With Omicron Spreading Quickly, Too Many People Aren’t Thinking About The Greater Good

12-31-21
   What is wrong with people?
   We are still in the COVID Pandemic and are experiencing a serious surge as the Omicron variant spreads like wildfire around the world. Some medical experts are thinking Omicron may be as contagious as Measles. Here’s an example of how contagious Omicron is. In late November of 2021, 110 people attended a Holiday party in Oslo, Norway. Most of the attendees were fully vaccinated (from the initial 2 dose series). One individual who had recently arrived from South Africa was infected with the Omicron variant of COVID, and when all was said and done, 70% of those in attendance ended up catching the virus. 70%. Think about that. And remember many more people who had not been to the party undoubtedly caught Omicron from individuals who had been present. That is how contagious the Omicron variant is.
   Another problem we’re seeing with Omicron is that while immune resistance from the initial vaccine series is still helping protect against severe disease, it appears to be weakened in preventing people from getting infected in the first place. Immune resistance from previous infection of earlier COVID variants is also not working as well against Omicron so that the risk of reinfection (especially in those who are unvaccinated) is significantly increased. This is why getting boostered is so important. Boosters are improving the immune system’s ability to fight the virus.
   We know that mask wearing and social distancing help significantly decrease spread of the virus. It’s also clear that to gain the maximum effect, everyone inside a public space should be wearing a mask. This is because masks decrease the amount of virus that is exhaled into the air by someone (who may have COVID and not realize it) while also increasing protection for other people in the room who would be exposed to what virus is able to escape into the room’s atmosphere. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense.
   Now consider how schools are getting ready to restart after the Holiday break. It should be abundantly obvious that everyone inside a school should be wearing a mask right now. Everyone. Kids and staff are going to be inside rooms in close proximity to each other for hours. We’re also seeing how in this current surge, a growing number of young people are getting infected since so many kids are not vaccinated (whether because they are too young or because the parents being too hesitant). And yes, some of these kids end up in the hospital. This is why everyone should be wearing a mask inside schools.
   It’s not rocket science folks.
   Yet many people are fighting against mask wearing mandates in schools claiming that not wearing a mask should be their individual right. The problem with their argument is that we are in the midst of a pandemic with case numbers rapidly rising. This means that wearing a mask inside a school is not just about protecting the well-being of the wearer. It’s also about protecting everyone else in that school as well as people students and staff will be in contact with elsewhere in their lives. It’s about doing what is responsible and right for the greater good.
   This is why when people are vehemently opposing mask wearing mandates in schools, they are being seriously irresponsible and are endangering the lives of not just their own children, family, and friends, but those of other people as well. And worse still is how Republican Governors DeSantis of Florida and Abbott of Texas have prohibited mask mandates in their states’ public schools. That means local public school officials are not allowed to institute mask mandates, even during times of high transmission rates in their districts. This goes against science and will definitely cost lives to be lost needlessly and unnecessarily. Frankly, people like Governors DeSantis and Abbott have (or will have) blood on their hands.
   In times of crisis, everyone needs to pull together and do their part for the greater good and let go of some of their own personal desires and demands. This is what happened during World War II when everyone did their part to defeat Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan. The problem is that right now millions of Americans are refusing to do their part in that they’re not wearing masks and social distancing when they should, and many are refusing to get vaccinated and/or boostered despite the fact they have no legitimate medical reason not to.
   So I ask again: what’s wrong with people? Why are so many being selfish to the point of endangering the lives of not just themselves and their own children, but those of other innocent people as well?
   During this time of crisis, mask wearing and social distancing in public places, especially schools, is critical in managing the pandemic because otherwise, the health care system will become even more overwhelmed than it already is. Another vital tool in battling COVID is for people to get vaccinated and boostered when eligible.
   If more people would think about the greater good and do the right thing, we would get better control over the pandemic faster, which in turn would save lives.
  

COVID’s New Variant, Omicron, Causing Concern

11-28-21
   I know we are all tired of COVID and are anxious to get back to more normal lives. But the blunt reality is that COVID in all likelihood is here to stay. The best case scenario (realistically speaking) is that it will become endemic as opposed to the current pandemic. But even once it is considered endemic, there will be periodic surges (some local and some worldwide). It will wax and wane with some areas having larger outbreaks than others.
   There are multiple reasons why COVID is here to stay. For one thing, there are too many people refusing to get vaccinated even though the vaccines have been proven to be quite safe and effective, especially against severe disease. There is also growing evidence that people’s immune resistance from previous infection and vaccines may decrease over time. This is why boosters have now been authorized. Another factor is how the virus has been mutating so quickly. As the virus mutates, new variants of it are created. Sometimes, a variant will fizzle out without getting very far, and other times a variant will spread rapidly to become the dominant form of the virus for a period of time. We recently saw this with the Delta variant. And now we have a troubling new one called Omicron.
   Omicron is concerning because it has a large number of mutations which could affect how transmissible it is and potentially how severe it is. The mutations might also impact how well people’s immune resistance (from previous infections or vaccines) may be able to fight it. There is a chance that Omicron could be so different because of its mutations that people’s immune resistance won’t work well in battling it. At this time, it’s too soon to tell the full impacts of this new variant. Some preliminary data is raising the possibility that with Omicron, the risk of reinfection for people who already had COVID via an earlier variant, may be elevated. Research is ongoing. Hopefully, within a few weeks, we will have some idea how well people’s current immune resistance will work against it.
   Another concern for the Northern Hemisphere with regards to Omicron is the onset of winter. Some viruses, like the flu, survive better in cold, dry environments. We can’t say for sure whether COVID is like this or not, but there was already concern about a winter surge due to the fact that in cold weather, people are more likely to be gathering indoors where there is less ventilation. There’s also the fact that people are getting out more and fewer are wearing masks/social distancing when they should. This combination of factors is creating great concern about what is going to happen during the next few months.
   People should wear masks and social distance when they are inside public places or in outdoor crowds that are large and concentrated. Individuals who are unvaccinated need to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and vaccinated people need to get boostered when eligible.
   We must all do our part in fighting COVID. It’s more than just protecting ourselves; it’s about doing the right thing for the greater good.