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Today, January 12, 2022, Washington State Department of Health reported 89.6% of cases sequenced are the Omicron variant. While it has not yet been detected in any of our three counties, the rapid increase in cases over the last several weeks is a strong indication that the Omicron variant is present in our area.
We know Omicron is much more contagious than previous variants, one case of omicron can result in more than 7 other infections in its short incubation cycle of about 2 to 3 days. While it does appear to be less severe compared to the delta variant, that is dependent on whether you’re vaccinated and boosted, your age, and your overall health. Just like previous variants, Omicron is still hospitalizing people and causing death. January 11, 2022 the U.S. surpassed its record for COVID-19 hospitalizations with a total of 145,982. The previous record of 142,273 COVID patients hospitalized was reported almost exactly a year ago on January 14, 2021. According to the latest data from the Department of Health and Human Services more than 1 in every 4 ICU beds in the U.S. is filled with a COVID-19 patient. As of January 11, 2022, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is showing Washington has experienced nearly a 36% increase in new COVID hospitalizations in the last 7 days.
Regional and local hospitals are beginning to see an uptick in hospitalizations as cases rise. Just last week Stevens County had 10 COVID patients hospitalized. With exhausted frontline medical staff, limited resources, and the inability to transfer patients to higher level of care facilities this leaves little to no room for the unexpected emergencies like heart attacks, car accidents, or births. Not just COVID patients suffer, delayed care for patients suffering medical emergencies can be the difference between life and death. It is imperative we do everything we can to reduce the strain being experienced by our medical systems.
The severity of illness and risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 can be significantly reduced by getting the vaccine and recommended booster. Like many other vaccine’s, immunity wans over time. Data is showing 6 months after your initial COVID vaccine series protection drops to approximately 40%. Individuals who receive their booster are regaining protection levels close to 70%, which is significant when we consider how quickly Omicron is spreading. While breakthrough cases are occurring vaccines and boosters are working extremely well at keeping people from getting seriously ill. Sadly, we have experienced this firsthand in our tri county area as 90% of the COVID deaths in the last 90 days were among unvaccinated individuals. We are urging everyone to please protect yourself and your loved ones by getting the recommended COVID vaccine and booster.
Contact your local clinic or pharmacy to schedule an appointment or visit our website at www.netchd.org to find a vaccine provider near you.