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What you should know about omicron

Late last month, the World Health Organization reported the emergence of a new variation of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, as a variant of concern. Emanating from South Africa, the omicron variant has spread across Europe, South America and the U.S. This past week, Nevada reported two new cases of the omicron variant.

According to a study conducted by the Imperial College London, the risk of reinfection with the omicron coronavirus variant presents more than five times higher than the delta variant. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported they do not yet know how omicron spreads, the severity of the illness it causes, nor are they able to gauge the effectiveness of current vaccines and medications used to fight it, although Moderna reported earlier this month that its COVID-19 booster dose works against the omicron variant in lab tests and the booster shot significantly increased levels of immune-system antibodies against omicron in the experiments.

“Our best line of defense is vaccination, and with about 55 percent of Nevada’s population fully vaccinated, we still have work to do,” said Thomas Maher, CEO of Boulder City Hospital. “We need to continue to be vigilant in getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, preferably disposable masks, and getting tested to help protect yourself and lessen the risk of infection or reinfection. People who have had COVID-19 should consider wearing a mask indoors in public places. We have a growing community, including our zero to under 18 years of age adolescents and a growing number of seniors over the age of 65 — two of the most vulnerable groups associated with this pandemic.”

▶ More than 75 percent of the 804,846 deaths have been in people over 65 years of age.

▶ 2,685 deaths have been of children under the age of 18.

▶ One in 100 older Americans has died.

▶ There are 50 million unvaccinated Americans.

COVID-19 is now the third leading cause of death among Americans aged 65 and older. In the past two years, COVID-19 is responsible for more than 13 percent of deaths in the 65-plus age group surpassing diabetes, accidents, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

To Your Health is provided by the staff of Boulder City Hospital. For more information, call 702-293-4111, ext. 576, or visit bchcares.org.

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