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The arrival of omicron, the COVID-19 mutation spreading rapidly

Black Friday Shopping
Posted at 5:55 PM, Dec 21, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — If you don’t think this new strain of COVID-19 can spread quickly, and to just about anyone, think again.

“For every one person with omicron, they can infect up to 18 other people,” said Lexington pediatrician, Dr. Beth Hawse.

Hawse went on to say that someone stricken with the flu can usually spread that virus to one or two other people. So this variant is prolific, and it is now America’s number one mutation. More than 70% of all new cases are omicron variant, and the CDC believes at least 650,000 Americans have tested positive for this strain.

The good news is that despite its ability to spread like a wildfire, early indications are it is not as debilitating as the delta variant, or our original strain, especially if you’ve been vaccinated.

“Some of the early reports from South Africa, where they’re really doing a lot of the advanced science, are suggesting this may be a less severe version, and it may just be more transmissible,“ said Dr. Zach Porterhouse, an infectious disease specialist, and virologist with the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.

But due to that high transmission rate, people all over Lexington were taking precautions. As many wrapped up their Christmas shopping they did so while wearing masks indoors. Others even wore them outside.

“I’m keeping my mask on because my mom works with elderly people, and she’s high-risk too,” said Charmi Rosenberg while taking a break from skating outdoors at Triangle Park. Her friend, Madeline, was also wearing a face covering while taking part in this outdoor activity.

Across town, many shoppers near Fayette Mall were also wearing masks, even if not mandated to do so.

“We’ve both been vaccinated and boosted,” Terry Maurer said of him and his wife. “But you’re not sure who has and who hasn’t, so we’ll be as careful as we can, and hopefully help other people too,” he continued.