TAMPA, Fla — Omicron is spreading faster than any other variant of COVID-19.
“You won’t even know anything is there until it reaches up and punches really hard in the nose,” said Dr. Thomas Unnasch, a distinguished health professor at USF College of Public Health. “That’s what we're really seeing with omicron. It’s doubling about once every two to three days”
We’re seeing an indication of that right here in the Tampa Bay area with lines of people waiting to get tested wrapped around the Hillsborough County facility. But, Dr. Unnasch believes the severity of the disease is less and has, so far, led to fewer hospitalizations.
“The last report I heard, they had about 20 people in the COVID unit down at Tampa General, which was about three times what they had right after Thanksgiving. But, during our delta peak back in August, they had 160 to 170 people in the unit,” he said.
He says it’s because the virus is doing anything it can to survive and infect people.
“If you have a virus, a respiratory virus that makes you really sick what are you do? Stay home, you go to bed, you have chicken soup and you binge watch Netflix until you feel better,” he said.
But, he explains that when we stay home it keeps exposure rates down It’s why he says the virus is trying to mutate in a way that is less severe, which in turn will allow it to spread faster.
At the same time, the CDC recommends people who test positive isolate for five days instead of 10 and if you come in close contact with someone, but are fully vaccinated and boosted, there’s no need to quarantine, just wear your mask for 10 days. If you are unvaccinated or only partially, you should quarantine for five days.
“As they get more data that comes in, they’re starting to say well now it’s starting to look like people who are getting infected may be only remaining infectious for maybe 3 to 4 days after symptoms develop,” Dr. Unnasch said. “Where it used to be well, we don’t really know so we’re going to go to the outer limit and it was like 10 to 12 days”
The new recommendations will likely help ease COVID-related travel issues like staffing shortages and allow them to get back to work sooner.