First case of omicron COVID variant detected in Arizona

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Arizona reported its first case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus yesterday. It was identified in Yavapai county. What does this mean for Arizona going forward in the pandemic? We asked Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association.

“Omicron is the newest version, it’s tweaks in the genetic code which makes minor changes in how it infects people, how it spreads and how it replicates itself,” Humble said.

Humble said more data and research is needed to see how the omicron variant fares against vaccines and immunity from previous infections of the virus, although current research doesn’t look too bad. However, research shows omicron is more contagious than the delta variant.

“We didn’t know that a week ago for sure we do know now that omicron is more contagious than delta, it’s out-competing delta by leaps and bounds in South Africa, also in Europe. We’re going to see that here as well,” Humble said.

Current hospital numbers in Arizona have taken a turn for the worse recently, as fewer than 5 percent of in-patient beds are available statewide.

“I was unequivocal. I said, ‘yeah we’ve seen the worst of this,’ and I can’t say that anymore,” Humble said.

Humble said this isn’t just dangerous for COVID-19 patients, but for anybody who needs hospital care.

“We need a time machine to go back six months, at this point the policy interventions take a long time to work, now it’s in emergency response mode and we needed to have compelled people to get vaccinated with mandates a long time ago,” Humble said.

Humble said the leadership to prevent the state of the pandemic in Arizona is still drastically needed.

“A lot of bad decisions have been made in the last six months,” Humble said.

Will Humble, executive director of Arizona Public Health Association

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