As the omicron variant of coronavirus continues to spread across the United States, state leaders have ordered millions of COVID-19 rapid tests ahead of the new year.
The state of Connecticut plans to distribute three million home COVID-19 rapid tests and 6 million N95 face masks in an effort to protect its residents from the variant.
On Tuesday, Gov. Ned Lamont announced that he was convening nearly 100 members of the Connecticut National Guard to do so.
BIDEN ADMIN’S PLAN TO DISTRIBUTE 500M COVID TESTS STARTS NEXT MONTH NOTHING ENOUGH, HEALTH EXPERTS SAY
The first award to the general public will include the distribution of 500,000 iHealth sets, each containing two tests, with distribution to next week. Another million iHealth kits will be given to elementary schools across the country.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has granted an emergency use permit for the iHealth COVID-19 antigen rapid test.
The total cost of the three million tests is approximately $ 18.5 million, paid for through federal funding.
In addition, the Connecticut Department of Public Health is in the process of adding more test sites.
“Connecticut is currently experiencing another increase in COVID-19 cases, which are mainly driven by the highly transferable Omicron variant,” Lamont said in a statement. “As a result, the demand for tests has surpassed the supply of tests available through our nationwide network of about 400 locations. The week between Christmas and New Year is likely to be a period of high transmission and we should have time off in 2022. for a good start by helping residents identify COVID-19 quickly and take these steps to isolate appropriately to curb any further spread. “
However, Lamont said in a statement Wednesday that shipping and warehouse delays had held up Connecticut’s expected shipment of COVID-19 home-fast tests.
Also on Wednesday, Connecticut topped 500,000 infections since the start of the pandemic, and hospital admissions across the country have been pushed to more than 1,100 for the first time since January.
In nearby New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul said the same day that her administration fully wants to introduce a “test for state program” to ensure child safety in schools.
“No one saw how much we needed test kits, but we were really ahead of this,” she told reporters. “We ordered 37 million tests to be available. They are not all here yet. But every time a plane flies over, I say, ‘Is this the one who has my supplies on it?’ “We’re getting literally 500,000 here, another million here, and we’re getting them out so they’re there when you need them to make sure your schools have everything they need.”
Hochul said New York – which has seen an increase in cases over the past few months – is preparing for an increase in January and believes there will be a continuous increase in the number of positive tests and hospitalizations.
CORONAVIRUS TESTING PLACES PLAGUE WITH LONG WAITING AND LINES WHEN OMICRON STRIKES: ‘OVERWHELMING’
New York City on Tuesday reported a record number of newly confirmed cases in excess of 39,500. More than 90% of the city’s adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.
The annual Times Square New Year’s Eve is still a “go”, though officials have turned down the festivities.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 test lines are blocks long and home tests are scarce for those seeking pharmacies.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the answer is to “double the number of vaccinations” and that the city “is open.”
De Blasio announced Tuesday that New York will provide the city’s public schools with two million home test kits.
Vermont plans to distribute 87,000 home test kits to parents and guardians of children returning to school.
“I urge families to take advantage of these rapid tests,” Governor Phil Scott said in a Wednesday statement. “Testing your child before school starts gives you peace of mind and will slow down the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. It will also help protect the most vulnerable and keep schools open so children can get the education they have need and deserve. “
New COVID-19 cases in the United States have risen to their highest level ever, and the omicron-driven rise is bringing children to the hospital in near-record numbers – especially those who are unvaccinated.
During the week 21.-27. December, an average of 334 children aged 17 and under were hospitalized daily with coronavirus, an increase of 58% over the week before, according to CDC data.
President Biden promised to provide 500 million free fast home test kits, double vaccination and increase efforts and increase support for hospitals.
“It’s the only responsible thing to do,” he said of being vaccinated. “Omicron is serious and potentially deadly business for unvaccinated people.”
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The White House said Wednesday that the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services are “performing on an accelerated contract timeline” and that the administration expects the contract to be completed by the end of next week.
“This means that the first deliveries to the manufacturers start [in] January. We will create a free and easy system, including a new website to get these tests out to the Americans, “said White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients.” We are actively working to complete this distribution mechanism, which includes a website where people will be able to order tests for free. And we will share more details in the coming weeks – days and weeks to come. “
The Associated Press contributed to this report.