Omicron May Be Mild, But You Still Want to Avoid It

By now, you probably know at least a dozen people in your social circle who have recently tested positive from the omicron variant of COVID-19, and most of them recovered quickly with little fanfare.

But does that mean you shouldn’t try to avoid catching it?

A recent explainer by Reuters examines just that question. After all, if Friends A, B, C, and D had it and only felt a little bad, maybe it’s time to hang up the masks and just embrace the germs.

Not so fast, experts said.

“But the extraordinary spread of Omicron in many countries means that in absolute numbers, more people will experience severe disease,” the explainer said. “In particular, recent data from Italy and Germany show that people who are not vaccinated are far more vulnerable when it comes to hospitalization, intensive care, and death.”

Basically, the longer you can delay getting COVID, the better.

“I agree that sooner or later everyone will be exposed, but later is better,” said virus expert Michel Nussenzweig of Rockefeller University. “Why? Because later we will have better and more available medicines and better vaccines.”

There are also unknowns associated with the long-term effects of COVID — even mild cases. And (especially among the unvaccinated), hospitalizations are up, and the medications used to treat Omicron in particular are in short supply.

Read more from the explainer here.

In other news:

Over the weekend, it became possible to get reimbursed by your health insurance for over-the-counter, at-home COVID tests (if you can find them, that is).

The Biden administration announced last week that private health insurers will be required to cover up to eight home COVID-19 tests per month for people on their plans. You can either purchase home testing kits for free under your insurance, or submit receipts for reimbursement, up to eight tests per person.

Starting Wednesday, you can order tests for free from the federal government at covidtests.gov. The tests will ship within 7-12 days of ordering.

And for the record, the CDC recommends testing on the fifth day of exposure, or earlier if symptoms appear.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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