Arizona Health Officials Say ‘Light’ Omicron Still a Risk | Arizona News

PHOENIX (AP) – Arizona hospital officials and public health experts warn against rejecting omicron because of its reputation as a less severe variant of COVID-19.

“Even though it’s declared to be soft, it really isn’t. It consumes a number of resources. It complicates other health care, ”Phoenix-based Valleywise Health’s Dr Michael White said in a virtual press conference on Wednesday.

White commented amid reports that some people were deliberately trying to catch the highly contagious variant, believing they would suffer from a mild illness in exchange for natural immunity.

Early studies show that omicron is less likely to cause serious illness than the previous delta variant. But vaccination and a booster still offer strong protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death.

Dr Joshua LaBaer, ​​executive director of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, also said he doesn’t disdain him. There is always a chance that omicron could trigger serious illness or long-term COVID-19 symptoms down the road, he said.

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Even if many cases turn out to be mild, there will inevitably be people who will have to go to hospitals that are already taxed.

“Being intentionally infected when the healthcare system is already stressed and potentially adding to that stress is probably not a good idea either,” LaBaer said. “The whole system is something we have to pay attention to. “

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have increased steadily in the state since December 31, when they were 2,283. They were as high as 2,929 on Tuesday.

Sonora Quest Laboratories, which perform the majority of COVID-19 testing in Arizona, on Tuesday broke its one-day record for the number of tests processed. The state’s largest diagnostic lab has analyzed more than 34,000 samples, COO Sonya Engle said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the state’s coronavirus dashboard reported a record 18,783 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. Six other virus-related deaths have also been reported. This brings the total for the pandemic in Arizona to 1,524,363 cases and 24,992 deaths.

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