Many people are testing for COVID-19 to make sure they are safe visiting family and friends during the Christmas holiday. However, this recent influx in testing has also brought on a huge spike in positive COVID-19 cases.
In New York state, 44,431 new infections were recorded in a 24-hour period. 27,053 of these new COVID-19 infections came from New York City, whereas only 982 cases came from the Capital region around Albany and Saratoga.
The record-breaking spike is more than double what was seen in January 2021, when the record number of new infections per day was just under 20,000.
On Thursday, John Hopkins University recorded 261,339 COVID-19 cases in 24 hours. This is the third-highest total that the United States has experienced so far in this pandemic. The first and second-highest totals were 295,879 and 288,610, which were recorded in January 2021.
Los Angeles Sees Staggering Rise In COVID-19 Cases
In the city of Los Angeles, the county recorded almost 10,000 new COIVD-19 cases on Christmas Eve. The last time that Los Angeles saw daily new cases that high was in January 2021. Only a few days ago, on Tuesday, the number stood barely above 3,000.
Many are placing the blame on the new Omicron variant, which is widely reported to be more transmissible than the Delta variant. Although the Omicron variant has been reported to be less severe than the Delta variant, the nation witnessed its first Omicron death earlier this week: a 50-year-old Texas man who was unvaccinated and had underlying health conditions.
Earlier this week, Barbara Ferrer, the county director of public health, stated “Omicron causes less severe illness, but infects many more people. Let’s say three percent of people require hospitalization but we end up with 20,000 daily cases. That number could still cause severe stress on our healthcare system.”
President Joe Biden Announces Plans To Release At-Home COVID-19 Tests
Earlier this week, President Joe Biden revealed a plan to release 500 million at-home COVID-19 tests to the general public at no cost after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention discovered that the Omicron variant made up for 73% of all new COVID-19 cases.
Biden revealed that those who wanted to obtain a free test could do so at a website that has yet to be launched. His administration stated that those tests would not be available until some time in January.
On Tuesday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated, “Five hundred million tests in January is the largest order we have ever made to date, and we are going to do it as quickly as we can, but they won’t be available until January.”
It is unclear how many free tests people will be able to obtain or whether it will be limited to one per household. It is also not clear how long these tests might take to arrive. Many shoppers have waited in long lines ahead of the Christmas holiday to obtain a COVID-19 test, only to find that they are sold out as manufacturers struggle to keep up with consumer demand.