Omicron COVID variant likely to soon spread throughout Northeast Ohio

Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 7:11 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, has now spread to over a dozen countries and health experts say it’s only a matter of time before it reaches the Unites States and impacts Northeast Ohio.

On Monday, the World Health Organization warned folks the global risk from the Omicron variant is “very high” based on early evidence, saying the mutated coronavirus could lead to surges with “severe consequences.”

Aidyn Zingale has a lengthy daily commute to and from his college classes. He take the bus twice a day and each trip trip is an hour long. Being in such close quarters with others for several hours each day, he said he’s closely following news on this new COVID-19 variant.

“Especially being a student that commutes, it’s definitely something that freaks me out a little bit. Not only getting my family contaminated, but I could easily be the commuter student who could be a potential problem for people in campus,” Zingale told 19 News.

Zingale said he’s fully vaccinated, but is taking extra precautions.

“I wear gloves a lot of time on the bus. I will only wear my jacket and these clothes to from school and then as soon as I get home they go straight into the washer,” he said, also noting he always wears a mask on the bus, as well.

The new Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa. It’s now spread to at least 14 countries, including Canada. Some experts say it’s likely already here in the U.S.

“It’s a much more highly mutated virus,” said Dr. Thaddeus Stappenbeck, Chair of the Department of Inflammation & Immunity for Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Stappenbeck said the Omicron variant may be more contagious than previous strains, including Delta.

“That’s a pretty easy guess that it’ll be more infectious,” he told 19 News.

Many throughout Northeast Ohio wondering, though, how Omicron will affect those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“These are all anecdotes, but what I’ve been reading is that people who are vaccinated are seeing those milder cases. But again it has not been carefully studied,” Dr. Stappenbeck said.

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