White House Warns Of Severe Flu Season This Year; Stresses On Flu And Covid Vaccinations

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The White House COVID-19 Response Team has raised alarm over the possibility of a potentially severe flu season this year, and called upon the people to vaccinate against the disease in addition to Covid-19.

"Last year, there were very few flu cases, largely because of masking and physical distancing and other prevention measures put in place for the COVID-19 pandemic. With modest flu virus activity since March of 2020, CDC's flu experts are concerned that reduced population-level immunity to the seasonal flu could place us at risk for a potentially severe flu season this year," CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a routine news conference.

"The symptoms of flu can often be familiar to those with COVID-19, which can lead to additional needs for flu and COVID testing, and isolation for either of the diseases, especially in schools," she told reporters while discussing the progress made on testing, vaccination, and boosters.

Dr. Walensky recommended that those who have yet to be vaccinated against COVID-19, consider receiving their flu vaccine alongside COVID-19 vaccine. "It is safe and effective to get both vaccines at the same time."

She provided an overview of the data regarding various Covid metrics.

"Our seven-day average is about 97,910 cases per day, which represents a decrease of about 12 percent over the previous week. The seven-day average of hospital admissions is about 7,400 per day, also a decrease of about 14 percent from last week. And the seven-day average of daily deaths remains fairly constant at 1,400 per day."

With 111503 new infections reporting on Wednesday, the national total increased to 44,061,036, as per the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.

An additional 2556 Covid deaths took the total number of people who died due to the pandemic to 707,799.

COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said that two manufacturers — Quidel and OraSure — have agreed to further expand manufacturing and to speed up their production of rapid tests. This will lead to tens of millions more tests coming to market over the course of the next 30 days.

With FDA authorizing a new rapid, at-home test from ACON Laboratories, the Biden administration is on track to triple the supply of rapid, at-home tests available on the market by November, he added.

"So that means, we'll have available supply of 200 million rapid, at-home tests per month starting in December, with supply of tens of millions of additional tests coming on the market across the next few weeks," Zients told reporters.

In the coming weeks, 20,000 local pharmacies will offer free testing through the federal government's pharmacy program, which will make a total of 30,000 community-based sites in the U.S. where people can walk in and get a free test.

"From the U.S. military to big and small businesses, to colleges and universities, to healthcare employers, and now the largest school district in the nation (New York City): We have seen that vaccination requirements work to dramatically increase vaccination rates," Zients said.

According to the White House COVID-19 Response Team's estimate, 4 million Americans have now received a booster shot, including 2 million in the first week and another 2 million in the last five days.

Currently, 186 million Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that on Thursday, President Joe Biden will travel to Elk Grove Village, Illinois, to meet with public and private sector leaders who have implemented vaccination requirements. The President will visit a local company in the Chicago area that is imposing its own vaccine requirement ahead of the OSHA rule.

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