Med center virtual forum addresses omicron variant

Mark Rupp, MD, chief of the UNMC Division of Infectious Diseases, and Armando De Alba Rosales, MD, assistant professor in the UNMC Department of Family Medicine

Mark Rupp, MD, chief of the UNMC Division of Infectious Diseases, and Armando De Alba Rosales, MD, assistant professor in the UNMC Department of Family Medicine

Mark Rupp, MD, and Armando De Alba Rosales, MD, held a discussion Monday on Facebook Live about the COVID-19 omicron variant and what makes it so different and concerning.

"When we look at it at a population basis, this is very, very serious," said Dr. Rupp, chief of the UNMC Division of Infectious Diseases and Nebraska Medicine’s medical director of epidemiology and infection control. "The sheer numbers of cases that we see coming to the community will predict for a greater number overall of hospitalizations."

The Facebook Live broadcast recorded 18,500 views online. It also is available on UNMC's Facebook page.

Because omicron is so easily transmitted, the med center experts advised people to upgrade their masks.

"I think that some people have this idea that I’m going to put on a mask if I start having cold symptoms. I start to cough, so I’ll protect everybody, or if I see somebody who’s got a runny nose, I’ll put my mask on and protect myself," Dr. Rupp said. "That just isn’t going to work with this variant. It’s very transmissible."

"We are now recommending to go with a higher grade of protection — surgical masks, N95 where possible or KN95," said Dr. De Alba, assistant professor, UNMC Department of Family Medicine and College of Medicine, and assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion student programs.

"Because when we look at the studies and compare them with cloth masks or bandanas, those cloth masks offer very little protection compared to the surgical mask and the N95."

Dr. De Alba said getting vaccinated, including receiving a booster shot, is critical. He emphasized how important it is that parents of children be vaccinated.

"A lot of kids are not qualified to receive the vaccine, especially those who are younger than five years, so we need to take seriously and follow the preventive methods in order to protect them," Dr. De Alba said. "We see in our hospitals kids are getting sick with this new variant, and hospitalizations are increasing significantly among this population. Get vaccinated, get your booster, because you can be the person who could be the caregiver if your kid will need it."

The physicians also addressed the topic of herd immunity and the idea that people purposely expose themselves to the disease.

"We cannot depend on herd immunity," Dr. De Alba said. "That’s actually inhumane.

"If we depend on herd immunity, a lot of people will die. We know omicron is highly contagious, so the more people get infected, the more people will die, according to projections, and we will see the health care system be impacted. So this could be very catastrophic, and that’s what we are trying to prevent."

3 comments

  1. Lisa Sund says:

    Where is the link to the UNMC colleague forum for today at noon?

  2. Barb says:

    Respect, value, honor, every individual for health and protection from this virus

Comments are closed.

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