What Is Known About Omicron, the New COVID-19 Variant

Vaccines—and boosters—are crucial.

First things first. According to the CDC, if you’re vaccinated, it’s expected that you are protected against severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths even if you were to be infected with Omicron. Preliminary studies also show that the booster appears to improve one’s immunity against the variant by increasing antibody levels in the body. In other words: Your first-line defense against COVID-19 remains receiving the vaccine and any recommended boosters.

Omicron is contagious.

The original COVID-19 virus sparked a global pandemic in part because it was more contagious than previous coronaviruses. The summer’s Delta Variant was more contagious than the original strain, and the CDC says Omicron likely is as well. Federal officials announced on December 20th that Omicron was the dominant COVID-19 strain in the United States, less than three weeks after first being detected.

To best protect yourself, the CDC recommends that everyone, vaccinated or not, wear a mask in public indoor spaces.

Hospitals may become overwhelmed again.

While the vaccine and booster appear to reduce the rate of hospitalizations from Omicron infections, the fact remains that more than one-third of the U.S. population has not been fully vaccinated. The CDC forecasts that, with Omicron’s high transmission rates, the U.S. could see the highest-ever daily rate of cases. (Daily case rates previously peaked at 250,000 in January 2021, before most Americans were fully vaccinated.) The federal government has a plan to deploy military medical personnel to assist hospitals if necessary.

Even vaccinated Americans should get comfortable with self-testing.

Self-testing —even if you don’t have symptoms or a known exposure to COVID—can give you more information and help you make more informed decisions on whether to gather indoors with others, the CDC says. At-home tests are currently sold at retailers such as Walgreens, Target and CVS. President Biden recently announced that in January, you’ll be able to order tests free of charge from a government website. You can watch a video on how to administer a self-test from the CDC.

To stay up-to-date on COVID-19 prevention and treatment, including quarantine guidelines, make sure to visit the CDC’s COVID-19 website regularly.

For the latest information on how Brookdale is helping residents manage the physical and emotional effects of COVID-19, visit our health and safety page.

The above is shared for informational purposes only. We are not infectious disease experts and you should also consult with your trusted, independent, reputable sources before acting on any content on this website, especially if you have a medical condition or are at increased risk for contracting COVID-19. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical or health advice. Never disregard professional medical or health advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on our site.

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