San Diego County

San Diegans Celebrate Holiday Week With Eye on Emerging ‘Variant of Concern'

Thanksgiving week 2021 looked very different than this time in 2020.

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With COVID-19 vaccines and now boosters on the market, many people are enjoying the holidays with family and friends.

“I’ve been enjoying it a lot,” San Diegan Elda Murphy said.

More than 2 million travelers passed through U.S. airport security in the seven days before Thanksgiving, according to the TSA.

Some public health officials have been cautiously optimistic about avoiding a surge in COVID-19 cases this Holiday Season.

“I’m cautiously optimistic. I think that the vaccine, if everybody is vaccinated and people take precautions, such as eating outside as much as possible, limiting the number of people indoors at one time -- those are logical ways to keep everybody safe,” Dr. Davey Smith, Chief of Infectious Diseases at UC San Diego, said.

The optimism turned into concern the day after Thanksgiving after the public was made aware of the Omicron variant, a new variant of concern first detected in South Africa.

“We’ve had an Alpha variant then a Delta variant which was much more infectious and pathogenic, and now it looks like this new variant is even more infectious than the Delta variant,” Dr. Davey Smith said.

Infectious disease specialists are currently doing research on exactly how transmissible the new heavily mutated variant is and how much of a danger it poses to the general public.  

The Biden Administration announced that travel to South Africa and seven other Southern African nations will be suspended.

While public health officials gather data on the Omicron variant, some San Diegans said they will remain vigilant while celebrating this holiday season.

“I just heard the news about the new variant so now I’m a little more worried, but I feel like I’m doing everything on my end to stay safe for my family and friends,” Murphy said.

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