COVID-19 Update: Public Health Answers Some Omicron Variant Questions

COVID-19 Update: Public Health Answers Some Omicron Variant Questions

SWEETWATER COUNTY — Sweetwater County Public Health officials shared as much information as they could about the Omicron COVID-19 variant in this week’s update.

On Thursday, public health announced it will be updating the community every other week due to the decrease in COVID-19 cases within Sweetwater County.

“Based on the improvements in our current situation, the updates have been moved to every other week through January,” Sweetwater County Public Health representatives announced.

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“Going forward, we will assess the timing need for updates at the end of every month. If essential information is received or there is an urgent matter, information will be sent immediately,” according to public health.

We looked through this week’s report and are passing on any new information. Here’s what we found.

Public Health

Omicron has been detected in 21 states including Nebraska, Utah, and Colorado that border

What We Know about Omicron
Infection and Spread

  • How easily does Omicron spread? The Omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and how easily Omicron spreads compared to Delta remains unknown. CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.
  • Will Omicron cause more severe illness? More data is needed to know if Omicron infections, and especially reinfections and breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated, cause more severe illness or death than infection with other variants.
  • Will vaccines work against Omicron? Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated are likely to occur. With other variants, like Delta, vaccines have remained effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. The recent emergence of Omicron further emphasizes the importance of vaccination and boosters.
  • Will treatments work against Omicron? Scientists are working to determine how well existing treatments for COVID-19 work. Based on the changed genetic make-up of Omicron, some treatments are likely to remain effective while others may be less effective.

As for current COVID-19 stats, Sweetwater County is at 4.4 percent 14-day rolling average test positivity rate, which is a slight decrease from 4.6 percent last week. Overall, Sweetwater County is in the ‘yellow zone’ meaning is has moderate transmission levels, this is also a change from the ‘orange zone’ last week, which means moderate to high transmission levels.

So far, there have been 103 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Sweetwater County currently has 52 active cases.

“We are aware of a number of additional deaths but Vital Statistics is currently lagging one to two months behind in reporting,” public health stated.

Hospital Update

By the last couple of weeks in November, Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County (MHSC) experienced a significant decrease in the number of COVID-19 inpatients. That trend has continued through December.

So far in December, MHSC has only recorded one day with a single inpatient with COVID-19.
The number of COVID-19 patients in the Emergency Room also has decreased. These changes have
helped immensely with nurse staffing in all patient care areas.