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White House predicts rise in COVID cases this coming winter

White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha has warned that the U.S. should be prepared for a spike in COVID cases this coming winter due to more indoor gatherings, reports NPR. The warning comes as Europe has started to see a rise in cases again, a pattern that will likely also reach the U.S.

The U.S. has seen a rise in COVID cases each winter for the last two years, and should expect annual surges similar to the flu, Jha explained in a White House press briefing. There are also at least three new subvariants the White House is reportedly tracking, which seem to evade immunity. However, the new COVID boosters should be quite effective in preventing infection, Jha told NPR.

COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have been declining over the year, largely due to vaccination rates. Currently, 68 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. There is likely to be a pick-up in COVID booster administration as the holidays draw nearer and people prepare for travel and gatherings. 

"[T]he single most important thing people can do to protect themselves, to protect their families, or protect their communities is to get the updated COVID-19 vaccine," Jha expressed in the White House press briefing, "we can have a safe and healthy holiday season ahead." The COVID vaccines and boosters are still free to receive.