New studies suggest that Omicron is a less virulent strain

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Year-to-year data comparison on December 31, 2021 with the same 2020 date of the nationwide COVID-19 case census.

With COVID-19 hospital admissions continuing to rise alarmingly across North Carolina, boosters remain the most important thing you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones out of the hospital, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services officials said last week Week noticed.

Hospital admissions for COVID cases in North Carolina have risen to levels never seen before for the pandemic in its entirety, and unfortunately we are not alone. In the past seven days, North Carolina has reported 67,913 new cases of the virus. Compare that to the seven-day average of 29,701 new cases and the numbers speak for themselves.

For Surry County, 798 new cases of the virus were reported in the last 14 days and 440 in the last seven days. 93 new cases were reported overnight, if this number stayed constant it would mean 651 new cases in the coming week.

The trend isn’t unique to North Carolina, as the country broke its record for daily COVID cases twice last week, according to the New York Times. There were more than 580,000 new COVID cases in the United States on Thursday alone. However, while in the past two weeks the number of COVID cases in the United States has increased by 181% and the number of hospital admissions has increased by 19%, the number of deaths has decreased by 5%.

“Now is the time to get your booster vaccination,” said Kody H. Kinsley, Assistant Secretary of Health and Incoming DHHS Secretary. “We have many vaccines on hand, and a booster or vaccination if not already done dramatically reduces the risk of serious illness and hospitalization with the Omicron variant.” Vaccines are available free of charge for all people aged 5 and over from the district health authorities, your doctor and pharmacy chains throughout the district.

The NCDHHS has also adopted revised guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention outlining what individuals should do when they contract or are exposed to COVID to help slow the spread of disease to others. What hasn’t changed is that if you have symptoms, get tested regardless of vaccination status and let others isolate you while you wait for a result.

Not all of today’s COVID news is bad news as more studies are published on the Omicron variant, now suggesting that Omicron “is doing its own thing in many ways,” said Ravindra Gupta, a virus variant researcher at the university Cambridge. and author of one of the studies. “The biology of the virus is no longer the same as it was before. It’s almost a new thing. “

These published studies included laboratory tests that found the Omicron variant caused less harmful infections of the lungs and instead limited its damage largely to the nose, throat, and trachea.

“It seems less virulent,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, Infectious Disease Specialist and Professor of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. “We seem to have so much more immunity in December 2021” than in previous waves.

This is no time for someone to lose their vigilance just because Omicron may not be as deadly as previous variants. Justin Lessler, Professor of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, said, “At Omicron, our surges are so large, even if on average they are much less severe than previous variants, the sheer number of cases is so large that the hospital systems falling short. “Be overwhelmed and there are risks for individuals because they are so likely to become infected.”

Overcrowding in hospitals and the stress on scarce medical resources have been a cause for concern since the pandemic began. Not long away are memories of tired nurses reusing the same mask for a month while people at home made masks out of T-shirts and handkerchiefs. Everyone has the power to prevent this from happening and can relieve local health workers and public health officials by following the guidelines.

Surry County’s Health and Nutrition Center posted the following reminder that if you cannot be tested, please follow the directions as if you were positive.

If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19 and:

• Not vaccinated – stay away from others for 5 days, get tested on day 5 after exposure, and if test negative, return to normal activities while wearing a mask for an additional 5 days.

• Vaccinated and eligible for a booster, but not yet refreshed – stay away from others for 5 days, get in touch on the 5th.

• Are vaccinated and have either received your booster or are not yet eligible for a booster – you don’t need to stay away from others, but you should wear a mask for 10 days.

If you tested positive regardless of your vaccination status and:

• Have no symptoms – isolate yourself from others for 5 days, then wear a mask for an additional 5 days when you return to normal activities.

• Have symptoms – isolate yourself from others until you have been fever free for 24 hours and your symptoms improve. You should isolate for at least 5 days from the onset of your symptoms. Once you stop isolating, you should wear a mask for an additional 5 days.

People who received two doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine are entitled to a booster after 6 months, and those who initially received a single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson should receive a booster after 2 months.

According to the CDC, those eligible for boosters who haven’t received them should follow the stricter guidelines on quarantine and masks.

The CDC guideline cites initial data from South Africa showing that two doses of mRNA provide 35 percent protection against infection. With a booster shot this increases to 75 percent.

The CDC recommends a well-fitting mask, and when possible, people are advised to wear a surgical or surgical mask, KN95 or N95 respirator. In general, the CDC recommends that all unvaccinated individuals aged 2 and over wear a mask indoors.

Surry County’s Health and Nutrition Center will offer vaccination and booster doses Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. Call 336-401-8400 to schedule an appointment, but walk-ins are accepted.

The CDC, NCDHSS, and Surry County Health and Nutrition Center ask you not to go to the emergency room to get tested. The golden rule for COVID remains: if you are not feeling well, play it safe and stay at home to protect your loved ones and neighbors.

For more information on vaccines, tests, and COVID-19 guidance, please call the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center or visit www.facebook.com/SurryCountyHealthandNutritionCenter

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