A new COVID-19 variant is causing increased alarm amid a surge in infection rates in areas of the United States.
In response to those concerns, President Joe Biden announced plans on Thursday to dispatch special teams and resources to the regions hardest hit by the so-called Delta variant.
“Intensifying our efforts”
According to the Washington Examiner, these “surge response” teams will be made up of federal personnel primarily from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
Those taking part in the response will be equipped with specialized knowledge as well as diagnostic tests, therapeutic drugs, and vaccine doses.
White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeffrey Zients addressed the development in a press briefing on Thursday.
“We’re intensifying our efforts to help states prevent, detect, and respond to hotspots among the unvaccinated by mobilizing COVID-19 surge response teams to be at the ready to deploy federal resources and, where needed, federal personnel,” he said.
Zients declared that these “dedicated teams” are “working with communities at higher risk for or already experiencing outbreaks due to the spread of the Delta variant and their low vaccination rate.”
“The most important step”
In addition to providing additional testing capabilities and contact tracing, the teams will also be qualified to treat patients who are already infected.
Despite the concentrated federal effort, Zients stressed that “the most important step we can take to prevent these outbreaks is for more Americans to get vaccinated,” confirming that the “surge response teams will focus on increasing shots in arms in communities with low vaccination rates who are fighting outbreaks, including through targeted media into those areas.”
He has joined other public health officials in reassuring fully vaccinated individuals that they should not be concerned about the Delta variant.
CDC Director Rochelle Walenski addressed the debate over vaccine efficacy during a recent interview, reiterating that fully vaccinated Americans do not need to wear a mask and adding: “If you are vaccinated, you are safe from the variants that are circulating here in the United States.”
Some critics might see the new surge response teams as unnecessary overkill, but some of those at the greatest risk of becoming sick or transmitting are sure to welcome the additional federal resources.