The West Virginia DHHR has not reported a single case of the Omicron Covid variant but the surge of active case numbers from 215 on December 23 to 501 on January 4, 2022, is strong evidence that it is here.
There were 449 new cases reported in Putnam in the 7-day period between December 27 and January 2.
While the jump in numbers is concerning, the numbers are not as alarming as they first appear. During a like period of time at the tail end of 2020, the active case numbers were well above 700. The new case number for the 2020-2021 7-day period was 385.
Statewide, the number of daily breakthrough cases during the most recent seven-day period is 583. The daily case number for the unvaccinated is about two and one-half times greater. The severity of Covid-19 infection at this time last year was 8.3 deaths per day statewide when all deaths were in an unvaccinated population. This year, the statewide death rate is only 2.3 per day among the unvaccinated. The statewide death rate for the vaccinated population is 0.4 deaths per day.
These numbers strongly suggest that the Omicron variant produces milder cases than other Covid variants.
One year ago, the schools were closed and all instruction was remote. There is fear that in-person instruction may increase the rate of Covid transmission. This fear, surprisingly, is not borne out by scientific studies.
A new study released by Binghamton University, State University of New York shows that COVID-19 incidence rates were not statistically different in counties with in-person learning versus remote school modes in most regions of the United States.
Assistant Professor Zeynep Ertem at Binghamton’s Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science said, “The main argument to close schools is driven by earlier conclusions from flu studies that younger children don’t always show symptoms but they may transmit the disease to their family members, which may include older groups at risk, however, our study finds no evidence of this in most regions of the U.S.
“In most of the U.S., we found no evidence linking school mode to COVID incident rates, suggesting that there is no point in disrupting students’ learning experiences—even though in the South, there was a statistically significant increase in cases when they were open for hybrid and traditional learning,” Ertem said. “There might be other factors behind it, because Southern states used limited mitigation measures compared to other regions. But in the Northeast and Midwest regions, the differences in the number of cases were not detectable across any of the three learning modes.”
Other studies have revealed that individuals who have recovered from Omicron infections are highly unlikely to become infected by other variants including the U.K. and Delta variants.
The Omicron, while highly infectious, appears to be little threat to the fully vaccinated.