The COVID-19 Omicron variant is in the St. Cloud community.  That according to CentraCare spokesman Dr. George Morris.  Morris joined me on WJON today.  He says of the people they have been testing in the past 2 weeks approximately 30% are testing positive for COVID-19.  Dr. Morris says these new cases are the Omicron variant. He says the state tracks trends of positive COVID-19 tests and based on tracking information the Omicron variant is in our state and in Central Minnesota.  In contrast test positive rates for COVID-19 2 weeks ago were under 5% locally.

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Dr. Morris says the Omicron variant has typically not caused the severe symptoms that the Delta variant causes by it spreads faster.  He says, for example, if it infects 5,000 approximately 100 could be hospitalized.  Dr. Morris says this is a small percentage but 100 hospitalized is still a significant number.  He says the vaccine and booster protects people from getting severe symptoms and protects the vaccinated from shedding the virus at the level of unvaccinated people.  Morris says these outbreaks typically last 2 to 6 weeks.

Current COVID-19 hospitalized people within CentraCare is 130 with 100 at St. Cloud Hospital and 30 in the ICU/Critical Care unit.  Two weeks ago CentraCare was reporting 120 hospitalized with 100 at St. Cloud Hospital and 44 in the ICU/Critical Care unit with many of those individuals on ventilators.  Dr. Morris says many of he 30 in the ICU/Critical Care unit this week are on ventilators.

Dr. Morris is strongly encouraging  civic leaders, religious leaders and business leaders to institute mandatory masking indoors.  He says the medical masks are the most effective and should be worn by everyone.  Dr. Morris says the non medical masks are better than normal but not at the level of protection that medical masks offer.

Dr. Morris says they are seeing a renewed interest in vaccines in the community.  He says if individuals would like a vaccine or a booster to contact CentraCare online or by calling 320-200-3200 to schedule a vaccine.

Listen to my 2-part conversation with Dr. Morris below.





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