While the number of new Covid-19 cases because of the Omicron variant across the country is rising and in some states hospitals are under pressure again, United States struggles with Covid-19 tests because of unexpected demand in the last couple of weeks.
People nationwide are facing long lines for testing and empty shelves. This has been in increasing issue especially in the last two weeks and now Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert and chief medical adviser to President Biden, says that he expects this problem to be solved in January.
Testing will be “very important” as the country deals with a surge of cases from the omicron variant, Fauci said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” But the nation is experiencing a shortage of tests as cases increase and people travel for the holidays.
“We’ve obviously got to do better,” Fauci said. “I think things will improve greatly as we get into January, but that doesn’t help us today and tomorrow.”
President Joe Biden and the White House administration are aware of the problem, but they are unable to fix the problem in short period of time. Additionally, they are criticized lately after they announced a plan to offer 500 million at-home tests to Americans sometime next month while the country faces tests shortage amid new winter wave.
“I don’t think anybody anticipated that this was going to be as rapidly spreading as it did,” Biden said Tuesday of the omicron variant.
But the same day, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky, said officials had been “working hard as we anticipated this, because we knew that omicron had this capacity to increase at this rate.”
At-home rapid tests are pretty difficult to find lately and those who will be able to find, will probably face limit on how many tests they can buy at once. Tests shortage seems to be very similar with the toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic.
In some parts of the country where the number of cases is rising exponentially, those who test positive using at-home tests are asked not to come at hospital unless they have severe symptoms. They are additionally asked to stay isolated from other family members in an effort to prevent additional spread of the virus.
That is completely opposite of what experts were urging since the at-home tests were rolled out. According to them, those who test positive using at-home tests are strongly advised to make an additional, PCR test to confirm the previous results. That’s because at-home tests work better for symptomatic people, while they don’t deliver as accurate results for asymptomatic.
To increase confidence in a negative test, experts recommend testing frequently at regular intervals, known as “serial testing.”