‘We’re going to get through this without disruption’


As COVID-19 cases rise across the country, the leader of the White House’s coronavirus response said officials are paying close attention to new variants but stressed that the U.S. should “get through this without disruption.”

Virus cases have jumped more than 50% in the past two weeks as the omicron BA.2 variant becomes the dominant strain in the country.

Hospitalizations, meanwhile, have not surged so far during this wave.

“We’re going to watch this carefully,” Ashish Jha, the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “My expectation is that we’re going to see cases go up. We’re going to see cases go down. The key things: Make sure that hospitalizations and deaths are not rising in any substantial way, looking at variants, paying very close attention.

“Let’s see where the next few months go,” he added. “I’m concerned. I’m going to watch those numbers. But at this point, I remain confident that we’re going to get through this without disruption.”

Jha emphasized that the U.S. is in a much better place than it has been throughout much of the pandemic — noting that more than 200 million Americans are vaccinated and hospitalizations are at their lowest point.

Officials would have reacted differently to this wave a year ago because of vaccinations and treatments, he said.

“Cases are still important. Infections are still important. We want to keep those infection numbers low. But, they mean something different now than they did a year ago,” Jha said. “They mean something different because people are vaccinated and boosted. They mean something different because we have a lot more therapeutics available.

“So we are going to have to change our behavior and respond in a different way as the pandemic evolves,” he added. “And I think, at this point, responding with care and caution, but not overreacting, is critical.”

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