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Stay Away From Here During Omicron Surge, Doctor Warns

Expert explains why Omicron is so contagious and where to avoid going right now. 

COVID is not only still here causing disruption to our normal lives and chaos around the globe—it's surging. This year the U.S. reached a grim milestone of a record breaking 1 million cases reported in a day.  It's the highest daily total for any country in the world as the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant showed no signs of slowing" in most states, Reuters reported. While the surge will hopefully end soon, we must continue to take precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID and catching the virus. Eat This, Not That! Health talked to Dr. Teresa Bartlett, senior medical officer at Sedgwick who explained places we should avoid right now and why Omicron is so contagious. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Omicron Hotspots

woman with red curly hair laughing with her two friends in a restaurant
Shutterstock / Zoran Zeremski

The COVID variant is literally everywhere right now, but  Dr. Bartlett, says this is where you're more likely to catch it. "Omicron is extremely contagious. People can easily be exposed when in crowds especially when not wearing masks such as restaurants, movie theaters, sporting events and even at work. In restaurants and sporting events, people are there to enjoy themselves and perhaps have a cocktail or two which will lower their guard so they will be less careful. Let's face it people are tired of living restricted lifestyles and long for the days of the past. They want normal. Unfortunately to prevent the virus, normal people have to be wearing a KN95 mask in public places."


Why Omicron is More Contagious than COVID

Doctor analyzing patient blood and nasal swab testing sample for new covid-19 mutation.

According to Dr. Bartlett, "The coronavirus has mutations on several of the spike proteins. Each time we develop some level of immunity either through exposure or vaccine, the virus finds a way to change and survive. As it does this new variants arise. Not all variants are of concern or interest by the medical and scientific community. Because of the high transmissibility of Omicron it is definitely causing concern throughout the world."

RELATED: Sure Signs You Have an Omicron Infection


Why the Surge is Happening

grandmother carrying turkey for family on thanksgiving dinner

"The Omicron variant is spreading quickly across the world," Dr. Bartlett states. "It is a more transmissible variant than those that came before it and for most people the symptoms are more minor. This variant hit at the holiday time when families and friends gathered together. Those that may have had a minor symptom ignored it and then spread it to many others."

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How Vaxxed People Still Get Omicron, but Milder Cases

Young woman sitting alone on her sofa at home and coughing.

Dr. Bartlett says, "Omicron has found a way to evade our immune response system. The scientific community is studying all of the variables and looking for answers but unfortunately this variant is spreading at warp speed. The hope is if you are fully vaccinated that your immune system will help you fight it and your version of the virus will be lesser than those unvaccinated. This is statistically what we are seeing in hospital admissions (largely unvaccinated people or those who are immune compromised)."

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Omicron and Hospitalization Rates

Infected patient in quarantine lying in bed in hospital

"This is a sheer numbers game," Dr. Bartlett states. "The rate of hospitalizations and severity of hospitalizations is much less with Omicron than with Delta. Keep in mind the pure volume of people contracting the virus daily at this point over one million. The hospital stays are shorter and on a per capita basis fewer people need hospitalization."

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How to Stay Safe Out There

Doctor Giving Older Woman Corona Virus Vaccine Injection In Hospital

Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, 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.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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