By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
Mosaic Life Care reports the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is present in this area.
It isn’t known yet how widespread this latest variant is.
Mosaic Chief Medical Officer Dr. Davin Turner says the state discovered traces of the Omicron variant in wastewater samples earlier this month. Turner says much isn’t known about the Omicron variant, except that it is easily transmissible.
“However, the severity of illness may not be as great as it is with Delta,” Turner tells reporters during a news briefing at the St. Joseph hospital. “However, any one of these variants of COVID, certainly those that are immunocompromised or at extreme of age, these are very deadly viruses and that’s what we continue to see.”
Turner says while information about Omicron is limited, one thing is known for sure.
“One, it’s very transmissible. That we know. It doubles its penetration every two to three days is what’s being reported,” Turner says. “I think that’s good data. How ill the patients become is really the biggest unknown.”
Turner says Mosaic has made a request to the state to send samples to determine if patients have become infected with the Omicron variant. At present, the information received comes from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The department has been working with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the University of Missouri – Columbia to test wastewater in Missouri cities. Samples collected on December 8th from the St. Joseph wastewater treatment plan discovered 2% of the COVID-19 viral strands identified as having mutations associated with Omicron.
Coronavirus vaccinations, especially the booster available to those who received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, seem to be effective against this latest strain says Turner.
Mosaic had about 320 area residents show up for its vaccine clinic held at East Hills mall on Monday. Most came for a booster shot, some came for their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, with a few coming for their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
Mosaic does report that as of Wednesday it is treating 66 COVID-19 patients in its system; 59 in St. Joseph, five in Maryville, and two in Albany. Another 16 coronavirus patients have been hospitalized for more than 21 days.
In the midst of battling in the coronavirus pandemic, Mosaic does report a rise in cases of flu. Turner reports flu cases have been rising in this region.
“So, it’s very important that everyone take precautions against the flu,” Turner says. “We had 87 positive cases last week. A few weeks ago, we were at eight. We went up into the 20s. Now we’re in the 80s. So, flu is going to be very prominent. Right now, it’s predominantly Influenza A.”
Turner says the widespread use of masks a year ago kept flu cases in check.