More data about the omicron variant has become available, raising concern among experts about what might come next for the United States.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb on the “Today” show that the omicron variant is spreading fast across the world.

  • “It is more transmissible, and we’re seeing that in other countries as well, that it’s rapidly becoming the more predominant strain, but I want to emphasize that we have the tools now,” she said.

Walensky said there might be less severe symptoms from the omicron variant. But that doesn’t mean people should ignore the variant.

  • “We’re starting to see some early data that is demonstrating some decreased severity,” Walensky said. “Shorter lengths of stay, fewer people on oxygen, fewer people in the ICU, but I also want to emphasize that if you have more and more people who have disease, even if you have fewer people that get sick from it, you still have a lot of people who are getting sick, so really we want to make sure that we keep all those prevention measures — vaccination, boosting.”
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new prediction that the U.S. will see a surge of omicron variant cases in January, according to The Washington Post.

  • The omicron variant will join the delta variant and influenza in putting stress on people in the United States and hospital systems, officials said.
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Earlier this week, Walensky told ABC News that keeping track of hospitalization rates is key for understanding the future of the pandemic.

  • “We’ve gotten pretty cavalier about 1,100 deaths a day,” she said.
  • “That’s an extraordinary amount of deaths in a single day from this disease,” Walensky said. “We can’t — I can’t — be in a position where that is OK.
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