For Immediate Release
Phone: 980-432-1800Website: www.rowancountync.gov/COVID-19Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Rowan County COVID-19 Case Information: https://bit.ly/rowan-covid19-hub
In the past few days, some of you may have become aware of a new COVID-19 variant known as Omicron (pronounced aa·muh·kran). This new variant has been detected mostly in South Africa, but it also has been confirmed in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, as well as twelve other countries.
Closer to home, Omicron has not been confirmed to be in the United States, as of yet; however, Canada has reported five confirmed cases as of yesterday. Dr. David Wohl, infectious disease specialist at UNC-Chapel Hill, shared that North Carolina and the rest of the country will inevitably start seeing cases of Omicron enter into America in the next coming days and weeks. Currently, the dominant variant within North Carolina still remains Delta.
Based on the most recent research available, the number of mutations found in Omicron show a potential for higher transmission of this variant among individuals compared to the beta and delta variants that we have been living with. Research also shows that there is a good chance that this variant could be resistant, to some degree, to any natural immunity from previously having COVID-19 and/or recently being vaccinated.
At this time, however, the most important thing to understand is that there is still a lot of information that we need to gather and study about Omicron. Yes, we need to be aware of it; but most importantly, we all need to make sure that we get vaccinated and/or get our COVID-19 booster shots as soon as we can. Regardless the situation with Omicron, vaccinations still remain the best protection against serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.
According to Wohl, “We’ll know more about this new variant in the coming weeks. Laboratory data is going to start emerging where people who’ve had a natural infection with COVID or have been vaccinated are going to be put to a test against the Omicron virus to see what kind of neutralization occurs. Symptoms will also be studied more closely in vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Both of those pieces of information, I think, will help us understand the threat.”
While we wait for more information about Omicron, Rowan County Public Health cannot emphasize to you and your family members enough about the importance of stilling wearing your mask out in public, especially as more people are out getting ready for Christmas. In addition to that, please continue to practice social distancing and proper hand sanitizing. Most importantly, please visit our website to find out where you can receive a COVID Vaccine and/or COVID-19 booster shot here locally. Also, if you are not feeling well, we highly encourage you to stay at home and make an appointment to get tested for COVID-19 as precautionary measure.
In closing, the latest available data from NC DHHS, as of November 24th, showed those unvaccinated are more than five times as likely to contract COVID-19 and over 25 times as likely to die from the disease compared to those who are vaccinated. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strengthened its call for booster shots as of yesterday, recommending that everyone 18 or older get an additional shot of either Pfizer or Moderna six months after their last vaccine. As for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it is recommended that you get your booster two months after your first shot. Please remember that the original vaccine you may have received and the booster shot does not have to be the same; all three approved vaccines are interchangeable as a booster shot.
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Download Media Release COVID-19 - December 01, 2021 (PDF)