Infectious Disease Physician Answers Questions About Omicron

Jan. 10, 2022, 5:04 p.m. ·

Flyer that says "COVID-19: What makes omicron different?"
Dr. Armando de Alba joined Dr. Mark Rupp to answer the public's questions about the COVID-19 Omicron variant (Photo courtesy UNMC)

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There are many questions about the latest COVID-19 Omicron variant., but University of Nebraska Medical Center infectious disease physician Dr. Mark Rupp has some answers.

Dr. Rupp says Nebraskans need to take the surge of COVID-19 cases seriously. The variant has multiple mutations that makes it highly contagious. In fact, it's driving a wave of cases in the state that's now reached levels seen during the 2020 peak. Rupp said it’s important people upgrade their face masks to surgical or K-95 masks because the virus is airborne.

"Crowding into your favorite restaurant, or bar, or going to your favorite sports facility, probably not the good thing to do right now," he said. "Give it a few weeks, and then hopefully, we'll see this peak come down quickly and then, maybe, people will be able to lighten up just a little bit."

The Omicron variant has been described to be less severe, but Dr. Rupp warns the immunity people receive after getting sick is spotty and may not be long lasting.

"So I would plead for people to not have the chicken pox parties like we used to have with kids, when we wanted to get everybody in the family immune to chicken pox," he said. "That's a bad approach when we have such a better way of approaching this, which is, you know, get the vaccine."

Dr. Rupp said it's best practice for people with symptoms to isolate themselves for 10 days before going out.