COLUMBUS, Ohio — The CDC will release its weekly COVID-19 update on Tuesday, and Dr. Joseph Gastaldo of OhioHealth said he won’t be surprised to see omicron as the dominant variant throughout the state.
“Ohio is on fire with infection,” he said.
That fire is burning on two fronts. One with the delta variant and the second with omicron.
Doctors said the two variants act similarly in some ways and differently in others.
“The bad news about omicron is that it appears to be much more contagious than with our original variant. With COVID-19 we saw that for every one person that was infected that would infect about 2.5, maybe three people,” said Dr. Mysheika Roberts, Health Commissioner for Columbus Public Health.
Dr. Roberts said one person with delta can spread it to as many as seven people. She said someone with omicron can spread it to as many as 10 people.
“It's more contagious than Ebola, it's more contagious than chickenpox,” she said.
The good news is that omicron is not sending anywhere near the number of vaccinated people to the hospital. However, Dr. Gastaldo said a mild infection could hospitalize someone who has advanced asthma or advanced lung disease.
“Someone with advanced asthma or advanced lung disease a mild infection is enough to tip them over and be hospitalized,” Dr. Gastaldo said
Which raises questions about the effectiveness of mask-wearing. Doctors said a mask is better than no mask, but it's the kind of mask you wear that can determine your level of protection against omicron.
“When people have Omicron they are putting much more virus out there into the real world and you are more likely to come into contact regardless of what mask you are wearing. We want people to wear well-fitted masks over the mouth over their nose. We are looking for a mask of high grade."
That includes N95 and KN95 masks, followed by surgical masks and cloth masks.
In an effort to encourage more people to get vaccinated, Columbus Public Health has given out $100 gift cards.
Health officials say that the program is coming to an end, so people looking for free cash should act now.
"I think we have less than a thousand gift cards to go so supplies are drying up quickly so we encourage people to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated soon,” Dr. Roberts said.
Since the Vax for Cash program started, Columbus Public Health said it's given away more than 24,000 $100 Visa cards.