Johnson County Public Health asks county to continue taking health precautions amid news of new COVID-19 variant

The new variant is not a “sky is falling” moment, but people should take precautions and get vaccines and boosters, public health issues said.


Larry Phan

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors hosts a meeting at the Johnson County Administration Building on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. At the meeting, Sam Jarvis discussed the COVID-19 booster shots. “We still want to prioritize those who are unvaccinated.”

Marandah Mangra-Dutcher, News Reporter

Johnson County Public Health is urging county residents to stay vigilant after the detection of the omicron COVID-19 variant, which was first detected in the U.S. Wednesday.

The World Health Organization designated the Omicron variant as a concern on Nov. 26. The decision was based on the evidence presented to the organization’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution.

Sam Jarvis, Johnson County Public Health community health division manager, told the Johnson County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday that the county currently knows very little about the variant, but believes it is not a cause for panic.

“It’s really important to remember that this is not a sky falling moment, but is listed as a variant of concern,” Jarvis told the Supervisors.

RELATED: Johnson County at good capacity for COVID-19 booster shots

The state of Iowa is monitoring and actively surveilling mutations on the spike protein that could indicate the new variant, Jarvis said. He said they are waiting to hear and learn more about the variant.

“Until we know more, we’ll continue to urge folks to continue doing all the measures as possible, and staying vigilant because that’ll be the most important,” he said.

Overall, Jarvis said the COVID-19 case numbers are looking similar to numbers from September.

“Our hospitalizations are about that same amount, around the mid-six-hundreds,” he said. “We are seeing 80 plus cases a day on average.”

Across the country, COVID-19 cases have decreased 10 percent in U.S. counties, Jarvis said.

Jarvis said it is important to remember that the county has previous experience with COVID-19.

“The other side of this coin is also that we want to remind everyone that we have the tools and knowledge to continue to protect ourselves and keep transmission low,” he said. “… Let’s not forget that we’ve got vaccination and that boosters for everyone who’s 18 and older that will likely play a very important role as we go on,” he said.

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