UNF’s fate in the face of Omicron uncertain

Carter Mudgett, Editor in Chief

Enjoying its return to campus, UNF saw a rapid decline in COVID-19 cases throughout the fall semester and, after a brief uptick at the start of the semester, has kept positives consistently below 10 since Oct. 1— progress now threatened by the world’s recent discovery of the new omicron variant.

University of North Florida COVID-19 cases between Sep. 1, 2021 and Dec. 2, 2021, as reported by the UNF Student Health Center, accessible on the UNF Emergency Management site. (Carter Mudgett)

First detected in South Africa, the omicron variant has spread to— at the time of writing— 17 different U.S. states, with the World Health Organization (WHO) calling it “a variant of concern” on Nov. 26, 2021. Closets in proximity to Florida, Georgia first detected Omicron on Monday, Dec. 5, as confirmed by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH). 

Compared with the original COVID-19 virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) reports this variant to be more transmissible but does not yet know how it will stack up against the most recent Delta variant. The organization reiterates that “masks offer protection against all variants” and recommends wearing a mask in any public indoor setting. 

WHO wrote in an update in late Nov. 2021 that “[the] widely used PCR tests continue to detect infection, including infection with Omicron, as we have seen with other variants as well.”

Both the CDC and WHO say they are working with researchers across the globe to learn more about Omicron and will report their findings as soon as they know more. 

At the time of writing, Florida has a daily average of 1,529 COVID-19 cases with 62 percent of the state fully vaccinated according to data compiled by the New York Times

When asked how UNF will be handling the potential onslaught of this new variant, the university released the following statement:

“UNF continues to highly encourage and expect all students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated and wear a mask while indoors on campus. We will continue to follow local, state and national guidelines from the CDC.”

Keep track of COVID-19 cases at UNF here


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