By Aldon Thomas Stiles, California Black Media
As of Monday, there were 39 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant in California, according to the California Department of Public Health. That number represents a 140% increase in new variant cases since Thanksgiving.
As authorities monitor and work to stem the spread of the new strand of COVID-19, Gov. Gavin Newsom continues to promote booster shots for eligible Californians: Adults 18 and older — or teens who are 17 or 16 – who have been fully vaccinated for at least six months.
Additionally, the state has reinstated mask mandates in several counties that have been without them during the pandemic.
“Yesterday California reinstituted – in counties and in sections of the state where we don’t currently have any indoor masking requirement – a one-month masking requirement indoors in public settings. This is intended to lean in, as we all have for a long time in California, to keep our guard up in a period of uncertainty and unknown with Omicron,” said California Health & Human Services Agency Dr. Mark Ghaly.
“Requiring the indoor masking as California continues to learn more about Omicron gives us a chance to keep our guard up in a very purposeful and meaningful way during these critical weeks of celebration without needing to do what some other countries have had to do which is put further limitations on the things that we all miss,” Ghaly elaborated.
Ghaly says once the federal government approves the booster shot for children, the state will issue a vaccine mandate for students in the state, adding to other immunizations California requires.
At a recent press conference, Newsom said it is unlikely that there will be another lockdown due to the new variant.
According to the Governor, the first confirmed case of the variant in California, which was reported in San Francisco two weeks ago, was someone who was not eligible for a vaccine booster shot. He expects the person to “fully recover.”
Across the United States, there are now over 43 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in at least 25 states.
Chief Medical Advisor to the President, Dr. Anthony Fauci says the booster shot is the surest method to combat the threat of the Omicron variant.
“There’s every reason to believe that if you get vaccinated and boosted that you would have at least some degree of cross-protection,” Fauci said in reference to the variant.
Last week, Fauci said he expects the official definition of “fully vaccinated” to change from the current two-vaccination requirement to including the third booster shot. He said it’s a matter of “when, not if.”
Last Friday, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a five-page report sharing the results of study that focused on the 43 people across the country who have contracted the Omicron variant. Only one of them was hospitalized and most experienced mild
symptoms like coughing or a runny nose. More than 75 % of them were fully vaccinated and nearly 33 % had received booster shots.
California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris took to Twitter to calm Californian’s fears regarding the state’s response to this new variant.
“While we are still learning about the Omicron variant, our focus remains on protection and prevention. Our best protection is getting vaccinated, wearing masks, getting tested if you have symptoms, and staying home if sick,” Burke Harris tweeted.
“When these four interventions are taken by all Californians, we help slow the spread of COVID-19 – including the Omicron variant,” her tweet continued.