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Due to increasing vaccination numbers, COVID-19 was once becoming less and less of a daily part of many Americans’ lives. The rise of the Omicron variant has changed that, and everyone has questions. Is it safe to travel? Do you need to get a booster shot? How bad is Omicron compared to previous variants? Read on below for everything you need to know about the new Omicron variant.
As of last week, the CDC has said that an estimated 59% of all new COVID-19 cases are the Omicron variant. On December 27th, there was a record high of 704,000 cases reported in the United States alone. Overseas, according to Dr. Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Europe, “Within weeks, Omicron will dominate in more countries of the region, pushing already stretched health systems further to the brink.”
According to many health authorities, the major threat of the Omicron variant is in how fast it spreads and the potential for hospital systems to run out of much-needed resources to care for a huge influx of patients. Even if relatively few people die from Omicron, a high number of cases filling up the hospitals could be very dangerous.
With how quickly this strain of the virus is spreading, naturally, many governments across the world are making changes to their restrictions. Many countries and some cities in the U.S. are now requiring individuals to present proof of vaccination to use indoor facilities such as restaurants and gyms.
For all up-to-date information on COVID-19 restrictions in your state, go here or check your official state website. It’s important to be aware of changes in restrictions so you can ensure that you’re abiding by the law.
With government restrictions come changes in the way we travel, as we’ve all seen so far in this pandemic. Many countries, vacation destinations, and cruise lines now require proof of vaccination and/or a negative COVID-19 test for entry, and airlines and other means of travel are continuing to clamp down on masking restrictions and social distancing guidelines.
While Omicron has been spreading faster than any of the previous COVID-19 variants, it currently seems to be a less deadly strain of the virus. Despite the record high case numbers, the average death counts have not risen and seem to even be declining. Current studies suggest that the Omicron variant is overall less serious than the Delta variant,
This may be in part due to the increasingly high number of vaccinated people, with 74% of the US population now having at least one dose of the vaccine. The CDC is now recommending that everyone over the age of 18 and especially high-risk individuals get a booster shot, which can further increase protection from Omicron and other variants.
The Omicron variant is something to be thoughtful and aware of, but not something to fear. Consider getting vaccinated and getting a booster shot, wearing a mask, and practicing social distancing. The pandemic has been long, but there’s a potential bright light on the horizon as scientists and everyday people do what they can to help fight COVID-19.