Analysis: Omicron may be less dangerous, but it’s twisting

The country is burrowing under an avalanche of new infections, but after two exhausting, demoralizing years, efforts to find a way to live more normally with the disease among the millions have never been stronger. Finding the right balance is complicated as the pandemic has reached its most paradoxical phase yet.
Signs of a worsening winter crisis are pouring in everywhere, even raising new hope that a virus has wreaked havoc over the past two years, perhaps, not quite as frightening in its latest guise. It’s also jarring that hospitals overflow as infection curves are shooting straight into vertical lines, but many Americans who get Covid-19 for the first time shrug it off like a mild cold.
The situation has sparked debate in Washington, D.C. – where President Joe Biden is set to address the rapid spread of Omicron on Tuesday – governors’ mansions, corporate boardrooms, schools and living rooms from coast to coast.
There is particularly confusion in education, which is prompting parents to seek distractions for the fifteenth time in the pandemic and threaten major economic consequences if key workers do not get child care. Schools in Detroit, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Cleveland and Washington are hit by the virus and are delaying virtual learning or returning to class for at least a few days after the holiday. and Texas Children’s Hospital chief pathologist Dr. James Versalovic on Monday warned of a “shocking” number of children in his wards battling Omicron.
But on the same day, New York City’s new mayor Eric Adams claimed his “swagger” and told the Big Apple – where infections are rising – not “walled up in Covid” as he called for teachers to have equal treatment. As coworkers in other places that are going virtual. Deepening the contradictions, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a fellow Democrat, warned that “we are not in a good place” as the winter waves bite. It’s also puzzling how NFL stadiums jammed as the playoffs loom in a sign of normality, but thousands of airline flights are being canceled because flight crews are sick.

a funky combination

While the signals seem conflicting, they can be rationalised, although incorporating them into a coherent national response to a pandemic that has consistently toppled political leaders and deepened national divisions is another matter.

The most important key to understanding parallel COVID realities is that the omicron variant is much more contagious than the delta variant, which is overt but, according to mounting evidence, usually causes less severe disease.

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This dastardly combination of increased communicability is challenging the but apparently weak balance between more moderate disease mitigation and the preservation of normal life forged in previous waves of infection. It also means that political and corporate leaders grapple with the question of whether a virus that manifests in mild illness and even causes no symptoms for many, will be able to control critical infrastructure affecting American life. The threat to infrastructure and basic services must remain.

Some elected officials are taking precautions – including those who are closing schools, at least for the time being. This is understandable, because it is difficult to figure out how to learn and move on an individual basis if teachers test positive and have to enter isolation. But other leaders, such as Adams, give the impression that the country is waging the last war against the pathogen when a new one has begun. His enthusiasm is the luxury of a mayor with a new mandate.

But this could put them at risk of falling into the trap of many leaders – underestimating Covid-19. Three days into his term, Adams bluntly acknowledged that some Republicans who have long argued that epidemiological mitigation has gone too far may be right. Remarkably, he was on the same page as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican opponent of the masked mandate, who vowed to Omicron not to close schools in the Sunshine State, with his habitual flair for a political title.

But the notion that Omicron is a tame one takes the risk equation too far in the direction of underestimating the virus and can lead to dangerous shortcuts.

Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. “The statement that it’s just a mild virus is not accurate,” Peter Hotez told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Monday.

What should parents know about sending children back to school during Omicron?
“We’ve done a terrific job vaccinating our kids across the country. … so even though there’s a lot of good news about the Omicron variant, the less serious disease, when you add up all the factors … We have a very serious situation in front of us, especially for children.” With that crisis in mind, the US Food and Drug Administration on Monday announced an emergency use authorization for a Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine booster for teens ages 12 to 15. For everyone already eligible, this shortened the time between completing the initial series. shots and a recommended booster from six months to five months, and this allowed a third dose of the primary series for some immunocompromised children aged 5 to 11 years.

As more Americans grow tired of the fight, conservative critics of public health officials want to avoid the temptation to get depressed. Even now, most Americans are hospitalized and dying in the Omicron boom (and some districts still raging delta wave) amid a torrent of misinformation about vaccinations fueled by several GOP politicians and conservative media hosts. Rejected, free, effective vaccines.

The best way to protect against serious illness, hospitalization, or death is to be vaccinated and promoted to see if the Omicron version is less potent. As many of the 820,000 Americans who have died from the disease may be alive, some Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, did not make public health a victim of their political ambitions and ignored science and premature economic growth in 2020. pushed for the opening.

Hospitals attacked again

And living with the virus is easier said than done.

One of Omicron’s most brutal features is that it seems easy to shake for most people, but its increased communicability means that even a smaller percentage of patients who become critically ill in this wave are in better health than others. Can affect care systems and advance the hero. Doctors and nurses who have been out of the pandemic. As an example, national hospitalizations reached 100,000 on Monday for the first time in four months and most experts expect them to rise further. Overloading the system can also seriously reduce the quality of care for people with other diseases, especially chronic conditions such as heart attack or stroke.

But the nature of this pandemic is that it raises questions that are impossible to answer satisfactorily – especially those that fall within a fragmented political circle. For example, Sen. Marco Rubio welcomed the sight of full football stadiums over the weekend and warned in a tweet against the “irrational frenzy” provoked by Omicron. But the Florida Republican drew a rebuke from the president’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who noted on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that an average of 1,200 daily deaths from Covid-19 was “not a trivial situation.”

But even Fauci has argued in recent days that the country is in the process of restarting its risk tolerance and said last week that no activity in the pandemic was completely safe.

For example, public health officials have begun to adapt their approach, noting that Omicron’s infectious properties threaten to rapidly exhaust the work force and jeopardize the capacity of hospitals, police and emergency services. . The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week halved the recommended isolation period for people who test positive and who are asymptomatic or whose symptoms are easing by five days, as long as they last another five days. To wear masks. Yet there’s confusion here too, and Fauci told CNN on Sunday that clearer guidance, perhaps involving a testing component, is coming. But even if the latest CDC guidelines clear up the issue, many Americans are finding it impossible to get tested amid nationwide shortages, so may be unable to comply.

This is yet another reason for the feeling of panic in the country that everyone is looking for not only to come out of the pandemic and its deprivations – which seems unrealistic – but to have a modified way of life that is sustainable. But despite Omicron’s expectation of a rapid peak, no one can say for sure how long it will reign, or whether it will be followed by a more fickle and chaos-provoking version.

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