The surge in COVID-19 cases, led overwhelming by the omicron variant, is “unlike anything ever seen” according to Dr. Andrew Pavia, the chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease at the University of Utah Health.
“This is the most transmissible, most rapidly rising virus that we’ve really ever seen” Pavia said.
Pavia said the only other known virus more transmissible than the omicron variant was the measles in the pre-vaccine era.
“I’ve been studying infectious disease epidemiology for over three decades,” Pavia said. “I think we’re all kind of stunned.”
He said this alone is not cause for panic, referencing the effectiveness of vaccines and booster shots that provide great protection.
He is concerned, however, that recent record-breaking numbers don’t yet account for students who returned to school this week.
“I suspect it’s only going to get worse and possibly a lot worse,” Pavia said.
Typically, frontline workers bear the brunt of the surge.
Sean Talley, nursing director at Intermountain Healthcare, said, “We thought we were tired before, but you know we’re extra tired now.”
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Talley said frontline workers have evolved their workflow over the pandemic.
He regularly sees positive outcomes from people who are vaccinated and end up in the hospital, adding, “it’s remarkable to see how well they can deal with this illness once we’ve given them that option.”
Hospitalizations lag cases, so Talley is expecting an increase in hospitalizations over the coming weeks.
“For us on the front lines, the people that see that, we see that and know we have some extra work coming and be ready,” he said.