What does the new COVID-19 Omicron variant mean for Southeastern North Carolina?

Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 6:19 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The new COVID variant, Omicron, has not yet been detected in the state of North Carolina, but health officials still want the community to be proactive in protecting against the virus.

That’s where safety measures come into play like social distancing, washing hands, wearing masks in crowded public places, and most importantly, getting vaccinated. If the community focuses on these safety measures to help slow the spread of the virus then future mask mandates could possibly be avoided.

While it is still unknown the exact effectiveness of the COVID vaccine with the new variant, health officials say that even a small percentage of effectiveness will help protect you and those around you.

“We need a couple weeks of earnest studies within a laboratory and also in populations, so epidemiologists will study [it] in terms of how transmissible it is — that gives a good indication if that becomes the dominant strain,” said New Hanover County Health Director David Howard.

The current percent of positive cases in New Hanover County can be found here. Health experts expect that number to grow because of increased travel and gatherings on Thanksgiving.

“The other important factor there is transmissibility. [It] is of concern, but in terms of controlling impacts, the scientists really want to know if this makes people more sick and if the vaccines are still effective against this virus strain and keeping people out of the hospital just like any other virus we battle,” Howard said.

Another factor to keep in mind is that as outside temperatures drop and people stay indoors more, there is concern for an increased number of positive cases, so it’s important to focus on safety measures over the next few months.

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