A new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, has been detected, and is very likely to start cropping up in the United States.
In order to get on top of the spread, the CDC has issued an update on Omicron. It’s important for employers to familiarize themselves with the new variant in order to protect the workplace more effectively.
3 big questions
The CDC answered some common questions about Omicron. Here’s what it said:
- Is Omicron more transmissible than other variants? It’s currently unclear if Omicron is more easily spread from person to person. However, in areas where Omicron is prevalent, COVID-19 cases have risen, but it’s not clear if that’s due to the new variant or other factors.
- Is Omicron more severe than other variants? As of now, the CDC is unsure whether the Omicron variant causes more serious infections than other variants, including Delta. There is a rising number of hospitalizations in some areas impacted by Omicron, but again, it’s not clear if that’s due to Omicron or other factors. The CDC says there is no evidence yet that Omicron symptoms would be worse or different than other variants. However, all variants can still result in serious disease or death.
- Are vaccines effective against Omicron? The CDC says there may be increased risk of reinfection with Omicron compared to other variants, but findings are still preliminary. The agency did say that vaccines continue to remain effective against severe infection and death.
Steps to take
So what should employers do with this new info?
Employment law attorney Jon Hyman says do the same things we have been doing already.
This includes encouraging all your employees to get vaccinated, and pushing boosters for those who are already vaccinated. Face coverings for the unvaccinated are key, and some employers may want to mandate face coverings for everyone again.
It’s crucial to make sure employees with any COVID-19 symptoms are staying home and getting tested as well.