Health officials: Omicron a cause for concern, vigilance not panic

Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 6:32 PM EST
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - U.S. health officials have confirmed a handful of cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. None are in Georgia, but testing for omicron is happening here.

Public Health officials said every positive COVID-19 test done through them is also being tested for the Omicron variant.

“And so if we have it in South West Georgia, we’re going to know about it,” Dr. Charles Ruis, Southwest Health District director, said.

Ruis said there is still a lot unknown about this strain.

“This is a very similar scenario that we were in when the Delta variant was first discovered,” Ruis said. “At that time, we didn’t know what the future would bring and it’s true now for Omicron.”

That includes how severe this variant can be or how effective the vaccines are against it.

“The time will tell,” Ruis said.

Health officials, including those at Phoebe, continue to say there’s no need to panic at this point. But, they are getting ready.

“Even before they called it on Omicron,” said Dr. Dianna Grant, Phoebe Putney Health System chief medical officer. “We were preparing.”

Grant said they are continuing to assess the situation.

“We continue to have our, not daily huddles. But we definitely have it once or twice a week. But we do an inventory of our staffing we do an inventory of our supplies on hand,” Grant said.

Doctors said instead of panicking, we should stay aware.

“We all need to know that there’s a new variant and we want to listen to the news and be careful. Especially those of us who are chronically ill with heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes, for morbidly obese people,” Ruis said.

And as research continues, officials said we should continue taking precautions for COVID in general.

“This is the time to be careful even though the number of new cases in the community is relatively low. If we have a new variant, it could lead to another surge,” Ruis said.

Ruis says as of Thursday, the public health department in Dougherty County hadn’t had any positive COVID tests in the last week.

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