According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the emergence of the omicron variant happened around late November 2021, with the first case in the United States showing up on Dec. 1. Noted as the most infectious variant today that causes, generally, milder illness than the delta variant, other notable consequences of the omicron surge include hospitals filling back up, unprecedented daily case numbers and a shortage of rapid antigen at-home tests.
Previously, test numbers peaked a year ago around 121,000 but were almost eclipsed in September due to the delta variant. In January 2022, the number of COVID tests conducted has reached a new peak of more than 293,ooo, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health.
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View the data on late fall’s surge of omicron cases from November to now:
This week, the government has started offering an allotment of four free at-home COVID tests per U.S. household (not per person), available to order since Tuesday, Jan. 18 through U.S. Postal Service or since Wednesday through the official government site. Despite this effort to combat the testing shortage, there have been some noted issues with ordering tests, such as some apartment owners not being able to order due to claims of using a 'duplicate address.'
Ordering tests is completely free, and they ship in about 7-12 days.
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