New York, Dec 5: The new Omicron variant of Covid-19 was identified in more than a dozen Americans in at least 10 US states as of this weekend, early evidence of its presence across the country, as the federal government fights the pandemic with a consistent vaccination campaign, including broader use of vaccines.

“The result has been a decrease in upstate hospital capacity of about 10 per cent. And a perfect storm of high patient volumes, reduced staff and an inability to discharge patients to nursing homes — which are themselves full — has begun to overwhelm some facilities,” hospital executives told the newspaper.

Out of health concern, Google has delayed its return-to-office yet again, this time pushing its January 10 full reopening further into 2022. Unlike previous announcements, the company did not set a new return date and says it will wait until the new year to assess when US offices can fully reopen — nearly 40 per cent of US Googlers reported on-site in recent weeks.

Google is making a “smart move” by not setting a firm new return date, Denis Nash, a professor of epidemiology at the City University of New York, told CNBC, adding that giving employees a framework of when it will revisit the situation maximises flexibility during “a crisis that often demands it of us,” and it could be seen as a positive move by employees.

Uncertainties around the risks of the Omicron variant could make it “impossible for employers to set a new return date with any type of confidence,” Bradford S. Bell, a Cornell University professor in strategic human resources, was quoted by CNBC as saying.

It’s likely more companies will follow Google’s move, especially in sectors where remote work is possible.