In Europe, a Jarring Omicron Forecast

WHO expects 50% of the population will be infected with COVID over next 2 months
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2022 12:32 PM CST
CDC May Tweak Mask Recommendation
A medical assistant working at a drive-up testing clinic in Puyallup, Wash., wears an N95 mask.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

With omicron surging, the CDC may soon revamp its mask guidelines to encourage people to use N95 or KN95 masks instead of cloth ones, reports the Washington Post. However, the guidance is also expected to say that the best mask is any kind that can be worn correctly for as long as possible. The N95 masks—designed to filter 95% of particles—provide better filtration, but many people find them uncomfortable to wear all day. Masks with the KN95 designation aim to meet a similar Chinese standard, though the CDC has raised concerns that many on the market are counterfeit, notes the Post. More COVID coverage:

  • Worrisome forecast: The World Health Organization predicts that 50% of Europe's population will be infected with omicron over the next two months, reports CNBC. Dr. Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, likened the current surge to a "tidal wave" of infections.
  • A peak? In a sign of how quickly omicron moves, stats out of New York City suggest cases already have peaked about a month after the first one was detected, reports the New York Post. Overall cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are down in all five boroughs. Statewide, the latest seven-day average of cases came in at 57,865, down from 132,093 the previous week.
  • Bad idea: The notion of deliberately catching omicron to get it over with is "all the rage," Dr. Paul Offit of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia tells CNN. The thinking is that omicron generally results in milder cases, so why not? For one thing, COVID isn't just a "bad cold," it's a "life-threatening disease," says Dr. Robert Murphy of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Plus, there's the risk of long COVID, the danger of spreading it, and the potential stress on the health care system.
(More omicron variant stories.)

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