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CDC Chief Gave This Urgent Omicron Update

"Given the volume of cases that we're seeing, we very well may see death rates rise dramatically."
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

With COVID cases at all-time highs, and predicted to reach more than a million a day, Americans are understandably worried, and confused about how worried they should be. Reports are that Omicron is "less severe" than Delta, and makes up 94% of cases. But each of us knows someone who got COVID, and some are pretty ill. So how can you be safe? CDC Chief Dr. Rochelle Walensky appeared on Fox News Sunday with host Bret Baier yesterday to answer some tough questions about what you should do right now. Read on for five live-saving answers—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Dr. Walensky Said Deaths May Rise Dramatically Given the Sheer Number of Cases

Infected patient in quarantine lying in bed in hospital

"What we're seeing with the Omicron variant is that it tends to be milder person by person, but given how large the numbers are that we're seeing more and more cases come into the hospital—in some hospitals that we've talked to up to 40% of the patients who are coming in with COVID are coming in, not because they're sick with COVID, but because they're coming in with something else and have had the COVID variant detected." Omicron may not be as deadly as Delta "on a person by person basis…however, given the volume of cases that we're seeing, we very well may see death rates rise dramatically," said Dr. Walensky.


Dr. Walensky Said it's the Unvaccinated Who are Filling the Hospitals and Don't Count on Immunity From a Previous Infection

Person refuses nurse injection or vaccination.

Walenksy defended vaccine mandates by saying "the thing that's most disruptive to any business or industry is to have half their workforce out because they're sick with COVID. We have seen with the Omicron variant that prior protection protects you less well than it had with the prior variant. So having previous infection seems to not protect you as well against Omicron. Right now I think the most important thing to do is to protect Americans. We do that by getting them vaccinated and getting them boosted." And even though Omicron is infecting vaccinated people, too. "it's infecting them at a lower rate and importantly, those people who are vaccinated and infected with Omicron are not the ones who are ending up very sick in the hospital. Those are the people who are unvaccinated." Don't depend on a previous infection keeping you immune to a new one, she added, mentioning research into Omicron, "which so far has demonstrated that prior infection protects you less well" from it.

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Dr. Walensky Said Children are Vulnerable and You Have to Protect Them This Way

Pediatric doctor is vaccinating the child.

"Here's what I can tell you about our pediatric hospitalizations," said Dr. Walensky. "Now, first of all, the vast majority of children who are in the hospital are unvaccinated. And for those children who are not eligible for vaccination, we do know that thet are most likely to get sick with COVID if their family members aren't vaccinated. So the most important thing we can do for those children to keep them out of the hospital is to vaccinate them and to vaccinate their family members around." Although "pediatric hospitalizations are rising, they're still about 15 fold less than hospitalizations of our older age," said Walensky, adding "comparatively, the risk of death, is small, but of course, you know, children aren't supposed to die. If we have a child who is sick with COVID 19, we want to protect them." She said again vaccinations protect people from severe illness.

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Dr. Walensky Said More Treatments are Coming Soon

Doctor holding syringe in hospital.

"We now have numerous treatments that we can use against Omicron, including our monoclonal antibodies, both for treatment and prevention, two new antivirals, one from Pfizer, one from Merck. So many… to be able to be used in an outpatient basis with three daily infusions. All of those are now being distributed. Many of those are harder to make and take some time to make, but the administration is rapidly scaling up what they are able to purchase and get out to the American people."

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Dr. Walensky Said this About Keeping Kids in Schools

Teacher and children with face mask back at school after covid-19 quarantine and lockdown.

"Really importantly, I wanna remind people that in the fall of this year we had Delta surge and we were able to safely keep our children in school before we had pediatric vaccination. Fast forward to now we have pediatric vaccination. Of course, every jurisdiction is going to have to make these decisions locally. But what I will say is the most important thing we can do is get our children vaccinated, get our teachers vaccinated, get our teenagers vaccinated, and then to practice all of those layered mitigation strategies that have been proven to work masking ventilation test, to stay have saved hundreds of thousands of person, days for kids staying in school. All of those things have been proven to work." So get those vaccinations and boosters and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek