Last week we got the unwelcome news that the pandemic may be going into extra innings. We still are learning about yet another COVID-19 variant, newly named the Omicron variant. Unfortunately, preliminary assessments suggest that calling it the Delta variant on steroids isn’t much of an overstatement. It spreads faster and more easily than the Delta variant. And, even worse, it may be immune to current vaccines. OMG!
Let me be clear: It’s still too early to panic over the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus. But it’s not too early to fear the worst; to start monitoring the news carefully and doing whatever we can to prevent the spread of Omicron.
My fear is that we may be in for a repeat of 2020. With that in mind, it makes sense to do everything we can to prevent that from happening
I will listen closely to the CDC and the World Health Organization. Both organizations are on the case, aware that potential trouble is on the horizon but not yet ready to panic. Last week, the CDC told us that if the Omicron variant emerges in the U.S., it anticipates identifying it quickly. That is good news.
The agency’s press release also added:
“We know what it takes to prevent the spread of COVID-19. CDC recommends people follow prevention strategies such as wearing a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high community transmission, washing your hands frequently, and physically distancing from others. CDC also recommends that everyone five years and older protect themselves from COVID-19 by getting fully vaccinated. CDC encourages a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose for those who are eligible.”
Last week, many of us learned of the not-yet named new COVID-19 variant after the stock market crashed (the Dow lost more than 900 points) and by New York Governor Hochul declaring a state of emergency. Said Hochul: “We continue to see warning signs of spikes in COVID this winter, and while the new Omicron variant has yet to be detected in New York State, it’s coming.”
The stock market frequently overreacts to news or even rumors. I suspect that some of that is happening here. But I think Governor Hochul may be onto something. Maryland should do the same thing. Better overreact now than be sorry later. Right? I hope Governor Hogan and others follow Hochul’s leadership.
For the time being, I will ignore the relaxed social distancing restrictions. Although I was ready to burn my remaining supply of KN95s, I will start wearing them whenever I go inside and even when I run into people on the street.
So, it looks as though we may be headed for a difficult winter and spring. But I try to remember that it could be worse. We are fortunate that so many of us are vaccinated and that much has been learned over the last two years about how to develop vaccines, manufacture them in massive quantities, and distribute them in quick order. We also are learning that Pfizer and other pharmaceutical firms are developing drugs to treat those of us who get the virus. That gives us hope.
Given the current situation—we don’t know if this new variant will be as bad as some fear—there isn’t much to do other than worry. So that’s what I’m doing.
I’m also crossing my fingers that the lessons of the last two years will help the federal government and states to act quickly to prevent a repeat of 2020. President Biden’s imposition of a travel ban on several southern African nations is a good start.
J.E. Dean is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant writing on politics, government and occasionally, golden doodles.