Local leaders: Emerging omicron variant ‘does not change our approach to fighting pandemic’

Gov. Jay Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan released a joint statement on Monday, detailing their respective strategies regarding the emergence of the omicron variant.

Still ‘a lot we don’t know’ about omicron variant, says Washington hospital official

Little is known about the variant for the time being. Although South Africa — where it’s believed to have originated — is experiencing a rise in COVID-related hospitalizations, it’s unclear if that can definitively be linked to omicron. That said, the country has seen daily cases dramatically rise in recent days, from an average of roughly 200 weeks ago to 3,200 last Saturday. In total, it’s believed that 90% of cases in South Africa’s most populated province can be tied to the new variant.

There have not yet been any documented omicron cases in Washington state, but local health leaders remain at the ready.

“The discovery of the Omicron variant does not change our approach to fighting the pandemic,” the joint statement from Inslee, Constantine, and Durkan reads. “We are continuing to urge everyone to get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask and be safe.”

It will likely take “a couple weeks to better understand this variant,” the statement continues, noting that the highly infectious delta variant continues to be the dominant strain by a wide margin.

Mayfield: How scared of the omicron variant should we actually be?

Mayor Durkan further pointed out on Twitter that Seattle also “has the lowest cases, hospitalizations, and mortality rates of every major city” in the nation.

Moving forward, leaders assured the public that the state is “more prepared to fight this variant than any of its predecessors,” urging people to get vaccinated and/or boosted, “be vigilant for any symptoms,” and to mask up in public.

“We all have the power to keep our communities safe,” the statement concludes.

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