Coronavirus Opinion

Omicron variant should be taken seriously

The omicron variant should be taken seriously

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

The omicron variant should absolutely be taken seriously right now. Being very contagious and with the horrific symptoms of long COVID-19, people should not ignore this new coronavirus variant. 

The omicron variant has proven to be more contagious than the standard COVID-19 infection. It is also possible that people who are vaccinated will still get it. Considering that the University, like many other colleges, is still planning on having in-person classes in the spring, with no vaccination or mask mandate, this is concerning. 

After the holiday season cases could go up, so students should wear a mask, a KN95 if possible, and try to social distance when they can. It is unfortunate that students will have to take their safety into their own hands if there are no social distancing mandates or online class settings.

Thankfully, the COVID-19 vaccine prevents severe symptoms, death and hospitalization, so vaccinated people are likely to be better off with an omicron infection than unvaccinated people. However, hospitals are still strained right now due to a lack of beds and staff. 

Because many healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19, this contributes to the staffing shortages. To remedy this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortened isolation rules so now people can go to work after five to seven days of isolation instead of ten. This is worrying as the main motivation is to get workers back instead of to prevent spread. 

The fact that the CDC cut the isolation period for COVID-19 shows how dire this situation is. Hospitals don’t have the staff to treat patients right now and while vaccinated people are more likely to have mild cases, unvaccinated people and immunocompromised people are more likely to end up in hospitals. 

People need to be careful because hospitals will struggle, and with a lack of staff and beds, hospitals may have to ration care which will lead to some people not getting the treatment they need because the majority of resources will go to COVID-19 patients. 

Vaccinated people may sound like they don’t have to worry as much with only a risk for a mild infection. However, even mild COVID-19 infections can cause long-term symptoms such as shortness of breath or parosmia, which is when smell is distorted.

 Many people who have had COVID-19, even mild cases, will now experience horrible smells and tastes when eating food that they used to enjoy. Some people now have to plug their noses while they eat because food tastes like sewage or garbage to them. 

This can cause people to lose weight as they don’t feel the desire to eat when everything tastes and smells horrible. Taste and scent are a big part of daily life, so losing or changing them can cause someone to feel depressed. 

The bottom line is that the omicron variant should not be taken lightly. Students should wear masks, social distance and avoid going to superspreader events like conventions and concerts, especially if they can’t avoid in-person classes. If students aren’t vaccinated or boosted, they should make a plan to do so. Don’t ignore the seriousness of this new variant. 

Anna Baker is an English senior who can be reached at [email protected]

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