LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A new coronavirus variant has the world on edge as local doctors wait to learn just how bad it is.
The World Health Organization described 'omicron' as a variant of concern, which is its most serious category.
"A lot of people have been talking about it, especially over Thanksgiving," said Lexington resident Nate Burr.
The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department says they're still waiting to hear more about what it means for Kentuckians.
"We are aware of a new variant that has popped up in South Africa but right now here in Lexington and the United States even, we're still learning more," said Kevin Hall.
As they learn more, the variant has already spread from South Africa to Europe and even Canada.
While it hasn't hit the U.S. yet, New York has already declared a state of emergency.
Meanwhile, Kentuckians are still trying to figure out if they're going to worry at all.
"I don't know why it keeps coming and I don't know why it can't be stopped," said Marjorie Green. "It'll probably hit us, and It'll probably hit us hard."
Others have put COVID behind them altogether.
"I think a lot of people forgot about the COVID. I think ever since everything died down, they just thought it went away," said Tiara Jackson.
"After cases declined for weeks, they are back on the rise across Kentucky."
While everyone is talking about this new variant, the health department says we still haven't gotten a handle on the delta variant that's already here.
"That's very troubling because right now, the numbers haven't even included cases that could have spread to the Thanksgiving holiday. And as we have colder months move into these December holidays. The expectation is that COVID-19 cases throughout Kentucky will go up," said Hall.
Health leaders in America do not know yet whether vaccines work against omicron, how severe or how contagious it is.
"The best thing that we can do is to get vaccinated. By getting vaccinated reduces the likelihood of future mutations. This is a virus that will do everything it can to stay alive, keep changing and fighting us, and we need to be able to fight back," said Hall.