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Researchers believe omicron COVID variant will reach Utah, sooner or later

Kimberly Desmond, a registered nurse, draws a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe in Salt Lake City Sept. 22. Researchers said Friday they believe the omicron variant will reach Utah sooner or later.

Kimberly Desmond, a registered nurse, draws a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe in Salt Lake City Sept. 22. Researchers said Friday they believe the omicron variant will reach Utah sooner or later. ( Laura Seitz, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Health officials in Utah say they're keeping a close eye on the new COVID-19 variant coming out of South Africa, but how worried should we be in the Beehive State? Researchers say it's likely going to come to Utah, the real question is when.

Officials with the World Health Organization are classifying the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus in the same category as the highly contagious delta variant. And they believe the newest form of the virus is highly transmissible. However, University of Utah virologist Dr. Stephen Goldstein says scientists still have a lot of questions about omicron, especially since it's so new. For instance, they don't know if the new variant is deadlier than the others.

"We don't know anything about whether it causes more severe or less severe disease. There are early indications that it may be highly transmissible, although, it really is still too early to say," he said.

Goldstein says omicron is not an offshoot of the delta variant, so researchers are trying to learn as much as they can. He believes the variant will, eventually, make its way to Utah, however, but no one knows when.

Should Christmas plans be canceled? Perhaps not yet, although doctors still recommend masks, limiting crowd sizes and social distancing to limit any kind of viral spread.

Read the full article at KSLNewsRadio.com.

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Paul Nelson

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