COVID-19 Update: Omicron variant sweeps the nation

Treyce Warner, News Editor

Just when you thought the pandemic was drawing to a close, the Delta variant came along and caused another wave of infections, more rapidly and with more lethality than any other strain of COVID seen thus far. As Delta finally dies down, one would think we have the virus cornered and ready to be put into extinction along with smallpox and the dodo. Unfortunately, poorer regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa have to account for poor healthcare and lower access to vaccines, making them vulnerable to outbreaks. Issues regarding storage and transportation as well as blatant refusal from some WHO officials (read: Bill Gates) and national health advisors to distribute vaccines to those regions has led to new breeding grounds outside of Chinese wet markets. This maelstrom of conditions resulted in the newest threat to going outside: the Omicron variant. Omicron, thankfully, is less deadly than Delta, with less severe symptoms. So; should we even be worried?
The issue comes from Omicron’s ability to mutate further. The extremely high rate of infection (twice as high as Delta) provides far more opportunity for the virus to multiply inside hosts, causing further mutations. While over 99% of these mutations will be harmless, occasionally one will be useful to the spread of the virus, and as these “helpful” mutations build up, new variants are created. As long as necessary precautions are taken- e.g. masks and vaccines- Omicron’s spread should be stopped before it can even begin rolling.
While Omicron has already reached the United States, along with many other countries around the globe, there have been no cases in North Carolina yet. The WS/FCS school board has voted to renew a mask mandate inside schools, citing COVID cases still being prevalent in Forsyth County (1,392 cases from Nov. 23 to Dec. 6) and a need for students to stay safely in school.