Still ‘a lot we don’t know’ about omicron variant, says Washington hospital official

Nov 29, 2021, 11:58 AM | Updated: 2:35 pm
new variant...
A public health message displayed at Heathrow Terminal 5 on Nov. 28, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

As a new omicron variant has sparked concern across the globe, the good news in Washington state is that COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped in the past week.

Mayfield: How scared of the omicron variant should we actually be?

“The daily average was about 694 confirmed COVID hospitalizations, and last week it was 806 — so that’s about a 14% decrease in a week,” said Cassie Sauer, Washington State Hospital Association CEO.

But, as Sauer noted on Monday, deaths remain steady in Washington.

“We are continuing to see 10-15 hospitalized COVID deaths, on average, daily,” she said.

The number of patients requiring ventilators, Sauer said, has also gone up 16% compared to last week.

In global COVID news, the newest variant — called “omicron” to continue with the naming of variants after the Greek alphabet — has been found in at least 14 countries. It has already led to travel restrictions in some countries, but there are no reported cases in the United States yet.

Omicron cases pop up in Canada

“I think about omicron and all variants as really a symptom of a true emergency, and that is lack of access to vaccines globally,” said Dr. Seth Cohen with the University of Washington Medical Center.

“Until we decrease the proportion of unvaccinated people in the U.S. and around the globe, we will continue to hear about new variants with some frequency every few months,” he added.

The new variant was first detected in South Africa last week.

“We don’t have any information to suggest that symptoms due to omicron are any different from any of the other variants,” Cohen clarified.

“Most importantly, I’d like to acknowledge that there is a lot that we do not know about this variant of concern,” he continued. “We will be learning much more about it in the coming days and weeks.”

Local News

ballot, napkin vote, approval voting...
Nick Bowman

Group seeking to change how Seattle voting works builds large early war chest

A push to dramatically alter the way Seattle votes in primary elections is already getting significant financial support in its early days.
11 hours ago
KIRO 7 News Staff

77-year-old Bellevue woman stops home intruder in landslide neighborhood

Thieves hit the neighborhood impacted by the Bellevue landslide but didn’t get away with much, thanks to one brave 77-year-old woman.
1 day ago
national guard...
Stephanie Klein

National Guard arrives to Harborview Medical Center to help with COVID testing

A Seattle hospital official says the arrival of 10 army soldiers on Friday is a huge help.
2 days ago
End restrictions...
Nick Bowman

UW modelers: State might finally be able to end ‘major restrictions’ once omicron wave passes

Modelers at UW's Institute for Health Metrics & Evaluation believe that we could be nearing the end stages of major virus-related restrictions. 
2 days ago
Long term care insurance...
Nicole Jennings

Analyst’s advice for Washingtonians who got private long-term care insurance

An Association of Washington Business analyst explains the outlook for private long-term care insurance now that the WA Cares tax will likely be delayed.
2 days ago
COVID tests...
MyNorthwest Staff

Washington households can order at-home rapid COVID tests at no cost

The state Department of Health is going live with its portal to order free at-home COVID tests that ship directly to households.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Still ‘a lot we don’t know’ about omicron variant, says Washington hospital official