Forecast calls for snow and Omicron

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Good afternoon,

Yesterday’s Covid-19 press briefing came with a quartet of messages – get vaccinated, wear a suitable mask in public indoor settings, don’t get a test for the heck of it, and avoid unnecessary gatherings.

Up until recently, state health officials, seeing a sharp drop in testing, wanted individuals without symptoms to get tested from time to time as a way to monitor the spread of the virus. But, thanks to the ultra-fast spreading Omicron variant, the stance toward testing changed as sites were overwhelmed by a deluge of people.

Today’s scene is eerily reminiscent of the situation in spring 2019, minus the restrictions on businesses and nonprofits.

Still, businesses are paying the price with daily posts of restaurants and service businesses shortening hours, limiting lobby service, or briefly closing due to staffing issues that include Covid cases. Many back to the office plans at large employers remain on hold.

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WHYY crunched the numbers and estimated that two percent of the state’s population tested positive over a one-week period during the holidays.

Lines for testing, staffing issues, some related to Covid, a lack of reservation slots, and limits on the number of walk-ups have led to tensions.

In response to a reporter’s question, State Emergency Director AJ Schall said emotions have been running high at some testing sites. One private provider in southern Delaware ended its service due to staff dealing with angry individuals.

As for the mass testing that we saw early in the pandemic, federal help will be needed. State officials say resources are limited, with many workers staffing Delaware locations in 2020 returning to work in health care.

At least for now, 100 mobilized National Guard members will be at work on dealing with the biggest issue, a hospital system running at above capacity with bottlenecks that include a lack of beds for discharged patients in need of rehab centers.

Crisis conditions reported elsewhere have not occurred, but stains on staff after a more than two-year battle with the virus are evident.

The hope is that Omicron will run its course and put less strain on businesses and health care. So far, the forecast is for more snow and Omicron. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer

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