The Omicron Variant is Going to Be a Bumpy Ride

Top officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently appeared before Congress to answer questions about the most recent variant in this relentless pandemic.  The sound bites posted to all media were, frightening some near-apocalyptic in their predictions.  According to the Washington Post’s coverage of the Congressional hearing, fifteen million people were newly diagnosed in the past week.  The USA’s “hockey stick” spike of new cases mirrors the trends across the globe.

The Pandemic Lives On

Today’s Omicron variant requires us to think and act with intention. Our pandemic experience reminds me that any new, uncharted territory can be filled with unexpected risks and landmines. Sadly, we need to harden our defense against Omicron despite last summer’s premature celebration that the pandemic was in sharp decline.

Knowledge is Your Seat Belt

No doubt, I would love to stop writing and hearing about the pandemic just like you, but this is not the moment to drop our guard. Dr. Ozzie’s interview elucidated the Omicron variant’s special powers to spread more rapidly and effectively than past variants. Safety first, wear your N95 grade masks and return to social distancing to decrease your chances of joining the ranks of the infected.

History is repeating itself. While the Omicron variant may not be a severe as earlier variants, it continues to challenge our healthcare capacity. Ten percent of something sounds manageable, right? But ten percent of one hundred and ten percent of one hundred thousand are two very different realities. The sheer number of people presenting at emergency departments is overwhelming our system.

Do It for the Helpers and Healers

Of special concern are the healers and helpers in our ranks. Caregivers, first responders, and hospital workers deserve our support right now. Remember when we used to clap for first responders and hospital workers? Collectively, we held all the healers and helpers in such high regard back in 2020. Two years later these dedicated professionals’ soldier on, many now harboring post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental and physical illnesses. We cannot live without them. We need to protect and support our helpers and healers.

This next month is going to test our mettle. Businesses, schools, airlines, buses, trains, and hospitals are experiencing worker sick-outs. Life as we prefer it, will not return to normal until we overcome this pandemic. Today I am asking for your help. Do your part to slow the transmission of the Omicron variant. Vaccinations, booster shots, N95 masks, social distancing, self-isolation when symptomatic, and good hand hygiene are the keys to outwitting this variant.

Buckle up buttercup, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Yours in Health,

Monica Stynchula, MSW, MPH


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