The Omicron variant is now the dominant Covid-19 strain in the United States, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released Monday show, making up 73 percent of new infections.
In response, President Biden has warned a winter of "severe illness and death" for the unvaccinated is coming. On Tuesday, he will announce several steps his administration will take amid the Omicron surge, including access to free Covid tests and more support for hospitals. Additionally, more major cities and municipalities are banning the unvaccinated from indoor venues, schools are closing early or switching back to remote learning, restaurants are going back to take-out only, and other events are being canceled.
All this for a variant that, while more contagious, has been described by medical professionals as milder, even in the unvaccinated.
"After four weeks, this is now our fourth week, there's no reason you can't trust us when we say it's mild disease," said South African Doctor Angelique Coetzee, who first announced the new variant. "There's no need to hospitalize any of these mild cases. There's really no need. In these patients, recover within about five days. Whether you are a child or 80-years of age. Whether you've been vaccinated, whether you've not been vaccinated. Whether you've suffered mild diseases, other comorbitities, this is what we see. This is the real experience."
Despite how widespread the variant now is in the United States, there has been only *one* "Omicron-variant-associated" death so far.
Harris County Public Health reported that an unvaccinated man in his 50s with underlying health conditions has died after being reinfected with Covid-19.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the patient's family, and we extend our deepest sympathies," HCPH executive director Barbie Robinson said in a statement.
NEW: First Omicron death in the U.S. was also a case of reinfection with COVID-19, officials say pic.twitter.com/QZwTQoLBun— BNO Newsroom (@BNODesk) December 21, 2021
While any death to Covid-19 is tragic, if the rate continues to be infinitesimal, the mandates and closures, particularly in schools, are entirely unjustified.