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Hospitals Say Delta Variant Is Behind Surges in Cases

Omicron is 'another train coming'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2021 10:35 AM CST
Hospitals Say Delta Variant Is Behind Surges in Cases
Signs that calls attention to COVID-19 testing and vaccinations are posted outside a Walgreens location, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in Worcester, Mass.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

(Newser) – While the world braces for a potential surge in omicron cases, American hospitals say they're in danger of being overwhelmed by a more familiar variant. Authorities in Minnesota and other states in the Midwest and Northeast say delta cases are surging and people need to take precautions and get booster shots as soon as possible instead of waiting to see what happens with omicron, which has now been detected in at least five states, reports the Washington Post. Experts say hospitalization rates are rising due to a "perfect storm" of colder weather pushing people indoors, the relaxation of measures including mask mandates, and the effectiveness of vaccines waning over time, reports NBC.

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George Morris, a COVID-19 response incident commander for Minnesota's CentraCare health system, compares the delta variant to a train crash. "We just continue to see rail car after rail car pile onto this derailment," he tells the Post. "Omicron is potentially another train coming," he says. "It’s a whole other train coming right behind a wreck." CentraCare runs St. Cloud Hospital, which has been full for weeks with COVID patients, most of them unvaccinated.

The World Health Organization warned Friday that the spread of omicron is "likely already wider than currently reported" and countries should plan accordingly, the BBC reports. Officials said that while much is still unknown about the new variant, measures that countered the spread of delta, including mask-wearing and social distancing, should also slow the spread of omicron. "Border control can delay the virus coming in and buy time. But every country and every community must prepare for new surges in cases," said Dr. Takeshi Kasai, the WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, per the AP. "The positive news in all of this is that none of the information we have currently about omicron suggests we need to change the directions of our response." (Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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