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Dr. Stephanie Silvera Weighs in on the Omicron Variant

Posted in: College News and Events, Master of Public Health News, Public Health

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People prepare to board an Air France flight to Paris at an airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. As the world grapples with the emergence of a new highly transmissible variant of COVID-19, worried scientists in South Africa — where omicron was first identified — are scrambling to combat its lightning spread across the country. AP

Dr. Stephanie Silvera, Professor in the Public Health department, weighed in on the Omicron variant of COVID for “The likelihood is that yes, omicron will be in the United States at some point. What scientists are trying to figure out is if this variant is more transmissible, is it causing more severe illnesses than other variants?”

Additionally, Dr. Silvera urged weighing the safety risks of socializing indoors as coronavirus infections again rise in New Jersey. One person in a group of fully vaccinated friends or coworkers who gather for indoor dining, for instance, can still carry the virus and infect others, they note. And wearing a mask on an airplane offers protection, but it still means being in an enclosed place and in close proximity to others who may remove their mask to eat or drink.

“I would limit my flights to a place where you’re not tempted to take your mask off, and that includes the airport,” Dr. Silvera said. “The airport is a place where people are gathering, and you’re in a mix with a lot of people. You don’t know their vaccine status or their COVID status. Really start thinking about limiting it to travel that is essential.

“It’s thinking not only about ourselves, but about who we’re coming in contact with, and when we get back [from traveling], who we will be around.”