The New York State Department of Health has announced an emergence of a newly identified contagious omicron sub variant in New York and urges vigilance against the new COVID-19 sub variant. The New York State Department of Health Wadsworth center identified 2 sub variants of BA.2 – BA. 2.12 and BA.2.12.1. There is concern that these sub-variants are contributing to increased transmission rates in central New York and surrounding regions.
Due to these new sub-variants being found, the New York State Department of Health announced that all New Yorkers should get fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and boosted for COVID-19. It also advised that New Yorkers should consider wearing a mask in all public indoor spaces. The department also suggested that all New Yorkers test following any exposure or symptoms of COVID-19 as soon as possible. Finally, that all New Yorkers should seek treatment or stay home if COVID positive after consulting with their health care provider.
These Omicron sub-variants now account for 80.6% of COVID-19 infections in New York as of March 31st, 2022. The New York Department of health has been investigating the higher infection rates in central New York. The New York Department of Health has determined that these sub-variants are highly contagious and are most likely contributing to the rising cases. Preliminary data for April indicates that central New York COVID-19 cases are comprised 90% from these sub variants. However, like all Omicron cases thus far, there is no evidence of an increased death rate.
The press release from the Department of Health and New York treats the increased cases of Omicron COVID-19 as if they were some sort of deadly plague. Going so far as to suggest that people gather outside for Easter and Passover instead of visiting family and friends at their homes. In the same document the department states that these sub variants are no more dangerous or deadly than Omicron typically is to a normal healthy individual. The New York Department of Health’s press release is meant to panic the public into vaccine compliance and put pressure on anyone holding out against vaccination.
Viruses are expected to have variants and sub variants. All of these sub variants are closely related yet distinct in small ways. Anyone that had been previously infected with COVID-19, especially the omicron variant, appears to have very good immunity against these new sub-variants. Further calling to attention every tiny little sub-variant of COVID-19, even if there appears to be further transmission, but no significant uptick in severity of disease or death, only serves to panic the public into herd like reflexes and submission to authority. These actions further destroy the public’s trust in health authorities, in the news media which doesn’t question anything that the health authorities state, and in civil society at large. This can create, under the correct circumstances, a crisis of confidence in our civil society as a whole.
One must wonder what goals the Public Health Department of New York has in further panicking the public for a health threat which is minimal to nonexistent compared to previous variants of COVID-19. Do these public health department employees enjoy being in the spotlight? Is there a sense of ego stroking? Are they under orders to release these statements to the public in order to cause further panic? Or is there something more sinister at play here? These are the questions that we need to be asking when every single tiny change in a virus which has no discernible effect on public health is reported with warnings and admonishment to keep away from friends and family during holidays.