The new Omicron variant now accounts for more than 70% of reported cases in the U.S. According to the CDC, cases reported between Dec. 12 to Dec. 18, were 73.2% omicron and only 26.6% Delta.
The World Health Organization has said that cases are doubling every 1.5 to 3 days in areas with community transmission and that some holiday gatherings should be canceled.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday, "Increased social mixing over the holiday period in many countries will lead to increased cases, overwhelmed health systems and more deaths."
The more easily spread Omicron variant has now been detected in 89 countries and many have instituted more restrictions ahead of holiday festivities.
Ireland has announced an 8 P.M. curfew for bars, restaurants and entertainment venues until January 30. Germany has instituted travel restrictions for arrivals from a number of countries and requires all inbound travelers to quarantine for 14 days regardless of vaccination status and the Netherlands has entered a full lockdown with schools closed and only essential stores remaining open.
Increased testing around the world has by default increased the number of positive cases and health officials including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb have stressed that so far, severity and hospitalizations have remained relatively low despite rising rates of infections.
Speaking on CNN, Fauci said, "If we have a larger number of people getting infected, but the degree of severity is very, very low, that would be very important. If you just count the numbers of infections, you may get a misrepresentation as to what is actually going on."
The Centers for Disease Control has said people who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine after contact with someone who had COVID-19 unless they develop symptoms, however, they should still get tested five to seven days after their exposure and wear a mask in indoor public settings for 14 days following exposure or until they get a negative test result.