- Daily Zen
The new COVID-19 variant Omicron or B1.1.529 has put businesses on high alert. Companies operating in the Bay Area, San Francisco, California, are already preparing to meet the fallout from the spread, if it happens.
Almost all businesses in the area are mandating full vaccination and booster shots for anyone who is qualified for it. Masks are also making a comeback. Last Tuesday, about 1,800 Golden Gate Restaurant Association members received an email recommending that every employee get a COVID-19 booster shot.
After hearing about this new variant, Laurie Thomas, executive director of the Association, sent out an email Friday morning to her employees.
“I sent a notification out to my staff. We’re not requiring the booster shot yet, but we’re strongly recommending it. And I said, if you feel sick I’ll pay for the next day, no questions asked,” Thomas explained.
Priscilla Dosiou, owner of Village Rotisserie in San Francisco’s Noe Valley, said that all the staff are fully vaccinated, and they only employ people who are.
Dr. Monica Gandhi of UCSF says there is a reason to believe that the current COVID-19 vaccines are effective against this new variant.
“A lot of these patients were asymptomatic, that’s important. Do you know why? They were fully vaccinated asymptomatic. What does that mean? That means the vaccine worked against them,” she added.
Business owners are being highly cautious this time around so as not to suffer another complete lockdown, if things go out of hand. The Delta variant in July and August had derailed an economy that was limping back to normalcy. No one wants a repeat of those tough times.
The city of San Francisco has extended permits for allowing operations in outdoor-shared spaces through June 30.
“We’re no longer always optimistic, we’re always expecting whatever comes our way and we’ll deal with it, said Dosiou.
Infectious disease expert Dr. John Swartzberg, Professor Emeritus at U.C. Berkeley’s School of Public Health, said, “It’s important for people to realize these new variants have physical structures that suggest they might not respond to the immunity we got from the vaccines.” However, he emphasized that this news is cause for concern, not panic.
“Whether or not this variant is going to be as bad as Delta, worse than Delta or just a flash in the pan of no great significance, nobody knows at this point,” he added. He believes that people who are vaccinated will have some form of protection from this variant.
The California Department of Public Health said it is aware of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant but that there are no known cases involving this variant in California at this time.
“We continue to monitor the situation carefully,” the department said in an email.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden and director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday there is “no indication” Omicron is in the U.S. right now. Have been shown to contain the Omicron variant.
The World Health Organization termed the Omicron COVID-19 variant as a “variant of concern.” It said initial evidence “suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant” and the number of COVID-19 cases from this variant “appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa.”
Other countries that have reported cases include Belgium, Netherlands, Hong Kong and Israel.