Will an Omicron spike be fierce but short lived?




As Omicron variant spreads, New England hospitals are under unprecedented strain

Across New England and the northeastern United States, hospitals are struggling with an overwhelming burden of patients amid a covid-19 surge that has struck harder and faster than experts expected, even in some of the most highly vaccinated states in the country.

The infections — nearly all driven by the delta variant, not its new cousin omicron — have led to record covid hospitalizations in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. All three states have experienced their biggest surges in cases since the pandemic began and asked for federal help, another first. President Biden announced Tuesday that the government will send emergency medical teams to Vermont and New Hampshire and ambulance crews to Maine.

In Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, covid hospitalizations have soared in recent weeks, although they remain below previous peaks. Yet the winter surge comes at a time when hospitals were already grappling with a staffing shortage combined with an influx of people who had delayed care and an increase in patients battling mental illness. Doctors fear that a large wave of omicron cases could increase the burden even further….

The high vaccination rates in places such as Vermont and Maine masked considerable variations at the county level, experts said. “People say, ‘Oh, Maine’s doing really well,’ but when you peel the onion layers, what you see is two states,” said Dora Anne Mills, chief health improvement officer at MaineHealth. While 83 percent of the population in Cumberland county — home to the city of Portland — is fully vaccinated, that same figure slides to below or near 60 percent in several predominantly rural counties…

Doctors say they feel like they’re shouting into a void, delivering news that a pandemic-weary population no longer wants to hear. “You come into work and say, ‘This is the worst it’s ever been,’ ” said Dickson. “And then you come in the next day and it’s even worse.”

The pandemic is certainly an illusion killer. No place is safe from risk.


Biden Omicron measures too little, too late for fast-moving virus — experts

A day after Biden outlined plans to distribute 500 million at-home coronavirus test kits, Anne Rimoin, a UCLA professor of epidemiology, praised his focus on testing, a “critical tool” that the United States was “woefully” behind on.

“Unfortunately, it’s late in coming and will be a small drop in the bucket compared to the tsunami of cases on the horizon.”


EJ Dionne/WaPo:

For Biden, going all in against the virus is the key to everything else

Sometimes the most important thing a president can do is tell the country he’s working on the problem its citizens are most worried about. And one of the worst setbacks a leader can confront is losing his advantage on the issue that had been his hole card.


David Frum/Atlantic:

Biden Won Big With a Bad Hand

Relative to its strength in Congress, the Biden administration has proved outstandingly successful.

Like Biden’s ambitions, the Bush administration’s first-year agenda was beholden to the least reliable members of the president’s party in the Senate. In 2001, those were Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and James Jeffords of Vermont. Jeffords would switch parties in 2001, tipping the partisan balance of the Senate. The whims and vagaries of those two officeholders transfixed and baffled the Bush White House just as the moods and caprices of Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema transfix and baffle the Biden White House now.

Bush took office at a more placid time than Biden did. He arrived with a less ambitious legislative agenda too. But if the times have changed, the grammar of power has not.

“When I cannot get a dinner to suit my taste, I endeavor to get a taste to suit my dinner.” That was Washington Irving’s advice to travelers. It’s good advice for politicians too.


Just Security:

Crisis of Command: The Pentagon, The President, and January 6

Close observers of the events of Jan. 6 have mainly posited two reasons for the delay in mobilizing the Guard. The first explanation is one of bureaucratic failures or managerial weaknesses in the military’s procedures that day. A second explanation is that the military was deliberately serving Trump’s effort to interfere with the election by withholding assistance.

We identify a third explanation: that senior military officials constrained the mobilization and deployment of the National Guard to avoid injecting federal troops that could have been re-missioned by the President to advance his attempt to hold onto power.

On the Kim Potter verdict:


Biden Supports Filibuster Change on Voting Rights as Last Resort

Biden, speaking Wednesday in an interview with ABC News, said he supported eliminating the filibuster if it’s all that stood in the way of passing voting rights legislation. Psaki then said Thursday that Biden’s full answer, which wasn’t aired in its entirety, added that he didn’t think they’d have to resort to that, but that voting rights legislation remains a priority.

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