Omicron Is Pushing America Into Soft Lockdown
The coronavirus is raging again, this time with the new variant Omicron. This isn’t March 2020, but it may start to feel that way in a city near you. While mayors are not actually putting their cities under lock-down, it seems businesses are doing it on their own. In New York, for example, Broadway shows, numerous restaurants, butcher shops, and many other small to large businesses have closed their doors temporarily.
“For Brent Young, who runs a butcher shop and two restaurants in Brooklyn, it began last week when, one by one, staff members tested positive. “It’s more or less decimated our workforce,” he says. One of his restaurants had been booked solid with parties for a week—the holidays are one of the busiest times of the year for restaurants—but people started canceling those parties too. At this point it’s not worth trying to stay open, Young says, “because the anxiety’s so high no one’s wanting to eat.” For most vaccinated people, Omicron will be mild. But even a mild cold, sufficiently widespread, can disrupt a city” (Zhang 21).
This essentially is a soft lockdown brought on by the people because of the new variant. This definitely helps with the transmission of COVID-19, but health experts are still unsure of how much it will help. What we seem to be experiencing now is the “epi curve”. The cases must rise and rise until immunity builds and the virus is forced to slow, then the cases will drop dramatically. “In other words, “when you see a peak and see it go down, it doesn’t mean the risk has abated,” says Joshua Weitz, who studies viral dynamics at Georgia Tech. According to work by Weitz and his colleagues, this helps explain why COVID cases have peaked and plateaued multiple times over the course of the pandemic. Those peaks also tend to be asymmetrical, with steeper rises than falls” (Zhang 21). It is basically all up to how we are handling the situation as a people. We see a lot of cases, so as a result we become extremely careful. Then we get tired of being at home, or work calls us back, and then cases begin to climb again. This new variant is here unfortunately at a time when Americans are just flat out tired of the pandemic, so this soft lock down may not last long and we may not see that dip in cases that we have become accustomed to. Predicting how people are going to react to the variants is pretty much impossible, and even if we see a dip in cases, it could be for a variety of reasons, one being we just don’t have enough testing kits. With this soft lockdown, the economy is going to suffer. Even if people decide they just can’t stay home and go out, once a business has too many employees with the virus, they will be forced to close till they can bring back healthy employees. Unfortunately, this time around there is no government assistance financially. It is up to the business owners themselves to take on this pandemic and hope that immunity starts to build, and we can resume a somewhat normal life again, but never covid free.
By: Beth Gray