UAMS worries about what effect Omicron could have on Arkansas


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – UAMS says the Omicron variant could be six times as contagious as the Delta variant and health officials worry about the potential effects it could have on the natural state.

“So if you just think about this being Omicron on top of Delta, then obviously it’s going to be much worse,” says the dean of public health for UAMS, Dr. Mark Williams. 

Williams says he’s been closely monitoring studies on the Omicron variant, and what he’s learning from national scientists is not ideal for Arkansas, seeing another rise in case numbers. 

“One scientist suggested it could be as contagious as measles, which means it would be approximately six times as infectious as the delta variant,” says Williams. 

Two of Arkansas’s neighbors have already had their first confirmed case of Omicron. States like Missouri and Louisiana. 

In Governor Asa Hutchinson’s weekly press briefing Tuesday, he says he doesn’t believe it to be in our state yet. 

“At this point, we have not identified the Omicron here in Arkansas even though it is in a couple of surrounding states,” says Hutchinson. 

However, Williams feels differently.  

“It is very likely here already, and if not here already, it’s very likely that it will be here very soon,” says Williams. 

The Omicron variant is most mutated of all the COVID-19 variants and it looks to be the most contagious; I asked Williams if it could also be the most deadly. 

“It might not be as dangerous as Delta, but in saying that the more people that get it, the more likely that some because of pre-existing health conditions might be impacted seriously,” says Williams 

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