New studies suggest omicron is a less virulent strain
With COVID-19 hospitalizations continuing to increase at an alarming rate across North Carolina, reminders remain the most important thing you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones out of hospital, according to officials from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. noted last week.
Hospitalizations of COVID cases in North Carolina have increased to levels never seen before in its entirety for the pandemic, and sadly, we are not alone. In the past seven days, North Carolina has reported 67,913 new cases of the virus. Compare that with the previous seven day average of 29,701 new cases and the numbers speak for themselves.
For Surry County, in the past 14 days, 798 new cases of the virus have been reported and 440 in the past seven days. Overnight 93 new cases were reported, if that number were to hold up that would mean 651 new cases next week.
The trend is not unique to North Carolina, as the country twice broke its record for daily COVID cases last week, according to data from the New York Times. As of Thursday alone, the United States recorded more than 580,000 new cases of COVID. However, in the past two weeks, as the number of COVID cases in the United States has increased by 181% and the number of hospitalizations has increased by 19%, the number of deaths has decreased by 5%.
“Now is the time to get your booster shot,” said Kody H. Kinsley, Deputy Chief Health Secretary and DHHS incoming secretary. “We have a lot of vaccines around, and getting a booster, or getting the shot if you haven’t already, dramatically lowers your risk of serious illness and hospitalization from the Omicron variant.” Vaccines are available free of charge to anyone aged 5 and over from county health departments, your doctor, and county pharmacy chains.
The NCDHHS also adopted revised guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, which outline what individuals should do if they contract or are exposed to COVID to help slow the spread to others. What has not changed is that if you have symptoms, regardless of your vaccination status, you need to get tested and isolate yourself from others while you wait for a result.
Not all of today’s COVID news is bad news, as more studies of the omicron variant are published which now suggest that omicron, “is doing its own thing in many ways,” according to Ravindra Gupta, a researcher on viral variants at the University of Cambridge, and author of one of the studies. “The biology of the virus is not the same as before. It’s almost a novelty.
These published studies included lab tests that found that the omicron variant produced less damaging infections to the lungs and instead limited its damage to the nose, throat, and windpipe.
“It seems to be less virulent,” said Dr Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “We seem to have so much more immunity in December 2021” than in previous waves.
Now is not the time for anyone to let their guard down, simply because omicron may not be as deadly as previous variants. Justin Lessler, professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, said: “With Omicron our flare-ups are so big, even though they are on average… much less severe than the previous variants, the number of cases is so high. that hospital systems are going to be overwhelmed and there are risks to individuals as it is so likely that you will be infected. “
Overcrowding in hospitals and pressure on scarce medical resources have been a concern since the start of the pandemic. Memories of tired nurses reusing the same mask for a month while people at home made masks out of t-shirts and handkerchiefs weren’t long gone. Everyone has the power to prevent this from happening again and can alleviate some of the pressure on local health workers and public health officials by following the guidelines.
The Surry County Health and Nutrition Center has sent the following reminder that if you cannot be tested, follow the instructions below as if you tested positive.
If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19 and you are:
• Unvaccinated – stay away from others for 5 days, get tested on the 5th day after exposure, and if your test is negative, resume normal activities while wearing a mask for an additional 5 days.
• Vaccinated and eligible for a booster, but not yet boosted – stay away from others for 5 days, get tested on the 5th day after exposure, and if your test is negative, resume normal activities while wearing a mask for an additional 5 days.
• Vaccinated and received your booster or not yet eligible for a booster – you don’t need to stay away from others, but you must wear a mask for 10 days.
If your test is positive, regardless of your vaccination status, and:
• Do not have any symptoms – isolate yourself from others for 5 days, then wear a mask for an additional 5 days when you resume your normal activities.
• Show symptoms – isolate yourself from others until you have no fever for 24 hours and your symptoms improve. You should self-isolate for at least 5 days from the onset of your symptoms. Once you stop isolating yourself, you must wear a mask for an additional 5 days.
People who received two doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are eligible for a booster after 6 months, and those who initially received a single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine should be boosted after 2 months.
According to the CDC, those who are eligible for the boosters and have not received them should follow the more stringent guidelines for quarantine and masks.
The CDC guidelines cites initial data from South Africa showing that two doses of mRNA offer 35 percent protection against infection. With a recall, this drops to 75 percent.
The CDC recommends a properly fitted mask and, if possible, people are encouraged to wear a surgical or procedural mask, KN95 or N95 respirator. In general, the CDC recommends that all unvaccinated people 2 years of age or older wear a mask indoors.
The Surry County Health and Nutrition Center will offer vaccines and booster doses Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Call 336-401-8400 to make an appointment, but visits without appointments will be accepted.
The CDC, NCDHSS, and Surry County Health and Nutrition Center are asking you not to go to the emergency room to get tested. The golden rule of COVID remains: if you are not feeling well, err on the side of caution for the protection of your loved ones and neighbors and stay home.
For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, testing and counseling, please call the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center or visit www.facebook.com/SurryCountyHealthandNutritionCenter