Majority of Americans, including 3 out of 4 children, have had Covid-19, CDC finds

US has reached ‘inflection’ point in public health crisis as infections climb

White House urges Congress to approve Covid-19 funds

A majority of Americans have had Covid-19, including roughly 75 per cent of children and about 60 per cent of adults, according to newly released data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The federal agency’s reporting based on blood test data finds that roughly 189 million Americans had Covid-19 by end of February 2022, following the emergence of the more-contagious Omicron variant that has fuelled a new wave of coronavirus infections over the last several months.

Before its emergence, roughly one-third of Americans had been infected with Covid-19. That rate has now climbed to 60 per cent. Officials stress that Americans should not assume they have protections against the virus after they are infected and continue to urge eligible people to get vaccinated.

The largest increases in infections were among Americans with the lowest levels of vaccination rates, with spikes in children through age 17. Roughly 58 million children have been infected with Covid-19, according to the CDC.

Newly appointed White House Covid-19 response coordinator Dr Ashish Jha has urged Congress to pass legislation with expanded funding for testing and treatment as well as future vaccine development.

“So far, Congress has not stepped up to provide the funds needed for our most urgent needs,” he told reporters at the White House on 26 April.

He suggested that drug treatment and advancements in vaccines later this year that would be more effective against severe disease will not be available without that funding.

“None of us can predict with any certainty where this virus is going,” he said. “All we can do is prepare, and that’s what we need Congress to do is to help us prepare and be ready for whatever eventuality comes.”

The White House intends to expand the number of pharmacy sites that can order antiviral medication Paxlovid as well as “test to treat” sites where people can be connected to no-cost prescription drug treatment if they test positive for Covid-19, though “all of this requires funding from Congress,” Dr Jha said.

He also shot down arguments that the US should pursue a “domestic-only approach to a global pandemic” as President Joe Biden’s administration commits to donating 1.2 billion vaccine doses globally.

“That’s not a thing,” he said. “You can’t do that. If we’re gonna fight a global pandemic, we have to have a global approach.”

Dr Jha said the US is at an “infection point” in the public health crisis, which has killed nearly 1 million Americans as it enters its third year. Confirmed infections are rising – a seven-day average has climbed to roughly 44,000 daily infections, up from about 38,000 two weeks ago, according to CDC data.

New hospital admissions continue to fluctuate – roughly 1,600 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised every day – and average daily deaths continue to decline, with roughly 300 people dying from the virus daily.

Roughly 78 per cent of eligible Americans have received at least one vaccine dose, but only 46 per cent have received both doses of the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccine or single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine in addition to a third “booster” dose, according to the CDC.

Despite the prevalence of disease and more-contagious variants, state and local governments have relaxed nearly all pandemic health restrictions, including mask guidance and proof of vaccinations.

A federal order covering all public transit – one of the last pieces of pandemic-era public health protections, covering requiring travellers to wear masks for airline travel and on subway trains, buses, taxis, app-based rides and at transit hubs like airports, ferry terminals, subway stations and ports – was overturned by a federal judge earlier this month.

The CDC continues to recommend that people traveling on public transit wear face coverings to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission, and several public transit agencies at the local level – including New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority, which serves roughly 3 million daily passengers – have kept their mask requirements in place.

The US Department of Justice has filed an appeal to block the US District Court ruling.

The CDC’s latest data also comes as Vice President Kamala Harris tests positive for Covid-19, among a wave of high-profile cases impacting officials in Washington DC, including dozens who attended a Gridiron Club Dinner.

The White House does not currently intend to change its current Covid-19 protocols, according to press secretary Jen Psaki.

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