US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned Sunday that the “next few weeks will be tough” as COVID-19 infections driven by the Omicron variant continue to surge.
Murthy said that the country is still pushing around 800,000 new cases per day, though some regions, such as New York, have begun to see a plateau in infections.
“The challenge is that not the entire country is moving at the same pace. The Omicron wave started later in other parts of the country,” Murthy said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” adding, “the next few weeks will be tough.”
Omicron’s brutal winter wave is why it’s “so important that we are surging resources to hospitals that are struggling,” Murthy said.
“It’s why it’s so important that we all double down on precautions that we’re taking because one thing that we’re learning during this surge, is that our vaccines are still working very well to keep people out of the hospital and to save their lives,” he said. “That’s why we want everyone to get vaccinated to get boosted as soon as they can.”
The nation’s top doctor also spoke Saturday about how it was “very disappointing” that the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration‘s vaccine-or-test requirement for large private businesses.
“It was a setback for public health because what these requirements ultimately are helpful for is not just protecting the community at large but making our workplaces safer for workers as well as for customers,” Murthy told ABC’s “This Week.”
But he said the administration was “strongly encouraging companies to put these requirements in place voluntarily.”
“In fact, many have done so already. A third of the Fortune 100 companies have put these in place, and many more outside have,” he said.
Pressed on the number of cases in the country that are breakthrough infections, Murthy declined to provide figures but argued that the “most important job of vaccines is to save your life and keep you out of the hospital.”
“And by that measure, these vaccines and boosters are working and working well,” he said. “Now, you will hear as many people have already heard about people who have cases that are mild or asymptomatic, people who test positive despite being vaccinated or boosted. But keep in mind, what is often being prevented there is a more severe infection.”