RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney shared a Christmas holiday warning during his weekly COVID-19 press conference on Tuesday.
“Omicron is present in the City of Richmond,” Stoney said inside City Hall. “As a person that has had COVID before, no one wants to experience 103-degree fever. It’s miserable.”
Less than two weeks ago, Virginia reported its first Omicron case of the coronavirus. Now, the state’s vaccination coordinator Dr. Danny Avula confirmed the new variant makes up more than 75-percent of positive cases in Region Three, which is made up of Virginia and five Mid-Atlantic states.
“We know that Omicron is much more contagious than other strains,” Avula explained. “What we have seen out of both of the United Kingdom and Denmark, it has about the same hospitalization rate that Delta [variant] has.”
The CDC said more than 70% of the coronavirus cases in the United States are connected to the Omicron variant.
On Monday, CBS 6 was first to report about a statewide nursing shortage, when coupled with limited intensive care unit beds in hospitals could prove for a “rough” January and February.
“We know what COVID-19 can do to the human body,” Stoney stated. “We’ve seen, we’ve heard the horror stories, but we also know that vaccines work. That’s the key to getting through this pandemic, especially the new variant Omicron.”
According to the latest research, two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine protect you 30 to 40% against contracting the Omicron variant. Getting boosted, or a third shot increases that protection by 70 to 80%.
In Richmond, approximately 60% of residents have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
Stoney also addressed the unvaccinated directly.
“I want you to know we collectively are worried about you. We are concerned. We see rising case counts and many of these individuals are folks who are unvaccinated,” he said. “Since we are so concerned about you, we ask that you take the time to educate yourself on the vaccines, but also take that next step and roll up your sleeves as well.”
CBS 6’s Brendan King then asked Stoney how does the city plan to reach the 40% of Richmonders who have chosen not to get their dose after a year since the vaccine has been available.
“This is not the time to attack the unvaccinated. This is a time to educate those who have chosen to be unvaccinated through 2021 and encourage them that you can play a role in making Richmond safer,” Stoney responded.
Stoney urged loved ones to encourage the unvaccinated to play a part and reach out to the city with any concerns or questions about the vaccine.
Amy Popovich, Richmond Health District nurse manager, urged everyone to get tested for the coronavirus before holiday gatherings. The Richmond Health District website lists testing sites and resource centers to find take-home testing kids, which are in limited supply.