Mask up, get vaccinated, urges state

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Photo courtesy of Kathy Hochul's Twitter page. Gov. Kathy Hochul.

With a statewide mask mandate set in New York on Dec. 10 and tightening of restrictions to the mandate last week to combat a winter surge of positive COVID cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also been doing extensive research on the Delta and Omicron variants of the virus that have been posing threats to the lives of millions in the nation.

“The Omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 (Covid) virus, and how easily Omicron spreads compared to Delta remains unknown,” the CDC said.  “CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.”

Washington County hasn’t publicly stated what variant of virus has killed 74 Washington County residents, with the most recent death last week. 

“We are saddened to report an additional COVID-19 related death of a 67-year-old member of one of our communities – our lost resident had recently been hospitalized and was vaccinated,” county Public Health officials said on Facebook.

The county still urges residents to get vaccinated.

“We strongly encourage everyone in our communities to consider vaccination, wear a mask in public settings or when spending time around others, stay home and get tested if you’re not feeling well,” the county public health team said.

Whitehall town supervisor John Rozell talked last month about the importance of the Hudson Headwaters mobile unit moving into Whitehall as the pandemic picks up speed into a winter surge. He said arranging for the mobile unit was one of the town board’s biggest accomplishments for 2021.

“They plan to start taking appointments on Jan. 14 and will be in the area every other Friday,” he said.

The Hudson Headwaters mobile van also provides immunizations, said Kristin Waller, mobile medical program leader and medical assistant. Community members must become patients of Hudson Headwaters in order to schedule an appointment.

“It’s the future of healthcare in my opinion,” Waller said. “It’s great for rural parts of New York.”

The CDC has been monitoring the trends of the variant proportions and is saying there is a chance for even more variants due to mutations within the virus.

“Some variants will emerge and disappear, while others will emerge and continue to spread and may replace previous variants,” said the CDC.

The Omicron and Delta variants are being researched by the CDC as well as the World Health Organization to determine how they differ from the original COVID-19  virus.

New York’s acting health commissioner, Dr. Mary T. Bassett, spoke regarding the community spread of the Omicron variant on Dec. 4:

“Community spread requires a community-minded solution, as the Omicron variant emerges and the overwhelmingly dominant Delta variant continues to circulate. We have the tools we need to protect against the virus – and now we must ensure we use them. There are tools each individual can use, and there are actions we can take as government.

“Getting vaccinated protects you, and wearing a mask is how we will better protect each other. Both vaccination and mask-wearing are needed to slow this COVID-19 winter surge.”

Bassett stressed the need for those who remain unvaccinated to get the vaccine to not only protect themselves but also to protect others.