Dear Members of the Baylor College of Medicine Community,
Now that Omicron has reached well over 30 countries and almost half of the United States, more nations are beginning to tighten restrictions, specifically around international travel. There is a serious attempt being made to try to curb the fast spreading new variant and to influence people to get vaccinated.
COVID-19, specifically Omicron, is spreading faster than ever in South Africa. There are some indications that Omicron may cause less serious illness. Researchers at a major hospital complex in South Africa reported their patients with coronavirus are less sick and had fewer symptoms.
In this week’s video, I go over the latest information on Omicron and the numbers for COVID globally, nationally and locally.
As we approach the holidays, it is very important to remember that vaccines remain the best public health measure to protect people from COVID-19, slow transmission and reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging. COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations and death.
Masks offer protection against all variants. Wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high community transmission, regardless of vaccination status. Tests can tell you if you are currently infected with COVID-19. Antigen capture tests and PCR still work, but additional tests would be needed to determine if your infection was caused by Omicron. Self-tests can be used at home or anywhere, are easy to use and produce rapid results. If your self-test has a positive result, stay home or isolate for 10 days, wear a mask if you have contact with others and call your healthcare provider.
And finally, Lily took part in the Ugly Christmas Sweater contest this week. Be sure and cast your vote!
I hope you have a restful weekend leading up to the holidays. Please stay safe. Take a mask wherever you go.
Paul Klotman, M.D.
President & CEO