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White House Announces ‘Surge Response’ Teams To Combat COVID-19 Delta Variant

(Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
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The Biden administration announced plans Thursday to deploy “surge response” teams to hotspots afflicted by the rapidly spreading Delta variant of COVID-19.

The Delta variant is expected to become the dominant strain in the U.S. within a matter of weeks, and now makes up roughly one-quarter of current infections in the country, according to The Washington Post. The surge response teams will shuttle expertise and supplies to areas experiencing a rapid uptick in Delta variant infections.

“These are dedicated teams working with communities at higher risk for, or already experiencing, outbreaks due to the spread of the delta variant and their low vaccination rate,” Jeff Zients, White House coronavirus coordinator, told reporters Thursday.

The Delta variant was first identified in India and is believed to be the most contagious strain of COVID-19 to hit the U.S. so far during the pandemic. It has already become the dominant strain in a number of countries, including India and the U.K., and has led to surges in cases in some unvaccinated communities. (RELATED: Lockdown Enthusiasts Are All Over The Delta Variant. How Serious Is This Strain?)

The surge response teams will deploy additional testing supplies and therapeutics to hotspots, in addition to providing virtual and on-the-ground support personnel. Support staff will be supplied by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the Department of Health and Human Services.

One of the teams has already been deployed to Mesa, Colorado, and another will soon be headed to the Missouri, according to The Post. The Colorado team is helping local health officials investigate the spread of a Delta variant outbreak in the area. (RELATED: Children Should Not Be Forced To Wear Masks Due To CO2 Levels, New Study Suggests)

The Biden administration is continuing to ramp up vaccination efforts, with over 1,000 counties across the U.S. still at vaccination rates of 30% or less. The administration is reportedly considering increasing paid promotion of vaccine information and will be arranging mobile and pop-up vaccination clinics in under-vaccinated communities.