District waits for variant to come

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While the Omicron variant has not made its way into the Four Corners Health Department, officials are just waiting.

Laura McDougall, executive director of Four Corners, said Dec. 30 the district’s COVID-19 case numbers, including the Delta variant, are holding steady.

The new quarantine and isolation guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will change how long people have to be separated from others after testing positive for the virus.

Instead of 10 days to isolate after exposure, people must quarantine for five days. After that, if the person doesn’t show any symptoms, they can go out but wear a mask for the next five days.

“Businesses can have workers back,” McDougall said.

If a person is fully vaccinated and has gotten a booster or is within six months of vaccination, they should wear a mask for the next 10 days with a test after five, McDougall said.

If they are not vaccinated or have not gotten a booster, they should quarantine for five days and then be tested, she said.

“They’re trying to make sure people can get back to work sooner,” she said. “We need workers at work and kids in school.”

McDougall said officials are seeing a decrease in the Delta variant in the Four Corners district. However, she expects to see Omicron numbers rise.

“We are hearing it’s milder,” she said, “more like the flu or a cold. But it’s more contagious.”

She said the district is starting to see cases of influenza A. That could lead to a decrease in healthcare workers and increase in people seeking care for the flu, covid and chronic illnesses.

“We’re worried about a perfect storm,” she said.

She said hospitals are hoping that doesn’t happen, but they’re already running into difficulties when they need to transfer patients who need more care.

Memorial Health Care Systems in Seward generally transfers its patients to hospitals in Lincoln and Omaha, but they are all full, McDougall said.

She recommended that people do what they can to avoid or limit potential exposure to the virus and its variants.

Although officials are concerned for the near future, McDougall said there is still much to celebrate.

“We did a lot of vaccinations and tests last year,” she said. “We’ve all worked really hard.”

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