The new COVID-19 variant, named Omicron BA.2 has been spreading since early February and has most likely already been the cause of most of the recent cases in the United States. The subvariant of Omicron is believed to be more contagious than the previous variant that surged through the country.
Despite the increasing prevalence of the new variant, public health officials do not believe that there will be a dramatic surge in cases. Due to the fact that 66% of the population of the U.S. are vaccinated, the increased immunity will help prevent a rise in cases.
White House chief medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci said to ABC, “The bottom line is we’ll likely see an uptick in cases, as we’ve seen in the European countries, particularly the U.K. Hopefully we won’t see a surge – I don’t think we will.”
Some European countries have seen a significant surge of the new variant, but it is believed by public health officials that this is due to the fact that they had significantly less of a spread of the previous Omicron variant compared to the U.S. They also have been lifting restrictions, which helped the spike in cases.
While the variant has already been detected in the U.S., particularly California with a current spread in L.A. county, the risk of a surge in cases is likely. The new variant is more transmissible than its previous variants, but it does not appear to be more severe. Recent variants, like Omicron and Delta have been able to evade vaccinated people and still infect them with the virus, but the vaccine has protected them from more severe cases. The vaccines as a whole have been helping tremendously with the decrease in hospitalizations from COVID-19 infections.
It is advised by public health officials to continue to take precautions that had been previously used to protect one’s self from infection; wear a mask, social distance, and get vaccinated. Although a lot of counties across the country are lifting their mask mandates, these protocols are still advised.
Palomar College will continue taking the precautions that have already been put in place since the beginning of the semester. Masks are required in all indoor spaces on all campuses and the daily health questionnaire must be filled out before coming onto any campus each day. Julie Lanthier Bandy, Palomar’s director of marketing, communications, and public affairs office explained in an interview that Palomar College receives its guidance regarding COVID-19 from the California Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the San Diego County Public Health Department, and will continue to do so at this time.
Lanthier Bandy said, “The College’s Emergency Operations Center is monitoring the data on all variants and related health and safety guidance. As of this date in time, the threat of the new COVID-19 variant is not warranting any new guidance.”