Director of Upstate Global Health discusses Omicron, holiday gatherings

Coronavirus

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Come Monday, you’ll see more people wearing masks. Unless a business has a vaccine requirement, Governor Kathy Hochul announced Friday masks will be required in all indoor public places.

“This is a preemptive strike to make sure that we can protect people, stop this from spreading particularly with the unknown characteristics of the new variant,” Hochul explained.

This week we spoke with Dr. Stephen Thomas, Director of Upstate Global Health, about the new variant. He reiterated vaccines help reduce your risk of getting severely ill. He also said what we were doing at the beginning of the pandemic helps.

“We do know that masks still work,” Dr. Thomas said, “We also know that obviously social distancing and physical distancing also works.”

With the holiday season well underway, he said a few things to consider as you make plans to gather with loved ones.

“How big are those gatherings going to be because every additional person is additional risk,” Dr. Thomas added, “Who’s going to attend? Are you going to have people that are highly vulnerable to a bad outcome if they get infected, you know, sitting at the table with a bunch of younger people or people who aren’t being vaccinated?”

This week, a Pfizer laboratory study found the third dose is effective against the new Omicron variant. Dr. Thomas recommends a third dose regardless of whether you received Pfizer or Moderna. “Anyone who is eligible to receive a third dose should do so,” he said.

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