If there was anything good about the rapidly spreading omicron COVID variant is that those infected with omicron seem to experience a milder form of the disease. Yet, doctors and medical researchers remind us that even a mild case of COVID can have serious, even long-term consequences.
Doctors and the CDC are raising an alarm that Americans should not be lulled into a false sense of security because of the reports that omicron results in a “milder case” of COVID-19.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that the decision to label omicron variant symptoms as “mild” is misleading.
“Importantly, ‘milder’ does not mean ‘mild.’ And, we cannot look past the strain on our health systems and the substantial number of deaths — nearing 2,200 a day as a result of the extremely transmissible omicron variant,” she said.
Walensky felt it was important to make this distinction as she and others at the CDC feel that people see the omicron variant as a “mild form” of COVID-19 disease. But that’s not the case. An omicron infection can cause death and hospitalization, and it has for many, and it should be approached with the same level of caution as earlier iterations of the disease.
The CDC director stressed that Americans understand that the U.S. is still facing a “high overall burden of disease.”
“Hospitalizations have rapidly increased in a short amount of time, putting a strain on many local health systems,” Walensky noted.
Adding that “Importantly, ‘milder’ does not mean ‘mild.’”
Walensky urged that people – even vaccinated and boosted people — should still wear their face masks and practice proper health guidance to keep others safe from the omicron variant.
Walensky’s comments came as National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci told reporters the country is not yet at a place with omicron that “we are willing to live with, in the sense of not having it disrupt our lives.”
“As Dr. Walensky said when you have over 2,000 deaths, 150,000 hospitalizations, and you have people who are now getting infected to the tune of somewhere around 700,000 a day, we’re not there yet,” he explained.
Carl Lambert Jr., a Chicago-based family physician, told HuffPost that what medical professionals mean to be “mild” is that that there is a much better chance with omicron that you will be able to recuperate at home and not need hospitalization or serious interventions like oxygen or a ventilator, but that does not mean you won’t still experience some very “severe” and uncomfortable symptoms.
“When I talk to patients, I explain that moderate or severe means that you had to go to the hospital, and they had to keep you to watch you,” he said.
Omicron is responsible for nearly 100% of new COVID-19 cases in America.