Health authorities in the United States are sounding the alarm again, saying Americans could experience disruptions in the coming weeks because of the rapid spread of the omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19.
The U.S has reported record numbers of cases two days in a row, Reuters reported, adding that 18 states have set pandemic case records. Maryland, Ohio and Washington, D.C., have reported record hospitalizations.
"We are going to see the number of cases in this country rise so dramatically, we are going to have a hard time keeping everyday life operating," Dr. Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease expert at the University of Minnesota, told MSNBC.
Many public agencies like police departments and fire departments have reported numerous employees calling in sick, making it harder to deliver services.
Omicron is causing havoc in the airline industry, with thousands of flights either delayed or canceled. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned Americans against taking cruises.
According to a recent University of Texas study, omicron cases could peak between January 18 and February 3. The study said cases could subside by March.
Roughly 62% of Americans have been given two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the one-shot dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, USA Today reported. They are considered fully vaccinated, but many health officials are urging booster shots. Only one-third of Americans have gotten boosters, the paper reported.
The U.S. death toll for the pandemic is 823,743, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. It is unclear how many deaths the omicron variant has caused.
Some information for this report came from Reuters.