The effect of the COVID-19 variant, Omicron, in Arizona

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The Omicron variant of the Coronavirus is spreading in Arizona. But there are indications that Omicron results in less serious illness than “previous” variants. We got the latest on COVID in Arizona from Will Humble, Executive Director of the Arizona Public Health Association.

Humble explained that the Omicron variant is in the process of displacing Delta in Arizona. He continued that the Omicron variant has become the dominant variant nationally but within Arizona, we’re seeing Delta and Omicron to be 50/50 in cases.

Hospitals are being overwhelmed with the amount of patients and there is a decrease in staffing, Humble said.

“The staffing was already hard in hospitals, now with Omicron being that much more contagious, more of the staff is out.”

He mentioned that rural hospitals are having to deny patients because, “you don’t have the ability to transfer patients the way the bigger chains do, so I expect to see that kind of thing happening more in rural Arizona than here in the urban centers of Phoenix and Tucson.”

Humble said that the COVID mitigation efforts haven’t changed too much but it has become more important to wear N95 masks and KN95 masks, these medical masks have proven more effective than the cloth or paper masks.

He stresses, “increasing your mask integrity and quality.”

But, according to data and observation, Omicron has proven itself to be milder than other variants, “it’s super fortunate because if Omicron had been as deadly as Delta this would’ve been an absolute train wreck because it is so much more contagious it would have really caused an enormous health impact but because Omicron is on average head to head it’s not about 30% as lethal as Delta,” Humble said.

Although Omicron is much more contagious than previous variants and can linger in the air, hence why Humble suggests wearing a better mask.

Will Humble, Executive Director, Arizona Public Health Association

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