99.9 percent of cases in America are from the Delta variant.
“Delta continues to drive cases across the country,” she said. “Especially in those who are unvaccinated. So, here’s what’s important to know: Our recommendations for protecting against COVID remain the same, regardless of the variant. Our best protection against COVID-19 is our proven layered prevention strategies. This includes getting vaccinated if you have not already and getting a booster dose if you are eligible, along with wearing a mask in public indoor areas, frequently washing your hands, improving ventilation, physical distancing and increased testing to slow transmission of the virus.”
Walensky acknowledged there is still “a lot” to learn about Omicron, but we are in a far better position now than we were at this time last year.
“Not only do we now have knowledge and experience from addressing other variants, such as Delta, we also have far more tools with proven prevention methods and more treatment options to fight the virus than we had at this time last year,” she said.