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Omicron Variant Found at University Park

The Pandemic continues to make headlines with the first case of the quickly spreading Omicron variant now confirmed at Penn State’s University Park campus.

Dylan Huberman spoke to local officials and a Geisinger doctor to understand the ramifications of this finding Dylan.

The students just went home for the holidays after finals wrapped up last week, however, with Omicron now confirmed on campus, there’s a chance they don’t come back in the spring.

Last week, the university announced that they’re considering returning to remote learning in the spring as cases rise, which could be announced in a planned update on December 30th

A plan unchanged by this development, a large factor in that decision may be whether the Omicron variant has a higher transmissibility and lethality rate compared to the Delta variant.

“We know that it is more transmissible. We know that there is. There is some data which is showing that it is able to evade the antibodies that developed either due to the infection or
or the vaccination. And regarding the other thing that I was talking about, the third part was the lethality How lethal is Omicron?”

Well, more data to come on that. The notion was echoed by Mount Nittany Medical Center’s chief medical officer, Dr Upendra Thaker, who provided a statement to me saying quote the
Omicron variant is at least two to three times more transmissible than the Delta variant.

It’s spreading very quickly, and anyone who is exposed is very likely to spread it. Dr. Mehta also warned that unlike with Delta, vaccines do not stop this new variant in its tracks.

“This strain Omicron, is it able to evade the antibodies that we generated by getting the shots? The current data says it can now be waiting for more information to come on that,
but current data says it can.

Centre County Commissioner Michael Pipe noticed another key difference between Omicron and Delta locally before with Delta Alpha and Delta, we were seeing mostly in center region here
in Centre County.

We’re now seeing most of the cases occurring outside the central region and predominantly in the Bellefonte area, and so that’s suggesting that as community spread, it’s not generated by
the university. Dr. Mehta agrees with that assessment and says the university would not be solely responsible for driving up case counts in the region.

“This can happen anywhere in the world. This can happen sporadically in the country. It can happen sporadically in the regions, in the state, in the counties.”

And while Commissioner Pipe once PSU students back in town, this information makes it far from a given.

“Obviously, we’d want to keep the students here and have them come back. But again, time will tell and it depends on if they have enough resources and enough, you know, logistics to be
able to make that happen.”

Both men urged caution during upcoming holiday events

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