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Western New England omicron cases are off the charts

covid test.jpg
Jesse Costa
/
WBUR
Jessica Capobianco drops a COVID-19 test swab into a vial after testing a student at the Bromfield School in Harvard, MA. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The new surge in COVID-19 cases is overwhelming hospitals, while the federal and state governments scramble to ship at-home tests to get them into as many hands as possible. Nearly two years into the pandemic the omicron variant is now spreading faster than any of its predecessors.

Hospitals in the region are nearing capacity limits due to the omicron variant.

“The absolute numbers of sick people are much higher, like three or four times higher than they were during the Delta surge,” Dr. Andrew Artenstein, an Infectious disease specialist and the Incident Commander of COVID-19 Response at Baystate Health, told And Another Thing.

Public health officials are struggling to stay on top of omicron. Hartford Public Health Director Liany Arroyo and her staff have just completed a third round of distributing home test kits and masks to the city’s residents. She says she’s seeing an increase in demand not only for testing, but also for vaccines.

While Governor Charlie Baker is resisting a return to remote learning for public school students, the head of the largest teacher’s union in Massachusetts, Merry Najimy, says teachers are becoming increasingly demoralized by the ongoing struggles of dealing with COVID in the classroom.

“There are too many schools who have staffing shortages, so the schools are piecing together coverage for classes. And in those places it feels more like triage than true education,”Najimy said.

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