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Nevada officials urge vaccine, masks to combat Omicron during busy weekend

Omicron variant
Posted at 4:18 PM, Dec 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-03 02:17:30-05

No Omicron cases in Nevada so far. But state health officials say there are ways to minimize the potential spread of it especially with a busy weekend in the valley coming up.

It’s not a matter of if but when the Omicron variant will arrive in Nevada.

State health officials say no cases have been detected in their latest sequencing of cases. Dr. Mark Pandori with the Nevada Public Health Laboratory says while it’s not likely Omicron is already in the state right now it will eventually be detected.

“It’s impossible to prevent viruses from circulating worldwide and I think we’ve learned that,” he said.

Dr. Pandori says a winter surge is expected regardless of whatever variant is found.

RELATED STORY: Southern Nevada's next steps with Omicron variant next door

“That was true before omicron because winter does facilitate surges of respiratory viruses,” he said.

State health officials say the severity of the surge can be blunted with continuing vaccinations, booster doses, and masking indoors. They say cases in Nevada are five times lower than last year and declining 26% in the last two weeks.

“These successes are worth noting and attributable to the vaccine that have already been administered. Only by continuing to get our population vaccinated can we continue this trend,” Dr. Ellie Graeden, with Talus Analytics, said.

RELATED STORY: Experts warn Omicron variant could slow travel trends down

Fans are excited for the PAC-12 football championship game at Allegiant Stadium. Some marveling the venue.

“Oh man, it’s incredible what they’ve done. It is beautiful. Seriously I can’t wait for tomorrow. We’re going to come three hours before just to walk around,” Zackory Bunkall, a Utes fan, said.

They’re one of tens of thousands of people expected in the valley for a busy weekend.

Not only football but the National Finals Rodeo as well. It comes as the omicron variant is raising concerns worldwide. Local doctors say there’s no need for panic.

“All of the same mitigation strategies that we’ve been implementing and recommending are still holding true.”

Dr. Christina Madison, an associate professor at Roseman University says this includes getting vaccinated or booster shots and wearing masks indoors. She does encourage more testing when people travel due to omicron likely being highly transmissible.

“It’s just going to be prudent for you to test before and after for your own safety as well as the safety of your loved ones and community,” she said.

Some fans for the football game say they’re not worried about omicron but will take steps to stay safe.

“Wear the mask, follow the rules, and I think it’s going to be a great time,” Bunkall said.

Dr. Pandori recommends visitors to wear masks indoors and get vaccinated to help keep the virus from spreading and mutating.

“Prevent us from going from omicron to pi or some other Greek letter down the road. What we want to do is to keep getting and considering vaccines because they’ll slow that process down,” he said.

Health officials say they’ll likely be able to get a full picture of the Omicron variant in the coming weeks.