The media panic machine has been in full swing in recent days, with incessant stories on a new COVID-19 variant identified in South Africa, and though there have been no cases of the novel strain reported in the United States, prominent Democrats – including New York Gov. Kathy Hochul – are already declaring the situation to be an emergency justifying the exercise of greater powers, as Breitbart reports.
As the BBC noted over the weekend, the World Health Organization (WHO) has designated the so-called omicron viral variant to be one “of concern,” and that development has sent governments worldwide scurrying to institute new restrictions on travel and mandatory testing and quarantine procedures for those entering their countries.
Though the omicron variant has been said to feature a surprisingly large number of mutations from prior strains of COVID-19, and some are concerned about its potential ability to evade existing treatments and vaccines, thus far, little is truly known about its transmissibility or the severity of symptoms that could be experienced by the infected.
Early reports from physician and member of the board of the South African Medical Association, Dr. Angeline Coetzee, suggest that – at least in a group of younger, unvaccinated patients, the variant produced little more than “unusual but mild” symptoms such as “sore muscles and tiredness for a day or two,” and it did not result in a loss of taste or smell, as Fox News noted.
The lack of truly worrisome evidence about omicron’s threat profile did not stop Hochul from declaring a state of emergency based on the theoretical risk it could pose, as The Hill reported, with the governor asserting confidently that “it’s coming.”
According to Hochul’s executive order, which is effective until Jan. 15 at the very least, permits the postponement of nonessential medical procedures inside hospitals in order to boost healthcare capacity in the event the system of overrun by omicron.
An absence of evidence about heightened risk from omicron as compared to the delta variant did not deter Hochul’s executive overreaction, but neither did the fact that to date, no cases of infection from the novel version of the coronavirus have been detected anywhere in the Empire State.
Data from New York’s own COVID-19 reporting website indicated that “for samples of SARS-Co-V-2 collected between November 7 and November 20, 2021 from New York State that are sequenced and entered into Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID), 100% were the Delta variant,” compared to 99.2% in the previous two-week period,” as Breitbart further noted.
Not one to be left in the dust when it comes to stoking pandemic-related fears, Dr. Anthony Fauci this weekend said concerning omicron’s likely arrival stateside that Americans should prepare themselves for “anything and everything” when it comes to reinstated restrictions, though after nearly two years of unyielding – and seemingly ineffective – mandates and limitations on liberty, those words — like Hochul’s — are likely to fall predominately on deaf ears.