Here’s what we know about the omicron variant — next to nothing.
But that hasn’t kept officials — in liberal states and cities, of course — from once again declaring Draconian measures to address the COVID-19 virus, including mask mandates for every resident and business and requirements to provide proof of vaccination.
On Monday, California officials announced a statewide universal indoor masking mandate to last until Jan. 15. The same day, Philadelphia announced that proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required to dine indoors at bars, restaurants, indoor sporting events and other food-related establishments.
From the day omicron was first revealed right around Thanksgiving, the mainstream media has gone hog wild over the story (“if it bleeds, it leads,” goes the old journalism saying). But despite the breathless headlines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that there were just 43 cases of Omicron detected in the U.S. during the first eight days of December.
Among the small number, 34 were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 14 received a booster shot. But just one of those suffering from omicron was briefly hospitalized. The rest were fine.
After the variant emerged, the World Health Organization said omicron poses a “very high” global risk and could bypass even those vaccinated. The strain is a “highly divergent variant with a high number of mutations … some of which are concerning and may be associated with immune escape potential and higher transmissibility,” the U.N. agency said.
“The overall global risk related to the new variant … is assessed as very high,” WHO said, adding that omicron “has an unprecedented number of spike mutations, some of which are concerning for their potential impact on the trajectory of the pandemic.”
But a doctor in South Africa said, after omicron emerged, that’s not what he was seeing. “Dr. Angelique Coetzee, a private practitioner and chair of South African Medical Association, told Reuters that on Nov. 18, she noticed seven patients at her clinic who had symptoms different from the dominant [delta] variant, albeit ‘very mild.’”
“Their symptoms were so different and so mild from those I had treated before,” Ms. Coetzee told The Telegraph, noting they could be “treated at home.”
So early on, doctors — and remember, the liberals all “follow the science” — said omicron was not nearly as dangerous as the first strains of COVID-19 that emerged two years ago. But that didn’t stop the MSM from hyping the virus, prompting government officials to ramp up response.
Then on Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, an immunologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who serves as President Biden’s chief medical adviser on COVID-19, said, “the early data indicates that omicron may not pose as great a risk of serious illness as the delta variant.”
The Associated Press finally summed on Monday in a piece headlined, “Data indicate omicron is milder, better at evading vaccines.”
“The omicron variant is offering more hints about what it may have in store as it spreads around the globe: A highly transmissible virus that may cause less severe disease, and one that can be slowed — but not stopped — by today’s vaccines,” said the AP.
Of course, this could all change. But there was one Democrat who had quite enough of the hype. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis this week declared the COVID-19 emergency “over.” He said he would not be ordering another statewide mask mandate to respond to the emergence of the omicron variant in the U.S.
“The emergency is over,” Mr. Polis said. “You know, public health [officials] don’t get to tell people what to wear; that’s just not their job. Public health [officials] would say to always wear a mask because it decreases flu and decreases [other airborne illnesses]. But that’s not something that you require; you don’t tell people what to wear. You don’t tell people to wear a jacket when they go out in winter and force them to [wear it]. If they get frostbite, it’s their own darn fault,” he said, according to the Post.
“Everybody had more than enough opportunity to get vaccinated,” Mr. Polis told Colorado Public Radio on Friday. “Hopefully, it’s been at your pharmacy, your grocery store, a bus near you, [or at] big events. At this point, if you haven’t been vaccinated, it’s really your own darn fault.”
That’s how it’s always been. Get the vaccine, don’t; it’s your choice (this is still America, after all). But if you don’t get the shots and get the virus, well, that’s your fault.
And if you’re vaccinated, the early data shows you’re fairly well protected from omicron.
Maybe the mainstream media and all those liberal lawmakers should’ve waited a tick to get, you know, the facts before overreacting. Just a thought.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.