Oh My Omicron

The new Omicron variant is spreading rapidly across the United States

The Guardian

The new Omicron variant is spreading rapidly across the United States

Kalea Reeves, PR Editor

Just when the COVID-19 pandemic was seemingly coming to a close, the Omicron variant, first discovered in South Africa, has made its way across the world and into the United States. This creates a new wave of complications with quarantines, mask mandates, vaccine boosters and school and business closures.

Omicron is a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus; it was discovered in late November of 2021 and much of its behavior remains unknown. However, it is much more easily spread than the original virus, and even those who are vaccinated against the virus can get it.

While the vaccinated are better protected against severe symptoms and hospitalizations, getting a booster shot is also important in protecting against the new variant. If you’re unable to get the vaccine, wearing masks in public spaces and getting tested regularly are important measures in keeping yourself and others safe.

The public’s reaction to the new variant is like a flashback to March 2020. Many restaurants and other businesses have temporarily closed or made a vaccine mandate for employees and customers. There are many schools and colleges across the country such as WashU, the University of Illinois and Northwestern University that are going back online for the spring 2022 semester.

To boost public safety, indoor mask and vaccine mandates have been reimplemented in many schools and workplaces. However, these mandates have not always been well-received, with thousands losing jobs over vaccine refusal.

Omicron is being accused as a major attribute to the detrimental staffing shortage across the country in almost every industry, infecting employees and keeping them at home. Healthcare workers have taken a drastic hit, struggling to help the amount of patients they have. Over the busyness of recent holiday travel, many flights were cancelled due to the lack of airline workers.

The pandemic is surging into its third year. To finally halt the spread of COVID-19 and this new Omicron variant, it’s important we all do our part to keep ourselves and everyone around us safe.