Omicron is a real threat, and we need to treat it like one

At this point in the pandemic, we are not unfamiliar with Coronavirus. We have experienced the effects of it for nearly two years: most of us know someone who had it, or had it ourselves, our lives have been flipped upside down, turned around and then placed lopsided back where they’re supposed to be. The ‘new normal’ has been established. In other words, we are completely and utterly desensitized to any new variant that occurs, which could cost our lives.

Two days after South Africa reported Omicron, the World Health Organization labeled it a ‘variant of concern,’ the most serious category used for tracking new variants. There are signs that Omicron is even more transmissible than Delta and can better evade immunity.

Omicron will not make the COVID-19 vaccines completely ineffective, but they will be less effective against this mutation of the virus. This is an even greater reason to get a booster shot for the vaccine and scientists urge those who are still not vaccinated to do so immediately. If you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, you need to seriously consider why you would risk the growing threat against your health.

According to the Mayo Clinic, only 62.3% of the population of Florida is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, leaving almost 40% of the population completely exposed to new variants, with little research on how to treat.

Additionally, wearing masks in public spaces, even those who are fully vaccinated, is highly recommended. Despite this, mask mandates are still lifted and few private businesses require them in stores. On top of this, theme parks like Disney and Universal have been given the go ahead from Gov. Ron DeSantis to return to normal capacity and have been slowly increasing the percentage of guests allowed into the park.

It is obvious and understandable to be tired of this situation, especially for Generation Z, who have had key parts of their childhood taken away. Ignoring and brushing off this variant would be easy, but it would also be incredibly dangerous.”

— Laura Shaw

Soon after Omicron was labeled a ‘variant of concern,’ some countries, including the United States, barred travel from several southern African countries while others, like Japan, even shut down travel completely again. Although this seems like an overreaction, cases of Omicron have already been detected in countries like Canada, Britain and Australia. For now, barring travel from solely southern Africa seems like an appropriate response, as the government needs to closely monitor its progress and be ready to shut down travel again. However, I am afraid that they simply will not do that.

There is very little information on Omicron as of now, but from what we do know, we need to take it seriously. It is obvious and understandable to be tired of this situation, especially for Generation Z, who have had key parts of their childhood taken away. Ignoring and brushing off this variant would be easy, but it would also be incredibly dangerous. While there are no signs that we will be reentering the quarantine phase of 2020, we simply need to do our part to protect ourselves and our community.

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