As the Omicron variant of the coronavirus grows exponentially and uncontrollably, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a drastic change in their isolation and quarantine guidelines Monday afternoon, not in defense of the American people of this imminent catastrophe but to capitulate in a preventive manner. to that.
The CDC is reducing its recommendation of a 10-day isolation period for positive cases – itself an arbitrary reduction from the 14 days recommended by epidemiologists – to five days of isolation, followed by five days of mask wear, for those who have no symptoms.
For people with a positive but uninfected case themselves, there has been a similar reduction in the recommended isolation period from 10 days to five days for those who are fully vaccinated, and to zero for those who have. received reminders.
Since asymptomatic people can be infectious for 10 days or even more, that means hundreds of thousands – and soon millions, given the exponential spread of Omicron – will be sent to workplaces to infect their colleagues. .
Even those who are fully boosted only have 75% protection against Omicron. This means that if 60 million people who received booster shots come in contact with a case of COVID-19 and are sent back to work without even a day off, 15 million of them would be carriers of the infection for spread.
CDC director Rochelle Walensky openly admitted that a huge increase in Omicron cases was underway and there was a need to relax the quarantine and isolation rules, which would otherwise remove too many people from the hospital. economy for too long.
“Not all of these cases will be serious. In fact, many will be asymptomatic, ”she told The Associated Press. “We want to make sure there is a mechanism by which we can safely continue to keep society running while following science.”
The reference to “following the science” is just a pretext. As for the “functioning of society”, that only means one thing under capitalism: to maintain the flow of profits to the capitalist class. Public health is subordinated to the benefit of companies. Science is being scrapped to quell yells from US business interests over the exodus of workers under the combined impact of the spread of the Omicron and perfectly justified fears of infection with the new variant.
The AP report, which cited Walensky’s remarks, made no effort to cover up the economic motivation, saying: “The decision was also prompted by a recent increase in COVID-19 cases, propelled by the variant. omicron … the large number of people infected – and therefore having to isolate or quarantine, threatens to crush the ability of hospitals, airlines and other businesses to stay open, experts say.
The CDC’s action was announced amid reports of a nationwide rise in contagion and a particularly worrying increase in infections and hospitalizations among children, who appear to be affected more by Omicron than previous variants. of COVID-19. In New York City, COVID-19 child hospitalizations have quadrupled in the past three weeks, from 22 to 109. Nationwide, child infections jumped to 170,000 last week, an increase by 28%, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
CDC figures showed that an average of 200 children per day were admitted to hospital for COVID-19, while a Washington post The analysis showed a total of 1,987 COVID-19 pediatric patients hospitalized nationwide, a jump of 31% in 10 days.
The average daily number of new cases is approaching 200,000, surpassing the worst of the summer outbreak caused by the Delta variant and approaching the horrific levels of last winter when in January 2021, 3,000 people per day were dying from COVID- 19 in the United States. The daily death toll last week averaged 1,408, a 17% increase from the week before, and that still largely reflects the impact of Delta, not yet the increase in Omicron. Hospitalizations, also a lagging indicator, amount to an average of 71,000.
In New York state alone, the rate of daily cases has reached 50,000, Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul said on Monday. Hochul appeared at a press conference with her health director Mary T. Bassett, who was masked and distanced because she herself fell victim to a groundbreaking Omicron case, despite being doubly vaccinated and boosted.
Bassett warned, “A lot of people still think that children are not infected with COVID. This is not true. Children are infected with COVID, and some will be hospitalized. “
Local and state health officials are reporting a dramatic increase in cases and hospitalizations from coast to coast. In Los Angeles County, the country’s most populous, new coronavirus cases rose from 3,052 on Tuesday, December 21; at 6,509 on Wednesday; at 8,633 Thursday; at 9,988 on Friday; and at 11,930 on Saturday, Christmas Day.
Ohio state has the highest rate of COVID-19-related hospitalizations, and intensive care units are short of beds, even at the Cleveland Clinic, long a national leader in medical services. Major hospitals in Ohio issued a joint appeal last week for unvaccinated people to get vaccinated, warning they were inundated with new cases of serious infections, mostly among the unvaccinated.
These reports are in line with last week’s dreadful projection by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which predicted that at its current exponential transmission rate, the Omicron variant would infect 3 billion people. people around the world over the next three months and 140 million in the United States.
In the face of this looming emergency, the US government is effectively declaring a door open to a disease that will potentially kill millions of people and have untold consequences for the long-term health of millions more.
Last week, the CDC lowered the isolation requirement for healthcare workers from 10 days to seven days for infected workers who have no symptoms, then the test is negative and suggested it could be reduced to five days or less for health facilities with large staff. shortages — a description that applies to virtually all hospitals, clinics and nursing homes.
This approach was ostensibly justified by health concerns, to avoid the collapse of the health system under the impact of the pandemic. But now even more flexible rules are offered for all business operations. There are no health considerations involved in returning factory and office workers to their jobs while they are still infected or contagious. On the contrary: public health is sacrificed for the benefit of commercial interests.
Under capitalism, a “functioning society” does not mean a society where all people are fed, clothed and housed, their children properly educated, and other social needs met. Even American capitalism, the richest in the world, can hardly claim to meet this standard. A “functioning society” means only one thing: a society in which the working class is exploited in the labor process to produce surplus value and profit for the capitalist class.