White House chief medical adviser and top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci has urged Americans to “stay away” from large New Year’s gatherings as he issued a warning about the spike in coronavirus cases from the Omicron variant.
“When you are talking about a New Year’s Eve party, where you have 30, 40, 50 people celebrating, you do not know the status of the vaccination,” Dr Fauci told CNN on Monday. “I would recommend strongly, stay away from that this year. There will be other years to do that but not this year.”
Dr Fauci also recommended that Americans get their booster shots as he explained that the protections against the coronavirus infection and severe diseases “go way down with Omicron”.
“But when you get a boost, it brings it right back almost to the level where it was before,” he said. “So boosters are always good for any variant but particularly for Omicron, if you are vaccinated but not yet boosted and your time comes for getting boosted … please get boosted. It will make all the difference.”
The public health official also put his weight behind New York’s decision to modify the return-to-work Covid guidelines for essential workers, and shortening isolation periods to five days.
This applies to essential workers who are both fully vaccinated and asymptomatic, and fully vaccinated workers having mild symptoms that resolved and observed no fever in last 7 hours without fever-reducing medications, Governor Kathy Hochul said last week. The decision was made as a part of the government’s efforts to mitigate staffing concerns.
“You need the health care workers. And when you have them out for the full 10 days, and you do that over a wide swath of people, you can have a situation where you really do not have enough health care workers,” Dr Fauci told NPR.
He also recommended that the federal government consider a vaccine mandate for domestic air travel. He said that such a mandate helps in driving up vaccination rates as well as in ensuring a stronger protection on flights, for which federal regulation requires all those aged two and older to wear a mask.
“When you make vaccination a requirement, that’s another incentive to get more people vaccinated,” Dr Fauci told MSNBC. “If you want to do that with domestic flights, I think that’s something that seriously should be considered.”
The US administration has so far shied away from making vaccination necessary for domestic travel.
On Monday morning, president Joe Biden did not respond to questions regarding the implementation of compulsory vaccination for domestic air travel but told reporters that the subject was a matter of internal discussion, reported the Associated Press.
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