Opinion: New Jersey is unprepared for the latest wave of COVID-19, omicron

5 mins read
COVID-19 testing center in Noyal-Chatillon-sur-Seiche

TRENTON, NJ – If you have been sick in the past week or so in New Jersey, you know what kind of nightmare finding proper care can be as the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus sweeps through the state. As the omicron variant sweeps through the state with a feverish pace, backed by record numbers of positive tests per day, thousands of New Jerseyeans are finding it difficult to book appointments for welfare visits, COVID-19 tests and are now finding it nearly impossible to find at-home COVID-19 tests.

Worse, many healthcare providers are already at their maximum capacity with the onslaught of new COVID-19 patients that many don’t have appointments available for days. Many CVS Minute Clinics in New Jersey were booked solid for testing and well visits through Christmas as of Monday morning.

Other healthcare providers are turning away COVID-19 patients because their waiting rooms have been full all weekend. In Jackson Township, New Jersey, reports of COVID-19 patients being turned away from Hackensack Meridian Health’s walk-in medical center were being reported on Saturday, telling patients to ‘arrive early’ on Sunday morning to ensure a visit the following day.

Pharmacy chains CVS, Rite-Aid and Walgreens can’t keep COVID-19 testing kits stocked on the shelves.

At the Ocean County COVID-19 testing center on the campus of Ocean County College, all COVID-19 tests for Wednesday, the last opportunity before Christmas have been booked.

In June, Governor Phil Murphy shut down six of the state’s vaccination ‘mega sites’, which could have handled the large volumes of COVID-19 patients across New Jersey. The New Jersey Department of Health is offering free at-home test kits here.

The state of New Jersey has reported over 7,000 new cases of COVID-19 every day since Thursday, with that number growing each day. To make the situation worse, many of New Jersey’s most recent COVID-19 patients are fully vaccinated, reports of boosted New Jerseyans contracting the virus are also increasing.

This weekend, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, who is fully vaccinated and boosted contracted the virus. The pandemic is no longer just a pandemic of the unvaccinated as it is once again an across-the-board health concern.

Patients with the latest omicron variant are so far experiencing milder symptoms than those associated with the Delta variant. With New Jersey being one of the most vaccinated states in America, the vaccines are not stopping the spread of the latest variant among the vaccinated.

While health experts claim being fully vaccinated and fully boosted can limit the severity of the disease, health experts across the board are now admitting the vaccines might not stop the spread of the latest variant.

To make matters worse, this fall and winter, New Jersey healthcare providers have been firing unvaccinated workers, just weeks before the omicron variant caught the nation by surprise, according to Vice President Kamala Harris.

It’s not just New Jersey, the Atlantic reported this week, America is not prepared for omicron.

“America was not prepared for COVID-19 when it arrived. It was not prepared for last winter’s surge. It was not prepared for Delta’s arrival in the summer or its current winter assault,” the Atlantic reported.

The World Health Order has told the world not to underestimate omicron.

“Even if Omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems. I need to be very clear: vaccines alone will not get any country out of this crisis. Countries can – and must – prevent the spread of Omicron with measures that work today,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, told reporters. “Omicron is spreading at a rate we have not seen with any previous variant. We’re concerned that people are dismissing Omicron as mild”, he said. “Surely, we have learned by now that we underestimate this virus at our peril.”

With cases surging past previous pandemic numbers, the rate of hospitalizations in New Jersey right now is at about 20% of what it was during the height of the pandemic last winter. ICU beds are at about 40% of where capacity was this time last year and 60% fewer people are on ventilators.

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