New Variant, New Hopes, New Fears


Graphic by Megan Ingram

Marissa Levinson, Staff Writer

   The holidays are approaching, travel plans are being made, and society is finally making its way out of an exhausting tunnel. With Covid-19 cases dropping as low as 1,200 per day in Florida, according to the New York Times, everything is improving significantly since the steep downfall of 2020. 

   Recently, stepping into a store maskless and hearing a cough in the distance has been causing fears to resurface. This comes after many thought they had found a calm in the storm as risks from the virus were minimized, especially due to vaccinations. The latest anxieties result from the discovery of yet another variant of the virus, which-first reported in Africa–has made its way to the United States. With headlines spreading like the virus itself, Omicron, the new variant with many mutations, reveals its “impacts on the effectiveness of vaccines,” BBC News reports. With over 30 mutations allowing it to become stronger and more contagious, Omicron’s resistance will have more details revealed soon as scientists continue their research. So far, it’s likely that this strain originated in September or October of this year.

   Fortunately, having the vaccines’ two doses as well as the booster shot should assist in a stable recovery and provide peace of mind if someone were to catch the Omicron variant. Although the vaccines won’t be at their maximum strength fighting Omicron in comparison to the original strain, having the shots may still “decrease the intensity of the symptoms,” student Megan Lopez-Ordax believes. There’s a sense of security in having the vaccine. Although sophomore Bernardo Barros “does not feel the effects of the vaccine,” knowing that he “might never feel too sick” if he had Covid, including the Omicron variant, is reassuring. 

   Reflecting on last March when Covid-19 made its first appearance in our country, the pandemic is different now with experience being gained and having “more resources than when it first started,” as Megan claims. In prior times, miniscule amounts of data and information were available to the public, and living amidst a global pandemic was something unfamiliar to this generation. Now, however, vaccines have been administered to over half of the American population, and officials are aware of what treatments are more effective, thus enabling them to not make the same mistakes that contributed to Covid becoming uncontrollable in the first place. 

   In order to have a sense of control over the Omicron variant, restrictions are likely to be put into place once again. “A good idea would be to have students wear masks again,” Bernardo points out. By putting a halt on the spread now, the variant isn’t given a chance to intensify. Public locations and the CDC have taken note of this matter already, with travel bans being reestablished. Although some states are enforcing mask mandates currently, Barros hasn’t personally noticed any “new restrictions” quite yet. Guidelines aren’t the only way to stay safe though. “Keeping residents informed” for the time being is a knowledgeable take Megan suggests. 

   In this ongoing struggle against the pandemic and the new Omicron variant, citizens should continue to show responsibility and diligence to find solutions, come together, and hope for a future without Covid.