With Omicron’s Rise, Americans Prepare to Return to School and Work
Workers across the country were bracing for months of disruption to come.
“I worked for most of the pandemic and hadn’t tested positive until Omicron,” said Amelia Smoak, 29, who works at a restaurant and bar in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood. She is fully vaccinated but recently recovered from a mild case of Covid. She added that business has become much slower as the number of cases increases: “Tipping has been stable, but the number of people has decreased significantly. “
Scientists predict that the sharp increase in the number of cases in the country will peak by mid-January. But much of the new variant remains uncertain, and experts still fear hospitals may be overwhelmed.
The number of cases in New York continues to rise sharply, but city school officials have pledged to keep schools open, adopting increased testing as an alternative to closing classrooms.
Schools in Chicago, Washington and most other major cities have announced that they also plan to reopen this week, many with increased testing regimes. But some districts – including Cleveland Public Schools; Prince George County, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC; Newark, New Jersey; Mount Vernon, New York; and Jersey City, NJ – will switch to distance learning for a week or more in January.
In Chicago, where businesses have remained open as cases peaked in the pandemic, public school leaders said they plan to return to class as scheduled on Monday despite concerns from the powerful teachers’ union of the city regarding safety precautions.
“If they close restaurants, they close all events, all parts of town and state, so hey, I’m not going to put my families in danger, I’m not going to force them to take their children to school, ”said Pedro Martinez, general manager of Chicago Public Schools. He added: “But other than that, what’s the logic to think that closing schools is somehow going to help this pandemic? I don’t see the logic.